A Look at the Art of Punch Needle

Posted by Knitters Pride on January 30th, 2024

If you enjoy needlecrafts as much as we do, chances are that you may have seen examples of punch needle work.  Lately, it has been taking the internet by storm with many Instagram and Pinterest accounts displaying the results of the craft.

Although the upswing in interest is recent, this is a craft with a past.  Originally, known as rug hooking, it started in the US  around the 1830’s.  It was made of a short hook attached to a wooden handle and resembled a crochet hook. People (most often women) would use strips of wool  or cotton – often salvaged from worn out clothes or material – to pull loops through some type of stiff backing.  When the loops were grouped in rows close together, they formed a cushiony “pile” that resulted in a mat or rug.

Punch needle, surged into popularity,  in the 1880’s and is done with a needle channeling  thread, which is pushed  down  with each “punch”, forming loops in reverse. It has the advantage of speed.  While often the result is a rug or a cushion cover, there are scads of other possibilities.  Here are some fun examples:

Here is an example of a punch needle “kit” which includes a number of important accessories.

More Information

Specially designed for punch needle embroidery, this Vibrant” punch needle set is a complete kit which is appropriate for a wide range of projects. The adjustable length feature allows you to control the length of the loops and make uniform stitches. The 4 different Punch needle sizes can be used with a common wooden handle, along with attachments. The size of the needle, which is also its diameter, .determines the thickness of the yarn or thread you can use. The fine threads result in delicate and intricate patterns while thicker yarns create bold and  textured designs. The ergonomic handle fits comfortably in the hand and guarantees comfortable  use for  many hours of enjoyable making. This specific kit, contains the following, all encased in a colorfully embroidered denim case:

  • Wooden Rainbow Hued Punch Needle Handle
  • 4 Needles: sizes: 2, 3, 4, 5 mm
  • 3 Attachments: 2mm, 3mm, 4mm
  • Note: 5 mm needle does not need attachment
  • 2 Threaders
  • A Complete Instruction booklet

When practicing punch needle work, it is important to have a stable and taut surface.  A variety of frames and stands are available online. This is an example of prepared frames which are ideal for beginners:

The sturdy square wooden frame securely holds the fabric in place and eliminates wrinkles and loose areas, ensuring a smooth and precise punching experience. These frames ae Ideal for wall hangings  and perfect for gifts. They are a good way for a beginner to practice on first projects. To see how this is done, take a look:

Go here to see a tutorial

There are now many people posting their work on all the normal social media sites.  Some of them have followers that number well over 100,000  followers.  You can look for them on Instagram or Pinterest, using search words such as Punch Needle Art or Punch Needle Embroidery

New groups and clubs are springing up all the time.  Again, many of them can be found online or through local yarn stores.  Needle Punching  tends to form communities of enthusiasts which can lead to new friendships and communities of like-minded people, as well as new sources for inspiration and supplies.    Like knitting and crocheting, there are multiple benefits associated with this fiber art, including mindful meditation.  Health care professionals have long known of the therapeutic benefits of focused artwork.  On top of all of that, it is just plain fun.  Why not “take a stab” at it? 

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Knitters Pride

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Knitters Pride
Joined: July 7th, 2022
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