For the last few years I have looked forward to November with both excitement and trepidation. Excitement because it is Crafts for Christmas and the Hobbycraft fair at Birmingham NEC, and trepidation as I know that I will inevitably spend too much money. Again.
I first went to the fair in November 2005. My son was barely 4 months old and I was pretty much a crafting novice. Although it was a real experience taking a baby to a very busy show, in the end I was very grateful I had him with me because his buggy became a very handy shopping cart to carry all my purchases!
If you have never had the joy of a Hobbycraft show, let me explain. The November event comprises 3 shows – Crafts for Christmas, Hobbycraft, and Art Materials – Live. It seems to be held over approximately 84 football pitches worth of ground, and attracts about 6 million visitors. Ok, that’s an exaggeration, but that’s what it seems when you walk in!
The gist of it is – if you can craft with it, you’ll find it there. In abundance. The real trick is knowing when to stop buying stuff (usually at the point just before you collapse in an exhausted heap on the floor). For the last few years I have been lucky enough to be treated to the ticket and the travel down there by my mother-in-law. Only fair really, as she was the one to get me into crafting in the first place 😉
This year 5 of us went together. A rather eclectic bunch – myself and my sister-in-law, my mother-in-law and her friend, and my 8 year old neice. We took lunches and and one of those wheeled shopping bags to store our goodies in at half time (a wise move, especially if you’re buying card blanks for example – they get very heavy very quickly).
My usual ploy is to try and decide two things before I go – what I want to buy, and how much I am planning on spending. Taking cash and leaving credit / debit cards at home is a good plan as it ensures you stick to your budget (if you do this though, make sure you pay for the car park at the start of the day so you don’t forget!).
This year, I really had no idea what I wanted. I certainly don’t *need* anything else – I can barely fit what I already own into my broom-cupboard of a craft room. So I went with only the plan of sniffing out a bargain. It has been discovered in previous years that I am very good at that. Last year I spent half what the others in my party spent, but ended up with 3 or 4 times the number of bags! (ok, I know it should be quality, not quantity, but never mind).
This year turned out to be no different. I spent in total just under £40, and £10 of that was on one item. Here’s a photo of the ‘haul’:
I’m not sure I’m ever going to use all this stuff up! In summary, this is what you may expect to see on any card you receive from me in the next 3 years…
3 packs of paper flowers
4 packets of buttons
8 packets of brads (2 epoxy, 1 fabric, squares, stars, hearts, and two normal circles)
1 pack of multicoloured Card Candi (I have discovered it is Card Candi *not* Card Candy as I had previously thought)
6 rolls of double sided tape (2 different widths)
3 packets of sticky foams pads
5 gorgeous 12×12 scrapbooking papers, which at 30p each were a steal
1 (only 1!) pot of glitter glue
1 stamp pad
2 packets of stamps (24 stamps in total)
1 pack of 12 patterned card blanks
1 pack of baby boy card toppers
2 sheets of decoupage
An A5 sketch book (this was free for signing up for a competition!)
A craft magazine, with a free quilling kit on the front
And the big spend was on a fabulous paper punch and embosser which makes utterly gorgeous shaped and embossed paper flowers (like I need more paper flowers!). I have hardly stopped playing with it since I got it.
I made a card using the punch and embosser. I was just playing with it and punching flowers out of a craft catalogue I’d got with one of my purchases. I realised that actually, the flowers were really pretty, and I soon got carried away and had made loads (my son helped with this bit too!). I put a dot of my new glitter glue in the centre of each flower, and then went to town sticking them on a card blank. I’m really pleased with the result, and I think I will be using that punch and embosser a lot!