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Scheepjes - A History

Scheepjes - A History

The history of Scheepjes begins in Veenendaal, in the province of Utrecht. Between the second half of the 15th century and the end of the 17th century, peat digging and cutting were the most important resources of income in this town. Around 1750, after the peat valleys were exhausted and digging was no longer profitable, the processing of wool became the most important industry. The wool industry, mostly combing and spinning, was basically a cottage industry; after spinning, the wool was plied before being dyed. By the end of the 18th century, trade developed and small businesses emerged, with some wool combers bought the yarn, dyed it and sold it on.

In 1799, Dirk Steven van Schuppen was working as a wool comber in Veenendaal, enlisting thirteen helpers. Farmers bought their untreated wool to Dirk Steven, who bought it and had it processed by combers and cleaners. This combed wool was then spun by women in the surrounding areas before being dyed and woven within the company. The Van Schuppen’s Wool Business grew steadily over the years until in 1885, almost 100 years after it have been founded, it employed nearly 300 people. 30 years previously, the name of the company had changed to ‘Widow D.S Van Schuppen and Son’, after Dirk Steven’s widow and son took over management.

During the second half of the 19th century, the transition to a proper sector of industry and the name Scheepjewol was introduced. More and more machines were being used and despite the global economic crisis in the 1930s, new production building, warehouses and an office building was heavily invested in.

Scheepjeswol continued to grow after World War II and in 1949, at its 150th anniversary, they received a royal warrant. At their height in 1962, the company had 900 employees.

Sadly, this all began to change in the second half of the 1960s. Wages in The Netherlands increased rapidly, and the increase in costs was not allowed to be passed over to the consumer. The five-day working week was also introduced meaning that there was then a heavy decrease in production. The 70’s then brought more worrisome problems: cheaper products were available from outside of Europe and which a shrinking market, Scheepjeswol declared bankruptcy in 1988.

That was the end of almost 190 years of wool production, until 2010. Family-owned business De Bondt, a haberdashery wholesaler located in Tynaarlo, Drenthe, took over the Scheepjeswol brand name and gave it a new lease of life to what we know and love today. Approximately three years ago, the company rebranded to ‘Scheepjes’, targeting a new generation of crafters. Around this time, they also started and introduced their world renowned Scheepjes Bloggers Group.

Within the last year, they’ve launched their new website and a new biannual bookazine called YARN, which is full to the brim with patterns, articles and ideas.