All the information provided below is my opinion. Like the thread, these are the things I do every day. Use what makes sense to you, feel free to disagree, add comments to open a dialogue with others. Again, I am paid no endorsement fees.
Needles for Hand Sewing According to Sharon
Betweens are for hand quilting.
Sharps are for all other hand sewing. (When I first started to applique I used betweens and thought a needle is a needle--but sharps really do make a difference for applique. But...use whatever works for you.)
The higher the number, the smaller the needle, i.e., 9 is larger than 10 which is larger than 11, etc.
Richard Hemming makes large eye needles, which are easier to thread, in both sharps and betweens.
John James Sharp Size 11 are my favorite needles for handwork.
Needles should be changed after about 8 hours of sewing. (I am hand quilting on an all batik quilt--even the backing is batik--and I am changing my needle more frequently. Come on--needles are one of the cheapest notions we use, so change them more often. Your hands will thank you!)
Remember that one side of the eye is larger than the other; if you are having trouble threading the needle, turn the needle 180 degrees and try again!
Needles for Machine Sewing According to Sharon
Sharps are used for woven fabrics like our quilting cottons.
Ballpoints are used for knits.
Universals are a combination sharp/ballpoint. They do not make as fine a seam on wovens as sharps alone do. Have a featherweight? Stitches kind of zigzagging on their own? Change to a sharp needle and the problem will miraculously disappear. No kidding!
For machine needles, the larger the number, the larger the needle, i.e., 10 is smaller than 11 which is smaller than 12, etc. (When I am president, the number system for needles, both hand and machine, will be in sync--remember you have to vote for me if you want these changes to actually happen!)
My favorite needles? Sharps size 11 or 12 for general sewing. Why? Because a 50 wt. thread adequately fills the holes left by size 11 needles. Have you seen the holes left by larger bore needles? Bet you have--hold a machine quilted quilt up to the light--see those holes? Too large a needle, too fine a thread.
You may need to go to a size 14 or larger for machine quilting when using those heavier threads.
Needles should be changed after about 8 hours of sewing. Not just when they break.
I am still opposed to silk and polyester or polyester-based threads. Even if poly is used only for machine quilting, the quilt is still moving and it's still poly against cotton fibers. When I first started quilting, a cotton-covered polyester thread was about all that was readily available for quilting. I figured I had the best of both worlds--cotton covering, poly strength. But the poly wears away the cotton coating and then I was once again left with the poly thread against my cotton fibers. Silk? Yes, it is very fine. Hard to keep in the needle. The bad news? Over time, silk thread "relaxes" and allows the applique to pull away from the background. That's why I like the 60 wt. Mettler--all cotton, as fine as silk but much easier to use.
So there you have it. Food for thought--or an insomnia aid. Maybe pictures of something tomorrow.
P.S. Thanks to all of you for your concern about the potential data loss. Still no word on that yet so keep those good thoughts. For those who suggested Carbonite, which I was fully prepared to do, I have dial-up. The computer techs just shook their heads and said--oh, my. Just as a quick aside, several years ago the computers at the place hosting my website went down--and they lost a great deal of my website content. So...you may want a back-up plan to cyberspace. I now have a web host that backs up every day and on multiple storage devices. Just sayin'. I don't want anyone else going down the roads I've already traveled. Why, oh why, couldn't they have been "the roads not taken".