Kaleidoscope

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.

Perfection.

But.

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.

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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.

10 thoughts on “Kaleidoscope

  1. Very interesting! It does look lovely, but I know what you mean about the prices. There’s a yarn store in Athens that I’ve heard has beautiful but very expensive yarn. Every time I go to Athens, I visit other yarn stores, but I’ve never been to that one. I know that I won’t be able to afford the things they have and I won’t spend all that time just to get one skein or two skeins of yarn, no matter how pretty they are!

  2. I agree that in looking at your great photos, this is the type of store I’d love to own/run. But the “but” is a real one … we can all only indulge to a point and we shouldn’t feel guilty or stretched to the max when we want to knit something lovely. Still, it’s nice to know the shop is there for when there is a windfall or you have that really special project to make. Thanks for sharing.

  3. Predlazem za foto uvek pitati da li mozes da slikas radnju, i zasto – da je stavis na blog, koji mnooogo ljudi prati. Tako ce prodavcima biti ustvari drago, nego da se ljute sto neko slika bez pitanja.

    A cene …. Dobro je dok ima :)

  4. My budget would most likely drop dead if such a shop opened in Zagreb. But it would be nice to have a proper LYS with more affordable but good quality yarns, with a bit of luxury yarns thrown in for that special project. One can only dream.

  5. totally agree with you – businesses need to make money and to sell what customers will buy – I think there is room for both the expensive and the every day – without being ‘cheap’.

  6. I have the same issue with yarnsapart, the shop in my parents’ town. Lost of nice things, but I never go there because it’s all so expensive. But it makes sense for them to be expensive, because the area is snooty and posh enough that I’m sure they sell LOTS of yarn without my help.

  7. That sounds like such a wonderful shop. I know what you mean about budgets… it’s hard, though, because I think most shops will cater to a specific type of customer. In this case, a customer with money. I know that I only knit with very nice yarns that are probably too expensive for most people to knit with on every single project, but I’m in the happy (and lucky) position of being able to afford it. That is definitely not true of everyone, though. I guess that’s what’s so wonderful about online stores that stock lots of different types of yarn… you can always find something that’s within your budget!

  8. This looks like a place where I could blow a LOT of money. I totally agree with you though–it’s nice to see some Cascade 220 next to all of the expensive stuff. Expensive yarns always make me feel a bit nervous even to pick a project, because you don’t want to ‘mess it up’ or ‘waste it’. Dumb, I know.

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