Quirky Workshops lives up to its name. Based in a seventeenth century farmhouse in the village of Greystoke, nestled in the scenic countryside between Penrith and Eden Valley, this long-standing company (founded in 2005) offers a truly eclectic array of courses; from the more typical likes of wire sculpture and watercolour to making pizza ovens, triptychs and even your own longbow.
For something truly Cumbrian, however, you can’t beat needle felting a Herdwick doorstop. Herdwicks are a hardy sheep breed native to the Lake District and a crucial part of the local traditional agriculture. Famously, local children’s author Beatrix Potter kept Herdwicks and was even president of the breed’s association.
Handily the region’s ovine residents are also very cute, with a docile expression and a fluffy grey coat; the perfect subject for a sturdy but charming doorstop. Those made in the workshop weigh around 3.5kg, measure 38cm long and use a variety of quality wools; including, of course, from Herdwicks themselves. Due to this, there is an additional £30 material charge payable on the day.
Needle felting is the combining of wool fibres through repeated stabbing with barbed needles, a process that sounds complicated but can easily be learned and makes for some beautiful objects. Indeed, many class participants end up displaying their ‘Herdys’ on tables and shelves where they can be better admired.
Suitable for beginners and experienced alike, the day-long course is hosted by esteemed artist Annis McGowan and also includes a two-course Aga lunch plus home-baked goodies (you can also opt for a farmhouse cream tea, a popular accompaniment for participants when completing their final piece). If you want to gift this special experience, Quirky Workshops gift vouchers are available to buy too.