Learning the ropes of needle punching

Going for Autumn’s punch needle workshop is some sort of a homecoming for me. For as long as my memory serves me, my mum has been dabbling with yarn. She has been knitting since I was young and now that she’s semi-retired, she’s taking her craft more seriously than ever, knitting every day and even on her vacations. Her closet bursts with her handmade collection; from tops to dresses to accessories, there’s something from every colour and yarn type.

My mum’s hobby means that I was exposed to arts and crafts since I was young. I have always enjoyed making things and my mum was always supportive of my artistic endeavours, be it knitting, crocheting, beading, acting, painting, scrapbooking or writing. Despite my love for creating, I haven’t been in touch with that creative side of me for a while now.

Recently, I have a renewed inspiration to be more serious with my pursuit of arts and crafts. I signed myself up for a handful of workshops and I am so happy to be more attuned to my creativity and imagination now, although I must admit that I am still slightly rusty. I would love to have more consistent practices. After my first class, I must say that I now really understand the value of making art on our mental wellbeing.

I am happy to have discovered Autumn’s studio and workshops on Instagram! Autumn is a Singapore-based textile artist who works with co-ops and villagers in India. I got interested immediately to see that her strives to be ethical in her work and signed up for two workshops with her, the woodblock printing workshop and the punch needle workshop. Autumn’s studio in Chinatown is just how I imagine my own studio would be if I ever have one, simple, warm and cosy.

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Tools and materials
Punch needle, yarn, fabric (I used monk’s cloth), embroidery hoop

All you need to do is to stretch the fabric on the embroidery hoop, thread the yarn through the punch needle and you may start! The length of the needle is adjustable, so there’s a lot of creative room to play around with. The longer the needle, the larger the loop, the larger the fluff (if you get what I mean). You can also create tassels and fringes with long needles.

(My work is incomplete atm, I ran out of yarn!)

The workshop I attended was for the fine punch needle. Autumn also conducts workshops that work with Oxford punch needles that are more compatible with thicker yarns for chunkier works. The punching technique is the same.

Compared to embroidery (which I am painstakingly trying to learn by myself and on the verge of giving up), punch needle is incredibly easy! Firstly, the tool of trade is easy to hold – unlike the thin sewing needle, punch needle has a handle that is easier on the hand and fingers, although I wouldn’t consider the grip 100% ergonomic. Secondly, you only need to work with and focus on one side of the cloth. The best part? No knotting involved! I really don’t like knots as they make my artwork look too messy at the back and sometimes cause my thread to tangle up. I probably need more knotting practices but I’m simply too impatient.

Overall, while it can get quite tiring on the eyes as you’ve got to pay attention to the holes you are punching in to ensure uniformity, needle punching is so therapeutic once you catch your punch rhythm! I already have conceived in my mind my next punch needle project and can’t wait to start on it.

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