Following some projects I made with their lovely yarns last year, I was chuffed when Dutch yarn company Scheepjes (you can learn how to pronounce it here) added me to the "Blog Inspiration" pages of their website, as it includes some fabulous bloggers/designers whose work you would be sure to recognise. When Scheepjes invited us all to visit their offices in the Netherlands - to meet one another and look around - it took all of two seconds for me to say yes. So last Friday, I found myself having a picnic and warehouse tour at Scheepjes HQ in the province of Drenthe.
Left to Right: Nerissa, Esther, Heike, Carmen, Dedri, me, Maria, Annelies, Kirsen (hiding), Jellina and Atty
Of course we got to see new colourways of some favourite yarns and a peek of some things that will be coming up next season (we are sworn to secrecy). Seeing lots of yarn is always exciting, I expected that, but I wasn't expecting the buttons. Buttons in every shade of every colour - rows upon rows of them! There was much excitement about those, and not just from me.
Scheepjes is a small family-run business, despite international success and they are very environmentally-conscious, with a background in farming. It was interesting to learn that the office and warehouse are powered by solar energy panels on the roof and Job, who runs things since his parents retired, drives an electric car (which was plugged in outside), and has further plans for collecting and using the rainwater.
After a busy day 'at the office' it was time for something more relaxing and we spent a lovely evening getting to know one another while eating delicious food at Touche in Assen. As bloggers within a broad age range and from different countries, it was great to share the common experiences as well as the differences in how we do things. It's always good to be around your 'tribe' and as you might expect, we had lots of laughter and a thoroughly good time.
On Saturday we headed to a different venue - De Paalkoepel near Groningen - where we enjoyed lovely views of the lake, high tea and a lot of knitting and crochet. None of it was mine, as I was far too interested in what everyone else was making, and in writing notes for some new designs, inspired by the trip.
Unless you have been living under a rock, you will have seen this blanket and/or heard of the Sophie's Universe crochet-along before. It's an amazing design by Dedri Uys (pronounced 'Ace' - that's Dedri in the middle of the picture) which can be found on her blog 'Look At What I Made'. This is the most stunning piece of crochet - it's beautifully textured and has amazing detail. This version is made in Stonewashed XL and I'm completely in love with it...
So that he could really join in, Dedri taught Job to crochet. He did great, but his square wasn't quite as cute as Carmen's little ami bird which really caught my eye - if you like it too you'll find the pattern in Mollie Makes (issue 52).
You might also recognise Carmen as the winner of last year's Mollie Makes Handmade Awards, Youth Category. (I can confirm she is as lovely as her creations.)
Of course all good things must come to an end, and on Saturday afternoon I headed back to Schipol Airport with Heike and Dedri. We did our bit for World Wide Knit in Public day on the train and I spotted an older man taking a sneaky photo of us with his phone, but before he disembarked he came over to tell us his wife knits and to ask about our projects. I'm sure he must have sent the picture to her. My picture came out upside-down, but I like it - it captures the mood perfectly.
Now that I'm home and thinking back on everything, I realise it was a wonderful weekend for many reasons - meeting the Scheepjes team was lovely, we enjoyed super hospitality from Anita and Job, generous sharing of information and tips from all the other bloggers, and made lots of new friends. I have come home with so much inspiration for projects, blog posts and collaborations, and can't wait to get started!
I'll be back tomorrow with a 'show and tell' - some rather unusual knitting needles I picked up at Scheepjes which caused a lot of interest on social media when I posted a pic yesterday. See you then.