Art et Fil

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! ;)

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About fridica

I started knitting completely by accident, when I was visiting my parents for a holiday in 2008. On a boring Sunday afternoon, I decided to dig through their stash of books to see if there was anything interesting to take back to my apartment. A knitting manual happened to be one of the books I found. I got curious, my mom immediately dug out her old needles and yarn stash (which she hadn’t used in a decade at least), and in a few minutes we were both casting on - she by memory, I by following the instructions from the book… :) Since I normally prefer learning from books, this was ideal.. I took the book home with me, and very very soon - I was an addict.

18 thoughts on “Art et Fil

  1. I love this post! “a stasher’s lair gone mad” is hilarious!!! :D

    I’ve been to a shop that was small and so full, the owner had to move boxes around, every time someone came into the store!

    • That’s awesome! The last time I was here it was a Saturday, a lot more people were in the shop, and there was definitely some hopping over boxes required.

  2. I enjoy your reviews of yarn and yarn shops. You probably are a good salesperson. This alapaca yanrt that you bought looks really soft and I love the color.

    • That’s funny, I think the last thing I’d describe myself as is “a salesperson”… and I always feel a little scared when I realize people are taking me up on my recommendations – I fear that they’re going to be disappointed because of me…

  3. The stocking and display philosophy of that yarn shop is very similar to the one of the vendors in our local street market! I love alpaca too, I have a huge bobbin of it (found rummaging one of those street stalls) for which I don’t have a project yet. Enjoy the rest of your stay!

  4. I sounds like a real yarn adventure to visit that shop :-)
    Thank you for recommending my button shop to your friends. I’m closing in the end of May because we are moving, and I have to use my energy on that process for the next months :-)

  5. It seems men’s socks and stockings always end up in a store that sells yarn. At least that’s the case with pretty much all the yarn stores I’ve ever been in.
    I like the yarn you chose, very pretty color.

  6. You world traveler, you! I LOVE this shop – looks like one big, wonderful scavenger hunt – and I can’t wait to see all the treasures you acquire there.

  7. Haha, that definitely looks more like a “lair” than a shop.

    But it looks quite yummy…you’ll have to report back on other shops in the area. Y’know, in case I ever make it out of the country again (and find things other than moths dwelling in my wallet).

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