I met Katie in the summer of 2019 when we were both becoming Certified Oxford Instructors at The Oxford Rug Hooking School in Vermont, and I was quickly inspired by both her punch needle skills and her business savvy. Since then, I’ve loved keeping up with her creative work through Instagram and am a big fan of the beautiful kits and projects she’s developed for her shop The Midnight Creative! Katie is an artist, a teacher, and is dedicated to cultivating creativity through craft. In this interview, she shares more about her journey to working in this medium, her inspiration, and advice for new punchers just getting started.
How did you get started with Punch Needle?
In 2013, I decided to leave my job as graphic designer to stay home with my three boys full time. I’ve always had a need to create with my hands and over the next few years experimented with a lot of different creative techniques - from creating felt quiet books, and painting fairytale themed matryoshka dolls, to dabbling with polymer clay and needlepoint. In early 2017, I discovered punch needle rug hooking through Rose Pearlman’s instagram feed and was hooked. I had an idea for a series of Pennsylvania Dutch Hex Signs that I wanted to create, and found punch needle to be the perfect medium to bring my ideas to light.
We'd love to hear about your creative process.
I typically write a brief description in my notebook, sketch my initial ideas in procreate, then bring the pattern into Adobe Illustrator and clean it up a bit. Something I love is just punching intuitively - laying down one colour/shape as a I go and adding to it as seems right in the moment. What I’m left with is an organic piece with a clear sense of movement. It’s a sort of mark making in yarn. I encourage beginners to do this to really begin trusting their creative choices.
How do you stay inspired?
I try to look at things from different angles. A couple years ago I was in my child’s school library and looked at the ceiling only to realize in three years I had never noticed that there were wooden clouds suspended from it. So now I try to remember to look up when I’m out in the world! And oh yeah, I stay inspired by getting out into the world, into nature, even if it’s just a walk in my neighbourhood. I don’t think many connections come to me inside my own bubble (as comfortable as that is).
What does creativity mean to you?
To me creativity is just the process of making something; it doesn’t matter what it is, or the outcome/quality. It’s just about the act of creating. For some this may be completely cerebral, or digital. For me, since the early age of cutting out items in the Sears catalogue and gluing them into boxes to create doll houses, creativity has been a hands on experience.
What is your favorite part about the work that you do?
Helping keep traditional craft and techniques alive - whether through workshops, sharing techniques on instagram, or just inspiring others to pick up a punch needle. I became a Certified Oxford Punch Needle Instructor in 2019, which helps me provide solid instruction and advice to rug punchers. More importantly it allowed me to become part of a community of fellow punch needle instructors with a similar mission of spreading the love of punch needle rug hooking.
How would you describe your work?
A little folksy; a touch of nature.
What is your favorite piece that you have made?
Probably whatever I’m working on when you ask me! Haha.
What materials and tools do you use? Do you have any favorite supplier recommendations for tools, material or yarn?
I’m “ride or die” when it comes to Oxford Punch Needles, and I don’t use other brands. They’re an investment, but I don’t think you’ll regret it.
I love materials used by other fibre artists, like weavers, and seeing how I can incorporate them into my punch needle projects. Pull apart chunkier yarns, ropes, and roving and just experiment. Your local yarn store is a great starting place for fun fibres.
For sturdy rugs, use a coarse, hardy wool. Briggs & Little Super is an economical (and Canadian) option, and is what I use as a base for my line of hand dyed yarns.
What advice do you have for other artists or creatives looking to try punch needle?
There are many ways to experiment with the medium, for instance showcasing the back, flat stitches - but I strongly suggest everyone learn the fundamentals for creating punch needle rugs first. Learn the rules and then break them intentionally, so you’ll understand how your choices will affect the structure of your piece.
Where do you see your work going in the future?
I see myself continuing to create kits and patterns in a series. I enjoy working on a theme and seeing where it leads.
What are 3 other fun facts about yourself that you would like to share with the Punch Needle Community?
1 . I read at least one book a week. Reading is my super power.
2. I’m obsessed with paper planners and use one for my business and one for home - the act of writing things down really helps me focus and stay on track.
3. I live with chronic migraine, which means I have 15 or more migraine days a month. Sometimes I’m able to manage with medication, and lifestyle choices, and sometimes it manages me. Setting small goals, like tackling large rugs in small increments, helps keep me productive and moving forward. I find punch needle to be greatly relaxing and meditative, and an important part of my overall health and well being.