Unwinding With Crafts At Make & Mend Festival 2019 #AD

9 Jul 2019

Photo by Alex Cook
When life feels like it's getting completely on top of you, it can be really difficult to try and make some respite time for yourself. You might be well aware that you're taking too much on or that you simply can't keep up, but I know that I'm not alone when I say that I find it hard to detach from that to have some de-stress time. That's exactly how I've been feeling the past few weeks. I've struggled to stay on top of everything, but I've been letting it stew - that was until I went along to Make & Mend Festival*.

If you caught up with my recent post about this festival, you'll know a whole lot about what the day was to have in store, but if not, Make & Mend was started by Rachel and Lyndsey, two wonderful Stockton-based ladies, who wanted to spread their love for crafting. They found strength and happiness through crafts and wanted to spread the message of wellbeing through creating across the North East (and eventually, the world). Not only this, but they also started the festival in the hopes that it would inspire attendees to try something new, which is exactly what happened when we visited, so keep reading to find out what we got up to!
Photo by Alex Cook

Embroidery Hoop Workshop* - 12:15PM

You might remember from my pre-event blog post that I was particularly interested in getting involved with the embroidery workshop*. I'm a cross stitch lover through and through, and I've dabbled a little bit in embroidery, but I've never given it a proper go. It's something that I've always wanted to really try though, so I booked on to the workshop, along with my mum and sister. My sister was in a similar position to me - dabbled a little, but wanted to learn more and have a proper stab at it - but my mum is an amazing, all-round crafter and did embroidery in school, so she kind of knew what she was doing.

The workshop was held in the billiards room of Preston Park Museum, which was a huge space with a gorgeous chandelier. The light wasn't particularly great, but it was easy enough to turn our chairs towards the windows so that we could see our projects a little bit better. We were given a choice of three designs to work on, each featuring a motivational message. I opted for 'You are magic', mainly because I wanted to get adventurous and stitch stars all around the wording at the end. In fact, this was the design that all three of my troop chose!

Our tutor for the session was Gill Lyth, a representative for Make & Mend Co., who has experience in a vast range of crafts, such as needle-felting, lino cutting and jewellery making, and a passion to share her love for them - so much so that she is currently working on introducing crafting back into the education curriculum. She gave an anecdote about a surgeon she met who was, of course, extremely intelligent scientifically, but their finger dexterity just wasn't up to scratch, and this is something that Gill believes can be taught through craft. She was a pretty cool lady!
Photos by Alex Cook
Gill showed us all how to do a basic backstitch, which was really all that was needed to follow along with the printed wording, however, I had no idea how long it would take! Even though we had a full hour for the session, none of team The Northernist managed to get finished. However, we were able to take our projects with the hoop, any threads we liked, the needle, the wadding and backing fabric home with us. Despite not getting finished, it was really lovely to sit and get crafty for a little bit of time. We three are very much 'I'm concentrating, don't talk to me' types of people, so we were all completely in the zone and totally focused on what we were doing. It was fab to escape from real life for a little while!

I'm so looking forward to getting mine finished and I'll definitely be sharing a photo on Instagram, so keep your eyes peeled for that!

Paper cutting with Kppapercuts - 2:30PM

We enjoyed our time on the embroidery workshop* so much that we ended up booking ourselves on to the paper cutting session at 2:30PM. We figured that because our first workshop was something that we'd all dabbled in before, we should have a go at something completely new to us. There was a lot to choose from, like wreath making and macrame, but the paper cutting looked like so much fun and the results were so beautiful, and that's why we opted for it.

This class was held in the main hall, which was a huge room with two other craft sessions going on at the same time, so it was pretty great if you love having a nosy, like I do. There was also plenty of light in this room, which is kind of needed when you're dealing with sharp objects and precise imagery.
Photos by Alex Cook
Our tutor for this session was the lovely and bubbly Keely of Kppapercuts, who got started in paper cutting around 5 and a half years ago after needing a bit of a mental break from her job. The stress was overwhelming and she felt miserable, so tried a range of crafts to try and help distract her when she got home on a night, including crochet, embroidery and even clay work. Nothing stuck until she tried paper cutting - as soon as the blade went into the paper, she was hooked! It was the perfect respite from her job because it gave her something new to focus on that took her mind away from the stresses of work, which is exactly what Make & Mend is all about. She now runs her own workshops and sells her paper cut products in her shop (go look - her stuff is seriously pretty). 

