You may remember that back in February 2021 I took a Zoom class at the Contemporary Craft in Pittsburgh, PA on the subject of punch needle embroidery.
I created this small rug:
…and I wrote a post that describes the process, the tools, and the class in some detail. I won’t repeat all that here; instead, take a look at the post for background info.
Since that time, my burst of enthusiasm for this new craft has steadied into a nice warm flame. I bought a small frame, some yarns, and the kind of cloth that is needed to form the base of the embroidery.
I’ve done a little experimenting. Some things did not turn out so well – I tried using doubled worsted weight knitting yarn and it made too dense a fabric (I need to invest in a different sized punch needle – which I feel sure I will do fairly soon).
I’ve been learning how to design for the punch needle experience. I need to remember to be less detailed, at least with my current sized needle and yarns.
And…I have learned that I need to remember that as I work, I am seeing the back of the project, which looks quite different from the front, and in fact, any design you make will be reversed, too, in the final product.
OK, let’s see some photos. In March, after the failed worsted weight yarn attempt (I threw it away half-done), I assembled my supplies:
- bulky weight yarn
- monk’s cloth of the proper density stretched on my new frame (which is 11″ x 11″)
- paper to cut out shapes from (that is how we designed our image in the class)
- punch needle
After shredding a lot of paper I came up with something and drew it on the fabric with a Sharpie pen. (You may wonder about the pool view on the computer screen – from my dining room I was also attending a swim meet in North Carolina, 400+ miles away, in which my cousin’s grandchildren were participating.)
Here is my yarn selection and my faithful patient punch needle ready to go.
Later I decided not to use the variegated yarn. Instead it got made into a knitted table mat and…this bunny for my granddaughter…
But I digress. Over the next couple of days I worked on the project. Here you see it in the frame. The “wrong” side is shown first; that is what I see as I work. The “right” side is next, and then a closeup view. You may notice that I eliminated part of the original design – things were getting too crowded in the fiber piece.
Some people prefer the top side as the final image. I like it as well and it gives a crisp look. But, unless I keep the image stretched in a frame like this, it can’t be finished – it’s pretty much impossible to stretch the waste edge cloth around to get a clean edge.
Here’s where I need to explain something. When you punch through the backing cloth, a length of yarn is carried through equal to the length of the needle. When you bring it back out, it forms a loop of half this length on the “right” side, the one you can’t see. The needle I have makes these nice fluffy loops. It’s pretty long. I can get needles in shorter lengths (= smaller loops) and a smaller size shaft (uses thinner yarns).
Later in my punch needle career I am sure I will add to my needle collection. Because, you know, you can mix and match yarns and loop lengths and get different looks.
But I am not there yet. I am currently working on consistency. In any craft, after gaining the initial skills, that is the first thing that has to be mastered.
All right, here is the finished “rug”. It’s about 9″ x 9″.
Sink your toes into that! Yes! And if you are a Barbie doll, maybe, all the way up to your ankles!
If you are wondering what the back looks like on these pieces, here is an example. I fold the waste cloth under the rug and hand-sew a fabric backing on it to cover the interior.
And for your info, I have given up on the cutting out paper designing method. I do better sketching something out on paper. My vacuum cleaner heaved a sigh of relief when I mentioned this – it had had a lot of work picking up all those tiny snips I kept producing.
Since that project, I have made two more pieces. They are both about 9″ x 9″.
With each one I have gained more skill and a better understanding of what I am doing.
I have just gotten some new yarn and I believe I will be starting on my next project very very soon…