Kirstie Allsop (described recently, along with Sarah Beeny, by Private Eye as a ‘posh bird in a tizzy’) has been upsetting a lot of people. It’s not because she’s a Tory advisor, or because she suggested that a way to keep one’s husband was to feed him well, or indeed because she’s hosting a property programme in the middle of the biggest recession for a generation.
It’s because she’s baking. Or sewing. Or doing something odd with paper. Welcome to Kirstie’s Handmade Britain.
Now, you’d think that people wouldn’t really mind Kirstie doing something productive. After all, she has to do something now that Channel 4 has decided to shelve Location, Location, Location for a while. (I’m sure, in a time when repossessions were on the rise, many people enjoyed watching couples decide which penthouse flat in London they should buy. And then deciding against it because they could hear/see traffic out of the back bedroom window. First world problems, much?)
But anyway, poor old Kirstie is getting it in the neck from crafters (who believe that she’s cheating when getting experts to help her win county fair shows) and, for some indeterminable reason, the ever-rational Liz Jones of the Daily Mail who says that she wants ‘a life, not a handmade beeswax candle.’
So, is Kirstie doing a disservice to crafters everywhere? I watched the episode where she was nobly taking on various needle crafts- I was doing some embroidery of my own and the competition was in Yorkshire, my home county. I couldn’t resist. I was surprised how much I enjoyed the programme, having expected to be a bit let-down.
Kirstie is terribly jolly-hockey sticks, which is to be expected, if you know her presenting style. But this was useful, as she took to her crafts with gusto. I also quite liked that fact that we saw Kirstie doubting her own abilities and wondering whether she should pack to whole thing in when her wild hare didn’t look right. All crafters, no matter what they think, have this moment quite frequently. But we pick ourselves up and get back on that metaphorical horse, because we love what we do. And I believe that Kirstie loves learning these crafts, even if she is a bit too Cath Kidston-esque for my tastes.
Whether or not the competitions that she’s entering into are fixes really doesn’t interest me. What does interest me is that craft has a major, prime time slot on a national television channel once a week. It’s aimed at the general viewer, who might take up some new hobby they hadn’t thought of before. And genuine crafters are getting air-time, which can only be a good thing. Mr X Stitch, a bald rugby player-type, was a brilliant inclusion in this week’s edition, dispelling the myth that all cross-stitchers are cat ladies with nothing better to do. I went away with mental notes to try some of the products she used (water-soluble ink for embroidery? Spray mount for fabric? YES PLEASE.)
Anyway, if there was a fight between Kirstie and Liz Jones, I know whose side I’d be on. Kirstie looks like she could be a mean hand with a pair of pinking shears…