Last Friday I went to The Handmade Fair and, to be frank, it was incredible. I love a good fair anyway but aside from Yarndale last year I haven’t been able to make it to many craft fairs yet sadly. I really loved Yarndale last year, but I have to say it has been trumped by The Handmade Fair, although to be honest I don’t see it as a competition as both offer different things.
From a knitting and crochet point of view, Yarndale was great to get to see and feel a huge variety of different yarn (and meet the animals who help to make it!), and not to mention it was a proper bargain in terms of ticket cost. The Handmade Fair, however, had a great amount of variation if your crafting interest ventures a bit further than knitting or crocheting. I really loved the aray of crafts on offer to try, buy or admire.
We arrived at the fair at around 10.30am and headed straight to the Janome tent as word on the grapevine was the super lovely Tilly on the Buttons (not the same Tilly pictured above!) was offering a free sewing machine masterclass. The grapevine was right and, despite being a problem student (turns out I’m bit less good than I thought with a machine…) I learnt a lot and feel much more confident to give my sewing machine another go.
The standard ticket cost for The Handmade Fair included one Grand Make Session where you could learn to craft something that only takes a few minutes, a Super Theatre session where experts in the industry would talk about certain areas of crafting and one Skill Workshop where you could choose from a number of different crafts to learn or improve upon in a practical learning environment. After the super helpful Sewing Machine Crashcourse (an added bonus to our pre-booked events!), we moved on to our Grand Make session which was Pom Pom making. What. A. Blast! I’d never used a pom pom maker before, instead using bits of cardboard or, mostly, wrapping yarn around my hand, but these little devices make it so much easier. I definitely want one! Our #worldpomination session was hosted by Rosy Nichols who was charming, hilarious and a touch quirky.
For our Super Theatre session we chose Superstitchers with Lou Gardiner and the Kirsty Allsop, which was all about machine embroidery; something I’ve been itching to try for ages. The session was inspiring and hilarious in equal measures. The Lou and Kirsty partnership had a very unique dynamic; Lou is as mad as a hatter, and very… free-sprited. Kirsty wasn’t quite so relaxed but does give a mean ice-stare and has great comedic timing. Lou talked Kirsty and the audience through the machine embroidery how-to’s whilst they both gave it a go and I’m absolutely itching to try it out myself at home.
The final event of the day was learning to knit a sparkly project with beads, our Skill Workshop. I have to say that this was the only part of the day that was slightly disappointing. The workshop was supposed to be hosted by Debbie Abrahams, whose work I love, but unfortunately she couldn’t make it and someone she works with a lot stepped in, I’m terrible and can’t remember her name though. That wasn’t a problem at all, but I didn’t really gain as much as I’d hoped from the workshop.
In the descrption on the fair’s website, it mentions that we will learn to knit from a chart which wasn’t even mentioned, plus the session only lasted 30 minutes which isn’t long enough for everyone to find a seat, cast on 40ish stitches, thread a ton of beads, learn the technique and knit a few rows. OK so it was long enough for a small portion of the people in attendance, and sadly the pace seemed to be aimed at the super fast people. I’m not a slow knitter by any means and I struggled to keep up, which turned it into a stressful, rushed situation. So only one person finished their project, and everyone else was left with the choice of buying the needles we had been provided to knit on or frogging the project as there was nothing to thread it on to to take it home. I did come away knowing how to add beads to my knitting, so that’s good, but I do wish we’d have gone for a different workshop.
In between workshops and theatre sessions there were lots of food and drink stands (tea and cake with a swing band playing, and a prosseco bar – yes please!), an artisan market, two lovely big shopping tents to peruse. I was very, very glad that I had squirreled away some of the extra cash I earnt from photographing some weddings this summer! Here is what I purchased:
(this is one of my favourite things. It’s a DIY needlepoint brooch kit by Jenny Henry Designs. Jenny was so, so lovely and I can’t wait to give it a go)
I am also absolutely in love with this scarf. It’s by Coco and Sebastian London, and they were really great people, we had a real laugh with them. The scarf designs are all based on animals and mine is apparently a walrus! Goo goo g’joob..!
There were also some super inspiring stalls that unforunately my cash didn’t stretch to – there was honestly so, so much to take in and it was all so impressive. Massive shout out in particular to my new super-cool knitting heroes Wool and the Gang who are now firmly on my birthday wishlist *coughDecember17th*.
I would really, really recommend that you take a look next year if you love crafting. For a fair in it’s infancy, it was so well organised I was amazed. Plus the setting is lovely, the arrangement is spacious and easy to navigate and it was just so much damn fun!