Hats incredible!

By on January 4, 2017


Sue Edwards estimates that in the past 10 years she has donated thousands of knitted hats to  Lancaster General Health at Kissel Hill, Ann B. Barshinger Cancer Institute, and others.

Sue Edwards estimates that in the past 10 years she has donated thousands of knitted hats to Lancaster General Health at Kissel Hill, Ann B. Barshinger Cancer Institute, and others.

Lititz woman has knitted thousands of caps for patients of all ages

Sue Edwards doesn’t get to see the tiny babies who wear her knitted hats to keep warm at Women and Babies Hospital’s neonatal intensive care unit.

She doesn’t get to meet the patients at Ann B. Barshinger Cancer Institute who appreciate her hand-knitted hats when they are dealing with hair loss.

At Lancaster General Health at Kissel Hill, she only knows that a patient loves the color purple or is fond of pink, and so she knits a purple or pink hat for these patients.

The Lititz woman keeps busy knitting warm, cozy hats for newborn babies and cancer patients of all ages. At nearly a dozen hats a week, she guesses that she has provided thousands of hats during the past 10 years.

“I have no idea how many, really,” she says. “And I have never met anyone who gets my hats. I just hear about them.”

One of those grateful cancer patients is nine-year-old Lily Lutz of Manheim, daughter of Steven and Lindsay Lutz, and sister of Piper. Lily is also the granddaughter of Helen Robison, who works at Lancaster General Health at Kissel Hill.

Robison welcomes patients to the medical testing center at Kissel Hill, and when she notices that the patients could use a hat, she invites them to help themselves to a hat made by Edwards.

“I think it is a wonderful thing that Sue does for these patients,” says Robison. “They are so happy to have one of her beautiful hats. It cheers them up right away.”

That was certainly the case for Robison’s granddaughter Lily, who has been fighting a brain tumor. Lily smiles over the four hats that Edwards has made for her. One is sparkly silver, while another blends red, green and brown. Her favorites, though, are two teal colored hats. Teal is Lily’s favorite color. It makes her happy and it makes her feel empowered.

“She knows that her hats are one-of-a-kind and wants to send a thank you card to Sue for doing this,” says her mother.

While Edwards usually makes a bunch of knitted hats in all sorts of colors, she often makes custom hats for people who have special requests. A Kissel Hill, one patient mentioned to Robison that she loved purple. Voila! Edwards knitted a purple hat and the woman was delighted.

Sometimes when you are fighting cancer, you need all the magical purple power you can get. Or maybe pink.

“I made a pink hat for a woman who had breast cancer. She loves pink,” says Edwards.

Sue Edwards demonstrates her craft of hat knitting, using a 36-peg hoop.

Sue Edwards demonstrates her craft of hat knitting, using a 36-peg hoop.

Edwards has even made custom hats for people living as far away as Washington state. She heard of a woman who was going through chemotherapy and had lost her dark hair. All her life, that woman had dreamed of having long blonde braids.

So Edwards knitted her a brown and cream tweed hat with — you guessed it — long golden yellow yarn braids on reach side. The woman will be getting a stylish new hat with her long-desired blonde braids to cheer her up.

“It gives me a great deal of satisfaction,” says Edwards. “I end up knitting them when I am watching TV or just relaxing. I have a few people who help out too.”

Edwards drops her hats off at the Barshinger Center, Kissel Hill, Lititz Family Practice, several other centers, Lititz Public Library and the Women and Babies Hospital. At Barshinger, there is a basket filled with hats that patients are encouraged to take. When the supply gets low, Edwards gets a call and restocks the hats.

Now that it’s winter, the hats help to keep heads warm. They also make the patients feel stylish. Her hats are cap-type hats that are knitted in a circular pattern. Some even have jaunty cloche-like brims.

The yarn that Edwards uses is mostly donated. Robison collects yarn from the knitters group at St. James Catholic Church. Matthew 25 also contributes yarn from donations that are made. Edwards is grateful for the yarn she receives, and jokes that she has so much, she might need to add a yarn room addition to her Lititz home.

Every bit of yarn that she receives is quickly turned into a hat. Some are solid colors, others are variegated yarns in different shades. She makes color blocked hats in combinations of solid colors. One especially cute baby hat for Halloween was orange with a green pumpkin stem on top.

Edwards started making hats about 10 years ago. As a child, she had enjoyed making knitted “chains” using a spool-like device. Then she discovered a hoop that had 36 pegs and made four different sizes of hats, from infants to adults. She started making hats in the waiting room at LGH while her mother was undergoing surgery. It kept her busy and offered fulfillment.

“It’s very easy,” says Edwards, who was working at the Mennonite Home then and began making hats for patients there. “Once I started, I can’t stop.”

Not that patients like Lily would want her to. They love knowing that someone cares enough to knit a cozy hat that will brighten their day and make them feel special.

Laura Knowles is a freelance feature writer and regular contributor to the pages of the Record Express. She welcomes feedback and story tips at lknowles21@gmail.com.

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