Hello lovely internet friends! I hope you have been having a fabulous time doing whatever it is that is keeping you busy (and hopefully some of those things are crafty!).
This past weekend I was super lucky to get to go to the Handmade Fair which was at Hampton Court Palace, an event which appears to be created by crafting queen Kirstie Allsopp. This fair was a fantastic opportunity to see the joint fundraising initiative run by DMC Creative and Pink Ribbon Foundation; our pink patch was created in earlier blogs here and we even added more inspiration here.
Whilst I am about to come on to what the event was like for me, I feel it’s more relevant to have a look at some of the photos we took of the gigantic pink ribbon that was on display from DMC and Pink Ribbon Foundation. Let’s take a look at everything we managed to create together!
So firstly, here’s my little Phoenix design (the chart is still free and downloaded from the previous blog post here) which has nestled itself amongst some really nice messages of support and some really clever cross stitching, crochet and other nifty crafts! I am also very pleased I was not the only one to grab the pinking sheers.
I also totally forgot to upload photos of the very ‘final’ Phoenix piece – as the last blog showed the final cross stitching piece, but not the end product. I did some nifty stitching of a back cover on (to cover up the backside of the stitches) and then pinked.
Before I went to the fair, I wasn’t 100% sure about how the craft designs were going to be put up on the pink ribbon, so I figured that just in case I should make an effort to give it a funky back and cover up all my horrendous stitching fails. Pinking was just a nice touch! I found out when we got there that in order for them to stay in place (and not to fly off, or be torn off easily) these pieces were staple gunned in one corner so that they would stick. So the back wasn’t 100% necessary to do in the end but hey – give 110% to everything and you’ll be proud no matter what, right? I mean – I think this is probably the first time I’ve ever taken this idea of backing it with a square from patchworking, so it was nice to give it a go and I think it came out very nicely!
So when I got there, here is the incredible bright pink installation! I went on Saturday and this photo was taken around midday, so it was already pretty full with a whole day left to go. Look at how many craft projects are on that big pink ribbon! So many!
I also found my lovely friend (who goes by the username of CraftyLau – her IG is nice and full of creative projects if you are interested) who designed this very pretty flower and pink ribbon combo (and did a lovely button border!). I loved having a proper look at all the nice little creations. There was also a delightful little pink bear which was at the bottom right of the ribbon (on one of the tails) that was just so beyond adorable, had the creator been there at the time I would have asked if they had a pattern for it!
This is me with the gigantic big pink ribbon (for scale – isn’t that mad?!) and myself with the lovely Lisa Allen from Pink Ribbon Foundation (sporting some fabulously pink hair, that I am incredibly envious of!) for good measure. Ignore my chin / neck combo that makes me look slightly chubby – I never did get these types of selfie angles right!
So all in all, absolutely fabulous moment and I’m really chuffed that I got to be a part of the project and hope that the project will run again in the future. It would be great to see what other unique ideas we could come up with!
As for the Handmade Fair – I did have fun. I dragged my significant other along with me for the ride and he enjoyed parts of it (the chip stand was pretty amazing, as well as another trade stall that was selling a delectable peanut butter chocolate brownie which was annihilated in about five minutes).
I have to say – I was not disappointed with the fair, but I wasn’t thrilled to bits either. There was definitely a huge array of crafts available in both of the big tents, as well as some outdoor bigger stalls such as the DMC stand. But I felt in some areas, there were some crafts missing.
One point that my boyfriend mentioned, was just how much he’d have loved the event even more if there was more woodworking and more blacksmithing there – something akin to a ‘man’ section where he could put the gloves on and bash out something that makes it feel like his muscles are working (to add, I did tell him all about our male aspiration of Mr X Stitch, but he was still insistent on being able to blacksmith or buy something by traders of this craft).
I can imagine this section – especially seeing as it is outside – with a gruelling workshop, bashing bits of metal into submission. I can imagine it would be quite fun and perhaps would open up the ‘handmade’ part of the fair into other crafts outside of sewing, stitching and a few others. I could have left my boyfriend in the hands of some chap also sporting a viking-esque beard to discuss weaponry and blacksmithing quite easily. We did find a fantastic wood burning crafter by the name of Jes Hooper who was insanely talented and has been added to all the Christmas and Birthday lists from now on.
Wandering around all the stalls, there was definitely more stands selling fabric and squares for patchworking than I could ever imagine. It would have been my mum’s favourite place – hundreds and hundreds of patches everywhere. And soft cuddly toys, or make your own toys; these also seemed to be in abudance.
I was a little gutted seeing as I come from a primarily cross stitching hobbyist background that I only really found three stands selling their own pre-made cross stitch kits. A few more showed some cross stitch patterns, and more expanded into needlework and embroidery as a whole, rather than expressly cross stitch. Floss & Mischief was one to remember – definitely considered picking up her book but could only buy one item (and I had already bought it… discussed later). Hannah Bass also had some fantastic cushion designs that were very bright and vibrant. Nia Cross Stitch also did some fantastic samplers and designs which would make fantastic gifts; also conveniently in both english and welsh language!