And we were so glad that we chose this class because it was so much fun! As we were using surgical scalpels, Keely gave us a safety talk and demos on how to use the knives, then set us away with cutting out her adorable fox and hummingbird prints. It seemed as though the whole group was a little tentative when getting started with the knives, especially on the teeny tiny sections of the animals, but once we were into the swing of it, we were away! I'll admit, I definitely struggled when cutting out the circles, but cutting out the animals was fab!

I can totally see where Keely is coming from when she says that paper cutting gave her a way to focus on something that wasn't work. You're using so much concentration to use this knife to cut these tiny, delicate pieces out that everything else that was in your brain just gets pushed to the side. It was so calming and relaxing, so I can understand why she's head over heels for this craft. I absolutely loved it, so much so that we went and got ourselves some of the Kppapercut kits!

Before I get started on the kit though, I need to finish the little projects that we started in the session, because again, I didn't finish them all (and plus, I wanted to use scissors to cut the circles out - shhhh, don't tell anyone), so again, keep your eyes peeled on Instagram!
Photo by Alex Cook

What else was lovely about Make & Mend?

While the main attraction for us was definitely the craft workshops, there was so much more to see and do. Even if you weren't taking part in the craft workshops, you were free to walk through them and take a little peek at what everyone was up to, which I loved because I wanted to see the macrame in action. But there was also brush lettering, jewellery making and watercolour to see, to name just a few, so it was really cool to get a glimpse of what everyone else was up to.

Preston Park Museum's famous Victorian Street was also packed with bits and bobs to get involved with, and because the weather managed to hold up for the day, this was the perfect place to be if you didn't have a workshop scheduled in. As always, the Victorian shops were open, so you could have a look about in the milliners to try on some hats or in the working sweet shop to pick yourself up half a bag of sherbet lemons. There were also a couple of demos taking place that you could watch or a drop-in mixed media collage session in the stables, which looked like a heck of a lot of fun.
Photo by Alex Cook
Just a little way down the street, you could find The Maker Marketplace - the spot where you could purchase products from the workshop tutors and other North East makers, grab some kits or even find out more about the businesses behind Make & Mend. I could've gone completely crazy with spending in this area, but I managed to pull my reins back a little bit. I did pick up a few business cards though, because there truly were some beautiful pieces on sale that I think could be great for gifts.

By passing through The Maker Marketplace, you reached The Walled Garden, a gorgeous space filled with an array of flowers, so it was the perfect place to take a breather if you needed. My mum was totally in her element. She's a bit of a green-fingered goddess, so she knows her stuff when it comes to gardening, especially fruit and veg, so she was nosying in all of the greenhouses and on all of the prepared rows. Personally, I just enjoyed looking at all of the flowers and the bees. There were absolutely tons! Take a look at the photo below to see one of the little buzzy guys in action.
Photos by Alex Cook
The final area of the festival was around the bandstand, where you could find yoga, the giant cross stitch and food. This is the only bit that wasn't so great for me because there was only one food van there, so if you weren't big on Greek food, you were a little bit stuck. However, the food was coming from The Sitting Room in Guisborough, and there was a choice of pita with either lamb kofta or halloumi and salad. I will say, the food was lovely, but like I say, if you weren't a fan of Greek, there really wasn't much else to get your hands on. Luckily, I love lamb kofta and halloumi, so I was happy with the choices available.

Overall, we all had a brilliant time, including Alex, who I ended up dragging around as my personal photographer. I learned a lot and felt like I actually got the chance to unwind properly. I started to develop an interest in a brand new craft that I probably would never have tried otherwise, and I got to have a proper go at a craft that I've umm-ed and ahh-ed about before. It really was a fab day out and I'm so grateful that I got the opportunity to go along.

I'm so excited for the return of Make & Mend Festival next year and I can't wait to see what they have in store for us!

Are there any crafts that you've always wanted to try out?

This post was sponsored by Make & Mend Co. Any items marked with * have been gifted for review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Whould you like to comment?

  1. I quite fancy having a go at stencilling so I’d be interested to learn a bit more about the paper cutting to enable me to make my own stencils ��

    1. That sounds like a fab idea! You could create really personal stencils! x