February 6, 2013

150 Hats and then Some

To connect three loves of mine--knitting, Girl Scouts, and kids/babies/people/basically all humans--I learned to "mass-produce" knitted hats by hand, taught some others how do to the same, and donated them to the Lucille Packard Children's Hospital NICU (Newborn Intensive Care Unit) for both my Bronze and Silver Girl Scout projects.

Let's flash back to 2007. You'll see in the era's pictures a not-so-mini me, but still plenty awkward. Pleased to meet you. Instead of playing on the play structure in elementary school like any normal kid, I sat alone against the wall knitting. I thought my life was great.

I was given a collection of Knifty Knitter circular hat looms one year for a birthday present. I finally took them out of their plastic a year later (2008), and started to learn how to make hats using a loom instead of regular knitting needles (the kind you see the grannies in the cartoons using). Although the first few hats consumed a great deal of time to manufacture, (as well as the emotional turmoil involved in learning something new and confusing), after a while, I got fast enough to be able to knit a single hat in less than forty minutes. 

Of course, sometime after the twelfth baby hat one starts to question what a sixth grader is going to do with, well, twelve baby hats. My mother did not just give birth to dodeca-tuplets (thank goodness), and neither did any my aunts, and I can personally guarantee that I wasn't one of those rare pregnant sixth-graders, so what was I supposed to do? I just liked making them for the sake of running fuzzy yarn through my fingers and feeling a sense of accomplishment and progress. The monetary value of these hats that I could potentially generate wasn't on my radar at the time, so, the only option besides donating them to Goodwill I could think of was to donate them to the hospital. And hey, I needed a Bronze Award project anyways. 

I made some more hats (and fleece blankets) and contacted a nurse my mother knew via phone to try to donate them. I might add that I was even more telephonophobic than I am now, so calling this lady was probably just as much work as learning to make all these hats in the first place. I finally donated about 15 hats and 3 blankets (if I remember correctly), got my award, temporarily felt great about myself, got promoted to middle school... and continued to make many hats.

Not too much time passed (about two years) when I realized that I needed to come up with a Silver Award Project. I was still cranking out these hats and getting totally into it. I devoted a significant portion of one of my summer breaks learning that my daily hat-making potential wasn't sanely going to pass eight hats made in one day. I decided (or really, my mom decided) that I could set up a knitting club at Stevenson House, a local retirement home, and teach them how to make hats and provide an outlet to donate them. This gave them something to look forward to and a new-found hobby to occupy their time, all led by a "cute little" middle-schooler.

In reality, I knit just as many hats as they did put together, but I did succeed in spreading my love for crafts, getting a little involved in the community, and learned a little responsibility in spite of it all. In total, we donated about 115 hats and blankets to the hospital, and I even received personal thank-you letters from one of the senior citizens and the hospital staff and volunteers.

I still knit these hats occasionally, and when a great deal of these hats accumulate in my drawers, I contact the nurse and donate more hats. I only rarely knit these types of hats now because I have largely come out of this phase and have moved on to more complicated knitting endeavors (such as knitting hats the traditional way with two fast-moving sticks). But for those of you yearning for more community service opportunities, I have come to inform you of a great one: learn how to make these hats! Then you can earn community service hours while watching TV (if you can multi-task), in the car (if you aren't driving), or even in bed! This is how I earned about 300 community service hours during my middle school years.
Contents of 1st Delivery, October 2009

Contents of 2nd Delivery, May 2010
At Lucille Packard Children's Hospital to donate 2nd load of about 50 hats & blankets,  May 2010

Contents of 3rd (?) delivery, 2010.
 Happy Crafting!
Until next time,

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