lThank you all for your very lovely and thoughtful comments last week. Interesting as well to see how many of you also felt that you didn’t want to blog about the ‘thing we talk about all the time but don’t really want to discuss’. I’m afraid it’s not quite shiny things for this week’s outing, but is an adventure in digitising and the joy that are ESA fonts.Read More »
One of the nice things about being in Switzerland, as well as the beautiful scenery, perfect trains and wonderful cheese, is the number of Bernina stores dotted about the place. Some of them are in surprising places, it often feels like you’ll see one in every small village, but they are usually excellent haberdasheries as well as sewing machine technology wonderlands.
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.
It’s very easy to feel that you’re in the middle of nowhere in Switzerland. Even Geneva, which is the second most populated city in Switzerland, has a population of less than two hundred thousand. The five biggest cities represent 40 % of the total population, making it relatively easy to ‘escape to the countryside’ where there are some excellent hidden gems of craft shops.
As well as the wonderful local architecture and the delightful Museum Appenzell, there is another historical textile treat outside of the main village, the Appenzeller Volkskunde-Museum, which also affords you the opportunity to enjoy the local, rolling hills and scenery. This is the folk museum dedicated to the local working culture and heritage.
On the north east side of Switzerland is the canton of Appenzell (well, Appenzell Innerrhoden and Appenzell Ausserrhoden if you want to be exact). Confusingly enough, the capital of Appenzell Innerrhoden is a village also called Appenzell, which is the largest village in the canton with a population of a whopping 6000 people.
After a fascinating visit to the open-air museum in Ballenberg, the next stop on the tour was to see another geographical feature Switzerland is famous for, lakes. Apparently, Switzerland has a total of 103 lakes of varying sizes, impressive given the total area of the country only amounts to 41 285 km2 (15 940 sq mi) with a lot of mountains to squeeze in that area too.
I’ve blogged before about how a country’s textile history often shaped its social and cultural history, as well as infrastructure and landscape, and Switzerland is no exception to that. While perhaps most famous for the St. Gallen embroideries and lace (and you can see some fantastic examples of that at the local textile museum), Switzerland also has a rich history of silk and cotton production and even passementerie, particularly in the Basel region.
Given the historical importance of textiles to the town and its interest in trying to preserve as much of its history as possible, it probably comes as no surprise that St Gallen has a wonderful museum dedicated to textiles with regularly changing exhibitions if you’re lucky enough to have the opportunity to attend regularly.
My first adventure of 2019 was to St Gallen, a Swiss town famous for its bustling textile trade and, if you want to be fair to all the official Swiss languages, otherwise known as Sankt Gallen/Saint-Gall/San Gallo/Son Gagl. As you might guess, its history in the embroidery, lacemaking and fashion industries has left a footprint of the city of great interest to anyone with a passing interest in textiles, crafts and art and this charming little place has plenty more feasts for the eyes as well.