This year my Christmas wish came true when I was selected to take part in Kirstie Allsopp’s Channel 4 series ‘Kirstie’s Handmade Christmas Competition’.
As a keen crafter, and a massive fan of Christmas, I have long been a fan of the show (and Kirstie’s other crafting programmes – Handmade Home, Vintage Home, Fill Your House for Free, Celebrity Craft Masters), and have always thought how amazing it would be to craft at Christmas HQ. But until last summer I had never even considered that it might actually happen!
I still can’t quite believe it happened, the day of the competition was a very surreal day, but more surreal was actually seeing myself on the telly!
So how did it all come about?
Sometime around July, I think, I received an email saying that the show was looking for people to take part in the various competitions. On a whim I filled out a form, sent it off, and then thought no more of it as I was pretty sure nothing would come of it. Anyone who knows me, will tell you that I’m not a fan of the limelight, so appearing on TV is way out of my comfort zone! However, Kirstie’s Handmade Christmas is one of my favourite programmes and I watch it every year, so, I was curious to see what it would be like being a part of it all. It’s one of my “official” markers that the Christmas season is underway, and I love the way that everyone involved is so passionate about their craft – and Christmas. So when I got the phone call from the production team at Raise the Roof in August I was over the moon and terrified at the same time!
I had submitted a proposal to make a traditional hobby horse for the Handmade Toy Competition. I had made three previously, for two of my nieces and a friend’s daughter, but I decided to add some Christmas adornments – aka Rudolph fancy dress – for the competition. I was beyond excited at the prospect of visiting Christmas HQ and crafting with Kirstie Allsopp, which fortunately seemed to be greater than my fear of being on TV (to be honest, I just tried not to think about that bit!).
In September, the lovely Molly came to my house to film the back story, and I had to decorate my workspace (the spare room) with Christmas decorations, which felt a bit weird to be doing in September, even to me! This part of the process was a bit intense. I was so nervous talking to the camera as it all felt very unnatural, but Molly was great and put me at ease, and asked me questions as I practised making some of the elements of my toy.
On the day of the competition, however, I was surprisingly not too nervous. There was so much to take in at Christmas HQ – a wonderland of eclectic objects, and Christmas decorations – that I think I was probably too distracted and excited to think about the cameras, or the fact that I was going to BE ON TV!!
Early in the morning on competition day, myself, and two other competitors – Emma and Kate – were picked up from our hotel and were driven to Christmas HQ where we met the fourth competitor, Alan. There was time for a cuppa and some nervous chat as we found out about each other and what we were all going to be making before we were led through a festive labyrinth to our competition room. Kate would be making an Amigurumi Alebrijes-inspired reindeer, Emma’s handmade toy was a fully-jointed teddy bear, and Alan would be making a traditional wooden nutcracker.
We got ourselves set up, and then Kirstie came to say “hello”, and started the competition off. Kirstie visited each of us at the start of the competition to ask us about what we were making. I explained that I would be making a hobby horse dressed-up as Rudolph, and I felt surprisingly at ease chatting to her. She visited us each again later in the competition to have a go at an aspect of our makes. We had four hours to make our toys, which absolutely flew by. I think I spent the first half-an-hour, just gazing around the room at all the fairy lights and decorations!
We weren’t told beforehand who would be judging our competition, and I was delighted when I discovered that it was designer and illustrator, Jane Foster. I love her work, and I actually had her panda craft bag with me at Christmas HQ with all my craft supplies for the competition in!
I didn’t win – Kate’s gorgeous crochet reindeer was the well-deserved winner – but that didn’t matter as I felt like I’d already won just taking part. I honestly had the best time, and it’s an experience I will treasure.
You can watch all the episodes of this year’s Kirstie’s Handmade Christmas on All4 (UK).