Lovely day out yesterday to Hampton Court for the Handmade Fair. A very kind friend invited me and the whole day was my idea of heaven – tons of stalls full of tempting crafty bits and bobs, fish and chips for lunch courtesy of the Sea Cow, lots of tea and, above all, loads of other like-minded types peacefully enjoying a mooch. There was scarcely a single man around and the whole event gave a little taste of what life would be like if women ran the world – a huge amount of bunting, a lot of cake, and maybe a few too many stuffed toys.
There are no craft-type shops near me, unless you count Rolls and Rems down in Lewisham, which is quite a hectic experience. Buying things online is great, but I do miss seeing what I’m getting. Part of the joy of fabrics and yarns is their look and feel, their textures and colours, so this was a real treat for the senses.
Things I bought:
A kit for making my own rag rugs. I’ve wanted to do this for ages, and even made a mat with Child One last year by plaiting old tea towels but it was laborious and is now a bit lop-sided after a few encounters with the washing machine. This kit should definitely smarten up the end result and it makes a tufty rug, not a flat one. It’s from Ragged Life and the idea is that you can use all those oddments of fabric left behind after dressmaking adventures, or even make a memory rug with snippets cut from your child’s favourite garments (after they’ve grown out of them!).
Scarf kit from Mrs Moon. I was seduced by the wonderful softness of their Plump yarn, which comes in a delicious range of colours. Though I seriously will probably never need to buy a ball of wool again in my life, I definitely wanted this scarf so I’m calling it an early Christmas present to myself. Best thing about it was you could choose the colours yourself, so I’ve got a lovely autumnal mix of greens with rich aubergine.
Black bomber cheddar cheese – alright, it’s not exactly airy fairy artsy crafty, but it does taste really good. I actually got a white bomber, so called because of its white wax rind. I was wondering why the spherical cheese was covered with glitter and had a ribbon hanging from it, when I realised it had been cunningly got up to look like a Christmas decoration. Would have made a perfect present. But too late, as I’d already hacked into it. Delicious!
Death by Tea – whimsical name, wonderful designs. I got some lovely cards and a tea towel for Child One’s second year at uni from this stall. If she’s got a tea towel, she’ll do some washing up, right?
Best of all, I ran into Mary Corbett, a friend and colleague from the Daily Express. We worked on the Diary together, then she wandered off for a gilded life working at Hello Magazine. Now she’s had a complete transformation and turns out to be running the swanky table mat company Clubmatters. I don’t know much about table mats but I do know a thing of beauty when I see one, and these mats are really lovely, fantastic quality with a very luxurious finish. Her latest range features colonial illustrations of animals and pineapples – a traditional symbol of welcome – against soft pastel backgrounds. She also has sets featuring shells, feathers and chickens from the Isle of Mull where she has a home. It’s really hard to get interesting table mats in the shops so if you’ve been hunting high and low, go straight to Mary.
There were plenty of workshops and lectures as well as the stalls, with people like Emma Bridgewater and organiser Kirsty Allsop giving talks, but my friend and I were happy with our day’s wanderings and I went home with quite a bag of booty. The fair is on again tomorrow so don’t miss it if you’re a crafty type.