Tuesday, August 19, 2008

The grand opening...

When I first started as a fiction writer, I was advised to start my stories at the beginning, go on to the end, and then stop. Later on, I grew up and became a technical writer - I started writing online help and websites, and the advice became "start somewhere that is likely to be relevant and give the reader lots of options to find other relevant things if they need to. They can stop whenever they damned well feel like it. Use lots of hyperlinks and good luck".

On 8/8/08, I opened CCCK, a wool shop in the Melbourne suburb of Northcote. If I start the story of the wool shop at the beginning, I'd start with my mother teaching me how to knit when I was about four. Like most kids, as soon as I started school, I caught every cold, flu, gastric bug and miscellaneous ailment going - plus all the primary school standbys of mumps, measles, chicken pox etc etc. I stayed home and was bored, sick and stroppy. Mum (bless her!) decided that she would teach me how to knit and do simple tapestry work. Looking back, it amazes me that she didn't decide to throttle me instead, because I must have been a major pain in the backside. But she didn't, and so (indirectly) CCCK was born...

I enjoyed knitting. I kept going, even when I stopped being sick. I graduated from printed canvas kits to counted cross stitch embroidery and moved from garter stitch scarves and beanies to more complex designs. On the train to uni, I knitted. People looked at me oddly, but that may have been because I was going through a Goth phase and there weren't that many people around with pink hair and long, black skirts. I got a job and commuted to work, still knitting. People still looked at me oddly. (Eventually, I found my dream job as a technical writer and people looked at me even more oddly, but that's another story).

Finally, almost thirty years after the first fumbling efforts to knit Barbie a stole, I discovered quality yarns. I found a Jo Sharp pattern book and some yarn in a gift shop in Olinda. Love at first sight! I bought the book and I bought the yarn. I ordered more and paid for it to be posted to my office. I started looking for good wool on the internet.

The next couple of years were the stash years. I bought up wool for projects at every sale, I made regular trips across town to visit the high-end wool shops. And finally, I had a thought - why hadn't I found this amazing stuff earlier? The answer was, because I lived in Melbourne's northern suburbs. Traditionally, this was a less affluent area and so no-one had thought to open a flash wool shop there.


From there, it was only a short step to realise that now Melbourne's inner northern suburbs are doing very nicely thank you - maybe well enough to support a high end wool shop, if one should chance to open... About six months after I worked this out, I signed a rental contract for 234 High St and sank most of my savings into stock. And, in the best tradition of online help, we end up back at the beginning - with me opening my doors for the first time on 8/8/08...

2 comments:

ali said...

CCCK is just what I'd been wishing for—a wool shop on the northside. If you're baby-friendly, I'd be very happy to buy some good wool, sit on your comfy couches and figure out how to knit more than a scarf...Ali

Andrea said...

Hello Ali! We have a small play area for kids - I hope that counts as baby-friendly? Because we have lots of sharp, pointy things and things that can easily be swallowed in our stock, we do ask parents to supervise their children closely at all times - but that's not usually too hard once the kids find the drawing easel and the play table.

Maybe bring the youngster along to one of our Sunday Sessions - we have a social group of knitters, crocheters and other clever people who meet here every Sunday from 2-5pm to hang out, knit or crochet and socialise. You'd both be welcome! Cheers, Andrea