Another Devotion?

Perhaps “addiction” or “obsession” rather than “devotion” would be more appropriate in this post’s title!  While I planned on filling our new house with hand made rugs, since meeting Una Walker of Wooly Walkers on the first day of at last weekend’s Black Sheep Gathering (Friday), I knew I would have to make at least one of those rugs in the punch needle method.

Under Una’s instruction, I made a mug coaster at Una’s booth.  I left her booth with a finished coaster, a hank of differently colored strands of wool yarn, a 24 inch square piece of monk’s cloth and a punch needle and started practicing the technique that very night.  PunchNeedleCoastersOn Saturday and Sunday I popped by her booth again for input on my progress.  She was so very helpful and informative – a gracious teacher.

Here’s a picture of the coasters/trivets I punched on the piece of monk’s cloth over the weekend.  I punched on both sides of the cloth, so you are looking at the undersides of some (e.g., the bottom right and top right coasters), and the topsides of others (e.g., the middle horizontal row).

The more I punched, the more I was determined that Thor and I should have our very own (made by me!) punch needle rug.  Of course, after Sunday Una returned to California, so I had to find a substitute punch needle information source.


As is my wont when I enter a new field, I started to do more research.  I had to learn more about punch needle rug hooking art – its tradition, history and usages.  I ordered Amy Oxford’s Punch Needle Rug Hooking: Techniques and Designs and started reading as soon as it arrived.  (I am glad I hadn’t started immediately on the large piece of monk’s cloth I bought from Una while at the BSG for my rug; I need to practice more.)

Filled with wonderful pictures, PunchNeedleLate 18thCOxford’s 157 page book is a sort of A to Z approach to punch needle rug hooking.

Did you know that punch needle rug hooking originated in the late 19th century?  The tradition is thought to have come from the Canadian Maritime Provinces and the New England region of the U.S.  (Pic source)

The first chapter is on the history of the punch needle, and from there she moves to George Wells (whom she describes as “the patriarch of punch needle rug  hooking).  Wells described his work thusly:  “The stage setting is the room, and the rug must suit the setting and the characters who live in that setting.  Above all, the characters must enjoy the rugs.”

After reading the chapter on McAddo rugs, I found this article about the enterprise from the NY Times (March 5, 1987).  Oxford’s book includes an excellent chapter called “A Private Lesson – How to Make Punch Needle Rugs” and an equally useful chapter on FAQs (aka Frequently Asked Questions).

PunchNeedleCoastertacosAfter reading Oxford’s instructions on what to do once the rug maker removes the piece from its frame or hoop, I began the steps to turn my creations into usable trivets.  First I cut them apart, leaving fabric for seaming.  Yikes!  They rolled into little cloth tacos.  But from Oxford’s book I learned that’s normal!


Here’s a picture of my coasters all steamed and pressed.  With a needle and thread and working from the under side, I stitched each one to a piece of wool felt.  As you can see, these trivets suggest the need for more practice.

But I will make a punch needle rug for our new house – after I finish reading Oxford’s book and after I finish another practice piece.  (Earlier today I ordered a yard of monk’s cloth from Wooly Walkers … I’m thinking I will make a larger trivet on which I can place hot pots or plates when serving a meal.)



About sweatyknitter

Fiber art devotee, author, and amateur artisan bread baker.
This entry was posted in Punch Needle Rug Hooking, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

13 Responses to Another Devotion?

  1. I am hoping my rug will turn out well … I am still working on designs and samples in the form of trivets.


  2. Take the plunge and give it a try … it is SO much fun. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. What can I say … it’s an addiction to fiber art!


  4. This looks like a fun project. I have a punch needle in my craft supplies that I inherited but have yet to do anything. I am a bit nervous! I am not ambitious enough for a rug but coaters seem manageable! I loved latch hooking as a child and made a pillow once. I could never get over having all those bits of yarn. But now! Yarn bits will soon have a new purpose!


  5. salpal1 says:

    I think that is what always happens to us. You should see the fiber I am eyeing now that I can sort of spin. Nothing I need but a whole new level of temptation.


  6. Susan McKee-Nugent says:

    Interesting. The only punch needle I knew of and have done is the Russian Igolochkoy with embroidery thread. These would be lovely and thick and cushy to walk on!


  7. Rebecca says:

    Just what we all need…another fibre craft! Looks intriguing. I can see why you are beguiled.


  8. Your book is filled with such wonderful and useful information. I read the first chapter, then skimmed through the rest, and now am starting back at the second chapter. I’ll work my way through!


  9. Are you rooting around in your closets for your rug hooks?! I am very excited about learning to make rugs in this fashion. Come September I will be in possession of several yards of alpaca rug yarn (with a cotton core), but that is destined for my loom.


  10. I am sure of it! Of course, initially I had thought it would be a great way to use up yarn in my stash … But now of course my mind is moving toward a more planned piece … Egads! The choices and decisions!!! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Amy Oxford says:

    Hi! Una Walker sent me a link to your blog. I’m really enjoying reading it. Thanks so much for all your kind words about my book, “Punch Needle Rug Hooking.” I’m so glad you found it helpful and that it helped you to get through the “cloth taco” phase! Your coasters are lovely. Have fun with you rug making!
    Amy Oxford

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Janet says:

    So glad to be reminded how satisfying this technique can be. I have made several hooked rugs over the years. One of my aunts was a great rug hooker.


  13. salpal1 says:

    I think you are gong to have a great time learning and creating your very own rug!


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