For me there is nothing better than meeting other like minded people and discovering new small businesses and crafts. So when I was presented with complimentary tickets to The Handmade Fair by the lovely Louisa from The Fibre Lounge, I knew I just had to go! Fortunately I have an equally crafty Mum who was more than happy to come along for the journey. So I jumped in my faithful old Fiat Kenny, picked up my Mum and started the long journey to Warwickshire.
I last attended The Handmade Fair almost two years ago at Hampton Court Palace and had a wonderful time navigating the tents and taking in all the amazing sights, sounds and smells! This fair took place in the beautiful grounds of Ragley Hall and had the perfect mix of food, drinks and crafts which makes it an ideal event for all!
The main tent was absolutely packed with a whole host of different businesses, makers and crafts. We slowly weaved our way through the crowds and stalls, ensuring we stopped off at each one to take in all the different products and supplies on offer. One thing I do love is how welcoming the stall holders are at craft events. They aren't pushy, like TV salesmen and often just want to chat. Naturally I am an expert in the overly polite British conversation topics of traffic, travel distance and weather. Once the pleasantries were out of the way it was time to dive into the world of each stall holders business and hear all about their journey and craft which was just fascinating!
One thing I noticed at this years fair was just how many embroidery artists and suppliers there were. What I have noticed at all the fairs I have attended, both big and small is just how few embroidery businesses there are out there, particularly in the UK. So to see these businesses today was really heartwarming and inspiring. I particularly enjoyed chatting to Jenny Blair. I was immediately drawn to her stall not only because of the beautiful hoops hanging on the wall but because I recognised the sweet DIY reindeer kit she had on display from a Mollie Makes issue I had as part of my subscription just before Christmas.
We chatted for a while all about our businesses and I really enjoyed hearing how it had evolved and seeing her hoop kits. My eyes (and heart) were drawn to the beautiful foxglove hoop on display and her other botanical artwork. She also very kindly shared her stunning fabric books that were examples of her work all sewn together in a wonderful and handy way. To say I was amazed was an understatement!
I managed to tear myself away and speak to a number of other sellers too including the lovely Kelly from House of Merino. I actually only discovered this business the night before on social media when I asked who else would be attending this years fair. All I can say is- I'm so glad I did! I have seen so much online about arm knitting and the gorgeous array of colours that merino comes in definitely makes my soul happy. I spotted Kelly's stall today and got very snap happy, I mean, how could I not? I was fascinated by this craft and after speaking with Kelly it has made me want to attend a workshop even more!
Another stall that my Mum and I absolutely adored (and couldn't stop going back to) was Claire Brierley's, which had the sweetest array of work. It was a mixture of reclaimed wood and felt and it was nothing like I have ever seen before. Claire was an absolute delight to talk to and so very humble, which made us love her work even more.
I was immediately drawn to a sweet little fox in a party hat. He obviously had to come home with me.
It was also great to see The Fibre Lounge at such a huge event and I felt a sense of enormous pride for Louisa. Not only has she recently opened her shop but she's also currently working on turning her basement into a workshop space and stocking her online store too. The work involved in coming to such a huge event is enough to give me heart palpitations but she takes it all in her stride, even jumping in at the last minute to teach workshops in the Mollie Makes tent. Her trusty side kick Mel was doing a fantastic job of manning the stall whilst Louisa was off teaching lots of crafty folk how to crochet and as always, the little nook of yarn filled wonder looked fab! It was also a lovely surprise to see my logo hoop hanging on the wall too.
Now usually at craft fairs, Mum and I immerse ourselves in all of the fabric stalls imaginable but there were far fewer of these at this event than any others we had attended. However The Sewing Cafe more than made up for that! Becky was incredibly welcoming and encouraged us to rummage through the array of beautiful patterned fabrics she had on offer. She was another seller who was a pleasure to talk to and genuinely interested in my own business and how I used the fabric. I left with some beautiful fat quarters in patterns that I had never seen before. I may also have come home and taken full advantage of her 15% off voucher stashed in my paper bag.
Crafts aside, the fair is always a cracking opportunity to sample new flavours and they always have a great array of food and drink stalls. After walking around for hours, Mum and I settled on sampling the food of a stall that drew us in with the most amazing smells- the paella stall! The chicken and chorizo paella was just the warm food we needed against the blustery winds and empty bellies we had and made a nice change to the usual sandwich options at most events.
The long and short of it is if you are looking for a great day out with the opportunity to try out new skills in the workshop tents, or shop til you drop in the marque or maybe just enjoy a cocktail with a side of paella, then The Handmade Fair is the place for you.