Late last year I visited the KreaDoe exhibition in Utrecht, and it was one of the worst days of my life. It’s the biggest handcraft exhibition in the Netherlands, and all those horrible personality traits that people living in cramped quarters are famous for were out in force. Elbows, shoving, crowding, breathing down your neck in the hopes you’ll move out of the way, the list goes on. Needless to say, I really struggled and even came close to tears at one point. Not the best way to spend a Saturday.
So, when I heard about Breidag in Amersfoort I was apprehensive. But I was desperate to get my hands on some of the glorious yarns that I can only usually ever find online. I started thinking about projects that I needed supplies for, and counted the days…
When my girlfriends and I arrived, we were all like four year old kids, almost bouncing off the walls with excitement. We were really early, just after opening time, as experience had told us all to get there before the crowds go nuts.
And oh wow! The colours were amazing, and I hadn’t even touched anything yet. The first place we stopped was a small fibre stall, where the ladies were demonstrating different techniques for spinning, either using a spindle or a wheel. They also showed us the carding process to create wool bats by hand so that the fibres are all aligned, ready to be spun and become yarn.
I started to feel homesick by then. My Grandma taught me to spin when I was very small, and my family all have (or had) home spun, home knitted sweaters. My Grandma is still a wonderful knitter at 81 years of age, and has made some beautiful clothes for my daughter.
What I hadn’t expected to come across was the amount of local producers and dyers. I was honestly expecting it to be a hall filled with imported big name yarns, but was so happy to talk to the lovely woman from Textielwek Wol en Zo about her dying process and her passion for the art was obvious. Then there was the husband and wife team from Zeven Katten who import some of the most luxurious (and expensive) yarns I’ve ever seen and also produce their own beautiful yarns.
It was also wonderful to meet a fellow Australian, Fiona from Harlequin Yarns, who specialises in hard-to-find-in-Holland yarns and her selection was incredible. My friend Tammy found almost everything she needs for her list of projects; it was like a one stop shop!
Then around the corner was the one spectacular skein of yarn that was 73 euros and another kit to make a shawl that cost even more. I was very quick to realise that this was a day for real yarn aficionados. I had hoped to be able to pick up yarn for projects around the 30 euro mark, but there was no way I could come home to my husband with the news that I’d spent 90 euros on one scarf. He’d freak. Then file for divorce.
However, I do absolutely see the worth in the yarn, especially when you watch the the artisans at work creating it. You can see how much time and effort and skill is involved and you happily reach into your pocket to support independent designers and craftswomen (and men).
The big highlight for me was watching WoolWench Suzy spinning her beautiful art yarn. She presented me with a couple of different bats, so I was able to choose the colour she should work with. I also loved meeting her as she’s a Kiwi, and has worked with wool and in shearing sheds just like I have, and living here I don’t come across many others who have.
In the end I came away having ordered some beautiful blue yarn to be hand dyed by Textielwerk Wol en Zo to make myself this top for summer:
I had the most wonderful day, it restored my faith in exhibitions. When is the next one..? Any tips for me?