Hello everyone !
I hope you all enjoyed Christmas & New Year , January is already past , and there are now early signs of Spring here in the North West . Primroses growing in some hedgerows , the crocus and daffodils seem to have beaten the snowdrops this year, and the buds are starting to open on some of the hedges sprouting new leaf growth .
We spent December and January taking a little bit of a break . We spent time with family over Christmas and enjoyed some time with our little Grandson who was just recovering from a cold . He did benefit from some good sea air on the beach at St Bees , and also enjoyed a trip to the marine aquarium at Maryport a few miles from us .
As far as the felting goes , we've been preparing for the first few workshops of the year , the first of which is in March . Details for the 2020 workshops are here
The Hedgehog kits which so many people requested last year have proved to be very popular, as well as in the UK , quite a few have gone over the Atlantic to the USA , along with a number of our felting pads which people seems to like too . I always use the pads myself . I wanted something which was hard wearing and a nice size , and I also wanted something which had a white side , or a side I could use for white wool , meaning that the darker wool would not contaminate the work because of using the same surface .
Richard , has completed couple of his cushions too , including a highland cattle design which he's never done before .
Something else which was much sought after were the Metal needle holders which take up to 6 needles . Those who've been to the workshops will have used them and seen just how well they work , the extra weight adds momentum giving the needles more impact adding to the efficiency , it also means they are easier to use . Of course a lot of people wanted one for themselves . We were, temporarily , able to get a very limited supply of them specially made last year , but they quickly sold out, and I've been asked if we can get any more ?
Well I'm excited to say , that we have now approached a local engineering business with the tooling to manufacture some for us . They will be very similar to the previous ones but we've asked them to make a couple of small alterations to the ergonomics , which we think will make them look and feel even better ! Can't wait to see the finished product and give them a try ! Of course I will put photos on the website when we get them .
I am now working on an new idea which will add a little more variety to the workshops . I didn't have the time to do this last year . Again I will keep you posted
Looking forward to the rest of the year and meeting everyone at the workshops , both new and familiar faces alike .
Where did 2019 go ? After a particularly busy workshop schedule , it's hard to believe that Friday's hare workshop at Greystoke was the last one of the year . Thanks so much to all who attended , it was lovely to see everyone there on such a beautifully frosty morning , and as usual there were some brilliant hares departed from Quirky Workshops along with their proud creators ! A few photos can be viewed on the workshop photo page . Indeed , thank you to everyone who's attended and supported the classes this year and beyond . Also a big thank you Annie , at Quirky Workshops , Sue and Gaynor over at Artison in Yorkshire , and Beverly , just down the road at Fobbles , for hosting the classes and all their support . You'll find links to their individual sites on my links page .
Something I particularly enjoyed about this year was the introduction of a couple of new workshops , namely the hedgehog , and the bunny . I have had people showing an interest in a class to make these two animals in previous years , so I was pleased to be able to bring them to you and see some excellent results , again head over to the photos to see for yourself .
I also had the idea of making the hedgehog available as a kit . I spent some time preparing a kit with some detailed written and pictorial instructions , which I think will be helpful , and I'm now pleased to say that I have a few ready, I will add them to my Etsy shop.
This year has been quite an interesting and eventful one . The felting pads which we designed , have been very popular . Most of you will have used them in the workshops this year, these are also available at Etsy
Richard has been getting more creative and adventurous with his cushion designs , and although it's been a very busy year for workshops , we've still tried to have some items present in the wonderful Lakeland galleries we are associated with . We will also be updating the video tutorial page of the website over the Winter , and replacing them with ones of better quality like the latest one we've just uploaded on wrapping techniques and attaching eyes (useful for the hedgehog kit) . I am now able to narrate the process rather than just put written instructions up on screen as we have a camera with a decent microphone now .
On a more personal note , we have enjoyed seeing our Grandson take to his feet and begin walking the road of life , and we've also helped settle him and his parent's into their lovely little home after their move, and we look forward to spending some time with them when they come to visit during Christmas .
Next year's workshop schedule is all set , with many of the places already booked and I'm looking forward to seeing everyone , familiar faces and new comers alike , and as this will likely be the last news letter of 2019 , I'd like to thank everyone once again for their support , and wish you all the very best for Christmas and the coming year .
Hello Again !
