A Brief Introduction to the Kantan Needle

Discover the origin of this needle and the different types of embroidery projects you can create with it

As a creative discipline, embroidery offers endless possibilities. Enthusiasts will find great satisfaction in discovering new materials to create projects that go far beyond working with a traditional needle and thread.

In this blog, designer, art director, and embroiderer, Koral Antolín (@koralantolin) presents the Kantan needle–a tool that will help you add unique touches to your designs.

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Aguja Kantan. Koral Antolín

What makes the Kantan needle different to others?

A Kantan embroidery needle–also known as the Russian embroidery needle–has a small hook at its point.

It’s similar to other technical needles that you’ve maybe seen or used: the Luneville embroidery (Tambour or French embroidery) needle, the Indian (Aari) embroidery needle, and the classic crochet hook.

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Lunéville needle
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Aari needle
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Crochet hook

The Kantan needle is much simpler to use than a Luneville needle, and you can use it to create a range of effects. The name “Kantan” means easy–the Japanese brand behind it wanted to associate their product with this idea.

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Kantan needle

How does it work?

The small hook makes it easier to embroider simple stitches, such as chain stitch or flat stitch. When it comes to more complicated stitches, you need to pay attention to your hand movements and other skills that you will develop with practice.

It has a rounded point and a lever that is activated by a spring. The design of the Kantan needle was influenced by knitting machines. It usually has a handle made from wood. The spring mechanism makes it easier to embroider. If you want to buy a Kantan needle, make sure it has a spring–don’t confuse it with other needles that are used for tapestry (you will recognize them because they are much bigger, such as the last three in the image below).

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A range of different needles (the Kantan needle sits in the middle)

To embroider using this needle, the first thing that you need to learn is how to position your hands and the hoop. Unlike when working with a traditional needle, you shouldn’t pull the entire thread through each stitch. Instead, keep your hand close to the fabric. This way your embroidery will be quicker and simpler.

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Koral Antolín
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Koral Antolín

What types of projects can you create?

It will depend on the type of embroidery you want to work with. With this needle, you can add attractive textures and details to your pieces.

Koral specializes in creating line embroidery projects:

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Koral Antolín
Koral Antolín

If you want to learn Koral’s technique and how to use the Kantan needle, sign up to her course, Embroidered Linear Portrait. You will create unique portraits combining embroidery techniques using a traditional needle and a Kantan needle.

English version by @eloiseedgington.

You may also like:

The History of Embroidery: From Tutankhamun to the 21st Century
5 Embroiderers That Will Inspire Your Next Creation
What Is Punch Needle and How Is It Different to Other Embroidery Styles?


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