Each day I learn something new about punch needle. Today was no exception, and it started out badly. Although every book I’ve read describes how you can move the hoop around to accommodate areas of unpunched fabric, you really can’t. The notion that the indentations in the loops can be “fluffed” up is NOT the problem. The problem is that if one part of the hoop is filled with thick loops, the other part will not hold tight. Lesson learned. Whatever hoop you choose for a project, it must be large enough to accommodate the entire pattern. This isn’t cross stitch. It just doesn’t work well, and I now realize why most punch needle patterns are quite small. They have to fit entirely within the hoop. You can’t move it around with any degree of success.
I went online looking for larger hoops, square hoops, hoops with what are called grabbers. I found them everywhere but at unbelievable, cost-prohibitive prices. Most were handmade, polished wood, and pretty to look at, but all were over $100, and some were close to $700.
So off to JoAnns, surprise, surprise, to look at their hoops and I soon realized that none would work… until I saw this “hoop-frame” that was further down the aisle. Yes, it’s plastic, and yes it’s a bit goofy given that its purpose is to not just hold the fabric while you cross-stitch, but also frame it when you’re finished. I imagine it was made for a child’s first needlework experience, and was simply placed in the wrong area of the store.
It is a large rectangle which eliminates all that wasted curved space of a round hoop, and since I had my piece with me, I was surprised it fit perfectly with plenty of space for error. But how to keep it tight enough so that it wouldn’t move when I punched the needle through it? The plastic-on-plastic nature of this provided little if any traction. And then it hit me. Paper clamps; those strong office kind. So I bought the plastic hoop with my coupon and came home to find the exact clips I needed scattered around my house, and was thrilled to find the tension of using several clips keeps the fabric extremely taut, straight, and requiring almost no adjustment as I punched. Indeed, this worked better than the expensive hoop I’d made my original projects on. The “handles” of these clamps can be removed by squeezing them. Doing so will get them out of your way while working on the project. Just be sure to place them somewhere safe so you can remove the clamps when you’re finished.
Honestly, those other gripper frames were beautiful, but while I agree that they are craftsman’s works of art, I spent $4 today, and got a similar, if not better, solution that does not require me to sit at a table. Nor does it take up space in my family room. Mine is very light-weight and can be turned, tilted, and manipulated easily in one hand, making this perfect for punch needle.
Another better mousetrap. Say cheese.