Tribune Tribute: Ruth Hutton

Anthony Gonzalez Staff Reporter

October 5, 2013

Ruth Hutton is married to her Main Street business, literally.

Hutton, owner of Circle of Friends Yarn Shop and Fiber Studio, said she and her husband, David Williams, still recall the day two years ago when they pushed all of the store yarn products to the side clearing the way for a space large enough to hold the duo’s wedding.

“Right in this spot, we tied the knot,” said Hutton, who could barely contain herself from the laughter through her knitting sense of humor. “Yeah, I’m literally married to the business. You have to have a sense of humor, too. You can’t always be so serious.”

Hutton said that she didn’t need a large gala for a party or any of the glitz. She said that all she needed was her family and friends and the rest was history.

David and Ruth have always had a relationship based on humor. When Ruth jumped into the knitting business, she familiarized herself with other businesses on the downtown street, as she said that being a good community neighbor is important.

“The guys from the pawn shop across the street would come into the store. I would shop there, too. Then, he (David) was talking to me for about two weeks calling me another woman’s name. I finally told him my real name. I figured I would keep him. We got married a year later,” erupted Hutton in even more laughter.

Hutton purchased the store seven years ago.

“I came from designing fabrics at Chatham. I knew the job was in jeopardy. My daughter was out of high school. It was a surreal risk, but I came into an established business,” said Hutton, whose tone reflected on seeing many friends who needed to adjust to the loss of a Chatham Manufacturing job.

“You have to move on and make the best of it, but this is home for me,” she said. “You have to make it work right here.”

Hutton has been down in North Carolina her entire adult life. She spent part of her childhood in New Jersey.

According to Hutton, the typical customer who enters the store knows what they’re looking for. They know they can walk into a colorful display of yarn, and they know they can buy items already knitted.

“Like these dreadlocks? It’s all made locally. How about these knitted necklaces I made?” said Hutton. “Gifts are available throughout the store. Every gift talks to my customers and has a different conversation with them. There’s no shortage of conversation and creativity here.”

Hutton offers private knitting classes.

“I only work one-on-one though. All customers have to do is call me and we’ll make an appointment,” she said.

Like weaving, knitting is a technique for producing a two-dimensional fabric made from a one-dimensional yarn or thread. In weaving, threads are always straight, running parallel either lengthwise (warp threads) or crosswise (weft threads). By contrast, the yarn in knitted fabrics follows a meandering path (a course), forming symmetric loops (also called bights) symmetrically above and below the mean path of the yarn.

According to the store owner, yarn for hand-knitting is usually sold as balls or skeins, although it also may be wound on spools or cones. Skeins and balls are generally sold with a yarn-band, a label that describes the yarn’s weight, length, dye lot, fiber content, washing instructions, suggested needle size.

“We get a mixture of people, some dabbling in on it. It’s also a type of product that age plays a role in being enthusiastic about knitting,” said Hutton.

Hutton is enthusiastic about the next holiday season.

“This is our time of year. We were very busy last week. People are starting to look for holiday items and they’re coming inside and taking a stab a it,” she said. “That’s a good thing.”

The shop is open Tuesday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Circle of Friends Yarn Shop and Fiber Studio is located at 120 W. Main St.

Reach Anthony Gonzalez at 835-1513 or agonzalez@civitasmedia.com.