Sunday, August 26, 2018

So Many MORE Dutch Knitters: Raalte, and Hasselt

Dutch fiber artists Els Dykman and Denise Beuse at the Haaselt Farmer's Craft Market.
Cathy sometimes says that she does not know how she used to travel in the ’70s without the internet. For surely its existence leads to some exceptional opportunities. Take our meeting with Conny Wolthuis, who lives in the Netherlands. Conny and Cathy are members of the Lace Knitting Facebook group. Before she left home, Cathy let the group know that she would be traveling and would love to meet other lace knitters. 

Conny and Cathy started messaging each other and Conny invited Cathy (sight unseen!) to stay with her and her husband for a couple days. Neither of them had any idea what to expect, but as soon as we hugged Conny at the train station in Zwoole, we knew we had met someone very special. And when we arrived at her home in Raalte, and Gerard, her husband greeted us with open arms and warm curiosity about this traveling duo, we felt like we had found a new home. 

Although is is not of Estonian
 or Orenberger style, this
shawl, called
Paradise Apple, 
is a nice example of
Conny's expertise.
We had all day Friday to knit and chat. Conny knits exquisite shawls,mostly in the Estonian and Orenberg tradition. On Saturday, Conny was selling her shawls at a local traditional farmers’ crafts market in Hasslet and we were invited to attend. Cathy demonstrated Magic Loop knitting and visitors got a chance to knit on me! The catch…Cathy had to wear a traditional costume. But, of course, Conny had already taken care of that—including the knitting of a special lace shawl for Cathy to wear! They looked lovely in their layers of skirts and aprons, and Conny even helped Cathy wear her hair up in a bun held together with special combs. The market stall was located on the edge of a canal, so Conny was careful that everything was arranged so that the wind did not blow any of those lovely shawls into the water! 

While at Hasslet, Conny also added some rows to me—lovely lace, of course!
Cathy took the opportunity to tie in my "loose ends."

Conny's lace addition to me

And Germa wrote in my journal, “May colour bring light and joy in the life of everybody. Thank you for sharing this with us.” 

Cathy wandered around the market and was entranced in watching Gus, a man who makes eel nets by hand. Some people call this “netting.” There is one theory that knitting evolved out of netting and when you watch someone like Gus making these nets, you can believe it. Cathy talked with Gus for quite a while about netting, knitting, eel fishing, and why Cathy should learn to speak Russian.

Gus the eel net netter.

Then we went to visit Els and Denise, the spinners just a few stalls away. Of course, Cathy could not resist purchasing some handspun and hand-dyed yarn from Denise and a blended batt of Texel wool from Els. The dye in the yarn was one part white onion skins and one part red onion skins, but it came out an olive green color! Denise used some of her own handspun which she had dyed blue with woad when she added her rows to me. Then she gave me the rest of the ball for my own yarn stash bag! 

Denise and Els took some time from demonstrating spinning to add a few rows to me.
It was a long, but extraordinary day!

The next day we would board a train for Copenhagen. Back in 1971, when Cathy visited the Netherlands as a teenager, she wrote in her journal as she left this lovely country and its people, “With a tear, we left the Netherlands.” It felt like déjà vu. 

Conny, Gerhard, and Cathy at the end of a wonderful weekend.

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