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Punch Needle Art: The 4 Most Important Tools You Need to Start.

So, you are interested in punch needling? You probably have searched the internet, the craft stores, maybe even your great-great grandmother’s attic. Obviously, she wasn’t alive when punch needling was started in 1881. But you never know?!? There could be some punch needle artifacts being passed down through generations! That would be extra fun!  Punch needle tools are obviously an important part of your journey so, let’s make sure you get the best of best!

There’s a plethora of choices when it comes to materials for punch needling. I decided it was time to break it down and give the details on what materials I use and where to find them. I will also give you my opinion… I know, I know,  you may not want my opinion so take it with a grain of salt and do more research. I will almost guarantee once you’ve tried the below tools, you’ll feel the same way but it’s important you do you and draw your own conclusions. 

Without further ado, my go-to, top of the line punch needle tools and materials:

Punch Needle:

Well obviously, right?!? The punch needle is one of the first tools you need to get your hands on when you start your punch needle journey. This tool does the majority of the work; it creates the loops that form your design. Consider it like drawing with yarn and your punch needle is your pencil.

Here’s the deal, you can find punch needles at JoAnn Fabrics, Michaels, Hobby Lobby and Amazon. They all work (sort of), but they are NOT good quality and will most definitely be a waste of your money. If you want to learn the art of punch needling, invest in your venture and start off with the right punch needle. 

The BEST punch needle on the market is the Amy Oxford Punch Needle. The Oxford punch needle is the GOLD standard for punch needles. 

“Amy ergonomically designed it for comfort and longer punching times. It has a LIFETIME guarantee.”

Yes, I said LIFETIME! Hard to believe huh? You don’t find many companies that are so confident in their products that they offer a lifetime guarantee. That alone speaks volumes!

Oxford Punch Needle Features:

  • Made in the USA
  • Ergonomically Designed for Comfort and Speed
  • Maple Handle
  • Electro Polished Stainless Steel Needle
  • Lifetime Money Back guarantee
  • For Use with Yarn, Cut Strips of Wool and Other Fabrics
  • Designed by Punch Needle Expert Amy Oxford

It’s no secret that I am a lover of the Oxford punch needle. So much so that I sell it in my Cotton Roots Etsy shop. I include the punch needle, a PDF guide for the ‘Basics of Punch Needling’ and a sample of monk’s cloth or primitive linen. I promise I am going to tell you all about the fabric and hoop in this post. Just keep on scrolling.

Yarn: 

The second most important tool (or material) is yarn. This one can be a little tricky. Yarn comes in a variety of textures and weights. I found this FAQ Page written by Amy Oxford to be amazingly helpful. There’s a lot of yarn lingo to break down; a hank, cake, donut? Ok, now I’m getting hungry. For quick reference here are a few helpful tips and tricks regarding yarn:

  • Pick yarn fiber based on the project you’re creating. For a usable piece like a rug or pillow, wool is best. For non use projects like wall hangings you can use a variety of fibers. 
  • Don’t ever use yarns that are lumpy, silky/slippery or hairy. They won’t stay well within your cloth.
  • Take your needle yarn shopping with you. Essentially if the yarn can be threaded through your needle and glides easily back and forth with little effort, you can use it. 
  • For thinner yarns you can double or even triple up for the Oxford regular needles. Again, test it out before your buy, that’s your best bet.
  • If you can’t take your needle with you because well, we’re all online shopping these days, you can pick yarn out by the weight size provided in the description or on the label. For the regular size needle you can use up to weight 5 without concerns. Anything bigger than that will potentially be tougher to use. Of course you can use the thinner 1-4 weights but doubled or tripled up. For the fine size needle you’ll want to stick with weights 1-4. 
  • Don’t be afraid to experiment and try a variety of fibers and sizes. Playing around is part of the fun! 

There’s no shortage of amazing yarn shops out there. However, there’s one in particular that focuses just on punch needle/rug hooking yarn and uses 100% wool-  Seal Harbor Rug Co. Although, you do not need to use 100% wool for a punch needling, I personally like it’s ease of punching with the regular punch needle and the color tones are, well, perfect! It’s spun tighter creating more durability and for projects like rugs, it’s very important the yarn stays put and lasts for many years. Seal Harbor Rug Co. hand dyes their yarn in a studio in Vermont with colorfast acid dyes. They have over 200 hand dyed colors!! You won’t have any trouble finding just the right colors for your piece. 

Fabric:

100% cotton Monk’s cloth is hands down the right way to go! It’s the most forgiving foundation cloth on the market. Sadly, you can’t buy the correct size of cloth in big box stores. You must purchase it online.

It is super, super, super important you get the right size when ordering (12 holes per inch). The size sold in stores is usually 5-6 holes per inch. I am not saying you can’t use this size, but the holes won’t hold the yarn in place very well causing you a heck of a lot of frustration. 

With the 12 holes per inch, you’re able to punch and re-punch if you need to. That’s the forgiving part I was talking about. If you make a mistake (which will happen), it’s easily corrected by simply removing your yarn, then using the tip of your needle to scrape your cloth back into place. You can easily do this without causing damage to the cloth. Monks cloth will forgive you for your mistakes. I promise.

You can use other cloth such as primitive linen or cotton rug warp. If you can’t get your hands on any of those fast enough and you have a fine oxford punch needle, or other needle 4mm or smaller, you can use burlap, canvas, linen and even painters drop cloth. I have a blog post all about painter’s cloth here.  

Frame:

I primarily use the Morgan No Slip Embroidery Hoop and that’s what I sell with my punch needle kits. They come in a variety of sizes and are made in the USA from new and recycled material. 

When you first start punch needling, you may not want to invest a ton of money on a gripper frame until you know you love it; which I’m certain you will. The Morgan hoops are reasonably priced and BONUS; you can use them over and over again!  

The hoop has a patented tongue-and-groove system that holds the cloth taught and securely between the inner and outer rings. The cloth will not move! One of the most infuriating things about punch needling for beginners is their cloth being loose. It’ll ruin the experience quickly. 

Morgan Hoops are the easiest, quickest way to get started with punch needling. It takes about 3-4 minutes to set up and you’re ready to go. Throw it in your beach bag, your purse, your backseat, your carry-on, etc. and bring it anywhere with you.

Oh the places you can punch! The car, the bleachers, the couch, the park, the sports game, camping, fishing, and the list goes on…

I just recenlty bought my first “real” gripper strip frame from Amy Oxford but I haven’t even punched on it yet. With that thought, I know it is top of the line and I’m more than certain I will love it. But for now, my Morgan Hoops still rank #1.

Punch needling is a very fun and exciting art. It has made it through centuries of new fads and new crazes and has still found its place in so many homes. I hope this blog article helps get you started on this journey! I have several punch needle patterns available in my Etsy Shop. Many perfect for beginners! 


Looking to purchase items mentioned in this blog post? Click the links below.

Amy Oxford Needle 

Monk’s Cloth

Morgan Hoop 

Punch Needle Patterns

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