Tag Archives: spinning

Breidag – A Yarn Paradise?

This weekend, together with my friend Tammy, I headed off to Breidag in Rijswijk here in the Netherlands.  It’s basically an excuse for yarn freaks like myself to see all the pretties in one place.

I went last year, and that was my first opportunity to be able to get up close and personal with a lot of the beautiful yarns that I had only dreamed about seeing, and this year was more of the same.  This year I had two goals in mind: to finally choose a long colour changing yarn from Wol Cafe, and to get my hands on some roving to finally learn how to make my own yarn.  I also hoped to find someone stocking the Vinnis Bambi which I first saw when Maaike from CreJJtion showed me this beautiful stole.  But overall I just wanted to fondle all the gorgeous yarns.

Upon arriving, Tammy and I decided to first do a lap, then come back to the stalls that we wanted to buy from.  We were really hoping to be dazzled by all the choices and the obvious love of yarn art, as we had been last year.

What we quickly discovered though was, much of the same, everywhere.  The big brands were very well represented.  Lots of Katia, lots of Scheepjes, Phildar and some Catania.  I love all these brands, but was hoping for more diversity.  However, hidden amongst the giants there were some wonderful pockets of loveliness.  Textiel Werk en Zo with their hand dyed and undyed yarns and spinning wheels, Diversan with their natural fibres, and Pink Hazel with their handmade needle cases.

Zeven Katten were there as well, and we had had such a great time with them last year that we wanted to go say hi and see what amazing yarns they had this year, but it was almost impossible to get to the stand!  As with these events (and I don’t know if it’s a Dutch thing or not), elbows were sharp and middle-aged women take no prisoners.  I found myself getting closer to the front of the pack and someone would swoop in and I’d be spat out the side.  In the end it wasn’t worth the hassle, so I moved on.

I had much the same experience at Wol Cafe.  Tammy and I waited a few minutes to get in close enough to look at the yarns we were hoping to buy, and the entire time I was there, a woman just kept reaching over my shoulder to grab at the yarns, then as I was paying, she was already shoving me out the way with her backpack.  This kind of behaviour really spoils an event for me.  Especially right now when I’ve just come back from a month in Australia where I couldn’t imagine a single person not politely waiting their turn!  That’s right, culture shock is hitting me hard.

So, what did I get?

Well, I finally decided on a Limited By Wol Cafe yarn.  It was a tough choice.  Usually I’m totally drawn to the pinks and turquoise colours, but I decided to go with a navy to cream colour.

Limited By Wol Cafe http://www.wolcafe.nl/Limited-by-Wolcafe-donkerblauw/grijs/creme-109

I also couldn’t resist the Bamboo yarn that I found at Diversan. The entire stall was dedicated to natural fibres, which I LOVE!  I’ve found myself really being pulled towards the natural fibres, as the feeling and the colours are just so beautiful.

bamboo yarn from diversan  - http://diversan.nl/index.php?item=bamboe-witgrijs-gemeleerd&action=article&group_id=15&aid=322&lang=NL

And finally I bought a drop spindle and some roving to teach myself how to spin.  Ideally I’d like to get a spinning wheel, but they’re expensive and I’m not sure my husband would support yet another yarn habit, considering I’m starting to knit as well!

I started practicing yesterday because basically I couldn’t wait any longer (than 24 hours!).  So far it’s interesting.  I’m not loving it because having to stop and start to keep the spindle spinning and then to wind the yarn is irritating, but hopefully with practice it will improve.  Suggestions for great tutorials online will be greatly appreciated!

Overall, what did I think of Breidag?  Well, I think MaraMaakt kind of summed it up (aside from her ideas on mulesing).  The venue wasn’t the greatest, there wasn’t a lot of atmosphere and there were a LOT of stalls with mass-produced yarns and the big brands.  I remember last year being all about the love of fibre.  There were not many Wow yarns this year, and I missed the diversity of crafts aside from, well, knitting.  There was quite a bit of crochet represented, but almost no spinning or dyeing (two or three stands) and I had hoped to see more beauty.

So, will I go again?  I’m not sure.  I might consider the handwerkbeurs in October, but it’s in the same location and although Rijswijk is easy for me to get to, the venue is dark and the layout made it crowded.  There was a LOT of space in that room, but all the stalls were really crammed in against one another.

The company, however, was amazing.  Thanks Tammy!

Oooh the pretties – Breidag 2014

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:

Convergence top - pattern on Ravelry

I had the most wonderful day, it restored my faith in exhibitions.  When is the next one..?  Any tips for me?