Stitching With Tapestry Yarn in Needlepoint

Using old-fashioned tapestry yarn in current needlepoint projects

5 skeins of tapestry yarn
Althea R. DeBrule

Tapestry Yarn is a soft tightly twisted 4-ply woolen or acrylic needlepoint thread that cannot be separated. It is used as one strand when working on large mesh sizes (#10 to #14) needlepoint canvas.

Although not as versatile as other needlepoint threads, tapestry yarn can be stitched successfully with multiple strands threaded in an extra-large tapestry needle. Because it is thinner than most rug yarn, it is also ideal for working on #5 rug or Quickpoint canvas.

Tapestry Yarn for needlepoint comes in a large assortment of colors (about 400) and is less expensive than Persian Wool but not quite as thick. You can purchase it in 8.7-yard pull-out skeins for small needlepoint designs or 43-yard hanks for rugs and other large home decorating projects.

Tapestry Wool is not always available in the average needlepoint shop, and therefore must be purchased either online or sometimes at one of the larger general craft stores. The biggest producer of Tapestry Yarn is the French DMC Corporation, which has an online store with a wide array of available colors for sale. However, it doesn't hurt to check with your local needlepoint shop first to see if Tapestry Wool is available.

Little Known Facts About Tapestry Needlepoint Yarn

The use of Tapestry Wool in needlework began when the art of needlepoint was young, and most people thought of it as tapestry work. It was easy for needleworkers to manage small amounts of the yarn to make tiny color changes (about 40 to 50 different colors) as they stitched.

The durability of Tapestry Yarn, when worked in Tent Stitches on #10 or #12 mono needlepoint canvas, was ideal for pre-worked needlepoint designs, chair covers, fire screens, brick doorstop covers, and needlepoint rugs. As a result, Tapestry Yarn became the most common needlepoint thread used, in spite of the emergence of other decorative and more versatile fibers. Here’s why:

  • Tapestry Yarn has the appearance of tightly woven sport or worsted weight yarn used for knitting. Because of this, some needlepoint experts recommend knitting yarn as a substitute for Tapestry Wool in various projects. However, Tapestry Yarn is made exclusively for needlepoint and is created with short, strong fibers to keep its shape and firmness no matter how many stitches are worked to complete a needlepoint project. Knitting Yarn will stretch and rip with the constant pull of stitches through the canvas.
  • Unlike Persian Yarn, Tapestry Wool has a matte finish instead of a soft sheen and comes in dye lots that are consistent no matter where and when you purchased the needlepoint thread. If you run out of a particular color, you can buy it in a different shop or online (as long as you buy the same brand) without worrying about whether the dye lot will match.
  • Tapestry Yarn is perfect for couching on top of previously worked areas and surface embroidery.
  • Use Tapestry Yarn in needlepoint projects with simple stitches and the same thread textures as in Long Stitch designs or ones with basic tent stitches.
  • Tapestry Yarn will give your needlepoint projects a durable, smooth and even finish; which is why it should be chosen as often as possible to work upholstery pieces that will see lots of wear and constant use.

Using Tapestry Yarn in Needlepoint

Working with Tapestry Yarn is a breeze when stitching a needlepoint project. You only need to use one strand of the needle for most designs, which eliminates the need for “stripping” the thread or using a laying tool to make it lie flat on the canvas.

The firmness of the twist in Tapestry Wool makes it easy to quickly establish a consistent stitching rhythm that almost guarantees that you will finish in a short amount time. However, the best of all reasons to use it is the fact that your completed needlepoint will last more than a lifetime; which means it can be passed down to future generations to use and enjoy!