You can use almost any type of thread or yarn to stitch a needlepoint canvas. The key is using the right number of strands to get the right amount of coverage.
For a 13-mesh canvas, I recommend knotting together the following thread amounts:
6-strand metallic embroidery floss: one strand
2-ply crewel wool: two strands
4-ply tapestry wool: one strand
6-strand embroidery floss: one strand
No. 8 perle cotton: two strands
A Few Thoughts
The more strands, the more mess (probably). The more strands, the more likely that threads will get twisted and uneven. It’s not impossible, but you’ll just need to pay more attention as you stitch.
Special tools make using metal threads easier. Metallic threads are actually coated with bits of metal, and metal just isn’t as flexible as wool or cotton thread. Imperfect stitches are more obvious and tend to look like spiky knots. To get your stitches really clean-looking, you can use a laying tool or “mellors”, like goldwork embroiderers do. Slip the tool between your canvas and the bottom of the stitch, then carefully pull the thread taut, but not tight. The whole goal is to avoid twisting or crushing the metal bits of the thread.
The wool should be smaller than the canvas mesh. It is just barely possible to use 4-ply tapestry weight wool on a 13-mesh canvas, and I don’t know if I would advise it. It’s harder to pull through, your hand will cramp faster, and your canvas will have more lumps and bumps.
My Fave Threads
Appleton 2-ply wool is my absolute favorite needlepoint thread. I can’t get enough of the fresh color palette combined with the traditional look of the wool yarn.
That said, I’m currently planning a project that combines a few different types of embroidery floss, including metallics. I’m treating it as a way to put a dent in the thread stash I’ve amassed over the years.