What started out as a pleasant diversion is turning into a national institution.
In 2009, Kirstie Allsopp – who was previously best known for her property expertise thanks to the show Location Location Location – fronted Kirstie’s Handmade Home, in which she (with help from various experts) decorated her Devon house with craft items she made herself.
The format has since widened to encompass Kirstie’s Handmade Britain, Kirstie’s Vintage Home, Fill Your House for Free, and several other shows, including this now annual festive series.
In the years since her first dabble into the world of the handmade, crafts have really risen in popularity, with thousands across the country taking up knitting, crochet, sewing, baking, woodwork and more.
Did Allsopp’s show and others along similar lines inspire folk, or did they reflect an already growing trend that began as the public attempted to find ways to save money in an uncertain economic climate? That’s a topic still up for discussion, but whatever the answer, it seems that for the foreseeable future, crafts are here to stay. They’ve certainly grown even more popular since lockdown began, with many taking up new hobbies to pass the time.
Allsopp’s passion began much earlier, although she admits she never really imagined she’d become a guru.
“I think it’s always interested me, but I never thought I was capable of doing it,” she says of the crafting world. “So I would buy it. I’d see something that was made with love and care, and I would purchase it. I never really thought I was capable of that.
“I was a very early advocate of the immaculate Christmas, making a big effort with that kind of stuff. But it was a surprising discovery for me that I was capable of making things myself.”
However, she does admit defeat in some areas, but thinks that a fear of failure shouldn’t put people off trying new things.
“The ones that I can’t get good at involve knitting, crocheting, cross-stitching – I just can’t feel my way towards them,” she admits. “But a lot of the crafts are made much, much more difficult on the show by the time aspect, and by having the cameras there.
“There are times when you see me throwing a wobbly, but the truth is, I’m throwing a wobbly at the process of being filmed while under this kind of pressure. That is what gets to you – because you are doing this flower arrangement, for example, and someone will say ‘Kirstie, can you talk about what you’re feeling now?’”
She should be feeling very happy in the opening episode of the new run because it reunites her with two very familiar faces – her TV partner Phil Spencer and her sister Sofie.
Phil tries to impress Kirstie with his wrapping skills, while florist Sofie demonstrates how to create a stunning arrangement that will add an extra bit of sparkle to the festive season.
Also appearing are MasterChef winner Shelina Permalloo, who brings a Mauritian twist to a seafood showstopper, while Coinneach MacLeod makes a trifle with a Scottish flavour, accompanied by a Hogmanay cocktail. Kirstie herself also gets in on the act by revealing how to make bespoke Christmas crackers.
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