Monthly Favourites: Craft Fairs

Hello! Welcome to part two in my new regular series on the blog where I get to share with you a few of my favourite things.

Each month I'll be profiling a few of my favourites, why I love them, and links to where you can find them for yourself. Over the year I hope to cover all sorts from books to podcasts, yarn to stationery, but today I'm going to share some of my favourite craft fairs, shows and events.

As a creative I'm always on the look-out for new inspiration, so going to a craft fair is a great way of seeing lots of different techniques, materials, ideas, and is the perfect place to meet plenty of like-minded designers and makers and talk to them about their passions. Plus, there are always the shopping opportunities too. There are dozens of events all over the UK all year round, and lots that I'd like to go to at some point - Unravel, Edinburgh Yarn Festival, The Great British Sewing Bee Live, and Yarndale to name a few - but here are the ones that are already on my calendar for 2018.

The Knitting & Stitching SHow

Actually a series of large events across the country and the year, I usually go to the two in London; the Spring show at Olympia in March, and the main Autumn show at Alexandra Palace in October. The Knitting & Stitching Show features hundreds of stalls for shopping, including some of the big brands as well as a host of small and independent companies, designers and makers, and a packed programme of talks, demonstrations and workshops. Yarn and textile crafts are the main focus, but you'll also find many other crafts represented, and with all the stallholders more than happy and willing to talk to you about their specialities you could easily pick up a handful or two of new things to try. I've written about a previous trip to the show here, but my top tips would be to wear comfortable shoes, take a wheelie shopping trolley if you can, or at least think about how you might transport any large purchases home on the tube afterwards!

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The Handmade Fair

I went to The Handmade Fair for the first time last September, but I had such a great day, it's definitely going to be one I go to again. The brainchild of Kirstie Allsopp, the fair began with the original event at Hampton Court, but this year there are also fairs at Ragley Hall, Warwickshire, and Bowood House, Wiltshire, if London isn't your neck of the woods. The focus of these events is very much around getting hands on, with the most popular ticket type including a Super Theatre session (a talk, Q&A or demonstration from a leading crafter), a Grand Make (a short workshop for a large number of people to learn the basics of a craft), and a Skills Workshop, where smaller groups get a bit longer to get more in depth with learning something. There is also a great shopping village, predominantly featuring small brands and independents to showcase and promote their work, plus a fantastic artisan food market that you can quite happily taste your way around. These events are outdoors, although all the workshops and shopping villages are in large marquees, but I suspect a lot of praying to the weather gods goes on as the day I went last year was lovely!

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Weald OF Kent Handmade Fair

Having just looked, it seems that this event has been renamed the Weald of Kent Country Craft Show for this year, but if you ask anyone local they're likely to know it as the Penshurst Craft Fair. Held twice a year over long weekends in May and September on part of the Penshurst Place estate, these fairs are smaller than the previous two I've talked about, but still feature a wonderful array of artisan crafts from jewellery makers to photographers, artists to woodworkers, shoemakers to ceramicists, plus a whole marquee of local food producers. There are also rural craft demonstrations, falconry displays and local bands and musicians providing entertainment. Ticket entry can be combined with a Penshurst Place house and gardens, so if you're looking for a lovely day out in the Kent countryside, I'd definitely recommend this one.

Support Local Pop Up

These are the fairs that I've been selling at over the last few months, and I've thoroughly enjoyed them! Set up by Hope Marshall, Support Local aims to give local small businesses and independent designer-makers an opportunity to showcase their work in a really friendly environment, and without some of the extortionate costs of renting retail space. There are always a great range of different stalls at the fairs, and honestly, it's so tempting to want to buy something from at least one or two of them every time! Events are booked for twice a month throughout 2018, and take place on Sundays in the beautiful Function Room at One Warwick Park Hotel, handily positioned between the High Street and The Pantiles in Tunbridge Wells. I'm looking forward to continuing to be part of the Support Local family this year and will keep you posted when I'm next going to be there selling.

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Now it's your turn: which craft fairs, shows, or creative events are a firm fixture in your diary? Are there any you think I shouldn't miss? Leave a comment or drop me a message and let me know!