Autumn is well underway , and I hope that you are all getting out and enjoying the colourful display put on by our deciduous trees before they finally loose their leaves until the Spring time . This photo was taken in Masham when we were over at Artison for the Herdwick Doorstop workshop , which was great fun once again , and we all had a lovely day and a fantastic lunch as always . With the weather turning very wet outside as the day went on , where better to be than indoors felting ?
While we were in the area we went for a walk from Masham on the footpaths over the fields and came across Marfield wetlands nature reserve . This is a beautiful place , consisting of gravel pits which have become mature lakes and a haven for wildlife . We sat in one of the bird hides one evening overlooking one of the lakes , the walls inside are filled with photos and information , there is even a pair of binoculars provided . We met the gentleman & his wife who fill up the numerous bird feeders . It tuns out they manage the whole reserve pretty much on their own on a voluntary basis, which must be very challenging work . They seemed to love what they do and it must be rewarding to see people like us enjoying the results . If you visit , do leave a small donation to contribute to the bird food which attracts a wide variety of wild birds close enough to get some superb photos .
Earlier in the month , on the 12th October , we were closer to home and made hedgehogs at Beverley's Fobbles workshop . As can be seen from the photos , we had some great results . It was also nice to catch up with Ruth , a friend from my childhood who I'd not seen for some time . well done everyone , and thank you to all who attended and made it such a great day .
There is only one more workshop left this year which is the Hare, at Quirky Workshops on the 29th November .
The workshop dates for 2020 have already been released by Artison , a lot of places have filled very quickly which is fantastic! Quirky Workshops bookings will be live from 6am on the 3rd November ( tomorrow at the time of writing this ) . Next year at Fobbles we have a new workshop, details will follow next month.
Hope to see you soon !
The Autumn Equinox has just passed for another year, and the Sun is making it's journey through the sky a little lower towards the horizon each day . The stubble fields left after the harvest attract the attention of lapwing and wood pigeon flocks , and the swifts have long headed South & only a very few swallows remain before they too will have gone in a week or so , all signs that a new season is upon us .
We ended the Summer ourselves , with a hare workshop at Artison , on the 19th of this month, where we were made welcome once again by Sue and Gaynor . We all had a fabulous time as usual , thanks to everyone who came along and worked hard to produce some more fine characterful hares of which you should all be very proud !
It was also very interesting to watch the stone carving workshop which Gaynor was running . They were outside enjoying the glorious late Summer weather , they may have said they were enduring though as it was quite hot out there . The clicking of chisels carving stone and dull thud of needles felting wool , continued throughout the day . I have to say I was really impressed by the beautiful designs the class had carved into the stone tablets they were working .
We made the best of the weather the following day as we had stayed locally and decided to go for a circular walk of about four miles round the Masham area , which took us through fields along side the picturesque River Ure and one of it's tributaries , the River Burn which ended with a brief stop for refreshment at the Theakston brewery tap , where we sat outside in the warm sun .
.Autumn got off to a great start yesterday at Greystoke 's Quirky workshops hosted of course , by Annie . On the drive through , I took a moment to pull over and take a photo across Bassenthwaite Lake towards the South East & Kewsick , with the early morning sky looking so dramatic and Autumnal . I met a lovely group of new people who had came along to make a Herdwick sheep doorstop for their first time . Thank you all so much for a fun and enjoyable day and I think everyone was justifiably proud of the flock we turned out at the end of the day ! The day was all about stone and wool , as once again , we shared the venue with a stone carving workshop ran by Pip Hall , but this time Annie was getting herself involved , making a superb job of her carved stone name plaque . It is fun and interesting mingling during the day with the other classes running alongside our own and taking an interest in each other's work . Some photos from both the September workshops are posted on the workshop photo page as usual .
This year's workshop calendar is almost complete with only 3 more dates to go , hedgehog , Herdwick and hare , respectively . Keep an eye open also , for the 2020 workshop dates to be announced soon , and I will catch up with you next month !
Thank you and best wishes .
I am always looking at ways I can improve and make our workshops a great experience. Careful preparation makes the day go smoothly making for a more enjoyable day. I have prepared some of the new kits to try out at the next Herdwick and Hare workshops this month. I have just about managed to cram all the woolly materials into your individual bags.
