This is intended as a whistle stop tour of the key materials you need to get started with punch needle. You want to get crafting quickly and don't have the time (or energy) to read about all the different intricacies, you just want to start making. This guide will take you through the four key components needed to get started with this wonderful craft.
Most important tool - the punch needle
They come in different shapes and sizes but essentially all punch needles function the same, they allow a continuous length of yarn to run through a channel and out a tip. Some punch needles will require a threader to get the yarn into the channel and others won't. Each punch needle will be designed for a particular thickness of yarn - the thicker / wider punch needles will allow you to double or triple up thinner strands of yarn also. Punch needles create flat stitches on the working side of your piece and loop stitches on the reverse. Some punch needles like the Oxford punch needles will be fixed so that you can create one loop height with that needle, others like the Lavor punch needles are adjustable so that you can create different loop heights with one needle.
When considering buying a punch needle, think about the thickness of yarn and what you would like to make. Thicker punch needles like the regular Oxford's and the chunky 5mm Lavor needles are better suited to making larger projects as they take thicker yarn. A fine punch needle like the Ultra punch or the fine Lavor punch needle set, will take much finer yarn or embroidery floss and will be more useful for small, intricate work.
The Lavor 4mm and 5mm adjustable punch needle tools
Punch needle yarn
Once you have your tool, next you need a fibre to punch with. As noted above the thickness of your punch needle will denote the thickness of the fibre you can use with it. Whatever you choose to punch with, make sure that it runs smoothly through the needle. Don't choose anything too fluffy or hairy (like mohair) as the fluffy fibres are likely to snag in the needle making loops uneven, or just unable to punch. If the fibre you want to work with is too silky, this too could be problematic as it slides too well through the needle without any resistance. This can also cause uneven loops.
The punch needle tool you purchase should hopefully have recommended yarns to use with it. If you want to make something hardwearing such as a rug, you will want to use a hardwearing fibre such as 100% wool rug yarn. This yarn is coarse and durable and will withstand being walked upon. Also great for cushions, but not as soft on the back!
An aran weight cotton yarn is a lovely yarn to use with the fine Lavor punch needle set. It's easy to work with, relatively cheap, safe for those with sensitive skin and appeals to those who do not want to use animal fibres.
If you're a knitter or do any other yarn based crafts, you'll be able to use up all your odds and ends in punch needle projects. Great for using up scraps, you don't need complete balls of yarn every time you want to start a new project.
Stack of 100% wool punch needle rug yarn
Punch needle fabric - monks cloth, linen and cotton
Once you have chosen your punch needle tool and yarn, next you need fabric to form the base of your project. This doesn't need to be complicated, but as it's forming the base of your project it's worth finding something decent that will last over time.
As a general rule of thumb, the smaller the width of the punch needle the tighter the fabric and thinner the yarn. As the punch needle gets thicker you’ll need to use a looser weave of fabric and thicker yarn.
There are quite a few different things to consider when choosing your fabric, so we'll refer you back to an earliest post dedicated just to that. Read all about punch needle fabric here.
Pile of different punch needle fabrics (from left to right, monks cloth, linen and cotton)
Final component - punch needle frame or hoop
You've got the first three components now; you've chosen your punch needle tool, yarn and fabric, now all you need is something to work on. Punch needle fabric must be stretched across a hoop or frame as tight as possible. The tighter you can stretch it the easier it will be to punch your project. There are a large variety of different punch needle hoops or frames. My preference is for a no slip Morgan gripper hoop or a gripper strip frame. Both are very good at stretching your fabric quickly, easily and keep it taut whilst punching. There's nothing worse than punching a project and the fabric starts to sag. It'll distort the design and can put undue pressure on your hand and wrist whilst punching.
Take the time to stretch your fabric properly before you start and you'll have a much more pleasant punching experience.
Inserting corner protectors into frame
So there you have it, your four key punch needle components
We've tried to ensure that there is as much as information as we have on each of the product descriptions, but it's easy to miss things out! So if you need any additional information feel free to get in touch. No question is too silly or small, we all have to start somewhere.