Around the Table was conceived not just as a shopping destination for knitters and crocheters, but also as a place to find community.
By Sharon Holbrook
I visited Around the Table Yarns at 20075 Chagrin Boulevard (across from Juma) on a damp, gray morning, but when I opened the door I felt as if I stepped into a rainbow. The walls surrounding a long central table and comfy chairs are hung with a vibrant array of colorful yarns, exuding a warm feeling of welcome. That’s no accident, say longtime friends and owners Beth Billings and Pam Berkson. Around the Table was conceived not just as a shopping destination for knitters and crocheters, but also as a place to find community.
Customers are encouraged to sit down at the table with their needles (and even food they’ve brought in, if they wish) for as long as they like. Whenever the shop is open, so is the table. The connections forged by people knitting and crocheting together are what brought Pam and Beth together. They live on opposite ends of Shaker – Pam in Mercer and Beth in Boulevard – but they became friends through a knitting group when their children were just beginning elementary school. Now they want to provide that sense of community to others.
“Once your kids are of a certain age and you don’t have the mommy groups, or you’re working full time and you can’t volunteer at the school, you kind of lose those community connections with other adults,” says Pam, talking about the period in her own past when knitting helped her find friendship.
At Around the Table it’s not just young moms (though there are those). Customers span every age group and “every socioeconomic level, every color, every race, every culture. That was a goal of ours,” says Pam.
The yarns in the shop are as varied as the customers, ranging from machine-washable to hand-wash-only, cashmere to acrylic, and $2 to $80. What you choose all depends on your price point and what you’re making, whether it’s a baby sweater that might get spit up on or a luxurious scarf that may become an heirloom.
Regardless of price, the focus is on quality and uniqueness. “We’re definitely a specialty yarn store, because we carry more than just sort of the big box types of yarns,” says Beth. “We carry hand-spun, hand-dyed, kettle-dyed, locally produced, and locally dyed small batch yarns.”
Around the Table also creates and sells its own project kits. A project might call for expensive yarn in several colors, but instead of the customer having to purchase all those full skeins at great cost, the shop breaks down skeins and creates a kit that provides the customer with the right amount of each color at a more reasonable total cost.
For new customers, or those new to knitting and crocheting, Pam and Beth recommend stopping in, looking around, and picking up a schedule of events, which include movie nights, beginner classes, and more. You can also follow them on Facebook, Instagram (@aroundthetableyarns), or sign up for their email newsletter at aroundthetableyarns.com.
Any way you reach out, you’re sure to get a warm welcome.