Thursday, 14 April 2011

Fabric Shopping in Holland (part 2)

 To Amsterdam
The next stage of my fabric adventure saw me travelling from Zutphen to Amsterdam via Arnhem - a trip of just under 2 hours.

My now bulging suitcase was getting quite heavy, so that 40 minutes after leaving Zutphen I found myself in Arnhem. Here I had to change platforms for the train to Amsterdam Central, but there were no lifts! The first station on my travels without a lift! I eventually got my suitcase and bag up a very steep flight of stairs and down to the next platform. Hopefully the engineering works at Arnhem will include the installation of lifts!

Within 15 minutes of arriving in Amsterdam I was at my hotel, a very short walk from the main railway station. The Crown Plaza hotel has integrated three merchants houses into the hotel which you can see to the right.

The purpose of my trip to Amsterdam was to visit Den Haan and Wagenmakers. This fabric shop is renowned for its reproduction of Dutch/Indian chintzes. Three years ago Petra and her friend Nel bought the shop and I had seen some of their fabrics at the Festival of Quilts.

After booking my hotel a couple of weeks ago, I was researching the shop's address only to find that my hotel and the shop were in the same street and, as it transpired, was just a 5 minute walk away! Now, how did I manage that one??

Den Haan and Wagenmakers
 The next morning (yes, I waited a whole night, but I was tired and it had begun to rain and I had no idea the shop was sooo close!) I visited the shop and... oh, my goodness another shop I want to pick up and put in my back garden!

Oh, the colours and the fabrics...

Model made in chintz and plaids

Spider Web Star and Log Cabin in barn raising formation
View from the top of the staircase
 The ground floor holds the chintz collection plus latest arrivals whilst the mezzanine floor holds mainly the reproduction collection. Three or four of the chintz fabrics I recognised I already have in my collection but had not realised they had come from there, so will fish them out and put them together.

Some of the chintz fabrics available
 I had not realised that  Den Haan and Wagenmakers are also well-known for their plaids, another love of mine and there were several fabric packs made up of a mix of chintz and plaids which really took my eye..., but they will have to wait - a good excuse for another visit!

But, I was there with a purpose. I took over the mezzanine floor in my quest to find just the right fabrics for the old quilt. Bolts of fabric were pulled and put away and 3 hours later I emerged with these fabrics to add to the ones from Zutphen. I think I am done!

I also bought a chintz Tree of Life panel to add to my collection and would have liked to have bought more, but I was going to have difficulty in carrying it all, so memo for my next trip to the Netherlands - take a bigger suitcase!

Tree of Life panel
Danke Vell to Elsbeth and Nel for another warm welcome and their patience and assistance.

And now for some views of Amsterdam from a canal trip. Unfortunately, it was raining and very overcast, so a little drab.
Central basin and Cathedral
Entrance to one of the canals

Mercahnt's houses

Houseboat on canal

Seagill - whilst close to the sea, Amsterdam's canals are freshwater


Seagull comes to a sorry end!!

Cycle park by main station

Sunday, 3 April 2011

Fabric shopping in... Holland! (part 1)

Despite some prevarication because of yet another heavy cold, I set off last Monday afternoon for another of my fabric finding adventures, this time to... Holland! Spreading my germs where-ever I went!

It must be 25 years since I last visited the Netherlands and I had long wanted to visit Zutphen where Petra Prins has what I was sure would be a lovely quilt fabric shop. Each year, Petra has a stand at the Festival of Quilts in Birmingham, UK and I love her selection of fabrics, many of which we do not see in the UK. It is rare not to find a group of quilters 3 or 4 deep around her stand and I was not to be disappointed by my visit to her shop!

Stena Ferries (no affiliation), have a great "Sail and Rail" deal for the Netherlands which includes a return rail ticket from any National Express East Anglia station, which in my case was London Liverpool Street to Harwich, then a return ferry trip to Hoek van Holland followed by a travel anywhere by rail ticket in Holland on the days that you arrive and leave Holland - a fantastic deal.

On arrival at the Harwich passenger terminal, there was this wonderful embroidery.

Made by members of the local embroidery group, these panels depict the history of the area over the past 2,000 years through the use of raised embroidery or stump work.

Unfortunately, because of the reflection of the lights on the protecting glass, it was difficult to get clear pictures, but hopefully these photographs will convey some of the attention to detail within the panels.

Farm girl and her Gloucester Old Spot pig

As I had decided on a night crossing to Holland I had a cabin. I was shocked when I saw it. For me this was far beyond what I was expecting, but then the last time I slept on a ferry it was in my childhood and believe me the cabins were nothing quite like this!

My cabin (above) and shower room (below). I even had television to watch, although I could have gone to the on-board cinema. The meals were pretty good too!

My ship, the Stena Hollandica taken as the sun rose through the mist. My cabin was on Deck 11 - at the top.

To Zutphen...
I caught the train from Hoek van Holland (Hook of Holland) to Zutphen, changing trains at Rotterdam Central and Apeldoorn. A very easy trip undertaken in just over three hours.

Zutphen is a beautiful medieval town which has retained a lot of its charm as I hope some of my photographs show, with cobbled, narrow streets and interesting buildings and of course the ubiquitous bicycles.

The Groenmarkt... I was very lucky with the weather, it was very warm for the time of year.
My hotel...

There was a shell grotto in the hotel grounds...

Petra Prins' quilt shop is situated just off the Groenmarkt down a narrow cobbled street. Unfortunately, you cannot tell from this picture, but the cobbles were all laid out in a clamshell pattern which I thought was very appropriate.
Inside, the shop was like a fabric wonderland! This photograph shows just about half of all the bolts of fabric. Bep and Gerda were really kind and allowed me to virtually take over the shop as I tried to match the fabrics in an old quilt I had brought with me and plan to reproduce. I spent a total of 6 hours in there (spread over 2 days I hasten to add), but all the same I don't know how they kept their patience with me! But it was fun, fun , fun to play with the fabric.

The above picture shows my final collection of fabric to reproduce the old quilt including enough background fabric for the project.
And then I chose a few more fabrics for other projects. I could have chosen so much more! Gerda and I spent a little time sparring with each other as to who had the largest collection of quilt patterns by Di Ford (an Australian quilt designer), I think I just about won that one, by two patterns! The above fabrics are for my Beyond the Cherry Trees Album Quilt, the Poppies quilt and finally the Phoebe quilt, because I have decided to do the centre block - again and Gerda was generous in sharing with me the two fabrics she used for the centre pot.
In far too short a time, it was time to leave Zutphen and head for Amsterdam, but I will be back...!!

If you are ever in the vicinity of Zutphen, do visit Petra's shop - I have added it to my personal list of the 10 best quilt shops in the world!

Danke Well, Gerda and Bep for all your help and hospitality.