Last week, the littles and I went for a more ambitious than usual outing on Peanut’s free Wednesday. We packed into the car, drove for an hour, and went to the Textile Museum in Tilburg. I’ve been wanting to go for a long time, but wasn’t sure what we would find. It could have been a stuffy objects on the wall, don’t touch museum or something else. It was something else!
We started with a long lunch in the cafe, sitting at one of the tables with a gigantic bench/chair. The back of the chair was easily 2 meters tall and made of colorful woven elastic cord. Lunch was good. I was pleased that even the tostis were served with a side salad. Peanut was happy about that, too!
In the museum, we started with the working old-fashioned wool carding, spinning, weaving exhibit. The machines had signs next to them, but even better, they were clearly in use. In fact, the bottom floor of the museum is more accurately described as a workshop. They call it the Textile Lab. They have jacquard weaving machines and a section of cord making apparatus. The picture above was from this section. There was a lady there making cotton/silver blend cords for a fashion designer. She was using real silver threads, which were beautiful but fiddly, and old fashioned cord making apparatus, walking up and down with a single strand of silver thread to add to the cord.
The next room, the biggest room, is the actual Textile Lab. Where the first room had the oldest machines, the Lab has the most modern machines making the most modern fabrics – it was amazing! We saw a black and white pattern being woven, upholstery fabric being made, a huge knitting machine, a giant round knitting machine, a laser cutting machine, machines to strand different threads together, a very fancy embroidery machine, and those were just the big modern machines. There were also a few older or more whimsical things, like the bicycle driven weaving machine or the hand crank knitting machine pictured above.
All of this was well and good, but what really inspired about the whole experience was the things they were making. It wasn’t t-shirts and sweaters and table cloths. They were making and had examples of fabrics that just boggled my mind. Knits that were different gauges from one stitch to the next, whimsical jacquard, color and thread combinations that I’d never imagined before.
Best of all, the kids loved it and we could all enjoy the experience. Cranking the knitting machine was the highlight of the day and and they both received samples of other visitor’s work to take home. Once I sew up the ends, they’ll both have new scarves. The exhibits were also interesting and engaging (I was blown away by the vegetables by Sholten & Bajings, here’s a link to some of their work), but the Lab will really stay with me. The promise of magic to come is too much to resist.