Sallie Dale is a creative mama and small business owner who is passionate about helping other mothers find their balance between creative entrepreneurship and motherhood. She captivated us with her colorful punch needle flowers, fruits and beetles, and her daughter Dot’s appearances alongside her in her studio (or snuggled in a basket of yarn)! Read on as we learn more about how she first learned about punch needle, the development of her personal style, and where she’s taking her work in the future!
Tell us a little bit about your background. What were you doing before Punch Needle?
I grew up in Tulsa, OK. I’m the youngest of 4 and the daughter of a Pastor and stay-at-home mom. My mom is an AMAZING cross-stitcher and I can’t remember a time when she wasn’t stitching. My mom really values creativity and handmade, so she was always encouraging me to make things. She showed me pictures of things in magazines she thought I could make and took me to Hobby Lobby often so I could play with different supplies. I developed a love for fiber arts around age 12-13 when my mom introduced me to knitting. There is something so magical about yarn and all the possibilities each skein holds! I was the kid that sold hand-knit iPod covers and socks to other kids at school, so I am equally interested in the entrepreneurial side of handmade. I’ve played around with selling on various Etsy shops since I was 16, but it’s been just in this last year that I’ve made Punch Needle my full-time gig.
How did you get started with Punch Needle?
Technically, I’ve known about Punch Needle since I was a teen. My mom bought a kit and showed me how to do it, but with embroidery floss. I wasn’t super interested in that because it felt like it took forever, but a few years ago I discovered there was such a thing as Punch Needle with yarn! I knew instantly that I would love it, so I ordered all the supplies and the rest is history.
We'd love to hear about your creative process.
Creativity is definitely a practice. The more making I do for my business, the more I see a need to have projects that are just for me. My mind automatically goes to the entrepreneurial side of what I do, so I have to make myself do things just for the process. I am so inspired by fabric patterns and wallpaper! A lot of my work has a repeating pattern effect to it -- that comes from a love of fabric.
How do you stay inspired?
I love following artists who work in different mediums than me. I’m actually very careful to not follow too many other Fiber Artists because I want to make sure I don’t subconsciously copy or steal work. That’s where Instagram can be a wonderful tool and also a creative crutch which makes it hard to come up with ideas from your own brain. I am incredibly inspired by paintings and fabric pattern design. I keep a catalog of images that I’m visually drawn to and a lot of them end up being the inspiration behind my own designs.
What does creativity mean to you?
I think creativity and using your hands to physically create something is incredibly important in this digital age. My mission is to make it as easy as possible for people to connect over crafting. There’s a sense of deep satisfaction and fulfillment when you make something with your hands -- it’s something I try to do every day in one way or another.
How has your work evolved over time?
I have definitely honed in the “Sallie” style and am more comfortable making things which feel like me, but aren’t necessarily trendy. There was a time when I tried to make things that would fit the current trend, but now I focus on making things that I like. I’ve had to learn to trust my taste, and that’s taken time and mistakes along the way.
What is your favorite part about the work that you do?
I love being home with my daughter, Dot June! I started my business as a way to make some money so I could stay home with her, and it’s grown to be so much bigger than I ever expected and I am so thankful. I love that I get to take snuggle breaks during my day and don’t have to miss any time with her. It does mean I don’t get as much done sometimes, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything. It means a lot to me to have her on the floor in my craft room while I work.
How would you describe your work?
I want my work to feel like a nostalgic summer day from your childhood. Fun, vibrant, and happy!
What is your favorite piece that you have made?
I love my Beetle kit which actually originated from the first punch piece I ever made which was a beetle pillow (although, I never actually sewed it, whoops!) It feels very me. I love the colors and the composition. It’s happy and fun!
What materials and tools do you use? Do you have any favorite supplier recommendations for tools, material or yarn?
Oxford Punch Needles are a must. I find myself using the #13 the most and the #10 for thicker yarns. I love rug wool -- my favorite fine rug wool is hand-dyed by my friend Colleen. You can find her stuff at whackadooyarns.com. If I’m going thick, I love Seal Harbor Rug Co. You get so many more color options from the hand-dyed stuff! But also, I am totally fine using acrylic. Michael’s & Love Crafts have been great sources for acrylic Yarn. I also have recently gotten into rug tufting with a tufting gun. I made a full-size rug for my daughter! It was frustrating at first, but now that I’ve gotten the hang of it, I am addicted.
What advice do you have for other artists or creatives looking to try punch needle?
Just do it! I think people get hung up on whether or not they will be good at something, instead of just trying it. I think it stems from our fear of failure as a society. My motto is, the quicker you fail the faster you get to a solution that will actually work. So don’t be afraid to fail fast and often!
Where do you see your work going in the future?
I want to make Punch Needle easy and accessible for anyone who wants to try it! I have “Begin-to” Kits which offer a low investment way to try the craft. I am working on getting them “out there” so more people can be introduced to the craft I love! I’m building a Punch Needle Empire!!!
How can the punch needle community support you and your work?
Visit my new website www.theurbanacres.com and buy a Begin to Kit ; ) If you do buy a kit and complete it, share it with me! Nothing brings me joy like seeing people make my kits!
What is something that you are excited, or curious about these days?
I am very into cross-stitching at the moment. I love reproductions of old cross-stitch patterns. I am AMAZED at the artisanship of the women who created these without any digital help. Stitching is a very relaxing process unrelated to my day job which I love.
What are 3 other fun facts about yourself that you would like to share with the Punch Needle Community?
1. One of my “up arrow” activities is riding around on my cherry red Vespa. I also just learned how to ride a motorcycle and I LOVE IT!!
2. I am super passionate about helping moms start creative endeavors that allow them to be with their kids.
3. Dot & I love watching “I Love Lucy” while working on my projects. This is super special because I watched Lucy with my mom when I was a kid!