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Going crazy for crafters: 33rd Annual Crafters Tour starts Thursday

Jennifer Swanson, this year's featured crafter on the 33rd Annual Craft Tour in Alexandria, mixes barn wood, birch wood, cotton and vintage finds to create one-of-a-kind pieces. (Karen Tolkkinen / Echo Press)1 / 4
Cotton lends an earthy feel to a display of vintage items. The hot and cold faucets could be used to hang towels. (Karen Tolkkinen / Echo Press)2 / 4
A sample of the wares Jennifer Swanson made for this year's Crafters Tour. (Karen Tolkkinen / Echo Press)3 / 4
Crafter Jennifer Swanson displayed a sample of the work she'll sell on this year's juried Crafters Tour. (Karen Tolkkinen / Echo Press)4 / 4

Alexandria will go craft crazy next weekend starting Thursday, Nov. 2, with a four-hour peek into the legendary juried 33rd Annual Holiday Crafters Tour held in private homes.

"We get people in from all the surrounding states to come for this," said organizer Pat Nelson. "It is nuts."

Eight homes are scheduled for the juried tour, each holding the work of multiple crafters. As well, craft sales are set for other private homes, the hospital, Zion Lutheran Church, Bethesda Lutheran Church and Broadway Ballroom.

"I think it's fun because it gives a whole different aura, shopping in a home versus a store," Nelson said. "We do not sell anything that is not homemade."

This year's featured crafter on the juried tour is Jennifer Swanson of 1211 Brigitta Dr. NE. The 40-year-old mom of one began crafting three years ago and has since mastered the use of her chop saw.

"I finally, this summer, got a nail gun," she said. "I think it's great! I should have done this a long time ago."

Swanson scours garage sales, thrift stores and Hobby Lobby, mixing barn wood, cotton, birch and vintage finds into one-of-a-kind pieces and home decor. A fan of HGTV and the show "Fixer Upper," she sees a sign or a plant holder where others see junk.

"Other people are like, 'What? I don't see that,'" she said.

By day she works as a dental assistant. On Wednesdays, her day off, and on weekends she dons her crafter's cape. Her mom and aunt also craft and will display their wares at her home during the tour.

"My mom and I went on the crafters tour for many years and then thought it'd be fun to start making things," she said.

Her 9-year-old son, Caden, will also sell his crafts.

Homes on this year's tour:

• 820 Roosevelt St.

• 613 Quincy St.

• 1211 Brigitta Dr. NE

• 101 Three Havens Dr. NE

• 720 12th Ave W.

• 6355 Chickadee Lane

• 1745 Fireman's Lodge Road SW

• 4365 Co. Road 82 NW

The homes will be open 4-8 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 2, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 3, and 9 a.m.-5 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 4. They'll be decorated for Christmas, and many will offer snacks. New and returning vendors will feature a wide variety of crafts from clothing and jewelry to gourmet treats and pottery, Nelson said. To be allowed on the tour, artisans must demonstrate they care about craftsmanship, and their work must be new.

"We've turned some people down but very few," she said. "Everybody's been top notch."

Nelson has opened her own home on Carneva Acres Northeast in the past. However, this year she is taking a break following surgery. That means she can finally go on the tour herself.

"This will be the first year I'll actually be able to get out," she said.

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