The Danella Tool is a handheld half-automatic rotary rug-hooking tool. Throughout the years, it’s also been referred to as an “egg-beater”-style carpet needle, since the movement of your working hand rotating the small handle is similar to whipping up eggs. It’s the fastest available manual tufting tool and offers many advantages compared to the electric tufting gun.
It operates like a handheld sewing machine: One hand guides the tool over the fabric, while the other hand turns the small handle. With the rotation, the mechanism moves up and down two needles. The outer needle opens the fabric, and the inner needle pushes a loop of yarn through the opening. Producing a beautiful and voluminous carpet on the backside.
The Danella Tool is unique in many ways. It produces around 200 loops a minute, making it over ten times faster than the traditional Punch Needle. The loops can be set to three different heights, making it possible to create stunning three-dimensional effects. The tool can move forward and backward, making it easy to create your designs freely. It’s like painting with yarn, without any limitations.
And compared with the electric tufting gun, the Danella Tool is much more comfortable to work with: It allows for a relaxed and healthy upright or seated position, it’s easier to create details with, and does not require large frame installations, much space, or any electricity. Also, with only a fraction of the weight, it doesn’t require physical strength to use: Danella Tool 250 g (0.5 lb) vs. Electric Gun 1.5-3.0 kg (3-6 lbs). And, it doesn’t make a loud noise like the gun, so it keeps your neighbors happy too.
The Danella Story
Danella is a Danish family business. Ernst Thomsen first invented the Danella Rug Hooking Tool in 1939, in a small town called Hjørring located in the very north of the Jutland peninsula.
Even though they manufactured 6.000 tools within the first year, the Second World War (1939-1945) put an early end to it, and the tools were archived until 1949.
Ernst Thomsen was finally able to relaunch his business in 1950: Since then, the tool has been sold in Denmark and other parts of Europe, the United States, Canada, South Africa, and Japan.
In the beginning, the Danella Tool was named the “Aladdin Carpet Needle” (Aladdin Tæppenålen). Across markets, you can still find vintage tools by the names “Aladdin” or also “Norcraft” (marketed for the USA). E.g., “Norcraft Rug Hooker” or “Norcraft Speed Rug Needle.” It doesn’t matter which one you buy: They all work using the same mechanism and have the same functions as the Danella Tool, but with different names and a slightly changed design over the decades. The handles can be blue or black on the early models – Sand, white, or wooden later on.
About ten years later, Ernst Thomsen renamed the tool Danella. The name stands for “Dan = Danmark” (danish for Denmark) and “Ella = the name of his wife” for whom he invented the needle, to make her work less hard and more enjoyable.
Ernst Thomsen hired his daughter Jane Dyrdal and her husband Kåre Dyrdal. They took over the company after Ernst Thomsen (*1901 – †1979) died, and ran it until 1987. They then sold it to Sussi Lunden, who is still the owner today, working together with Lena Dyrdal Andersen, the Granddaughter of founder Ernst Thomsen.
How it Works
To make your Danella artwork become a success, it’s important to ensure a few basics:
- The Frame: For a fun tufting experience, it’s essential to have the canvas stretched out as much as possible. The tighter the fabric is, the easier you will be able to work. This can best be assured using a “Stretcher Frame”, where the frame can be tensioned by simply inserting wooden wedges or opening the turnbuckles. Alternative: If you don’t have a Stretcher Frame available, you could also use Carpet Gripper Strips, pulling the canvas as much as possible to tighten it to the maximum. While it’s not equally effective, it’s good enough to work with and can help you ensure the fabric is tight.
- The Canvas: The use of the right tufting cloth is just as important. There are both Polyester and Cotton options available to work with. The fabric should be robust, but at the same time it has to be a loose even-weave material, with equally spaced holes to allow the Danella tool to walk in both directions. The fabric needs to be flexible enough for the outer needle to make the opening, yet tight enough to hold the loops in place. The most popular options are: monks cloth and burlap/hessian.
- The Yarn: You can use almost any yarn available, from natural to synthetic fibers. While natural wool is often the nicest for carpets made for walking on, you can create the most stunning effects with all kinds of artificial yarn – from glitter to fringes. And the colors of acrylic wool are often longer-lasting and more eye-catching, so they are perfect for your wall hangings and other art pieces. The one thing to pay attention to when choosing a suitable yarn: is the weight of the yearn, meaning its thickness. The inner diameter of the outer needle of the Danella Tool is 2.5mm, so any yarn you choose has to be able to run smoothly through it, so it needs to be thinner than that. If you use yarn that is too thick you risk damaging the tool! Most common yarns within the fine, light, and medium range will work very well. But you can also combine multiple superfine yarns. It’s easiest to work with even-textured yarns, but as long as it runs easily through the outer needle, you can try any yarn you like.
- The position: Now that you have the frame set, the canvas stretched out tight like a drum and the right yarn hooked in your Danella tool, you need to take the correct positioning. Never force the tool: It will walk by itself. You only need to guide the direction and turn the small handle. If you feel resistance, please do not use strength to proceed. Instead reverse the tool and then continue ahead. One of the most common errors occurs when there is tension somewhere on the yarn. The yarn needs to be flowing freely without any tension to it, otherwise it will effect the length of the loops.
We fell in love so much with the tool and its history, that we bought all of the remaining Danella stock from the sole distributor in South Africa to help bring them back to life. Since the distribution there had been discontinued, we reimported all tools to Europe in Summer 2021. With the aim to reintroduce this exceptional craftsmanship in Germany and further around the world.
Since the company in South Africa was not only selling the Danella Tool but also offering courses and supplying schools and workshops, we now have a mixed stock of both brand-new Danella Tools in original packaging as well as previously used second-hand Danella Tools.
All tools are being thoroughly checked and serviced before being sold again. While all tools are working perfectly fine, of course, there are visual differences between new and previously used. Used tools can have some rust, and the wooden handles will show some signs of usage. But: It’s just cosmetic and does not impact the functionality of the tool.
New Tools come with the original Danella cardboard packaging.
Every Danella Tool, new or used, is being sold with a complete instruction manual as well as a specially designed pouch to further store the tool in.
We aim to introduce as many people as possible to this unique art form and further spread the story of and love for Danella. We, therefore, not only sell the tool, but also offer workshops. And we are happy to help set up classes at local schools and community centers.
After all, the history of rug-making dates back to well over 500 years before Christ.
Carpets have played an essential role in most cultures around the globe. Mostly known for their tradition in the Middle East and Asia, but also for the Vikings, as well as in Latin America and Africa. Rugs have been made to keep warm, to pass along stories of the past, to decorate homes and display wealth.
We believe that this offers the perfect ground to connect people from all around: Creating modern textile art.
You can purchase a Danella tool either through our Etsy shop: https://www.etsy.com/shop/Tufteria or at a 10% discount from the listed Etsy price by sending uns an Email to MAIL. If ordering by mail, please include how many tools you want to buy, in which condition (new or used), and to which country they should be shipped. Shipping is available worldwide, including insurance & tracking. Please note that outside the EU, import taxes may be charged upon delivery.
- A great presentation by Michael Heilman at The Textile Museum in Washington, D. C. in 2012 on the history of rug making: Link , documenting Materials and Tools from 1840 to Present.
- The Official Danella Homepage: Link
- Artist DYREBORG: Instagram & Homepage
- Artist Tuftinderne: Instagram
- Tufteria Impressum