Tour Cattywampus Crafts: A Haven for Knitters, Dyers, and Creative Makers
Just off the main drag in Ojai, California, stands Cattywampus Crafts, a sun-drenched shop, studio, and supremely laid-back hangout where makers of every age and ilk converge. Wander through the space with the couple who dreamed it up, and you'll instantly understand its magnetic pull.
"What is this place?" That's the question most people ask when they walk into Cattywampus Crafts, in Ojai, California, for the first time. It's definitely a yarn store, if the dazzling 33-foot wall display of wool, mohair, alpaca, and cotton skeins is any indication. But there's so much more to explore under the gabled roof of this light-filled ace: handmade pottery, delicate gold jewelry, embroidered jeans, art books, and collectible vinyl records, all arranged under macramé light fixtures.
It's a Monday afternoon, and some of the shop's customers have literally been here for hours. Women clustered on the sofa and armchairs by the window, their knitting needles clicking, seem as comfortable as if they were in their own living rooms. In the back classroom, a dozen more are taking a cake-decorating class. Dogs skitter on the smooth concrete floors, and the air smells of incense and freshly brewed java from the adjoining coffee shop. Ojai's chillest clubhouse—that's what this place is.
Founded three years ago by husband and wife Kirk and Anna Nozaki, Cattywampus Crafts has become a nexus of creativity in Ojai, the small city 90 miles northwest of Los Angeles known for its new-age vibe, destination spas, and photogenic pink sunsets. Anna, an art director and graphic designer; and Kirk, a fashion designer and real estate entrepreneur, moved here from L.A. in 2014, seeking a natural setting in which to raise their daughter, Naomi. "It's a magical valley that's always attracted creative people," says Anna. "There's a lot of meditation, yoga, and hiking. And whether you believe it or not, people say Ojai has an energetic vortex that is sacred."
That may explain the shop's auspicious inception. As Anna puts it, her pregnancy sparked "a sudden urge to make everything for the baby by hand," and she began fervently knitting and sewing clothes.
Cattywampus Crafts cofounder Anna Nozaki, pictured left, joins some of the shop's regulars for knitting and conversation.
A Family Affair
Her obsession inspired her to open a crafts store, and Kirk's experience with renovations helped when they found a location with loads of potential. The structure, built in 1969, had been home to a Carrows, a fast-casual chain restaurant. The couple yanked out the booths, sandblasted the paint off the interior wood, ripped the walls down to the studs, and exposed the painted-over windows. "The concrete floor took eight rounds of polishing," says Anna.
Anna and Kirk Nozaki are pictured here with their 7-year-old daughter, Naomi. "She's pretty much grown up in the store," says Anna. "When she was a baby, she used to nap in the dressing room."
Open for Business
That floor gets plenty of traffic today, from new customers to regulars dropping in for a steady stream of workshops taught by local and visiting artisans: Embroidery, shibori dyeing, and sandal-making are just a few on offer. And on Wednesday nights, the shop stays open in the evening for "knit group," a meet-up that is free and open to anyone. In fact, for a few weeks last year, one woman brought her newborn pet lamb. "He would sit on her lap, tucked in a blanket," remembers one member. "It was very Ojai."
Kirk masterminded the raw, organic feel of the 1,700-square-foot shop. He designed the maple display tables, the macramé lighting fixtures, and the dreamy yarn wall.
Buttons, Baubles, and Notions
Vintage mother-of-pearl, wooden, and Bakelite buttons are displayed in an old letterpress-type organizer.
Here, local fiber artist Sally England holds a macramé plant hanger she designed.
Dipping Into Dye
And here, fabric is dyed with all-natural indigo.
Here, a tote from a sashiko-stitching workshop.
"I still make most of Naomi's clothes," says Anna, who sewed this dress using a cotton-sateen fabric from Japanese textile house Nani Iro and vintage mother-of-pearl buttons.
A 33-foot-long yarn wall with shelves configured in a basket-weave pattern makes knitters swoon, while the intriguing mix of ceramics, clothes, and albums attracts people who might not pop into a traditional crafts-supply shop. "We call it a creative lifestyle store," says Anna.
Naomi, left, knits with two young friends. "Her attitude is, 'If you want something, just make it,'" Anna says.