FAQ's - Common Punch Needle Issues and How to Solve Them
Q: Do you have to use a special fabric for Punch Needle?
A: The short answer, yes. If you have a yarn thickness punch needle tool, you will need to use a special fabric. The needle is thick enough that it will rip holes in standard fabrics that cannot regroup. The Punch Needle fabrics (Monks cloth, Rug warp, Linen) all have loose weave strands. The fabric strands can move within the piece to allow a thick needle to be inserted and then bounce back to hold the yarn into place. With each loop, the fabric is squished closer and closer causing a tight hold.
For a more in-depth look at fabrics, visit the Punch Needle Fabric blog post.
Q: I’m new to Punch Needle and my yarn is not staying in my fabric, help me!
A: Some of the common reasons for yarn slipping are as follows:
- Pulling the needle up too far when moving to the next hole - If the needle is pulled away from the fabric far enough, the yarn will come out completely. To fix, control the outtake of your needle so that it grazes the fabric as you move to the next hole. For a video showing this, head over to https://youtu.be/uJg16V7nAQU (about the 1:30 minute mark).
- Yarn is too thick - If a yarn is too thick, it cannot work its way into the fabric far enough to stay as you move over. Or the thickness makes it hard to pull over to the next hole and you pull it out. Most yarn weights (3, 4, 5) will work in the Adjustable needle or the Oxford Regular needles. Yarn weight 6 is sometimes tricky. I've had some yarn weight 6 work and some that just won't stay in.
- The yarn is getting trapped - The yarn tail coming from your needle has to be able to move freely. There are 2 common reasons the yarn gets trapped.
- Yarn tail is too short - let out a good amount of yarn from your ball as you work. I typically do a couple arm lengths at a time.
- Your hand (or something else) is pinning the yarn against the frame - I still do this sometimes, it’s easy to do. As you work, your yarn tail is trapped with your arm or even between crevices in your shirt. To prevent, remember to leave your yarn tail free.
Q: How do you Punch Needle?
1. Decide embroidery punch needle or yarn thickness punch needle. Each will determine the fabric you can use.
Embroidery punch needle can use a wider range of fabrics due to the thinness of the needle. Yarn thickness punch needle requires a special type of fabric.
2. Choose your Punch Needle tool, fabric and frame.
3. Thread your tool - Insert yarn or embroidery thread into the eye of the needle, pull through needle handle.
4. Insert needle along the outline of your section. Touch your tool handle to the fabric each time. And graze the fabric with the tip of your needle as you go to the next stitch.
For the first line of your outline, use a close stitch (about every 2 holes). Widen up your stitch on the second row.
5. Fill in the section - You can continue the outline into the center or you can go line by line.
6. Once each section is filled, trim off your yarn - Punch your tool to the loop side, pull the yarn loose and trim. Remove tool. Trim yarn tails the same length as your loops.
Q: How does the sizing work on the Oxford Punch Needle?
First decide if you want Regular or Fine. Regular is a thicker needle allowing you to use thicker yarns (weight 4 or 5). Fine is a thinner needle able to use thinner yarns (weights 1, 2 and 3).
Second decide your loop length. The numbers correspond to loop lengths.
#8 - 1/2" loop length
#9 - 3/8" loop length
#10 - 1/4" loop length
#13 (available only in fine) - 3/16" loop length
#14 (available only in fine) - 1/8" loop length
My favorite tool is the #8 Regular (I like a longer loop length). The #10 Regular is my second fav.
Q: Is Punch Needle the same as Rug Hooking? What is Punch Needle Rug Hooking?
A: While punch needle produces the same yarn loop as rug hooking, the technique is different. Rug hooking uses a tool with a hook at the tip that grabs the yarn on the back side and pulls it through to the top side. With Punch Needle, the yarn is pushed through the fabric with a needle, pushing enough yarn onto the opposite side to allow the fabric to grab the yarn and create a loop. Basically, just the right amount of yarn is pushed through the fabric that when you pull the needle back through, not all the yarn comes with it. Just the right amount of yarn stays in the fabric allowing a loop to form. As you work, the fabric is pushed tighter and tighter together (b/c of the yarn that is now there) making it stay quite nicely in your final project.
Rug hooking on the other hand, uses the hook to pull the yarn back through the fabric vs. the punch needle pushing the yarn into the fabric. The same end result only different techniques of getting the yarn loops in place.