Not long ago I was reading an article in Inspirations Magazine (Issue 71, 2011) about the Japanese Festival of Broken Needles, when I was truly inspired. An inset described a call for Stichin Fingers members (a social networking site for embroiderers) to provide photos of their needle keepers. Next to the inset was a photo of a pin cushion by Michele English that looked exactly like a live cactus. I found it so humorous that I HAD to figure out how to make one for myself.
Michele is a real artist specializing in felting. You can browse some of her work, including some felted cacti, on her blog's gallery. Her artistry was beyond me, so I developed my own cactus using craft felt and buttonhole stitches to shape it. Because mine didn't look nearly as realistic, I added a flower as a flourish.
I've made several cacti for family and friends during the last few months, and recently was asked for the pattern. It is available here as a PDF. It is my very first attempt at drawing a pattern and writing up instructions, so if you decide to make one up for yourself, let me know how it works!