After visiting the Handmade Fair in September at Hampton Court, I was intrigued to see how different the fair would be in a new location and with a Christmas twist. Set in the Manchester Central exhibition centre, we got there early and booked ourselves onto some talks and workshops and got ready to enjoy a craft filled day out.
First of all we went to the super-theatre for a Q&A style talk between Kirstie and Lucy of Attic 24. Out of all the talks being held this was the one I wanted to go to most. I've briefly met Lucy before, and seeing as she's undoubtedly one of the most popular UK crochet bloggers I wanted to hear what she had to say. Lucy talked about her passion for crochet and colour, how and why she started blogging, and the way that crochet and being a blogger has changed her life. A few of her comments really resonated with me, such as "the more colours the better, I generally go for odd numbers" and "I'm quite a selfish creator, I do it for pleasure". Overall it was a really entertaining talk, and it was nice to see a few people say that Lucy was the reason they started crocheting during the questions from the audience.
After the talk, we headed into the shopping village area to check out the stalls.
Here was (in my opinion) the biggest difference from the Hampton Court Fair. The Manchester Central venue provided so much more space, so there was less pushing and shoving to get to the stalls, making it a far nicer shopping experience. But the downside was that maybe there weren't quite as many stalls as the London event. There were a lot of quality makers and sellers, but I thought that it was a little lacking in the craft supplies department. That said, I managed to find some nice washi tape and a few little bits and bobs. There was one stall that really caught my eye though.
Before going to the fair I kept hearing about geo-fleur online, and when we saw their stall I kinda knew that I'd end up buying something off them. They had a really nice collection of plants in nice design-orientated pots, and I ended up getting a small one as a late birthday present for my sister. Both the ladies on the stall were really nice and had a long chat with us (something I really appreciate from sellers, I'm far more likely to buy off someone who's friendly and passionate about their products than off someone that just delivers a sales pitch)
After shopping and a coffee, we headed back into the super theatre for the Mollie Makes Mashup.
I've never managed to go to the mashups at the previous fairs so I was intrigued to see what they were like. The one we went to on the Saturday was Christmas wreath making with Ellie Jarvis and Lisa Comfort (hosted by Mollie Makes editor Lara Watson). The mashup was really fun to watch, and Lara did a really good job of keeping it relaxed and making sure it flowed well whilst the ladies were making the wreaths. It made me regret not going to some of the Mashup sessions that were on in September.
After watching others being creative, it was time for us to take part in a workshop. I'd booked us onto an embroidery necklace workshop run by Katy Fenner of Pixie Craft.
She showed us how to make tiny snowflake embroidery to go in a small embroidery hoop which fits onto a necklace. Me and the lovely wife had a lot of fun (even if she did get hers in a massive knot), and I refrained from finishing mine as I fancy trying to embroider something a little more complicated.
After that our day was done, and overall it was a nice day out. In some respects there were both positives and negatives which clearly related to it being the first Christmas version of the fair, but I hope they carry on with it as it was a lot of fun and I think it has a lot of potential.
AND IN OTHER NEWS!!!
'Kirstie's Handmade Christmas' show starts at 8pm on Tuesday 1st December on Channel 4. You may want to watch it....you might just see a beardy crochet man :)