Last week started an interesting adventure regarding beading needles. You may be interested. While teaching the workshop "Advanced Elements of Beadwork" at the Bead Society of Greater New York some beaders purchased the project kit from me rather than bring the lengthy list of supplies. It included both size 10 and size 12 beading needles. When we started using the 12s I offered to thread needles, since, even though I am of an age, I can still get the thread to jump through the eye. Well, I had a duzy of a time. And twice I pulled the eyes right off the needle. Yikes. Then we started beading and you could hear the needles snap like little threads of glass. It was amazing. I went to my "emergency bead kit" where I had a stash of supplies to retreive more needles. It was then that Nina or Amy mentioned that John James beading needles are now being made in China. I checked the packages and indeed, one was labeled "Manufactured by John James & Sons Limited, Studley, Warwickshire England" AND one labeled "Packed in the EU using needles made in China to Entaco's quality and specifications". They were visibly different.
Sorry I do not know relationship between Entaco and John James & Sons. But, when I reported my dissatisfaction I was told that Entaco, manufacturer of John James needles, were losing their craftsmen to ageing and younger replacements not entering the craft. They thought they should have them manufactured in China to their specs. They have changed their minds and manufacturing has returned to England. I will use the new batch of needles made in England and let you know.
In MASTERING BEADWORK when I addressed beading needles, I said that the economy needles such as Pony brand manufactured in India are flexible and able to curve. John James were annealed and more brittle and while less likely to become S curved, they could break. This gave beaders a choice. Sometimes I am happy to tolerate a couple broken needles to avoid an S curvy needle. Sometimes I seek flexibility.
http://johnjamesneedles.com/ and http://www.entaco.com/
Kazue and Harada-san have both confirmed that I will accompany them , Tulip Co Ltd. http://tulip-japan.co.jp, in their booth/exhibit at TNNA (The National NeedleArts Association) http://tnna.org/ at the Greater Columbus Convention Center in Ohio June 13-15. It is their first venture in U.S. This is such a delight for me. I truly enjoyed working with Kazue in the booth at the International Great Quilt Show in Tokyo in January. I demonstrated feltmaking and signed copies of my felting book (sponsored by Tulip, writtten by me in English and translated beautifully into Japanese by Motoko Natsubori and published by Patchwork). It will be a pleasure to promote their comfortable and fine felting needles and new ergonomic crochet hooks. Kang too will join us in Ohio. Kang relocated to Florida and I enjoyed a wonderful visit with her when I was in Tampa to teach at the Sewing and Quilt Expo in March. http://sewingexpo.com/