An inside look at the Great Northern Contemporary Craft Fair

Manchester celebrates everything from cuisine to crafts this month Janet Reeder gets an inside look

A friend (not me honest) has a high powered job during the day and at night makes table mats and felt bags to sell at craft fairs over the weekend. Another uses knitting as a form of therapy, as it calms her down when she’s flying, believe me, she flies a lot and she’s allowed to take knitting needles on board as long as they’re bamboo.

Weird but perhaps a damage limitation solution far less scary than someone shouting ‘we’re all going to die’ soon after take-off. Me. Well, I’ve got a history of being involved in crafts. It all started with making stuff from Blue Peter. I am sure my dad was delighted by the holder for his shaving tackle made from a shoe box and half a washing up liquid bottle covered in (you guessed it) sticky backed plastic!

Then there was the jumper I knitted for myself, which looked more like a fishing net.  Come to think about it, while I’ve enjoyed making stuff, it’s never exactly been what I would deem a ‘success’. But here we all are doing our bit to keep crafts alive. And we’re not alone. Hundreds have joined groups like the Manchester Craft Mafia, doing crafts right now and some of those will be making their way to the Great Northern Contemporary Craft Fair Spinningfields, 22nd-24th October.

I was one of the panel with the extremely tricky task of choosing the exhibitors for the fair and even stuff that looked like Macram� was striking enough to be put in a gallery but while there are lots of talented craftspeople who didn’t get in, it became clear that the ones that did are definitely bringing something new to crafts.

So at the show instead of homely knits and cats faces painted on silk, there are elegant ceramics, finely wrought jewellery, distinctive clothing and dramatic sculptural metal. Not a felt table mat in sight.

The Manchester Food & Drink FestivalOctober 1st-11th

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Now even bigger. Could that be possible? Start off at the Festival hub on Albert Square and see where it takes you. There’s a chilli lover’s fair, Alisdair McGowan in raconteur mode over whisky and even an opportunity to dine on a boat. Exciting stuff.Manchester Literature Festival October 14th-25th Seamus Heaney, Martin Amis, Simon Armitage, Sophie Hannah,  Alexi Sayle, Val McDermid and Janette Winterson are amongst the A-list writing talent brought together for this year’s

Literature Festival in venues around the city.In the CityOctober 13th-15thManchester plays host to insiders in the music industry and the rest of us get to check out the bands that will be filling out the stadia of the world in years to come with names like Pulled Apart by Horses (nice), Basstronaut, Plank! and Beans on Toast at venues in Piccadilly and the Northern Quarter.

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