Spotlight: Sara Moore, Punch Needle Artist
Looking for something to engage her creative self led Sara Moore down a rabbit hole, searching for a way to use her yarn stash in a way that did not involve knitting or crochet. She found punch needle rug hooking, fell deep and hasn’t looked back! Sara believes that the mindfulness of doing work that uses the hands and focuses the senses helps people connect with themselves and the world around them.
Why textiles? Why punch needle? How did you get started?
I was brought up creatively and musically. As children we spent a lot of time drawing, making, baking and doing imaginative play. I had lost this in my adult years and thought it might help to re-engage this part of myself.
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I’d dipped in and out of knitting and crochet over the years but never felt true enjoyment from them. My yarn collection was a little out of hand for someone who was not engaged in a fibre craft. So I knew I needed to try and do something with that.
The endless scrolling on Instagram provided the answer; I stumbled upon punch needle rug hooking. I was confused at first as to what exactly it was, and a little research online did not fully enlighten me. There seemed to be limited materials in the UK, and I was dubious as to whether this would be a craft that I could sustain. But I threw caution to the wind and bought an Oxford punch needle, the rest is history!
What is the connection between wellness and practicing a craft?
We live in a fast paced world with a myriad of possible experiences and opportunities. We are told that we can do, or be, whatever we want. So we must achieve, produce, attain and progress, to become the ‘best possible version’ of ourselves. In a world which is so busy, it can be difficult to stop striving and comparing; just be present in the moment.
Being present in the moment, (mindfulness) is an important step that contributes to positive mental wellbeing. To stop and notice the world around us and reconnect with ourselves can help us to enjoy life better. It can be uncomfortable at times to sit with your thoughts and feelings. But you can connect with yourself and the world around you in another way, through the sensations in your body.
Whether it’s punch needle, knitting, crochet, basket weaving or painting, they all involve your hands. Therefore, at least one of your senses is involved. You may be struggling mentally and are finding yourself lost in unhelpful thoughts. By focusing on your senses you can bring yourself back into the moment. What better way to bring yourself back into the moment than by practicing a craft.
What is the most important takeaway you want readers to gain from your new book, Weekend Makes: Punch Needle?
You can do it! So many people think they can’t do punch needle; they get frustrated and quite often it is down to the materials they are using. I receive so many messages from people saying they are confused about the different materials available, or they’ve bought something and it doesn’t work. Finding the right combination of materials can take time and money, so I’ve done the hard work for you. Once you have your core materials of punch needle, fabric, yarn and frame/hoop you’ll be punching in no time.
Do you plan your work out ahead of time? Or do you just dive in with your materials and start playing?
It depends what project I am working on and whether it is for work or a personal project. If I am creating a new kit, then I have a process. I try to ensure I record all the details of the make, e.g. type of stitch, loop height, weights of yarn, time.
If I am making for myself, I dive straight in. If I have an idea in my head, I like to try and act on it. Hence why I probably end up with so many UFOs! I tend to be a bit of a perfectionist, so if I think a project isn’t turning out the way I envisaged I will most likely abandon it.
Are you a “finisher”? How many UFOs do you think you have?
I have more UFOs than I probably care to admit! If I’m really into a project then I am most definitely a finisher. But if I’m not feeling it then I don’t force myself to finish. I think it’s like reading a book, if you’re not enjoying it, then why carry on? Crafting is supposed to be enjoyable, if it’s not bringing you joy then move on. Life is too short for feeling like you ‘should’ or ‘have’ to do something.
Do you have a dedicated space for creating? If so, what does it look like?
I started off in a corner of the smaller spare bedroom, but I soon outgrew this! So we swapped the bedrooms round and I now have the larger bedroom as my office/studio. Most projects will always start off in here, but I do like doing most of my making on the sofa in living room. Especially now it’s warm enough to have the log burner on, it’s such a cosy, inviting space.
What is your favorite storage tip for your yarn and creative supplies?
I absolutely love a useful piece of storage. For me, it’s helpful to have storage which can be moved around, broken down or used for something else. Having one room in which to store materials, pack orders, take photographs and film videos means the space has to be able to adapt to the task.
I like to have some floor space, so I tend to go for storage that I can stack. I’m a big fan of pick ‘n’ pack bins that you would find in a warehouse!
For my personal craft supplies, I’m a sucker for a pretty basket or a punch needle storage tub like the one in my book. It’s a relatively simple make and there is something quite satisfying about making something out of yarn, to store yarn.
What plays in the background while you work? Silence? Music, audiobooks, podcasts, movies? If so, what kind?
It really depends on what I’m doing, but there is always something on; I rarely work with silence.
If I’m doing practical order prep like winding yarn or cutting fabric, I’ll binge watch a series – something light-hearted, most recent favourite is Schitt’s Creek.
For any other tasks it depends to be music. I have different playlists on Spotify for various activities. Packing orders is always an uplifting playlist to get me moving and having fun; a bit of 90’s R & B always goes down well! If I want to listen to other people chatting then my go-to podcast is Off Menu with James Acaster and Ed Gamble, two hilarious British comedians and their dream restaurant.
If I’m writing, then I’ll tend to listen to something without lyrics like Khruangbin or Four Tet so that I don’t get distracted.
Do you lecture or teach workshops? How can students/organizers get in touch with you to schedule an event?
I teach punch needle workshops for beginners and am currently exploring the option of offering virtual workshops. I am a certified Oxford Punch Needle Instructor and love to share the craft with others. If you would like me to run a workshop for you get in touch via my website or by email: [email protected]
Interview with Sara Moore posted November, 2020
GMC Publications publishes a diverse range of craft & lifestyle books for all skill levels, written by expert authors with full-colour photographs and step-by-step illustrations, from basic ‘how-to’ to technical guides and creative projects.
Each volume in the Weekend Makes series presents 25 quick and easy projects, including Crocheted Toys, Hoop Embroidery, Patchwork, Punch Needle, Simple Appliqué and Stash Knitting. Visit their website https://www.gmcbooks.com/ and follow them on Instagram @gmcpublications to learn more.
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