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  • Kat Waskett

How to Use Needle Minders for Cross Stitch

I think needle minders are the most useful accessory for your cross stitching! You can do perfectly well without one (and I did for many years), but once you have one you will likely wonder how you ever did without it!


So fair warning; they might also be a potential new stash addiction!


I am going to share how needle minders work, why I think they are so useful and how you can use them.


You can find all the same information in a video if you'd prefer to watch rather than read, and you can see it all in action >>>


What are needle minders?

Needle minders (or needle nannies if you prefer!) are made from 2 magnetic parts; a lovely decorative front piece that has an integral magnet, and another small magnet on the back that can be separated.

A needle minder separated into the 2 parts; the front section with integral magnet and a small separate magnet

They basically do what the name suggests and give you a safe place for your needle to stay put when you’re not using it!

Because there are lots of moments during a stitching session such as when you are changing colours or cutting a new length of thread that you just need somewhere to put your needle down briefly.

And I can tell you that in your clothes, the arm of your sofa or even your mouth is NOT always a safe place to do that! Popping it in the corner of your fabric is the safest place but that takes so much more time and effort than just dropping it on a needle minder.

A cute pink enamel hedgehog needle minder with a needle resting on top with fabric, threads and scissors in the background

Where do I put my needle minder?

So you need to decide where you prefer to put your needle minder during a stitching session and there are a few options;

  • on your fabric (the classic option), which is really good if you use a hoop to stitch with, but less good if you stitch in hand as they can be a bit too heavy for this

  • on your paper pattern, and this is the one I use most often

  • on your clothing like an awesome pin badge

  • on the arm of the sofa (not attached to anything, just sat there), and I find this works really well, although there is a slight risk of it sliding off!

Two photos showing a hedgehog needle minder attached to a paper cross stitch pattern and a rainbow needle minder attached to fabric in an embroidery hoop

Where you put it might also depend on what your needle minder is made from as I’ve seen them made from lots of different materials such as metal, plastic, clay or wood.

Small, lightweight wooden ones might even be ok on fabric whilst stitching in hand but might be less good on the arm of a sofa; where a heavier metal one will stay put more easily.


Obviously they are fab for popping your needle down while you swap threads but you can also use them for threaded needles, so if you want to keep one to hand to use again imminently.

If you have it on your fabric you can use it for a needle that’s still in use but you want to put it temporarily out of the way.


You can also put multiple needles on there although it can get tricky with more needles as they may clump together. If I do put multiple needles on one then I lay them at different angles so it's still easy to pick up a single needle.

A rainbow needle minder with three needles lying on top of it at different angles, resting on a partially completed cross stitch with thread skeins to one side

Are there any potential problems with needle minders?

There aren't really any downsides to needle minders but there are a couple of things to be aware of.


Marking the fabric

Firstly, there is a small possibility of some needle minders marking the fabric but only if they are ceramic type magnets and not all ceramic magnets will do this.

The good strong magnets are made from neodymium or rare earth metals, so that is usually what the magnet is if it’s shiny.

Ceramic magnets aren’t used as much because they are not as strong a magnet, and they tend to be chunkier and dark coloured, which is why they may mark the fabric.

If in any doubt, don’t put it on your fabric or test it out by putting it on a scrap of fabric and leaving it for a bit to see what happens.


Shattering magnets

The second thing to note is that the magnets can often be so strong that they can shatter if they snap together too violently, so be really careful with them! When removing the small magnet I find the easiest method for this is to slide the sections apart rather than trying to pick the small magnet off. When you replace the small magnet, try not to allow it to slam into the main part from a great distance; move it very close to the the main part before letting go of it. I have had small bits break off when I’ve accidentally done this, and this doesn't affect their use but is slightly annoying.


How strong are the magnets?

They do vary quite a lot but the good ones are really very strong, and will hold your needle firmly so there’s absolutely no risk of it dropping off.


In fact, the strength of the magnets can lead to me being a tad lazy sometimes because I often just kind of throw my needle towards the needle minder expecting it to grab it. And yes, this does pretty much work but yes, I have lost my needle (temporarily!) a few times because I was a bit off in my throw!


Can I leave my needle on there all the time?

No matter how well your needle minder holds onto your needle I would still not recommend leaving your needle on there when you store your project away at the end of a stitching session just in case it gets knocked off or you forget it’s on there and stab yourself when getting your project back out for the next session. Ouch! At the end of each session I put the needle in the corner of my fabric.

A project bag with thread skeins and fabric poking out of it and a needle safely pushed into one corner of the fabric

Needle minders didn't exist when I first started cross stitching but I am so very glad they exist. I love collecting them and at least they don't take up much space! There's always room for one more!


Do you already love needle minders and if so, tell me how big is your collection?! If this is all new to you then definitely give one a try and let me know what you think of it.


Until next time... happy stitching!


Kat

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