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Which punch needle tool to use

The plethora of punching supplies can you leave you feeling a little dazed and confused, that’s why I’ve put together this little post to show you a few of the different punch needle tools that I use and the corresponding fabric and yarn that you can use with them.

The Queen of the punch – Amy Oxford

If you’ve started to explore the possibilities of punch needle then you will have most likely come across the holy grail of punch needles, made by Amy Oxford. Amy has been teaching rug hooking / punch needle embroidery since 1985 and therefore knows a thing or two (read: a million) about punching. Amy developed her set of punch needles in 1995 after struggling to find an ergonomic needle that would comfortably allow her to keep up with all her punching. The needles are beautifully made in Vermont where Amy has her rug hooking / punch needle school. As well as being a delight to punch with, resting comfortably in your hand, they are also self threading.

Amy Oxford punch needle tool

Thick or thin yarn

The Oxford needles can accommodate two thicknesses of yarn; regular and fine. Within these two categories there are then a number of needles which produce different loop heights. Yarn weights and sizes tend to differ a little across countries and brands so I always think you’re best to buy your needle first and then trial and error will help you find a yarn which fits your needle. As a rule though:

  • Oxford regular needles – thick, chunky, bulky, 3-ply rug yarn
  • Oxford fine needles - worsted weight, sock weight, baby weight, sport weight, tapestry, and needlepoint yarns

Most popular Oxford needle

The most popular of the Oxford needles is the #10 regular needle. This needle takes thick, chunky, bulky, 3-ply rug yarn and is a dream to use. The #10 regular needle produces a loop height of 0.25 inch / 6 mm approx. You can also double, or triple up finer yarns which gives a great texture.

I will have a small number of these for sale in my shop over the next couple of weeks. Sign up to my mailing list to be informed when they drop!

Adjustable punch needles

There are also different adjustable punch needle tools available. These adjustable tools allow you to create different loop heights with just one needle. They range but generally one tool has between four – six different loop heights. These tools are great if you want to add some depth in your piece. They are also normally cheaper than the Oxford punch needles, which make them a great choice if you want to try punch needle embroidery but don’t want to commit to the more expensive tools (just yet). They are generally threaded using a thin wire threader which is included with the tool.

Wooden handle adjustable punch needle

This is one of the first punch needles I used and a great affordable alternative to the Oxford. It takes the same thickness of yarn as the Oxford regular needles an produces a range of six different loop heights. This is a great needle for creating texture in your punch needle project. These are available to buy alone or as part of my punch needle frame kits.

whole punching adjustable punch needle

Plastic handle adjustable punch needle

This is a newer needle for me as I was looking for an alternative tool to stock as part of my kits. It has four different loop heights available and takes a range of yarn from finer worsted weight/dk yarn through to thick yarn. If you’re just starting out this is a great option for a needle. It’s easy to thread, adjust and use and gives you the flexibility of using different yarn weights and creating multiple loop heights. It is available to purchase in my shop alone, or as part of one of my punch needle hoop kits. If you purchase the tool by itself I’ll include a sample of yarn that I use so you can see the thickness.

whole punching adjustable punch needle

Monks cloth fabric

All of the punch needle tools listed above can be used with monks cloth; a loose even-weave cotton fabric which is specifically designed for use with a punch needle. The fabric has a double thread running through it, this makes is durable enough to keep the stitches in place whilst also allowing the needle to move easily through the fabric. The best property of monks cloth is that you can frog your work! Frog or frogging is the process of pulling out your work and punching it again. This is such a great feature for beginners. Or those who are indecisive and want to change a colour (me, nearly every punch needle piece I create!)

What do you think?

I hope this helps some of you who are confused as to which punch needle tool to purchase. If you’re still unsure just send me an email and I’ll try and help. If you’re more visual, why not come along to one of my punch needle workshops? They are normally based around the South West (UK) in Bristol or Bath although I am happy to travel further afield if you would like me to host one for you.