Sometimes the best things are discovered by accident. My gold-plated needles are a good example, and something I’m rather proud of.
It all started with a visit to a shop in Orange Country, California during a holiday spent with Jean Dittrich, the lady who distributed my cross stitch kits in the US. In 1987 Bill and I took the children to California to stay with the Dittrichs in Redondo Beach, near Los Angeles, and spent a wonderful week on the Pacific coast. Jean took me to visit some of her American cross stitch shops. I will never forget seeing the choice of fabrics and threads and yes, I was just like a child in a sweet shop.
It was back then that I was introduced to gold-plated needles and, I must be honest, I thought it was bunkum! You can imagine how surprised I was when, after stitching with a good-quality gold-plated needle for an evening, I was completely hooked. I decided to buy my own when I returned home so that I could share them with UK stitchers.
It was then that I hit the brick wall. No one in the UK could sell me gold-plated needles, so I took it upon myself to find my own gold plater. After an afternoon on the telephone (remember, this was long before the internet), I finally found a company prepared to take on gold plating one thousand size 24 tapestry needles.
It was at this point that I made the most important business decision I was ever to make. I was asked how much gold I wanted on each needle… I had simply no idea what to say and mumbled something about the gold not wearing off. The reply came: “British Nuclear Fuels and the Ministry of Defence have 2 microns – that should be plenty.” I agreed and have been very happy to bring you these lovely needles ever since. I bought the best quality needles from John James here in England and all the gold plating happens in Coventry. Curiosity got the better of me and I had to ask what the MOD used gold for. Detonators on grenades was the answer!
Every batch is checked on a machine rather like an x-ray machine so that I know that I am getting the correct amount of gold each time. (I promise this isn’t a sales pitch, but I will warn you to be careful of pale imitations, as the gold will simply wear off with use.)
Apart from the fact that the needles look lovely, there are good reasons to use gold-plated needles. The gold avoids contact with nickel, an irritant to many people; it never marks the fabric if left in place in your work; and a gold-plated needle glides through the fabric perfectly, making it invaluable when creating French, Colonial or Bullion knots.
The Cross Stitch Guild supplies Finder of Treasures with these same glorious needles and I can tell you that I have not used a nickel-plated needle for over 33 years!