Of the Brussels yarn shops I’ve visited, kaleidoscope is definitely one of the most note-worthy.
(There are a few more photos on the link above.)
This is very much your Local Yarn Shop written with capital letters. The kind we see in photos from (primarily) the UK and the US and sigh over, muttering something like “If only there was something like that near me…” The kind we dream of opening ourselves some day.
(I was too shy to take photos inside, it’s a bit of quiet shop, so I have to thank my friend Susy for these few candid shots. This is from my first visit back in the winter, which explains the coats and the knitwear we are bundled in.)
It is located in a tree-lined street next to a park and a market, it is sweetly decorated, the shop window is lovingly changed every season, there are samples of knitted and sewn items strewn around the shop, there is a small space for workshops in the back, and the people who run this place obviously love the craft(s) as much as you do. The goods on offer include wonderfully whimsical fabrics, vintage buttons to die for, and lots of scrumptious yarn in more colours than you can imagine.
Yes, there is a but. It is all very expensive. There is no yarn in this shop that I would buy without doing THE conversation inside my head. You know which conversation I mean. The “Do I really need this? – Oh but it’s sooo pretty. – Hm but that is several lunches’ worth of money. – Maybe I can treat myself, I have been working hard lately. – Hmmm, but will I dare tell the truth when someone asks how much it had cost?” etc etc. Among yarns, kaleidoscope stocks Malabrigo, Noro, and the likes – all good, and expensive, brand names. From the prices I’ve seen I assume the same goes for the fabrics and other supplies too. (And I’m not sure if it was just seeing the prices in euros, but they even seemed more expensive than what these same yarns cost in the UK. I guess there are import duties and transport costs to be added?)
Now there is nothing wrong with stocking expensive yarns. We all like to indulge in them every once in a while, depending on our abilities. I even like just watching them sometimes. The thing is, this shop seems to stock only expensive yarns. And I’m afraid to say that this is where they lose me as a regular customer. Knowing there is only expensive stuff to be bought here, I will rarely go there, because I know I won’t be able to find the more down-to-earth plain useful (and cheaper) yarn that you need for most projects, the kind of stuff which I usually have in mind when I set off for the yarn store. That is the kind of stuff that gets me to the store. But once I’m there, I might just snap up that one skein of Malabrigo that is calling to me from the other shelf too. So this is what I would call “the mistake” in this shop’s business strategy. Once I’m there they can lure me to buy all sorts of expensive stuff (this is what usually happens when I go to Loop in London). But kaleidoscope don’t have the yarn that gets me there in the first place. Bummer. I put “the mistake” in inverted commas, though, because their business strategy might not entail trying to get my custom at all. Brussels is a very expensive city and as such it is also home to some very well-paid people, who can probably afford to use Malabrigo and Madelintosh for every single project they knit. It might be that this is the intended clientele in the first place.
So, all in all, I think kaleidoscope is lovely. I love the look of it and I love admiring it. But I’m afraid that’s going to be the extent of my relationship with it – when I do visit it, it’ll be more as to a pleasant gallery than as to a yarn shop.