You don’t know this yet, but throughout April I have been blogging not from Zagreb, but from a bit further West – Brussels. I am here on a month-long stay in a nice sunny apartment, going about my business as usual (one good thing about being a translator – as long as you have a laptop and an Internet connection you can do your job anywhere), and enjoying the company of people very dear to me.
Now, before I set off I tried to plan out my projects for the month and packed a copious amount of yarn. However, whimsical in my project-starting as ever, within a few days I found myself in the need of something I didn’t have. I decided to participate in the Autumn Vines Beret knitalong and needed some nice sportweight yarn to go with it. No worries – a great opportunity to explore the yarn shops of Brussels! I’ve been to a few now and the plan so far is to do a separate post on each. Today I present the one where I actually found my yarn (after several unsuccessful attempts): Art et Fil.
While located in quite a trendy area of Brussels, you wouldn’t think much of this shop if you passed it on the street. Actually, you might not even notice it was there. It is tiny. I’m bad at estimating size, but this shop is 15 square meters at most. If you do manage to spot it and make your way inside, you realize that the owner does not allow herself to be hindered by the lack of space in stocking the shop. It is chock full of yarn from all over the world, including the big names such as Debbie Bliss and Rowan, the ethical producers such as Araucania, as well as many different local and regional brands.
Neatness is not primary here. One can see that there was some idea in the direction of organisation in the beginning, there are nice shelves along the walls and the yarn in them is even somewhat vaguely organised according to weight and content, but whatever doesn’t fit in the shelves is just stacked in bags and cardboard boxes all over the floor.
To be honest, it looks less like a shop and more like a stasher’s lair gone mad. Not to mention the cheap stockings and men’s socks that make appearances in between the yarn (see photo above). However, in all this mess there is a lot of value. Yes, there are random stockings on the wall there, but there is also a swift and a ball winder. The selection of yarn goes from cheap to luxurious. There is a good amount of Clover accessories (I almost bought another pom-pom maker). And the shop owner is very friendly. While I was there and trying to take these few candid shots (I did not muster the courage to ask, thus the poor quality), I noticed that most of the customers who come in the shop just head straight to the counter (where there is almost constantly a queue) and wait patiently to consult her. She recommends stuff, she goes in the back of the shop to find an odd skein that might still be lying around somewhere, she helps out with crochet conundrums… And she doesn’t make you feel uncomfortable if you’re just lingering around petting the yarn. :)
I had my eye on these (blurry, sorry) Araucania wonders in particular.
I need to find out more about this company, as both the yarn and the story behind it seem very interesting. I spent a long time deciding, but in the end left it for another occasion, and got some lovely 100% alpaca instead (I’m an alpaca sucker, what can I say).
All in all, though, Art et Fil is for now the absolute winner for me among yarn shops in Brussels. It may not be your typical Western-style LYS with a comfy couch and lots of space, but it is welcoming, lively and extremely well stocked. Luckily, it’s also about a 10-minute walk from where I am staying. Ouch, I can see my wallet hiding under the table already! ;)