New workshops and long walks

felt-making 2

Felt-making is the theme of the next Craft Saturdays workshop on Saturday 18 April 2015. This is a very enjoyable craft. It is most satisfying to make your very own fabric from scratch (well, nearly from scratch, because the sheep did its bit first, by providing the wool!). It’s quite a physical process; you really have to get involved in applying the conditions that make the fibres come together to make a fabric. Colours can be added and there is always the element of slight unpredictability which makes the process so more-ish, as in: “Maybe if I try it just one more time…”  It’s also possible to produce three dimensional felt pieces – we will have a go at this in the workshop. For more details and to see how to book, click here.

On Tuesday 14 April 2015, there will be a ‘Learn to use a sewing machine’ workshop from 10.00-12.00 at ‘The WP_20150407_018Hive’ cafe, Station Road, Ushaw Moor, Durham. To book a place, call in at The Hive and maybe stop to buy a coffee – optional!  For more about The Hive and how to find it, click here. (NB The Hive is closed for a week’s holiday until 13 April – contact me direct during this period, using the contact form at the end of the post).  This is a practical hands-on session to enable participants to confidently use their own sewing machines. For the workshop, we will be using these Singer sewing machines.  All participants will get advice on different sewing machine brands, machine needles,  threads etc, and will learn about trouble-shooting and upkeep.

As for the long walks, in a rash moment last November, I offered as a birthday present, a willingness to complete the ‘Dales Way’ walk with the beneficiary (who likes that kind of thing). Back in the depths of chilly autumn, the prospect of walking eighty-odd miles in a week seemed a long way off; now it is spring, it is apparent that the day will come to make good my promise. So getting into training is the order of the day. In sharp contrast to the snow in my last blog post, it was positively hot over the Easter Bank Holiday weekend, here in Durham.  There was once a network of rail connections across the land in this area to facilitate movement of coal from the many mines.  This historic network has been imaginatively transformed into paths which are very well used by walkers, cyclists and horseback riders – on our way, we met many others enjoying the Railway Paths too. (For more about these paths, click on the link here to the Long Distance Walkers Association page on the subject. (So Saturday’s walk was to get us going (a mere five miles). This included not just hearing, but actually seeing a woodpecker, which was fun.  Having recovered a little (and with the sun still shining), on Bank Holiday Monday we tackled a nine-mile walk along the Lanchester Valley footpath.

Lanchester Byway sign

Highlights of this walk included seeing a stoat leap across our path and then make rapid progress up the bank on the other side and spotting wild white violets growing by the path. The walk passes through this beautiful avenue of silver birches:

Avenue of silver birches, Lanchester byway

And how’s this for a signpost?

signpost on Lanchester byway