And so day two of our buying trip dawns bright and chilly and we head down to a fabulous breakfast at the hotel, where amongst other things, one can dine on the oddly named “Smacks” breakfast cereal. As we eat our fresh fruit and yoghurt, cold cheeses, smoked fish, and sausage balls, and drink our hot chocolate, we start to pull together our wish list of Swafing fabrics. There are a couple of areas we are certain to spend a lot of our time in, but others we are not so definite about, so we know there will be plenty of discussion on foot, as well as plenty of rushing back up and down the stairs to either replace or grab a bolt we have changed our minds about.
Soon enough the minibus comes and we are on the starting line, our scanner in hand and today’s trolley bearing the Emporia name: some of the others (namely Paul, from Fabrics Galore) have been here since 8am and we are now raring to go. Taking a quick squiz at what he’s already stacked on his trolley, we rush off with the likes of Tracey from Eastbourne and Kerry from Chatham at our shoulders as we all go about the very serious (but very enjoyable) business of choosing new fabric.
This year we spend much more time looking at the upholstery section, which includes a few more linen and cotton blends, heavier weight pieces that have become more popular in the new shop – we look at styles featuring maps, animals silhouettes and simple polka dots. There’s also quite a bit of time spent dithering about with the fleece and faux fur as it’s very cold outside and we know that people at home are probably suffering from the chills of winter too. It’s all so soft, squishy and warm that we can’t resist chucking a few rolls on the trolley.
Next stop is the corduroy section; Clair has been longing for some of the needlecord for simply ages, so now her chance has come to take a good long look at it all and make a few choice decisions. Unfortunately, it was all just too lovely, and there much was much crying of “But I want that one too!” before we finally narrowed our selection down to a few brighter prints, some for boys, some for girls and some for everyone. And of course, there was much of the obligatory fabric dance which must be done by either of us while we debate what we might make from a particular print for ourselves. I’m not sure the factory workers were particularly impressed by this or the hysterical laughter coming from behind the shelving in the basement …
There then followed more decisive selections from the jersey collections (a few key styles making a welcome return, plus some fabulous new ones), some very exciting sweatshirt material (which may sound like a contradiction in terms, but we promise they’re good’uns), and a quick stop at the bizarre animal print section, from which we returned with only one slightly bonkers print, which was a very special customer request. A few more unusual one offs got bunged on the trolley at the last minute, before the minibus heralded the end of our buying and decision making and we went hotel-wards once more.
The following day was spent mostly on trains once more as we journeyed into Amsterdam for a few hours. There we found the obligatory tulips, which were a most welcome burst of colour on a grey winter’s day, a delightful fancy lunch in the Bijenkorf (Amsterdam’s equivalent of Selfridges) and a spot of touristy gazing at the beautiful 17th century architecture all whilst wearing our hand-knitted bobble hats. Then it was onto the plane, where all of us buyers from the South East end of the country slept like tired children at the end of a hard day’s play.
There may not have been any snow on this year’s trip, but it was no less exciting than our first venture to Germany. We can’t wait for our new stock to arrive so we can start making and showing off all our amazing new fabrics to you lot, so you can feel just as inspired too. Keep your eyes peeled on the blog and at the shop for when the first deliveries start arriving …