Cedar Rapids Woman's Love For Crocheting Extends Beyond Iowa
By Christy Aumer, Reporter
CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa - "What's the count today?"
Dorothy Newport, 91, of Cedar Rapids receives a phone call each night at 9 p .m. from her daughter Barbara Hossmeier, 61, of Northville, MI to ask her how many hats she's crocheted that day. Some days it's one, some days it's two. "It varies," Newport said. "But almost done doesn't count."
Newport completed her 500th hat roughly a month ago, and it rests on a sytrofoam head and is pink in color. Hossmeier visits every other month, and planned a trip from Michigan to surprise her with a certificate and fudgsicles at Irving Point, an assisted living center on Friday. Between accomplishing her 500th hat and Hossmeier's visit, Newport didn't stop crocheting, she ended up making an additional 33 hats.
About two years ago, Newport's love affair with crocheting hats started, but she's been crocheting since her teen years.
"I was restless, I needed to be doing something. So my mother use to do a lot of embroidery and she knew one stitch -- the single stitch," Newport said of her teenage years. "So I just used to make the one stitch everyday and sat there during Jack Armstrong." She said she began making envelope purses which were popular at the time, and then she learned how to sew in a zipper into the purse. "My mom thought it was great I could do that," Newport said. "She kept giving me enough praise, so I made another one."
According to Newport, she saw some hats on television a couple years ago and thought she would try to make one. She only knew one stitch, her vision wasn't very good and she has arthritis in her hands -- but she didn't think twice.
"I just tried doing it, and all of a sudden I started making hats," Newport said with a laugh.
She crochets mostly by feel, using light colored yarns at night and darker colors during the day. She has also developed a system to determine what pants are which color by the number of pins placed in the waistband. One pin represents black pants, two pins represent blue and three pins represent brown. Recently, she got special glasses that act as magnifiers to help her see as well.
After discovering Newport's hobby, Hossmeier decided to start Hats for the Homeless, a non-profit organization featuring her mother's homemade hats for $5, and giving donations to a variety of outlets. A portion of the hats are given to Hossmeier's daughter Rebekah Karimi, 31, of Georgia, who takes the hats to Kenya during her mission trips. “It shows that even older people can still be involved with mission projects; it really keeps her going and has motivated her,” Hossmeier said.
Other members of Newport's family have also taken an active role in her crocheting hobby. "My son is always picking up yarn. He never used to go into a craft store or a fabric store," Newport said. "If it's on sale, he looks twice. And if it looks like he can see me doing something with it, he looks three times -- and generally buys it."
The family has given away or sold over 300 of the hats made, and Newport doesn't see an end in sight. In her lifetime, she estimates she's made around 1000 hats, but began counting only 15 months ago. Recently, she began making hats with school colors like black and gold for the University of Iowa, and red and gold for Iowa State University.
"You have to use your imagination a bit," Newport said. "I'd like to make some for a bowling team or something like that."
"But it's most fun when I can make one for a member of my family. My grandsons like them especially if I put a five dollar bill in the hat."
If interested in Hats for the Homeless, contact Barbara Hossmeier at (248) 348-7567.
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