I had gone with this impression in my mind (perhaps wrongly) that there would be a whole number of stall holders who would bring cross stitching and their books, their etsy patterns, the whole works, down to the fair. Instead, I found myself actively looking for them, because they were so difficult to find. The designs they had available were great, but not for me. Considering there were 350+ stalls… I don’t know why, I just expected more. I also had this expectation that DMC would have a few more items for sale. They did have Coloris there and threads, but it felt more like a workshop area (which it was) than a stall to purchase.
I just felt that it was under-represented by cross stitchers. I know embroiderers and needlepoint hobbyists probably had a fantastic time and if I really wanted to (like you’re about to see) I would totally get involved. But I love cross stitching. This is the hobby for me. If it’s a case of getting more new, independent designers there, then perhaps this is an avenue to investigate. The promotion at these events would be amazing!
To the three cross stitch stands I found – including the one with their own book – you’re fabulous. You were fantastic. I’m sorry I couldn’t buy anything from you, but I had such a strict budget and only permitted myself to buy one kit and that had to be from a company called Hawthorn Handmade and that was it. It’s not expressly cross stitching, but it is fabulous and I can’t wait to get stuck in (among my 6 other ongoing projects).
I mean, look at how adorable this is! This isn’t my version (as if I am that fast!). I will try and do a blog when I start and add it to my WIP projects list. If you would like to see some of the other amazing designs they have, please do check out their website here – which includes stoats, narwhales (which was my close 2nd favourite to the bear, I was this close to choosing that one but the boyfriend did say I could do more with the bear so choice was made), badgers, hares and more.
So I did leave the fair having achieved my purpose of obtaining an independent seller’s kit – even though it wasn’t expressly cross stitch. I am beyond excited to start on this (in fact, I can’t wait, but I know if I start it now, then I won’t get a chance to really finish off the other projects – one of which is a gift. Patience, Emily. Patience).
Moving on, there were a few other aspects of the fair that could have been slightly better. I figured as these were more my own gripes than anyone else’s – and likely spurred on by my decade’s worth of work in event management – I would bullet point to make it easier.
- Traffic was completely awful – not something the fair can really do anything about, but there could be consideration for a location with easier transport links including by car
- Parking was fab – but there was no signage from the actual car park saying ‘entrance’ or ‘this way’ – seeing as we were right between a hedge line and could only see cars, we had to ask where to go (as soon as we hit the path, we were fine, we could see the obvious tents and all sorts)
- The weather in September is always going to be particularly… unreliable. With the heavy rains that came down on the Friday (and Thursday night) before, this meant some of the car park was ruined and I can’t imagine that many wanted to wander around a mostly open site in the rain. Consideration towards either
- Same event in the same lovely space at Hampton Court Palace, but in May / June / July when weather is more likely to be on the sunnier side (or cloudy)
- Same event at the same time but in an enclosed space with better transport links (such as an exhibition hall) although you will lose that creative/crafty vibe in a big plain white building
- The stallholders tents were very, very busy. The psychology behind wandering around these tents means that the aisles are a little too small, as people stop or walk slowly, or gather around one stall and this prevents people from being able to even walk past, or to stop at an opposing stall. Even if the aisles were just increased even just a little I feel this wouldn’t have felt as claustrophobic as it did. I still feel that you’d get everyone out of the tent in time (as per fire safety guidelines) so that’s not the issue, more comfort.
- In conjunction with the above, there were quite a few disabled patrons there in wheelchairs or the electric scooters, and the amount of times I found them looking up hopelessly waiting for the mass of people storming past them to stop and let them through somewhere was incredible. I can’t imagine that it was a completely pleasant experience for them, although myself and my boyfriend did ensure we were super polite and let everyone who looked stressed (more elderly visitors and disabled folks) through so that they can get on enjoying what’s available.
- Note the above two points don’t include movement around the outside of these tents which was grand and even had the walkways and available loos which is a huge plus.
I have to admit – I did work in event management for just over a decade. I have experience in licensing events, in producing festivals for 90,000 capacity. These little teeny weeny things in the grand scheme of everything else, are so minor because they don’t have any real impact on the safety of the event – which was all in place, all perfect. They’re just little gripes, because I always love to see 110% put in and if I can see something that would make an event feel more warm, more cosy, more inviting, then I would mention it. I’d do the same if it was an event I’d put on in a debrief.
Plus I wouldn’t feel like this is my blog at all, if I hadn’t provided a truthful response on the event I visited that I feel my readers would have been interested in going to. I am someone who gets overly excited and that can lead to positive reviews of products… but I am not someone to ignore anything which can be improved.
Now that #MyDMCPink and the Fair are out of the way, it’s now time to get a move on with the WIP projects! I’ve already got some stitched updates to put up – one for the Sailor Moon Stitch-a-long and the other for the DMC West Highland White Terrier which is due by Christmas. Additionally, all the new projects including the cross stitch map (which I was going to stream live tonight but couldn’t due to work commitments and travelling up to Liverpool tomorrow which I need to get up early for) and a Mario bookmark which would be fab. Yoshi Island hasn’t been forgotten and I did take that up with me to see my family ‘oop North’ but just didn’t have enough time to get any real progress done. Soon!