Well, yesterday was the day, and I skipped out of the house with my ticket and my parking pass clutched in my hand. But without my phone.
So no pictures from me, but I asked the good folk at the Handmade Fair and they have kindly allowed me to use some of theirs.
Anyway, minor blogging fails aside, I had a BRILLIANT day!
It was fantastic to see so many people of all ages, enjoying workshops, listening to presentations, and browsing all the wonderful stalls.
The range of workshops on offer was staggering-there really was something to suit everyone: upcycling, jewellery making, sugarcraft, textile crafts, knitting and crochet, machine embroidery, origami and paper crafts and on and on and on.
Some of the workshops were free, and some were included in the cost of the £29 ticket, and others you could book on the day for between £5 and £10. They were all great value for money.
I learnt some fabulous gift-wrapping techniques for neater wrapping; had a life changing experience in the pom-pom tent (!), and managed to eavesdrop on a free motion embroidery workshop which has inspired me to have a go!
In the Super Theatre, there was a series of presentations with Kirstie Allsopp-everything from Craft Mash-ups to conversations with some of the movers and shakers of the crafting world.
I went to see Kirstie Allsopp in conversation with Annie Warburton from the Crafts Council. The Crafts Council is the national development agency for contemporary crafts in the UK, with a mission to “make the UK the best place to make, see, collect and learn about contemporary craft”. They were talking all about the decline in craft in our schools, and it was fab-really thought provoking-I will blog about it in more detail very soon!
I managed to speak a couple of my sewing heroines: Tilly Walnes(of Sewing Bee and Tilly and the Buttons fame, and author of Love at First Stitch, which I blogged about here), and Lisa Comfort of Sew Over It.
AND I spotted Kirstie going to the loo, and loitered outside trying to decide if I was brave enough to speak to her to ask if she could write a few words for the intro of my book, but she was talking to someone when she came out, and I wimped out!
From a Make Do and Mend Buy Nothing New, ethical crafting perspective, it was quite interesting.
I have to confess to buying some new things-I bought the Sewing Bee book, complete with patterns, to help me in my quest to create more handmade items in my wardrobe; a couple of panels of gorgeous organic fabric; and a pompom maker (this potentially life-changing piece of kit needs a WHOLE blog post of it’s very own..!)
It was great to see so many independent retailers there, and so many talented crafters making a living from doing what they love.
One of my big bugbears with crafting, is that although no-one can deny that handmade is better than mass-produced on pretty much every level, we often forget about the environmental impact of the raw materials that we are using. I have made a decision that I will use second-hand materials whenever possible; and failing that, then I look very carefully at the ethical credentials of the materials.
So I was delighted to see:
– a Vintage haberdashers -I drooled over their collection of vintage lace and trims, fabric, thread on proper wooden reels….
– an ethical fabric store-Mauds Fabric Finds– holding their own with some GORGEOUS fabrics
– the yarn suppliers seemed to be mostly UK based-using British Wool, and dying it here in the UK, which limits the environmental impact of it’s production
– loads of t-shirt yarn-it seems to be pretty ‘on trend’ at the moment-I was a little sceptical about it’s ethical-ness (not a real word…) but it all seemed to be labelled as 100% recycled, and one company I spoke to (Wool and the Gang) said that their’s was made from the offcuts of t-shirt production, at the factory where the t-shirts are made. How is that for closed loop production?!
So, basically, if you are at a loose end this weekend-GO! You can book tickets in advance for Sunday, and I think you can also just pay on entry (do check that before rocking up though..!)
Get yourself down to the beautiful surroundings of Hampton Court, immerse yourself in a day of making, and browsing, and eating, and learning and smiling. A lot!
It is sooooo awesome to see an event like this, bringing crafting, and making into the mainstream. Kirstie and the team behind the Handmade Fair have done an amazing job pulling it all together, and making it a unique and wonderful event. I heard several people remarking that they hoped it would be an annual event-I really hope so too!