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A Weekend of Crafts and Christmas

Posted 23/11/2015

I spent this weekend in Manchester with a friend of mine visiting The Christmas Handmade Fair, we made a girls weekend of it and I have to say we had an amazing time.

This is the first Handmade fair I've been to, events having worked against me for the last couple of fairs, so I didn't really now what to expect from the Christmas Fair, all I knew was there would be crafts, things to buy, things to learn and Christmas! That was all I needed to know. The Handmade Christmas Fair - Manchester - 2015The Handmade Christmas Fair - Manchester - 2015

Saturday morning bags packed and car loaded I set off with a friend of mine to enjoy all the Fair had to offer and make a bit of a girly weekend of it. I choose to go with a friend as my Husband loathes crafts, isn't  fan of Christmas and is very easily stressed, add a toddler to the mix and it would be a recipe for disaster. My friend, however, loves Christmas and crafts, plus she is really good fun! With Manchester being just over 4 hours away from me here in Norfolk and overnight seemed the way forward. 

Getting to Manchester was really easy and we used one of the MetroLink Park and Ride services which meant no inner city driving, bonus! The Christmas Handmade Fair was held in Manchester Central and the website gave you load of information about getting there, which we found really helpful as we knew which Tram Stop to get off at and hen what to look out for. Manchester Central is super close to the trams as well which is handy.The Handmade Christmas Fair - Manchester - 2015The Handmade Christmas Fair - Manchester - 2015

We arrived at the fair around 2pm having stopped for lunch and had such a blast we didn't leave until 6pm already excited for the next day. There was a shopping area to look around with loads of fantastic small craft businesses selling there products as well as a larger Hobbycraft stand that had great event offers as well as some little areas showing you the products in action and letting you have a little try of them and their own mini theatre where you could learn how to make things. I had a play with the Kirstie Allsopp Pyrography Kits and made a little decoration, I was so impressed I ended up buying one, I had never tried it before and probably never would have done, Pyrography basically involves a really hot metal tool with shaped nibs allowing you to burn a pattern into wooden shapes. Being able to not only try it before I bought but be briefly guided about how to use it was really helpful.My new Kirstie Allsopp Craft KitsMy new Kirstie Allsopp Craft Kits

I also bought some lovely Pug cards for my Sister, a little sewing kit with mouse pin cushion for my mother in law, I may have subscribed to Mollie Makes for myself, potentially I may have also bought not 1 but 2 of the Kirstie Allsopp Hobbycraft kits from myself as well, I got some delicious Apple crumble fudge as a gift for Husb and I got some amazing and very sparkly Washi Tape!! There were a lot of other things I wanted, including a Sizzix machine, but I was being restrained.

As well as the shopping, which we made full use of, there were also plenty of areas set up for you to get crafting yourself, with Grand Makes, Skills Workshops and even some free things you try out there was plenty to do, there were even talks in the Super Theatre. On the Saturday we tried out 2 of the Skills Workshops, we made a lovely live foliage Wreath in one class and some Button Tree Decorations in another. The Skills Workshops lasted about an hour and you got everything you needed to make your project, a super skilled person teaching you how to make it, loads of chances to ask questions and get help and then you get to leave with your finished project.My Button DecorationsMy Button Decorations

We loved making the button decorations, something I probably would have eventually tired by myself but will definitely do now that i've been shown and given ideas. A Foliage Wreath I would have never dreamt of attempting though, I'm so glad we did this class as it was a completely new skill for me and now I would do it again, the method was actually super simple and I'm really pleased with my finished wreath, it's made with lovely Rosemary, Eucalyptus and Pine so it smells divine and it looks really stylish. I'm s happy to have found a new skill. 

Everyone we came across was lovely as well, we all had little chats whilst we were crafting in the Skills Workshops, or as we were walking around. Everyone was there because they also loved crafting and us crafting people are a friendly bunch.My Wreath Hung at HomeMy Wreath Hung at Home

We didn't get to try out any more classes on the Sunday which was a shame as I would have loved to have tried a Grand Make, a small craft project you get to do with everyone in the Theatre, shorter than the skills workshops and less personal these still looked like a real giggle, we would have happily attended another skills workshop as well. This was not to be though, so we spent 2 hours browsing and shopping before we started making our way home. 

My top tips for making the most of the show:

  • Actually go!! Don't be put off by distance or anything thing silly like that, book a hotel, make a weekend of it if you are a distance away. This show is seriously the most fun thing any craft lover could do.
  • Take someone with you who will love it! I cannot explain to you how relieved I am I didn't bring my husband, what would I have done with him whilst I was crafting? Plus him not enjoying it would have meant me leaving early.
  • Pre- book your classes. You can book them on the day but it is way easier to do it beforehand. Also whilst they may be an additional cost they are so worth it. For starters you get to eave with what you made and secondly they were the most enjoyable part of our day and what really made the trip amazing for us.
  • Bring a couple of shopping bags with you, or even a trolley. You will shop, it can't be helped, someone will have something you can't resist, plus there are things you make.
  • Chat to people. Make the most of being able to chat to the artists and crafters making these products, they will happily share their wisdom and I think it makes the items you buy that bit more special, really knowing where they came from.Christmas!!!Christmas!!!

When we pictured the show, both my friend and I thought we probably go for a couple of hours, look round all the stores, buy a few Christmas Presents and then head home, just like we have at other Christmas Shows we've been to. What make The Christmas Handmade Fair so special is the workshops. Time just flew by, we had a brilliant time making different things and learning new skills it was just amazing, we couldn't wait to get back the next day and now this is over we are already looking forward to The Handmade Fair next Summer and then The Christmas Handmade Fair, it was so brilliant we will be going to them all from now on!

Disclosure - we were provided with complimentary admission so we could experience and write about the Fair

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