For Ewe: Inclusive Fiber Community Hosts Grand Opening


Finn Miller

Lisa Whitfield stands in front of yarn from her store For Ewe, which fosters culturally inclusive crafting.

For Ewe: an Inclusive Fiber Community opened its doors Thursday, Sept. 1. Lisa Whitfield, OC ’90, owner and proprietor of the new store, strives for inclusivity and guarantees a space for those who feel underrepresented and unwelcome in other spaces, especially in fiber communities. Although the store itself has been open since mid-April, the grand opening only took place last week due to scheduling conflicts.

Sunny skies greeted guests as they joined Whitfield for refreshments and a few words from special guests. Bryan Burgess, president of the Oberlin City Council; Janet Haar, executive director of the Oberlin Business Partnership; and Kathy Perales, vice president of the Board of Trustees for OBP, shared words of encouragement with Whitfield before she cut the classic red ribbon with the help of her husband.

“It’s always exciting when we get to invite a new business into Oberlin,” Burgess said. “Over the course of the pandemic, we saw businesses shut down and leave, and it’s been really tough. Since then, we have seen a resurgence in local interest. I’m so glad that Lisa has been able to open up a new business here, … providing a service for our community.”

As an Oberlin alumna, Whitfield wants to connect with Oberlin College students in a way that only a former student can.

“I know what it’s like to go to Oberlin,” Whitfield said. “I know what it’s like to be exploring all of the different parts of yourself. This is the one time in your life where you can do that in a very contained way. The world out there is not Oberlin. The fights that you fight at Oberlin are small compared to the fights you’re gonna fight out there. So this is the time where whoever you are, however you identify, you should be able to walk into my shop.”

Students from KnitCo see potential connections at For Ewe. Last semester, KnitCo welcomed Whitfield into the class as a guest speaker. They discussed all things yarn related and

even took a trip to the store. Bridget Heinzerling, College second-year and co-instructor of KnitCo, expressed gratitude not only for having a local store with a wide variety of yarns available but also for someone like Whitfield who is knowledgeable in her field.

“Oberlin has always been a really special place,” Whitfield said. “The day after I opened, I went and spoke to the KnitCo class. I just opened the day before and for the next month and a half I had people come in. They would say, ‘I read your mission and I knew I would be safe here’, or ‘I saw your logo and I knew I’d be safe here.’”

Whitfield’s opening has also given community members the opportunity to learn more about fiber types and choices in an inclusive setting.

“She broke down all of the different kinds of fiber,” Heinzerling said. “She provides a wide variety of different fiber yarns because a lot of people are allergic to animal yarns or they’re a little expensive, and because this is a college town, a lot of people need more accessible options and she was able to provide those. It’s nice to have an option that’s local [and] that has more yarn options.”

Whitfield has opened a space that allows those in need of community to feel accepted and welcomed. This includes Oberlin College students who love to knit or to express themselves through other fiber arts. These values were made clear at the grand opening of For Ewe, inclusive of all fibers and all people.