Over the Top with Every Baby
LEOMINSTER -- If you had a baby at one of the region’s three largest hospitals in the last year, chances are the tiny, knit hat given to your newborn was made by Sandra Cook.
Though unsure of the exact number of hats she has produced in the last year, Cook puts her best guess at about 1,000.
“I’d already made hats for all of my family. I made them for my church fair. I was running out of people,” she said.
Cook has been knitting her entire life, but since recently retiring from a nearly 30-year career as a school secretary in Leominster, she’s had more time to commit to her hobby. Considering it only takes her about an hour to churn out a new baby-sized hat, she’s been very productive in the last year.
“I just went into the hospital one day and saw there was a need and that this would be something nice. People can come home and have something for their baby,” said Cook. “When they’re born, they normally get a hospital issued hat, which is very generic.”
Cook’s hats are all hand-knitted and usually fitting a theme, depending on the time of year. Babies born in October get hats in the shape of pumpkins or candy corn. The most recent crop of newborns have been getting snowman caps or ones made with holiday colors.
In case you were wondering, making each cap requires about 86 feet of yarn. If you were to unravel every hat Cook has made in the last year, you would have a length of yarn that stretches 16 miles.
She tries to make each hat as unique as possible, but admits that it’s gotten harder after passing the 1,000 mark.
“I’m sure some of them are repeated,” she said. “How many different hats can you make?”
The maternity ward of UMass Memorial HealthAlliance-Clinston Hospital in Leominster, UMass Memorial Medical Center in Worcester, and Emerson Hospital in Concord are all on Cook’s delivery list, and with each hospital averaging 20 to 30 births a day, she does her best to make sure no head goes uncovered.
Gone are the days of the maternity ward observation window, meaning Cook has yet to see a room full of babies wearing her hats, but parents have sent her photos.
“Once in a while, I get to see them, but I’m sure if they’re all in the nursery with their little hats on, they must look pretty cute,” she said. “When I’m in the grocery store, if I see a little infant in a carrier, I always look to see if they’re wearing one of my hats. It hasn’t happened yet, but I keep looking.”
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