Saturday, August 18, 2007

Needle Punch

Although I am primarily a rug hooker, I started needle punching a few years ago. Needle punching is done on a much smaller scale than rug hooking, thus making it far more portable. It's also a lot less messy -- I tend to leave wool dust and snippets wherever I hook. I thought I'd share my favorite punchneedle tools with you today, so if you haven't tried it yet, maybe you'll be inspired to do so.

My favorite needle is the Cameo. I like it's size -- it fits as comfortably into my hand as a pen or pencil would. I've tried the smaller Russian needles, put they are so tiny my hand cramps quickly. I also like that you can get 3 interchangeable needles for it -- small, medium, and large (I usually use the medium) -- and you can easily adjust the height of your loops with just a twist of the shaft.

I use two frames when I am working. The easiest to use and transport and the least expensive is a plastic hoop with a locking lip. The locking lip is important because you must have a drum tight surface for your punching to go quickly. The plastic hoops are available in lots of sizes. I like the tiny one -- you can stick in your purse. Just don't leave your project in a hoop overnight -- it will leave a dent in the surface! The second frame I use is a wooden one -- an 8 1/2 inch square with gripper strips, just like on rug hooking frames. The gripper strips keep your backing really taut. It's drawbacks: the strips can really tear up your wrist if you have a tendency, like me, to lean on your frame, and you cannot get your finished work caught on the strips -- it will rip the threads right out.

For backing I use weaver's cloth, a tightly woven blend of cotton and polyester, which holds the threads nicely and is also very economical to use, costing around $5 a yard. I've been told that you can punch on just about any fabric -- even silk or loosely woven wool -- if you iron on interfacing first. I haven't tried that yet, but I will soon!

I love DMC Medici wool thread for punching. Lots of people use cotton embroidery floss, often up to 6 strands at a time, and get great results. But i like the wool because the finished product looks more like a miniature hooked rug. I can get more detail with a single strand, but I also like the look of using two colors at the same time. Also, using multiple threads makes your punching go faster.

I buy both small skeins and large hanks of Medici, which I've heard is not going to be manufactured anymore. It comes in a wide variety of colors, but I recently tried hand dyeing some to get variegated backgrounds. I have a favorite light background and a favorite antique black background that I use in many of my hooked pieces and I would like to get the same effect in my needle punched pieces.

Many people sell punchneedle equipment and patterns these days. Try your local needlework or quilt shop, or simply google "punchneedle" and you'll be on your way!

Happy Punching!
Hallowed Hill Primitives


SweetAnnee said...

Oh you make it look like MAYBE I can do it!!
I've been wanting to try..

Anonymous said...

I can't wait to see that Harvest Needle Punch picture all finished!

Jean :)

Lana said...

Thanks for the tips Sarah! I'm looking forward to seeing the finished piece.


Lorraine said...

Thanks for sharing your knowledge!! Yep, will LOVE to see the piece when it's all done!!

Sylvia Anderson said...

Love the new piece Sarah!! Thanks for the tips on punchneedle....I have a few patterns, weavers cloth, floss and a to have some time to sit down and try it is another story, LOL!

Anonymous said...

Love, Love, LOOOVE? Anyway, you get the idea. I want to be a puncher!! I tried rug hooking a while ago. It is messy and the burlap was hot and itchy. I love primitive crafts. You have inspired me to want to do this. I was thinking ribbon embroidery, but I think I will do this first.
Thanks for the inspiration