I like a workshop.  It's time you've bought for yourself to spend precious time doing something.  And you can properly enjoy it without feeling guilty about the dust/ironing/weeds/more dust because you're supposed to be doing the thing you're doing.  In my case it was a second needle felting day with uber talented Gretel Parker the Queen of Pokey Needles.  This day, coming as it did at the end of a rather hectic week of meetings including one in Germany, felt like a real tonic.

Needle felting is a very inexact science, it's sculpting with fibres but doesn't have a terminology.  You start with this...

And stab it about with some special barbed needles which mesh the fibres together.

 You shape it...

And tighten it all up with repeated stabs.

Add ears.

 Have a one to one tutorial on the best way to add these gorgeous, tiny, hand made glass eyes and suddenly you're looking at something with real character.

Gretel's descriptions of the process are organic, descriptive and instantly understandable.  "Firm it up a bit.  "Poke it a bit more".  "If it's hollow, pop a ball of fibres up it".   Very early in this friendly, tea fuelled day I found tensions unwinding, cares dissolving and breath deepening as I became absorbed by pricking a muddle of wool into a shape.  Even when a break was called, many of us continued working, too engaged to tear our attention away.  Here's what we all made....

The obsession kept hold over the weekend as I continued prodding and poking to try and achieve the same smooth perfection Gretel achieves in each of her pieces.

Even looking at these pictures now I want to get my needle out and neaten the imperfections.

If you get a chance to join one of these workshops, do.  If not, get a copy of Gretel's book.  And have a nice sit down with a cup of tea while you try and work out which project to try first.  By the way, he's called Sven.