Berlin Knits took place this weekend. Our European special correspondent, Hanna Lisa Haferkamp, was there and brings us this report.
Knitters in the upstairs marketplace area.
The temperature is getting colder, the leaves are turning, and we knitters start gravitating towards casting on more and more sweaters – perfect time to attend a knitting festival.
Last weekend (Sep 30 & Oct 1), Berlin Knits – organized by Marion Bulin and Stefanie Palm, owners of online-only yarn shop Yarn Over Berlin – attracted a huge crowd of both Germany- and Europe-based knitters. With Berlin Knits being Germany’s biggest yarn festival in 2017, I was curious to see which vendors and trends would be present.
Wollen Berlin – Booth Closeup
Berlin Knits consists of a marketplace mainly geared towards end customers as well as a range of workshops focusing on knitting techniques and the first steps into knitwear design. While the festival itself was quite a lot smaller than, say, EYF, in terms of how many exhibitors were present (36 in total), knitters could still experience a wide variety of yarns as well as a few selected knitting accessory companies.
Knitters exploring the downstairs marketplace area.
A few of the trends and interesting differences to other yarn festivals I noticed were:
- A heavy focus on indie dyers as well as yarn shops: Almost all of the exhibitors were either indie dyers – especially Germany-based ones – or yarn shops who brought their broad selection of yarns and books to the festival. In contrast to EYF where bigger yarn companies like Brooklyn Tweed and John Arbon were present, Berlin Knits didn’t include any of the bigger yarn brands as direct exhibitors.
- Speckles are so hot right now: The speckle trend has clearly made its way to Germany now. Speckled superwash yarns were front and center at almost all of the booths – to the point where a few vendors who focused on more natural and tonal yarns expressed concerns about whether they would be very successful at selling.
- Pan-Germany, but not pan-European?: Most of the exhibitors as well as most of the attendees I had a chance to talk to came from Germany, or at least the German-speaking countries in Europe. While it was an absolute pleasure to see how thriving the German knitting scene is, this was clearly a difference to other yarn festivals that see more international attendance.
Mylys booth featuring knitting magazines.
Overall, all the vendors I spoke to were extremely pleased with the turnout of the festival. The same rang true for the knitters that swarmed the courtyards with their yarn hauls and relaxed with a cup of coffee in the fall sun. The only downside mentioned by both was a bit of improvement potential in organization – better signage and a bigger variety in offers around the marketplace (think: food trucks) were suggestions that could take Berlin Knits to the next level.
My overall impression was a positive one, both from a knitter’s as well as a business owner’s perspective: a wonderful location in the heart of Berlin, a selection of both independent makers and yarn store owners who were very passionate about their work, and a workshop roster that (while geared towards beginner and slightly advanced knitters in my opinion) included a few very interesting names.
Kunibag booth showing project bags.
With the experience and improvement suggestions from this year’s festival, I’m sure next year’s festival will take it up another notch. I would recommend attending if you are based in Germany and / or in the area when the festival takes place – both as a knitter as well as a creative business owner active in the fibre industry to keep an eye on what’s popular in the German knitting market these days.