Kirstie Allsopp’s Handmade Fair

Yesterday Ma Mew and I headed to the Kirstie Allsopp Handmade Fair at Ragley Hall! It was her Mother’s Day present, but I couldn’t wait to go too!

I had booked 3 workshops: Felted Butterfly Brooch, Embroider Your Own Handwriting and the super theatre Kirstie Cooks with Carla Simao.

We hot stepped it to our first tutorial (felting) and manage to create something that replicated a butterfly within 25 minutes. Supplies were rationed out, so those of us that needed more wool had to put up their hand. Although I had already done a bit of felting, it was nice doing a tutorial. I had just bought the stuff and tried it out, but it was great getting basic tips. Steffi Stern was brilliant! Light heart, informative and very enjoyable to listen to.

We had some time before our next tutorial, so headed to the marketplace marque to gaze at the yummies. Crafting supplies, jewellery, bags… there were some really unique pieces in there and some of the supplies were awesome. Many stalls did demos, so it was great to be able to watch things like stamp embossing and ask questions.

After indulging in a rather scrumptious and obscenely calorific crepe…ahem…side salad…we went to our next workshop.

Jamie Chalmers was a really funny and talkative tutor. The project was simple but effective. The only thing Ma and I had problems with was separating the embroidery threads from 6 strands to single ones. We got knotted, they snapped, it was a mess. To be honest I would have rather used the original thick thread for a more impactful look, but I guess they would have gone through a ton if everyone did that. None of us completed our piece, there just wasn’t enough time. Of course, you couldn’t take the embroidery ring or threads home with you, so decided that I would try a new one at home.

We had to rush to our Master Theatre before the end of this one and watched Kirstie and Carla produce 2 salads and a talk about some ‘energy balls’, made of cacao, fennel seeds, dates and coconut. The only problem with this talk was that you kind of expected them to give you recipe sheets or have the recipes projected on the screen so you could take note. Carla was wonderful, but slightly shy and with a thick Portuguese accent. So it was tricky to get everything she was saying. They never really discussed measurements of things either (how many dates, how much cacao etc), so although it was nice I wish we had done another craft tutorial.

Regardless we had a wonderful time. The rain held off, but it was very breezy and no sheltered areas to sit with a coffee unless you were in the VIP marquee. There were plenty of picnic benches, superb eateries (even a specialist veggie/ vegan one) and we really enjoyed the marketplace and felting! Ma and I are definitely going next year and doing more tutorials. We stayed from 9.30-4pm thanks to those, but would have been done within a couple of hours without the workshops.

Kirstie Allsopp was great. Chatty, making sure she appeared in the public areas…and boy was she tall! For some reason I thought she was 5ft 5″ or something, but you could see her dark hair and shoulders bobbing like a ship on a sea of silver and rainbow heads throughout the show. At some of these things, the celebrity host stays on the main stage or in the VIP areas, but she made sure she was visible and accessible to the public. Marvellous!

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