Sunday 20 September 2015

The Handmade Fair - September 2015

The Handmade Fair - Hampton Court Palace September 2015

This week I spent a lovely Saturday with my friend Pam visiting The Handmade Fair at Hampton Court Palace, in the hope that we'd pick up some new craft skills and get inspired to make more shiny things!

The Handmade Fair welcome sign
Here's Pam counting the number of male fair-goers - she'd only managed two at this point in the epic queue!

I've never seen so much bunting in my life!  It was *everywhere* and made the parkland venue look really pretty in the sunshine.

Bunting! - The Handmade Fair

Our day began with an event in the main tent, ambiguously named Mollie Makes Mashup. This turned out to be two crafters (namely Mr X Stitch and Lisa Comfort from Sew Over It) competing to upcycle a canvas tote bag into the best apron in 45 minutes.

Mollie Makes Mashup Mr X Stitch v Lisa Comfort - The Handmade Fair
As nice as the aprons were, I was slightly obsessed with the balloons!

This was my introduction to Mr X Stitch, a guy who runs a 'contemporary needlework and embroidery' website - he was super funny but didn't quite have the sewing machine skills to win the contest. I came to the event with the vague intention of trying out some cross stitch, but having had a quick glance through his website while sat in the crowd I was now determined to find something nerdy to stitch!

After this it was time to head for our first workshop of the day. This was supposed to be about learning to sew with wire, but some sort of trouble with the kit meant that we ended up doing finger knitting, which I've tried before and not really found much use for.  A bit disappointing, as we could have been over in a cross stitch workshop, but never mind - plenty more fun was ahead!

Our next workshop wasn't until much later in the afternoon, so that gave us plenty of time for walking around the shops (which were packed) to check out the kits and materials on sale, as well as all the great things people have been making. Here are a few pics:

Charlotte Amy Design - flamingo crochet - The Handmade Fair
Cute crochet from Charlotte Amy Design
Hannah Bass map tapestry - The Handmade Fair
Clever map tapestry from Hannah Bass - Pam is now the proud owner of one of these kits!
Linladen stall - The Handmade Fair
Pretty colours at the Linladan stall
Little Boo Yarns - The Handmade Fair
Little Boo Yarns - more colours!
Lizzie Chambers - The Handmade Fair
Beautiful glass creations by Lizzie Chambers

After peeling ourselves away from the shops and grabbing some lunch, it was time for some crafting time of our own! Pam was planning to teach me how to cross stitch and I was going to send her down the cupboard-full-of-wool rabbit hole that is crochet in return. I'm a terrible teacher and Pam is left handed, so lots of tangled wool ensued in the crochet section of our afternoon.  We did have a small audience of lovely ladies watching the demonstration who suggested we should have sold tickets!

Crochet temporarily abandoned, we moved on to the cross stitch lesson for me. I picked up the geekiest pattern I could find for my little boy's room (from the Bobo Stitch stall - it uses glow-in-the-dark thread!) and we sat down at one of the lunch tables to have a play. The first three stitches went fine, but left unsupervised I ended up doing everything else backwards! If I keep going consistently backwards it'll be fine, right? Who am I kidding, I'll need to unstitch it all and start again... See if you can spot my deliberate mistakes:

Bobo Stitch rocket cross stitch pattern - The Handmade Fair

A small bit of feedback for The Handmade Fair organisers - more space for people to sit and do their own crafts at the event would be great. We met lots of people who wanted to sit and try out their new stuff, but there wasn't really much room without depriving someone of their seat for lunch or getting bits of food in your thread!

Lessons over, we had another look at the (now a little quieter) shops and then headed to the Deco Bar for a nice (mocktail) Pimms in the sunshine.  This was a cute art deco themed bar-for-hire in a cozy tent, decorated with parasols that reminded me of Kaylee from Firefly.

Deco Bar - The Handmade Fair

This was where I met Kat from the Laydey Katabella blog who helpfully pointed us towards the press tent for some Instagram photography and styling advice (despite me pointing out that no one actually *reads* my blog!)

We headed over and were given some really great tips on lighting our shots from photographer Sarah Hannam. There was also advice on how to make your Instagram feed look prettier with from Louise Beukes of the B.Loved blog.  We were given a pile of things to try and make a nice picture as a demonstration. Having been shown what 'styling' entailed, I very quickly learned that I'm terrible at it; here's the picture I took:

Instagram styling lesson - The Handmade Fair
Stylist, I am not...

So, I wouldn't hold out much hope for more beautiful pictures in future!

This finished just in time for us to run straight into our last workshop.  It was run by Jayne Emerson and focussed on needle felting, which turned out to be quite therapeutic! Basically it involves repeatedly stabbing needles into pieces of coloured fleece to stick it to a felt backing. Our task was to make a flower that could be sewn onto a brooch or hair band:

Needlefelt flowers - The Handmade Fair
Flower results: Me (left), Pam (right)

Flowers complete, it was time to head for home.  It was such a wonderful day, I'm so glad we went. A great chance to make things, get inspired and meet some lovely new people - I'll definitely be planning another trip next year.

(Finishing the post with more colourful balls of wool, because you can never have too much!)

Blacker Yarns - The Handmade Fair