I hope everyone is having a great Summer and making the most of the mixed weather . The blackberries are starting to ripen and the rosebay willowherbs beginning to cast their downy seeds to the wind , indicating that we have the next season of Autumn to look forward to just a few weeks away .
We managed a couple of days visiting our Grandson just before his first birthday which he enjoyed celebrating at Sundown Adventure land with his parents and his paternal Gran' ,who was able to be there . It's a theme park for younger kids where we once took Heather during one of our camper van holidays when she was a small child , and where they now just happen to live a few miles away from , so she thought it fitting to take her own first child for this special day .. We returned home to get ready for the hedgehog workshop .
The hedgehog workshop I have just mentioned was the first one I have done . As this is something which people have requested , I have spent a lot of time over the last few months putting together something which we could complete in a day and that I could be confident you'd be happy with at the end . This was held in the new upstairs workshop at Annie's Quirky Workshops which was again, lovely , with it's rustic charm , and plenty of room ! Please have a look at the workshop photos and see for yourself how well the hedgehogs turned out , they're impressive & a credit to their creators . There's always room to tweak the way I do my workshops if needed , but I felt this first hedgehog one went really well and the preparation beforehand had been worth it , as with the bunny workshop which was also new for this year . Both were the results of feedback from people who attend the classes so it was good to be able to deliver .
The next workshop was on the following day and we again took advantage of Annie's new work space for a hare workshop , where , once more we had lots of fun and some brilliant results at the end . If you follow the link above once again, you can see them looking splendid in the surroundings of the new work shop don't forget to click the photos to enlarge them .
The felt "stabbing pads" which I make have again sold out on my ETSY shop , however we are making some more , to replace them , they seem to sell quickly , so if you'd like one , contact me directly . They are £12 + £3 postage . If I do have any in stock I'll also take them along to the workshops .
The next classes are Greystoke again, at the end of this month making Herdwicks and hares , respectively . If you are attending , I'll look forward to seeing you there !
Hello, once again !
First of all , thank you to all who attended the Quirky Workshops "Summer Solstice" owl workshop on the 21st June , and those who came to make some fine hares a couple of days later at the same venue . Again , we had a super time , and if you haven't already done so , have a look at some of the splendid results on the photo page from both the above days .The next workshop is the Herdwick Doorstop , on the 28th of July at Quirky Workshops again .
I had planned a short break in the workshop schedule so I could get caught up with a few things including trying to get something into the galleries , and also to visit our family and particularly to spend some time with our Grandson who's approaching his 1st birthday .
We've just returned from an enjoyable week with our Daughter & family. The weather was fine and we had a couple of nice days out with them , including a visit to the local air field where the sounds and sights of the light aircraft held young Jesse's attention for the afternoon (and Richard's). Richard & I had also planned , while we were down there , to walk part of the "Cuckoo Way " , which follows the tow path of the Chesterfield canal from the point where it joins the River Trent North of Gainsborough back to our Daughter's , a distance of about 30 miles I think . We took the train to Gainsborough and booked a couple of B&Bs as overnight stops for the return walk , which took us through some picturesque countryside and interesting towns like Retford, which was quite pleasant and which we'd never visited before , also Worksop where we stayed on the outskirts , and never really got a look in the town centre . We only had 5 miles to do on the last day , but due to Richard's Achilles tendons becoming stiff we thought it wise to get Heather to pick us up to avoid aggravating the situation . Despite the fact we walk a lot locally including the fells , Annie ( at Quirky Workshops ) had actually warned us that walking long distances on the flat when you are not used to it puts constant pressure on the same parts of the feet and legs as opposed to ascending and descending hills . With hindsight , trainers or his soft boots may have been better than the leather hiking boots with hard soles , as my feet were fine , but we really enjoyed the walk, I did feel a little unprepared, next time I won't be!
Lastly, we were contacted a week or two ago by Kathy Cartmell who runs the on line publication Qerky Art Magazine .(nothing to do with Quirky Workshops) . Kathy asked if she could write a piece in the July edition which is all about woolly crafts, and is out now, about Annis's Hand Felted Creations, how we started and what we do etc . This , of course was really appreciated . If you are interested in crafts of all kinds you can visit. www.qerkyartmag.co.uk/qerkyartmag/ and perhaps check out the magazine .
See you Soon !
