I’ve ventured far out of my way to visit craft shops before, some of which were rather off the beaten track, but I’m not sure any have proved quite as impossible to get to Zürcher Stadler. This isn’t so much because it is in the middle of nowhere, or because the sat-nav can’t find it, but because the road network leading to the place has a strategically placed no entry sign that seems to make it impossible to enter the estate where the shop is. I won’t say how we overcame that particular obstacle but plan your visit and route in advanced.
Located in the metropolis of Lyssach, also in Bern, Zürcher Stadler seems to be one of the most hip, happening places in town. As I learnt from its Wikipedia page, the population of Lyssach has exploded from 246 people in 1764 to a grand total of 1391 in 2000. Also, I am not sure I have ever seen such detailed demographic information on a Wiki page ever… There is a beautiful degree of precision in it, down to the 35 people who didn’t answer one particular question on the survey…
Zürcher Stadler is worth the adventure though. It’s home to a huge series of workshops, including some extensive diploma programmes that I suspect would take you from not knowing your front from your back beam to expert weaver – especially judging form their diploma students’ exhibition. There were some fabulous pieces on show that just oozed professionalism and were worth closer inspection just to admire the incredible workmanship.
Apparently the ‘shop floor’, or the stock warehouse, used to be closed to the public but I am very glad that it is now open. It is a giant building and any weaver or lace makers dream. You need some 2/18 in three hundred shades and five different fibres? Check. How about 120/2, 210/2, 30/2 and 1/12 in the same colour and fibre? Check. It’s intimidatingly huge and don’t expect cosy displays, it’s very much a functioning warehouse, but the stock more than brings the place to life.
I don’t know what to tell you about here other than… they have everything. Most of it is in the form of cones aimed at weavers but there is quite a lot of knitting yarns and cakes that wouldn’t look out of place in a fancy wool shop. There are some weird and wacky effects fibres, jumbo yarns, as well as more unusual materials for yarn such as PET. There’s nothing truly outlandish (leave that for the wonderful Bart and Francis) but plenty to enjoy if you fancy getting out of your comfort zone.
As well as the near infinite number of yarn cones, there is a good selection of books and weaving equipment. I did pick up a few shuttles as you can never have too many. What I thought was very nice to see though was the amount of lace making supplies and threads they had. There are lots of continental style lace bobbins in standard and miniature sizes but just wow at the thread selection. Linen, silk, cotton, wool, in a great palate of colours. No excuse for boring lace looking at what is on offer here, particularly if you fancy a challenge as they sell thin wires you can work with or metallic threads to add some sparkle.
Zürcher Stadler is a truly impressive magical wonderland. I don’t think the photographs quite do the scale of the place justice but I think to get the best out of it you need to come with a good strategic plan in mind. Otherwise you might just end up getting lost in the endless aisles, needing a forklift truck rather than a basket, and head up in the lift to a rather expensive bill! A wonderful place to let your creativity run free.