Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Knitting in Amsterdam

Fiona's comment on my last post asked for photographs of knitters. I still find it difficult to ask people if I might take their photograph so I don't really have pics of individual knitters, but I do have some knitting and yarn activities to report.

I've visited a couple of yarn stores - both lovely. Penelope Craft has just moved to a new location in Kerkstraat. The shop's run by an American ex-pat, Malia, and stocks all the yarns that immediately make you want to cast on for new projects.

Penelope Craft interior

Lots of Madeline Tosh, Malabrigo, Danish BC Garn including beautiful silk, Schoppelwolle, Lopi yarn from Iceland and , most astonishing, quite an extensive range of yarn from Australian dyer Skein (I was told by the shop assistant that this is at the urging of Stephen West). They also stock yarn from a local Dutch dyer, Loret Karman who, as well as selling the usual skeins of yarn, sells packages of 'Dutch Palettes' - collections of small skeins of yarn in colour palettes taken from Dutch painters such as Van Gogh. The store has a lovely friendly atmosphere and an informal knitting group on Thursday evenings. I might try to go. The new shop is marked by a knitting-covered bicycle in the street outside. Cute.

Penelope Craft exterior

I've also been to De Afstap which mainly stocks Rowan yarns - an astonishing range of both yarn types and colours for those of us in Australia who are accustomed to seeing only selective ranges of Rowan. The small but well-organised shop has a display of expertly knitted Kaffe Fassett inspired clothing upstairs. Another store I'm sure I'll be popping into again.

De Afstap

I've visited my local knitting group - S&B Amserdam De Pijp. They were friendly and welcoming and I'll go again this week. They meet in a stylish cafe/bar just a few blocks from where I'm staying. So civilised to have a semi-private meeting room in place where you can order good coffee or wine. There were a couple of presentations on the evening I visited - one on double knitting and the other on photographing your knitting or other craft work. Unfortunately for me, but naturally, the presentations were in Dutch, but I could follow sufficiently to realise that the presenters really knew their stuff.

I discovered that the presentations were rehearsals for workshops that were planned for Breidag (translates as 'knitting day') that was held last weekend outside Utrecht. This is an annual event that brings together yarn retailers across the Netherlands (and a bit of Belgium) to display their wares. It also has associated workshops - hence the practice at the De Pijp knitting group for presentations over the weekend.


There were at least twenty or twenty-five specialist stalls - maybe more - and so much wonderful stuff that I was spoilt for choice. It would have been wonderful to attend with friends to explore and discuss and exchange ideas for what might be made from the extraordinary range of yarns. However, I was proud of myself for even getting to the fair - it required a tram, then a train to Utrecht, then another tram to the venue - and I ran into some of the people I'd meet at the De Pijp knitting group who made me feel welcome.

Breidag and Stephen West

And yes, that is Stephen West. Malia from Penelope Craft had persuaded him to attend and sign books that were for sale. I was introduced to him by one of my knitting group acquaintances and later chatted with him as we were both admiring some unusual yarns from Belgian distributors. Stephen was buying some beautiful but very glitzy yarns so I'll be watching for some Stephen West creations with lots of bling in the near future.

This was my very modest haul from Breidag. I'm aware there will be so many opportunities for yarn acquisitions during this trip that I don't want to commit myself to too much too early in my travels:

Breidag purchases

There's three reels of fine shantung silk from the Belgian distributors, four 50 gram skeins of Shilasdair yarn (10% cashmere, 10% camel, 40% angora and 40% merino, sourced from Peru and dyed in subtle colours on the Isle of Skye) and a copy, signed of course, of Stephen West's latest book 'Made for Movement'.

And my own knitting? I cast on for Martina Behm's pattern Viajante just before I left on my travels.


It seemed a good omen that Viajante is Portuguese for traveller. But the combination of the very deep blue of the yarn I am using, the poor lighting on planes and my increasing tiredness meant I did as much unravelling as knitting - even on the initial garter-stitch section of the pattern. Since I arrived I feel as if I've been knitting and knitting but the large ball of Wollmeise Lace-Garn doesn't seem to have decreased in size at all. I made the mistake of realising that the 1591 metres in a skein of Wollmeise laceweight is more than a kilometre and a half in length. A kilometre and a half! I feel overwhelmed. I'm torn between casting on for another, smaller project to have some sense of achievement and knowing that if I don't keep plugging away on Viajante it will never be finished. There are so many great yarn distractions available in Amsterdam I'm likely to be distracted.

So Fee, that's my knitting update so far. I'll keep you informed of developments.


M-H said...

We visited De Afstap too. We became very fond of a cafe just near there on the canal - we had breakfast there twice, That cross-stitch of houses in the middle of your photo - Sandra bought it, and has just finished stitching it. It's a wonderful souvenir! And what luck about the show in Utrecht. Glad you're having a wonderful time.

missfee said...

Stephen WEST I fell off my chair - knitting celebrity spotting

and wow so impressed at your knitting adventure - I love the yarn dyed to match the paintings so cool.

I say cast on a small thing and keep going with the traveller as well - i am still going with my nuvem and feel the 1.5km lace pain as well....

Reecie said...

Stephen West! shilasdair! Viajante! This post has given me a knitting sensory overload!!

DrK said...

oh well you just jumped right on in there didnt you?! i was wondering if you were going to find local groups, and you did way more than that! and the stores look lovely too. i think you should cast on something new with something local, i always try to do that while im actually travelling, so i always have the active memory of the place knitted into the thing, if you know what i mean. the blue in that wmlace is magic though. and hello, STEPHEN WEST! so cool :)

Anonymous said...

Beside myself with envy - go you! I love how you just slip in, yes that is Stephen West, and yes, I met him...
The yarn purchases look spectacular.

Anonymous said...

Wow Lyn, your trip seems to have everything so far, how do you top all that?! I'm sure you'll find a way!

Sue said...

How wonderful to meet Stephen West. Such lovely yarn stores that you visited, and such exquisite displays of Kaffe Fasset knitwear. I look forward to seeing more yarny goodness on your posts.

Rose Red said...

I think you should start a Kaffe Fasset project, after seeing those ones in the yarn store! You could rock some KF I reckon.

Also, hello, Stephen West! margarita will be green with envy, heh! What fortunate timing you have had with your visit.

Ronin said...

Great blog, you write so easy. Not saying that it,s easy but I lovecto read your blogs.

Ronin said...

By the way, how to follow your blog? Am very new to this blogworld.

Tricia said...

Thank you for this lovely post. I will be in Amsterdam in late September and you have shared so many wonderful ideas. Many, many thanks!!

Kate said...

Really helpful for my trip to Amsterdam this weekend. I have a wool shopping list to work through. Thanks!