As we approach the middle of June , and the outside temperature feels more like October We've had a busy time felting . As well as a couple of outstanding commission orders I've had to complete , we've had the "Bunny" workshop at Fobbles hosted by Beverly . There were some splendid specimens turned out by the class , which was fantastic , as the rabbits were a new workshop introduced for this year, which I'd spent some time preparing the best methods to use to construct them on the day .
Next we were off to Annie's Quirky Workshops for another hare class , and we ended the month of May with Sue & Gaynor at Artison on 31st . We also started the June campaign there too on the following day June 1st , when we made some more hares. Thank you very much to everyone who attended all the classes , and to our hosts at their respective venues for making it all such an enjoyable few days. Have a look at the Workshop photos from the above classes .
We took the opportunity to make the most of our trip to Artison and stayed on a couple of nights self catering at a fine old building in Masham which has been divided into apartments . We enjoyed fine weather & some lovely walks round the picturesque town , with the obligatory visit to the Theakston and Black Sheep brewery tap houses for a quick half pint .
We also had a walk round the beautiful Hackfall woodland which Richard had discovered while I was at the hare workshop . This is a splendid woodland full of native deciduous trees such as beech & oak . Part of an estate dating back to the 1700s there are some fascinating water features and interesting buildings round every turn it seems . and full of wild woodland birds . We never managed to spot any Wuzels though !
We are half way through the month of May already . The leaves are on the trees and the swifts have arrived reminding us that Summer is just over the horizon .
May got off to a fantastic start with another trip across to Artison on the 5th , which was the Bank Holiday Weekend when it was all happening in the area . The Tour of Yorkshire cycle race passed through nearby Bedale & then on Sunday through Masham which was the day of our hare workshop .
We all had a thoroughly enjoyable day , and again it was so good to meet some new people and catch up with some familiar faces from previous visits , and I have to say once again , there were some excellent hares turned out , as I'm sure you'll agree if you look at the photos taken on the day , well done to everyone , and thank you!
Yesterday , my Mother & I attended a fascinating presentation given by a friend of mine , Susan Denham - Smith , at the Beacon Centre , which is beside the harbour in Whitehaven . I first met her several years ago when she was managing a local gallery , and it was there where my idea for the Herdwick doorstop was first on display, which so many of you reading this will have now made for yourself, or purchased , not to mention her giving me the confidence to do my first ever needle felting workshops , for which I'm always grateful !
Susan has the Wild Wool Workshop , which is situated on the banks of the picturesque Ennerdale lake , overlooked by the surrounding fells , hidden in one of the more tranquil corners of the Lake District . If you would like to see traditional wool spinning and weaving demonstrated , using wool from the local Herdwick sheep , buy her products , or even have a go yourself , then this is the place . There are even camping facilities , or you can stay in their "Wild Wool Barn " accommodation .
Susan is very knowledgable about the Herdwick sheep breed and their history, as well as working with their wool , this meant that during the presentation I picked up some really useful tips on how to wash and prepare raw fleece which I use myself . She also told an intriguing story about the connection between her farm house and well known Lake District authoress Beatrix Potter , of Peter Rabbit and Mrs Tiggywinkle fame .
Susan also likes a challenge , you could say . She intends to climb all 214 of the Wainwright Fells ! With a spinning wheel , with which she intends to spin Herdwick wool on top of them all ! The spun wool will be made into rugs which will be sold in aid of the Calvert Trust who organise outdoor activities for the disabled, so check out http://www.wildwoolworkshop.co.uk/ . for alll the information about Susan's activities and her business.
The next workshop of my own is on the 18th of May when we will be needle felting mountain hares on the summit of Helvellyn ! ... Only joking !
It is in fact making "Bunnies" at Fobbles in Holmrook with Beverley , on that day, which is much nearer to sea level . Looking forward to seeing everyone there .
Then on the 27th , we'll be back at Annie's Quirky Workshops making Hares . Then back over to Artison for two days of hares and Herdwick Doorstops , on the 31st so May is a busy month for workshops . Great !
There are a couple of extra dates added for August due to demand , get in touch if you are interested in booking a place .
There are now a limited number of the heavy metal needle holders available to buy, I had some made , as so many people have been enquiring about them , and I must say I'm really pleased with them .
See you soon !
I received a couple of Swaledale fleeces from a local farm a few weeks ago and They've been waiting in the garage for the weather to improve , so I've made use of the dry spell to get them washed and dried ready for use .