When you see them work, it looks like it almost comes natural. Hands with years of experience handle the most delicate and sleek fabrics. Every touch to a garment is approached with profound care. Complexity is tackled with thorough deliberation. These ladies are sincere handworkers, and it feels like they have not yet discovered it themselves.
At Winter in Holland, we’re connoisseurs of cloth. We’ve been knitting and weaving for a while now, and have met a hand full of special people that are as devoted to their trade as we are.
Surrounding yourself with people that feel the same natural lust for something as you do, gives a great energy and opens doors to possibilities:This story is about the passionate ladies who apply their skills to knitting machines.
We discovered this newly founded squadron in 2015 while biking past their workplace in our neighbourhood in Amsterdam. These ladies are part of a project named Gilde Lab: a social venture focussing on developing forgotten talent from the neighbourhood in Amsterdam West, and transforming these, in this case, women into professional craft-ladies in the field of sowing.
They helped us out by sowing a big cushion order. This is when the ladies really caught our eye. They showed so much devotion and joy to their work, plus they were amazing at their craft. We at Winter in Holland could not let this heartening experience go, and decided to propose them a new adventure: we asked them if they would like to learn how to knit on our machines. In this way they can help us out with production in the future, and we can offer them an education in a new craft.
Halfway 2016, we brought our machines and yarns to the Lab and kicked off an intense series of classes. Besides the raucous noise of the somewhat 200 needles hitting the metal knitting sled continuously, the concentration amongst the women was highly focussed.
They tapped into their years of knowledge in crafts and turned this unknown object into a familiar tool almost like it was easy. This tiny community is brimming with positivity.
The community we’re talking about is not only a group of women who grew up in a culture where handwork is taught from mother to daughter, but also a culture where a mother takes care of the kids and the father is the cost winner. The ladies are foreseeing a vacant future after the 24/7 motherhood has ended: The job of ‘being a mother’ unfortunately is not valuable on a CV. These women mostly do not have a relevant education to function in the knowledge economy that we have in present Dutch society. They all of a sudden go from full time parenting, to full time thumb twiddlers.
Amsterdam New West houses the largest percentage of households consisting of families with kids. 45% of the inhabitants of the same area is foreign, originating from cultures where mothers stay at home to raise their kids. This conveys that the density of foreign housemothers is very high in this part of the city. When unemployment is measured, only educated people who previously had a job are included in the calculation. This means that the unemployment numbers do not say anything about the true unemployment of the housemother after their kids left the house.
The project Socially Made in Amsterdam aims to create employment within the neighborhood of New-West. Together with Het Gilde Lab, Winter in Holland works to educate ladies in the craft of knitting and sets out to provide them with work on a local scale. We will work towards a future where we educate in various fields within the hand crafted textile industry to transform women from this neighborhood into professional craftswomen.
Next up: meeting our knitters.
Leave your e-mail address here if you want to receive a heads-up for new stories.