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What is punch needle?

Punch needle is a satisfying, relaxing craft that is enjoying a modern resurgence. The punch needle was originally invented in the 1880’s to speed up rug hooking. Rather than working from the front with a hook to pull loops up through a backing fabric, the punch needle tool pushes a continuous length of yarn through fabric to form loops on the underneath. Although traditionally used for making rugs, modern applications of punch needle include cushions, wall hangings and bags. The rhythmic punching is favoured by many for it’s relaxing motion. The perfect craft for textile or yarn lovers, punch needle is a traditional craft for modern makers. It's a very accessible craft and great for beginners as it's quite forgiving. 

If you want to know how to get started with punch needle check out the blog post here. Some of the most common punch needle terms and vocabulary is below.

Punch needle tool

The loop you will be using! It works by pushing a continuous length of yarn through fabric, creating loops on one side and flat stitches on the other. The tool generally has a handle and a pointed needle with an eye (small hole) in it. Some are adjustable to create different loop heights and others are static and create one loop height. Some punch needles are self-threading which means they don't required a threader.


Normally a thin piece of wire used to pull your yarn up through the needle to thread it. Known for being easy to misplace, you can easily make another one using jewellery beading wire. (Oxford punch needles are self-threading and do not require a threader.)

Flat stitches

These are the stitches that will be made on the side that you are punching. They will be flush/flat to the fabric. This stitch is popular for it's neat finish as it's great for definition an doesn't require tidying up afterwards. Traditionally it is the reverse (backside) of a piece.

Loop stitches

These are the stitches that will form on the opposite side to which you are punching. They sit above the fabric, in little loops of yarn and they can be different heights depending on your punch needle. If you are using an adjustable punch needle (e.g. Lavor punch needle) you will be able to create different size loops. If you are using a static punch needle (such as an Oxford punch needle) all of your loops will be the same height. Fully inserting your punch needle, down to the handle each time, will give you uniform loops of the same length.

Bricking or staggering stitches

If a punch needle pattern refers to 'bricking' or 'staggering stitches' it means to offset your stitches. So on the side you are working on with your flat stitches, instead of lining them up when you do your next row, offset them. This will help your loops to interlock (like teeth on a zip) on the opposite side. This helps to give your piece more stability.

Whip stitch

A stitch used for finishing edges. A great method for hiding the outer ring of an embroidery hoop (or covering the edge of a basket, trivet or rug). The technique is the same whichever project you use it on; use a length of yarn and darning needle to wrap the edge and hide any extra fabric or hoop.


A term which is applicable to different crafts. The ability to pull out your work and re-make without damaging the progress you have made. in punch needle it refers to pulling your stitches out to then re-punch. Really handy for changing colour, or neatening your stitches. Only certain punch needle fabrics (such as monks cloth or some linens) will have fibres durable enough to withstand this. When you pull out your yarn the threads will move apart appearing to leave holes. You can re-punch straight into these widened holes but if you’d prefer you can use the tip of the punch needle to scratch the fabric and push the threads back into place.

Monks cloth & fabric 'count'

Loose even-weave cotton fabric, specifically designed for punch needle. It is usually in a natural cream colour and will sometimes have guidelines across it. These lines are helpful for ensuring your design stays straight when you stretch it. Often described as having a ‘count per inch’, this is the count of threads or holes per inch of fabric. Monks cloth with 12-14 holes / 24 - 28 threads per inch, is optimum for yarn based chunky punch needles like the Lavor 5mm adjustable punch needle or the Oxford regular punch needles. 

Handy how-to punch needle tutorials

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