It’s official, the Sigrid Bannier workshops were a brilliant success for all the participants last weekend! Due to a couple of unforseen last minute changes in our planned itinery, I had been a bit concerned (but not worried) about how everything would turn out. Sigrid and her sister Ingrid arrived on Friday afternoon and were soon comfortably settled in to a local farmhouse B & B. Alan and I were attending the Carlow Person of the Year awards that evening so I didn’t get to say hi in person until I collected them at 8.45 on Saturday morning. We travelled in tandem to Woodbrook House and there the fun and games started! Our first task was to master the big log burner and get some heat into the place, the Friday night had been one of the coldest in years and our venue was the old Chapel in the grounds of Woodbrook, a large space and usually not heated. Luckily the beast was very easy to tame and within a relatively short space of time the room started to heat up nicely. Participants arrived a bit sporadically (due mainly to the state of the roads) and after we all had drooled and marvelled over Sigrid and Ingrid’s jewellery the felting started in earnest. Both the sisters arrived to felting at the same time but via different routes, quite an amazing coincidence! Sigrid shared with us her technique of laying out many even layers of merino and then felting, fulling, fulling and fulling again until the resulting piece is as hard as a board. This sounds simple but when using fine merino tops it takes a LONG time to do, the object is to end up with a very hard solid piece of felt. This felted piece is then punched through with metal punches creating both round long beads and a mat full of holes which may be used for various purposes including an insulated pad for a hot pot. By laying down your wool in various different colours the resulting beads are very beautiful, my beads had 22 layers in shades of grey, orange, pink and white and I was delighted with the result. This evening I made some bright pink and orange felt balls which I am going to string along with the beads to create an eye catching necklace, I am going to use one of the sterling silver clasps that I ordered from jeweller Carl Parker to complete the piece. Ingrid meanwhile was working away on little ‘mini workshops’, a whole series of felted flowers and funky rings which she was happy to demonstrate and teach everyone the techniques involved. Both the sisters use a very fast felting merino batt which was a joy to work with, I was lucky enough to make a ring with Ingrid on Sunday and found the fibre beautiful to felt. We ate a simple lunch in the old kitchen of the main house while having a chat and afterwards Ingrid taught us how to make amazing paper stars and then simple card boxes to present our hand made gifts in. The whole weekend really was a brilliant learning experience, both ladies really enjoy sharing their knowledge and I must say that I learnt so many new but simple techniques that I am already putting into practice! On Saturday night Sigrid, Ingrid, Carmen and Patricia joined Alan and me at Clasheen for a simple meal and a glass of wine and we all went to bed fairly early in preparation for Sunday’s nuno felting day. I have not been able to take any photos yet of the necklace that I made so hope to do so tomorrow morning (after a radio interview that I have been invited to participate in!) and in the evening I will write a post about the beautiful silk and merino nuno that Sigrid taught on the Sunday.