Barbed Needles and Fluffy Wool

Mar 16, 2015

il_fullxfull.334645963When the phrase “barbed needles” is bandied about, we cringe then retreat into a defensive stance. “Barbed” flashes us back to Steve McQueen caught in barbed wire after being tossed from his motorcycle while Nazis advance in the 1963 classic The Great Escape.

But in this instance, barbed is a good thing. Barbed needles are used in dry felting. Using dense wool (that “kind of shrinks”¹), these particular needles pierce, pricking it continually until the desired form has been created. Dry felting, in comparison to wet felting (done with warm water and soap), is used primarily to make decorative objects versus toys or jewelry items.

According to Kay Petal at Felt Alive, these barbed needles were initially part of the mass production of felt in the early 1900s—”beds of these barbed needles (tangled) fibers into felt fabric.” It took eighty years for the fiber artist Eleanor Stanwood to “consider the use of single industrial felting needls as a means to sculpt wool into 3-dimensional shapes.” Ayala Talpai in California and Birgitte Krag Hansen, Petal states, “became early pioneers in the art of needle felting.”




Repeatedly pricking and jabbing the needle into the wool creates the final product and Petal loves working with wool…”it is really wonderous stuff.”

The quiet crunching sound that the barbed needle makes as it pokes in and out of the wool is quite soothing. But the greatest thing of all is the moment that lustrous pile of fluff transforms into a character full of charisma and charm. (Felt Alive)

Crunchy Crafters, a pet project created by Ginko Ching Lee, is hosting a “needle felting” event at the Arroyo Food Co-op on March 28th. Established felters and burgeoning wannabees are invited to learn the “tricks and techniques” of creating small 3D objects. This needle felting session will focus on creating garden veggies, such as tomatoes, pea pods, and carrots. Perfect for little gifts in someone’s Easter basket, no?




ABOUT THE TEACHER (thanks to Ginko): Amy Wolkins taught needle felting at a Craft Center for 2 years. She currently teaches needle felting and other fun crafts as the Artist in Residence for Room 13, an after school art studio at John Muir High School. In 2010, she completed the UC Master Gardner Program. Not only can she felt vegetables, she enjoys growing and eating them, too.


Needle Felting: Garden Veggies
Saturday, March 28th, 6-8 p.m.
Arroyo Food Co-op, 494 N. Wilson Ave., Pasadena 91106
Gather at the Big Table
Cost: $10, Co-op members; $20, non-members (all materials included)
RSVP and pay at
For details, visit event Facebook page


Kerri Wessel felted fruit

Kerri Wessel felted fruit


Just for good measure…






Additional information sourced from:



Flintridge Books

Lyd and Mo Photography

Louis Jane Studios

Homage Pasadena