How To Feed Your Yarn For Rug Tufting
No matter how experienced you are with rug tufting, one factor that many skilled tufters tend to ignore is your yarn feed. People are under the misconception that yarn feeding is an intuitive process that they shouldn’t pay much attention to. After all, how hard can it be to thread the string into the eye of the needle of the tufting gun and let the gun take as much yarn as it needs? As it turns out, this process is neither easy nor intuitive.
The best way to feed your yarn for rug tufting is to keep the yarn overhead. Whether you use a cone or a dowel, keep it on the floor or hang it above the frame, the yarn should come from above. Although there are yarn feeding systems in the market, they all use the same concept: keep the yarn coming from the top to avoid jamming the tufting gun.
Read more to find out how to set up a smooth and operational yarn feed system and streamline your rug tufting process.
The yarn source is an important part of a smooth and functional yarn feed system. How you keep the yarn is just essential for establishing a tufting rhythm as the type of yarn you use and how many strings you feed the tufting gun at a time. In general, yarn sources can be a cone, a ball, or a skein. Each source has its advantages and drawbacks.
A cone is by far the easiest and most reliable yarn source to work with. The yarn is neatly wound around the cone and the cone itself revolves over the dowel as you pull the yarn. This makes it smoother for the yarn to unravel without having too much slack that could cause the tufting gun to jam.
A yarn ball is also a good option to use as a yarn source. However due to the nature of the sphere, it’s not easy to hold it in place. Most likely you’ll leave it on the floor where it might roll under a chair or get entangled with the other materials in your workspace.
A skein is how you buy your yarn. It’s not recommended to use the skein to feed your tufting gun. It doesn’t roll naturally and the yarn is harder to unravel off a skein than it is off a cone or a ball of yarn. Use a yarn winder to unwind the yarn off the skein and onto a cone.
Overhead Yarn Feeder
You don’t have to invest in an expensive yarn feeding system in the market when you set up one at home using various materials and supplies you can find on our online shop. What you need to do is to create an overhead yarn feeder similar to a polly. This involves an eyelet fixed to the wall at a reasonable distance above the frame you’re working on. I recommend keeping the eyelet at least one foot above the top of the frame.
Where you keep the yarn cone on the frame depends on the type of tufting gun and which hand is operating it. Some tufting guns need the yarn to be coming from the left side otherwise they will jam more frequently. Some left-handed people also prefer to have the yarn feed on their left so that it doesn’t come in the way as they move the machine on the canvas. But you can set it on the side that’s comfortable for you.
Keep the eyelet in the middle of the space between the cone of yarn and the tufting gun. Then pass the end of the yarn from the cone through the eyelet and feed it to the tufting gun. Make sure you don’t have objects cluttering that space to keep the yarn flowing freely out of the cone and into the machine.
When you’re done setting up the first eyelet, repeat the same process for the rest of the eyelets. You will need a separate eyelet for every active yarn cone you will be using. The same applies if you plan to feed your tufting gun with more than one string at the same time. In general, you would need anything from 3 to 4 eyelets at the top left or right or the frame.
Feeding the Tufting Gun
Much like the eyelet in your yarn feed system, your tufting gun also has an eyelet sticking out at the top of the machine. This is the entry point for the yarn feeding the machine. Pass the end of the string coming from above into this eyelet before you thread the needle. That way the yarn will always be out of the way of the moving parts of the machine to prevent it getting entangled which would jam the tufting gun and cause unnecessary interruptions.
After feeding the eyelet on the machine, pull the string and find the eye of the needle. Thread the yarn through the needle and you’re ready to go.
Before you start tufting, test the yarn itself and make sure it’s not too taut. Tight yarn would have more friction against the eyelets it passes through which could cause it to break easily. If the yarn has too much of slack, it could find its way inside of the machine or dangle precariously on the surface of the canvas which is a tufting hazard. Make sure the string is a little loose so that the yarn feeding goes smoothly once you’ve found your rhythm.
When feeding yarn for rug tufting, make sure the yarn is coming from above where it doesn’t get entangled into the parts of the machine or cause it to jam. Feed your yarn through an eyelet at the top of the frame and set up a separate eyelet for every active cone you’ll be using at the same time.
You can find all your tufting yarn and other tufting supplies on our online shop.