Colonial and Paternayan Persian Yarn:

A Woven History Spanning over 75 Years

Harry and Karnick Paternayan immigrated to America from their native Turkey in 1916. Their vocation, repairing genuine Persian carpets, led them to develop a wool yarn of quality, durability, and luxurious color they had known in their homeland. The result of their effort was Paternayan Persian 100% virgin wool, which would soon be discovered and established by American needle artists as the standard fiber used for all types of needlecraft.

The unique breed of sheep was carefully selected to produce an especially soft, especially white and especially long-fibered wool. Accepting nothing less than the finest spinning available anywhere in the world, they brought their wool to the Yorkshire section of England, where “flyer” spinning machines were in operation. Unlike the so-called “fast and efficient” spinning machines of the modern era, these special machines slowly and precisely polished each and every fiber as they spun the wool.

The timeline is unclear, but at some point, their meticulous spinning process was moved by the Paternayan family to the United States to a hand-picked spinner in New England. It was then sold to the JCA Crafts, and around 2011, it was sold again to Saco River Dyehouse. The company was managed by them for a few years before ultimately closing its doors for good in 2018.

Simultaneously, the Colonial Needle Company, owned by the Collingham family, began using the original American spinner of Paternayan Yarn to start their own line of superior quality fibers in 2013. Since then, Colonial Persian Yarn has been well-known for its 3-ply, versatile 100% long-staple virgin wool with extraordinary strength for no fraying or breaking during stitching.

In 2020, the Paternayan name was purchased by the Collingham family to continue the legacy of heirloom quality yarn available to stitchers and crafters alike. Together with their reputation for exceptional customer service and their dedication to only the finest quality products, Colonial Needle is proud to include the Paternayan trademark in their family of brands.

Our Persian Yarn

Persian yarn is well known all over the world for its superior use for needlework such as embroidery, needlepoint, and cross stitch. A major benefit of Persian yarn comes from its versatility. The yarn provides excellent coverage on a wide range of canvas sizes by simply varying the number of strands used in the stitching. A single strand of Paternayan Persian is ideal for cross stitch on Aida cloth and fine embroidery on linen.

Plying, the act of separating the three strands, is always necessary before stitching. Even when three strands are used, plying is still needed so the yarn will lie smoothly on the canvas. The chart below gives the amount of Colonial Persian Yarn required for one square inch of basket weave stitching.

Mesh Size Number of Strands Length of Yarn
#10 Mono Canvas 3 48"
#12 Mono Canvas 2 38"
#14 Mono Canvas 2 42"
#18 Mono Canvas 1 25"


Which Put-up Is Best For Your Store?

We are often asked by prospective dealers whether they should carry their yarn in bulk or pre-wound cards. Our sales staff usually advises bulk yarn to dealerships whose selling approach emphasizes personal service to the customer. The key question is whether the dealer wishes to prepare the yarn for sale or purchase yarn already carded.

Colonial Persian Yarn is available in the following put-ups:

  • 8 Yard Card
  • ¼ lb Hank


For dealers who are extremely service-oriented, buying the yarn in bulk ¼ pound hanks and preparing the yarn for sale is most profitable.

A ¼ pound hank of Persian yarn when untwisted forms a continuous loop. When this loop is stretched and cut at both ends, a minimum of 185-33” strands remain (most hanks contain over 193 strands). Small put-ups of approximately 8 yards are formed by twisting 9-33” strands together. Some shops prefer to sell single strands as customers’ needs are determined at the time of purchase.


Factory carded yarn is ideal for stores seeking the convenience of self service. A major advantage of Colonial’s pre-carded yarn is that customers can easily find what they need with minimum assistance. Color numbers and dye lots are clearly marked on each card. The full range of 283 colors in 8 yard cards requires as little as 8 linear feet of space. When lighted correctly with incandescent floods (NOT fluorescent light), Colonial Persian Yarn cards provide a colorful centerpiece for any store.

Our most current color list can be found here.


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