My mum and I went together, we paid £25 each for the coach fare, then admission fees, so knocking on for £60 before we'd even bought anything. We were the first passengers to be picked up, and so the last to be dropped off, and the day was just way too long and tiring (think getting up at 5am, being ready for home by 2pm. coach not leaving until 5pm...fed up of being rammed by crafters with shopping trolleys and sharp elbows, trying to carry heavy stash across the NEC maze etc etc)
We've had a tiny local show recently. It's a novelty when it's on your door-step, especially when you live where I do, but it's not that amazing stash wise.
This year, now the craft club is thriving again, I decided it was time to brave one of the larger shows.
Doncaster is just over an hour in the car so it seemed silly not to try the Summer Crafting event.
We found the venue okay, trying to find a way into the car park was another matter, but we joined the huge queue of crafters at 9:40am, waiting for the 10am opening.
Actually considering how big the queue was we got in the building really quickly, first stall we stopped at was Card-io.
We've used Card-io/ Rubber Stamp Tapestry at craft club recently so it was great to see all the sample boards here.
I did ask permission from the stall-holders to take photographs, some stalls have signs up asking you not to, unless you are buying the products, fair enough but it makes them seem less friendly somehow than the stalls who don't mind.
Chloe's stall was one of my favourites. I had actually made a proper shopping list before we went, to try and avoid being over-whelmed with "Must have that/ oh heck what did I buy that for" syndrome.
I did have some of Chloe's products on my list so it was just a case of patiently waiting to be able to actually get inside the stall, the queue to pay was very busy.
While waiting we bumped into one of my old crafty ladies so we had a good natter. Her husband had gone with her and was hovering about somewhere, my husband would rather saw his own head off than attend a craft show so I am slightly envious!
Craftwork Cards was another on my list. Unfortunately they'd sold out of what I'd planned to buy, but my mum thought these matchbox cards looked like a good project.
Lunch time: disappointed with the food available in the food courts. Slightly irritating that it stated you can only consume food and drink purchased there whilst on the premises. We bought our lunch from the food court and then had a job finding somewhere to sit while people sat at the tables eating food they had obviously brought in with them.
The main hall was very busy, and very hot. Having so many bodies in one place made it seem even hotter, and I was reminded again how much I dislike shopping trolleys and suitcases at these kind of events.
I am fairly strong but I found myself flagging, and it was a toss-up between looking at more stalls and more lovely stash, or just making a bee-line for my favourite retailers and ignoring the others.
The last stall we visited had heaps of lovely card, good job we went there last, and then we'd had enough, my arms were like spaghetti trying to carry the weight of the stash.
As we got out of the main hall we noticed Create and Craft were filming a live demo, so I left mum with half of our purchases while I made a trip to the car to drop off the rest.
What did I buy?
I loved the last stall, as mentioned loads of lovely card. It was all Anna Marie products. I'd been looking at packs of cards and envelopes in gorgeous colours, 25 for £5. I'd picked up 3 packs and then asked the stall-holder how much something else was. He explained that all that half of the stall was mix-and-match, 5 for £10. This included the packs of cards I'd already picked up...
Ten packs for £20, these will be great for craft club Christmas projects. I also bought fifty sheets of pearlescent A3 for £10, 100 sheets of A3 stamping card for £10.
Phill Martin, very nice man. A popular stall judging by how crowded it was, I bought a couple of paper pads and some inks. I would have bought more but to be honest you couldn't easily see what was there because it was so busy so I gave up (sorry Phill for throwing my money at you!)
Lili of the Valley. Another retailer that was on my shopping list. They had a 3 for 2 offer on so we bought six paper pads, worked out at £5 each (think they're normally about £7.50?)
I had to buy more Card-io stamps. What I really like about these is that every one of the sample cards shown on the stall were different but they were all flat. I struggle with not putting ribbon or bulky embellishments on cards and then obviously they cost more to post - and not just the actual stamp cost but the hassle of queueing up at the post office. The Card-io cards were intricate enough without needing any bulk but still look as though you've spent time making the card.
More Lili of the Valley on 3 for 2.
Again a stall I would have liked a better look at but people were spending so long examining things. Two women were ages looking at every image in the Art-pads section, between them they were really blocking quite a part of the stall, I gave up in the end!
I couldn't resist the sparkle- fest that was Chloe's stall. It was difficult to know which glitters to get, or whether to get glitter or glittery embossing powder. Too much choice.
We avoided: machines, dies and punches. I have been stung in the past buying such things, getting them home and finding there's a fault and not knowing which company I'd purchased from or having a job trying to get a refund. With that in mind we stuck to cards, stamps, inks etc.
We also avoided "Show Special Stamps" that seemed good value until you noticed they had spelling mistakes on...
We did spot the presenters from Create and Craft and the 'recognisable retailers' but, no offence to anyone who does this, had absolutely no desire to queue up for a selfie with them!
There were lots of people waiting to talk to Leonie Pujol in particular, she must have the patience of a saint.
I think considering how near we live to Doncaster it's worth attending the show and will probably go again next year. I'm happy with what we bought, it is nice to see things in the flesh especially as our local craft shops have been decimated the last couple of years. I'd definitely make a shopping list again, that was useful. Now I just need to work out how much I spent (eek!) and find somewhere to stash it all.