Hello and welcome to The Compost Bin. I'm Compostwoman and I live with my family in rural Herefordshire. We have nearly four acres of garden and woodland, all managed organically and to Permaculture principles, which we share with Chickens, Cats and assorted wildlife. We also grow a lot of our own food, run courses in all sorts of things and make a lot of compost!

I am a Master Composter and have spent more than a decade as a volunteer Community Compost adviser with Garden Organic and my local Council.
I'm a self employed Environmental Educator so I run workshops and events where I talk about compost, veg growing, chicken keeping, cooking, preserving and sustainable living. I also run crafts workshops and Forest School/outdoor play sessions in our wood.

We try to live a more self sufficient lifestyle here, as best we can, while still having a comfortable life and lots of fun.

To learn more about us click on the About Compostwoman tab and remember to click on the photos to make them full size!

Sunday 9 March 2014

Needlefelting workshop at Cinderhill Farm with Gretel Parker

As some of you may remember I was left a small inheritance by my late Aunt Betty and I decided I would use the money to do a couple of craft courses 

I have had a try at needle felting before but with only limited success, so when I saw professional children's illustrator, toy maker and needle felter Gretel Parker was going to run a one day workshop at a venue  not that far down the Wye Valley from me, I booked immediately. You may be familiar with Gretel as she has featured in several Mollie Makes magazines and is on the cover of this month's magazine with some very lovely felted cats. I have also followed her blog for some time so I was delighted to get a place on her course.

So, on Saturday morning we ventured down the Wye Valley to Cinderhill Farm where Gretel was holding the Moon Gazing Hare workshop.

Compostman dropped me at the Farm in brilliant sunshine and I was greeted warmly by Deborah (the owner) and then it was into the house to meet Gretel and be offered hot drinks and the first of many slices of delicious cake. Cinderhill Farm sell amazing home made food from their on site shop The Pie House and all the food I ate there was utterly delicious.

Gretel introduced us to the art of needle felting and the tools we would use and then showed us the moon gazing hare she had made. She demonstrated how to get started on the body and we then started making our own version by choosing the colour roving we wanted to use.

There were five of us attending the workshop so we got lots of help and personalised attention throughout the entire day.

 I chose this lovely soft mid brown colour

 Having made the body and added the head

 we were shown how to make the legs and tail...

 and then how to attach them to the main body

We had lots of breaks for drinks and the most delicious lunch with lamb from Cinderhill Farm. You can buy this lamb stew as a filling for a pie :)

Delicious blackcurrant mouse to follow.

After lunch we started making ears - I went for ears lying down as in the more traditional moon gazing hare.

We were all very quiet as we concentrated on our needles. We did chat during the day, though and I really enjoyed the other participant's company.

Gretel brought along some of her shop supplies - as well as advance copies ( hot off the press!) of her new book on needle felted models.

My Hare looks up at the ceiling - she is called Serena.

We were shown how to add eyes and embroider a nose and how to finish off our hares with a final very thin layer of roving which we then spent a VERY LONG TIME needling down to get it as smooth as possible - this is a very time consuming bit and I carried on at home later.

Five very different Hares :) Serena is on the far right hand side.

At the end I purchased a copy of Gretel's new book, which she was kind enough to sign for me, and also some more of the lovely roving.

We finished at about 5 pm and Compostman collected me to go home - but before we left we purchased some sausages and sausage rolls from The Pie Shop and said hello to the lambs, goats, chickens and cats of Cinderhill Farm. The sausage rolls were eaten for lunch the next day and were really yummy!

I can recommend Gretel as a teacher -  she was lovely and kind and very very good at instructing a group with a mix of complete beginners as well as slightly more experienced people. I am now much more confident that I could actually make a recognisable needle felted sculpture and I really enjoyed my day out at Cinderhill Farm.


  1. Looks like you had a wonderful day and I can almost taste that blackcurrant mousse.

    1. I have just realised I called it "mouse" ! Lol

  2. It looks wonderful, I've wanted to have a go at this. I shall have to have a google to see if there is a course close enough to me, I shall have a look at the book too. A lovely post.

  3. It was a wonderful day and I had a great time

  4. That sounds like a fantastic day, and Serena will be a wonderful reminder of it.

    1. I had a lovely time Sue and Gretel was a most excellent tutor :)

  5. What a lovely post, it is so satisfying to learn something new, especially when you get to eat lovely food at the same time

  6. Your hare has got a fine personality! It's so amazing to be able to learn so much about needle felting in one session...Gretel is a very fine teacher.

    I also really admire all the marvelous food that was available to keep you and your classmates fueled throughout the session.

    Perhaps now that you are home, you'll be inspired by many of the animals round your place to continue with needle felting. Please do keep us posted.

    Best wishes from New York.

  7. Frances and Flowerlady I have already made a Guinea Pig for compostgirl - the eyes are a bit large but she is very pleased with it. I have also made a dusky pink flower broch which I am rather taken with, so obviously I am keen :)

  8. Well done on learning a new skill.
    Love from Mum

    1. Thank you, Mum - I really enjoyed the day and Gretel was an excellent teacher :)

  9. I love your little hare, it is very sweet. I am hoping to have a go at making a few models now that I have some needle felting supplies!


Hello! Thank you for reading my blog and for commenting. I try to reply as quickly as I can and I really appreciate your interest in my life and doings here in The Compost Bin.