Tomorrow, Jeff and I head for Germany and a long-anticipated Christmas visit with my brother's family. But we've had such a great time in Amsterdam, with many fiber-related adventures, and want to recap them here while things are still fresh in my mind. Before I forget -- I worked on my socks on the plane a bit, but didn't finish them as I'd hoped.
On our first day here, we were able to check into our hotel early. We headed out straight away to get our bearings and keep ourselves active and awake in an effort to stave off jet lag. And it just so happened that one of the places we wandered by is de Afstap in the Grachtengordel West neighborhood. They had a wide range of Rowan yarns, and kits for complicated stranded ponchos in bright colors -- a whole room full of them. One of the staff told me that they did a lot of commissioned knitting work, and that they had over 10 people employed making custom knitwear. One of their biggest areas of business was in knitting for local theater costumers. What a great gig -- but it sounds very high-pressure to me.
Yesterday, we visited the Van Gogh Museum, where I had the pleasant surprise of seeing a red lacquered box in which Vincent kept different colors of wool which he would twist together to test color combinations. Much of the museum was dedicated to discussing Van Gogh's interest in color theory; how cool to think that some of the startling colors in his beautiful paintings might have gotten their start with bits of yarn. He, along with some fellow artists, was interested in weavers as subjects -- he made several studies of them, including some "doodles" in a letter.
And this morning at a weekend outdoor market, we came across stalls of second-hand knitwear, much of it obviously done by hand. It was the Northern European equivalent of a pile of t-shirts at Goodwill. Among them were lines of used mittens -- mismatched and a bit grubby, but many of them knit by hand.
But this afternoon was the best! After a sober visit to the Anne Frank House and the municipal Amsterdam Museum, I made my way to the Spiegelkwartier through some cold drizzle to visit Penelope Craft, the other shop I'd identified previously. And although I knew he frequented the shop, I was surprised to see Stephen West, mister Westknits himself, right there! He graciously showed me some local yarns, of which I picked up a couple of brownish skeins, and we chatted about yarn and designs and color. Well, mostly I went on and on, but he was very kind to listen and happy to let me take a picture with him. And while he wasn't wearing his trademark swants, he had just released his Carol of the Swants video!
It was a great way to round out our Amsterdam trip. I got a copy of his book, Words of Wisdom, and I even have an errand I've been tasked with back home. I only got to meet the owner, Malia, for a moment, but then, she's a busy woman.
So it's on to Germany, where breiwerk will become stricken...