19 June 2011

Ghost signs Melbourne #23: Knit wear

Railway Place, Coburg

Australian Knitting Mills, Stewart Street, Richmond

You should be on the radio, they said. When they rang through their orders for scarves and gloves and Fair Isle knits. What with that voice. (And why not? Alfred thought. With his excellent teeth and hair always combed, and he could sit in a chair for a long, long time.) And then lovely Miss Rosen had commented that day as she placed Dodson’s order. You’ve got a voice like flannel, Alfred. Just as smooth and soft. Which was ironic. Although he never said (such a nice woman, long since passed)But the thought made him smile as he sat in his chair knitting their orders: he spent his entire day working in his pajamas.

In the morning, when Alfred took his exercise and walked down the hallway to the bathroom, he hung the shaving mirror onto a towel hook. It was just a game, really. Something he liked to do to break the day. To watch the way his throat moved as he talked at the bathroom wall. He liked to think each word had a shape with a weight he could actually see, right there, beneath his skin. Goodnight, and good luck. May your news be good news. To all our loyal listeners out there, this one is for you.

As all of their business was conducted over the telephone, what his customers couldn’t see were Alfred’s hands. He had the Matheson hands – they nearly all did, his father, five of his six brothers – astounding really, for someone his size. Small pale things they were, the skin soft from all those oils in the wool. The customers admired his voice, but Alfred Kinsey Matheson loved his hands. They were, quite simply, his dearest friends. There was no one else so loyal, he thought. And tireless: they simply never stopped doing their best, always for him. The constant click of the needles as they purled and ribbed, cast-on and bound-off, wool looped and plaited and braided. 

But something was wrong, and now Alfred was concerned. His fingers were becoming stiff; the joints swollen and increasingly sore. So perhaps a change was needed, he thought. He would take his hands on a holiday. Together they would leave the AKM building (it had been done: there was his brother Alson, although that was another story altogether). Of course he’d need a suit, which he could knit, no problem there. He'd start on it straight away. Then he’d slip his hands inside some soft merino gloves and off they would go. It was always possible. He just needed to think: where would they like to go?


  1. no problem Hair melbourne
    there. He'd start on it straight away. Then he’d slip his hands inside some soft merino gloves and off they would go. It was always possible. He just needed to think: where would theyMelbourne hair

    like to go?

  2. Hi. Enjoying your blog and recognise many of those places :). You might find something of interest in my parallel exploration of Melbourne ghost signs:




  3. Hi once more.

    Just in case you're interested: thought I'd mention that we're running a free event for any Melbourne people interested in 'ghost signs', in the Melbourne CBD (VU's Flinders Street campus) on March 12, 2013 from 4pm - 7pm. It will feature ghost sign expert Sam Roberts (ghostsigns.co.uk) and Stephen Banham (typography authority and author of the book Characters). All are welcome. More details here:


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