Kirstie Allsopp, queen of crafts, is bringing her Handmade Fair to Wiltshire for the very first time this summer and crafts enthusiasts from across the South West will be descending on Bowood House to brush up their creative skills and get some new ideas.

While I have dabbled in a few crafts over the years – a little bit of clumsy embroidery, one cash-strapped Christmas when decoupaged flower pots were inflicted on my luckless family – the written word has always been my preferred creative medium. Tonight, however, I’m attending the launch of Kirstie’s Handmade Fair to find out what the fuss is about and to try my hand at a couple of crafty activities.

Presenter of ‘Kirstie’s Handmade Britain’, Allsopp has been lauded by Channel 4 for ‘reigniting the nation’s passion for craft.’ While it may be something of an exaggeration to attribute the tide of enthusiasm for knitting, making and upcycling to one woman’s television show, her series has certainly struck a chord with people who have wish to learn new skills and bring a sprinkle of creativity into their lives.

I am taking ceramic artist Claire Baker as my plus-one. I think she may have some interesting insights to offer. It is fair to say most, though not all, of the participants are women – and the proceedings get off to a strong start with the application of Prosecco and cake.

Two long tables are laid out with activities for the evening – one with jars of brushes, bottles of paint and squares of sleek fabric for silk painting, and one with carved wooden blocks, palettes of fabric paint and squares of white linen for printing. It looks, to all intents and purposes, like a morning’s activities at a very upmarket toddlers’ playgroup.

Claire and I join the silk painting group first, where an instructor tells us how to use the paints. I sense the looming possibility of bodging this challenge to paint delicate flowers on almost transparent silk, but an imaginary Kirstie stands by my side (like a bossy but kindly, and substantially more successful big sister) and tells me not to bottle out. I take up outliner and start to trace some flowers onto the silk.

It is actually quite absorbing. On completing the outlines, we play around with colours to adorn the design. Half an hour later I have a something which, while obviously no masterpiece, is not absolutely awful. It is fun too – chatting with our neighbours, exclaiming over our mistakes.

Next stop, the block printing. Trays of gorgeous hand-carved wooden printing from India await us – animals, trees, seed-heads, flowers and more. I have long loved Indian block prints so enjoy the opportunity to marvel over these beautiful creations. Activity organisers from the Arty Crafty Place import them directly from artisans in India, and now we use them to decorate white napkins. The skill lies entirely with the makers of these prints of course, but still is very absorbing and satisfying to play with them – a real stress reliever.

And so our evening comes to an end. Claire and I leave with our creations, like kids taking home a picture to show their mums. Which is not to denigrate the experience – in a time when our entertainments using involve a screen, it has been surprisingly relaxing and pleasurable to engage in a simple, practical activity with a group of people, to share and talk and experiment.

Kirstie’s Handmade Fair will take place June 22-24. All sorts of talks and workshops, like these, will be laid on for craft lovers, whether you are a novice like me, or a seasoned expert. As well as silk painting and block printing, expect needle felting, calligraphy, wirework and much more.

Kirstie herself will top the bill on the Friday, followed by skincare specialist Liz Earle, and founder of the Fairtrade jewellery range Sarah Raven.

Lady Lansdowne of Bowood said: “The Handmade Fair and Bowood are such a natural fit with a shared intuition for the timelessness of English country lifestyle and a knack for blending the old and the new. As an interior designer and a passionate cook, I am particularly excited that the show has selected Bowood House and Gardens as its Wiltshire venue. The three-day event’s very nature completely plays to my own creative zest. It’s so important to share arts and crafts pursuits, and their traditions, between generations and encourage each other towards modernising twists. Spending time doing so with my grandchildren is a tremendous joy and I know that the Handmade Fair will capture this spirit beautifully.”

She added: “It will be marvellous to welcome both Kirstie Allsopp and Sarah Raven back to Bowood too. Our family has known Kirstie since she was a child while Sarah set out the original picking garden for us in our walled garden and just last year gave a wonderful masterclass on creative containers at Bowood.”

“The Handmade Fair at Bowood is a fabulous way for craft enthusiasts and lover of all things handmade to get a little taste of everything,” Kirstie said. “So come along, meet like-minded people, and get inspired to build on an existing skill or ignite a brand new passion – we can’t wait to see what you create!”

Tickets for the Handmade Fair can be customised to include the sessions that you are most interested in – including a Super Theatre session featuring Kirstie, Liz and Sarah, a skills workshop of your choice and a Grand Make – when you can learn and share your skills with fellow enthusiasts.

Various tickets options are available, ranging in price from £12 to £90, for the VIP experience. For more information and to book, visit