CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa - One man's need to keep his hands busy will mean a warmer winter for hundreds of people.
Tim Patterson didn't just donate 600 stocking caps to charity, he made them all by hand, by knitting. Patterson is a pretty big guy. So to see him sitting in his living room chair and patiently turning acrylic yarn into stocking caps on a knitting loom might seem like a strange sight.
"My wife came up with this idea. [She] was talking to a lady at work, [and] she thought I could do it," Patterson said.
The 66-year-old knitter worked in animal research at the University of Iowa until 2010 when serious heart problems forced him to retire. He has limited mobility, along with poor health, and can't walk far. But he can use his hands and he wasn't happy sitting around.
"It was the dead of winter, and he was very bored, so he was willing to pick up the loom, pick up yarn and give it a try," Kathy Patterson, his wife, said.
It was slow going at first, but now a simple hat takes Patterson an hour, more elaborate ones maybe three hours. Some knitters, after outfitting family and friends, lose interest. Not Tim.
"About the first thing I said to the family is I'm going to do 250 of these and donate them to the Salvation Army. They laughed and said, 'That's a lot for Dad to do,' and I thought OK," Patterson said.
But forget 250, half a years work patiently sitting in his chair produced 600 stocking caps to give away. The Salvation Army plans to include some hats in clothing giveaways and also outfit bell ringers this winter. As for Patterson, the knitter, after presenting the hats to the Salvation Army, he was back in his chair, loom in hand.
"Here I am and now I'm going to start for next year," he said.
On top of the 600 hats for the Salvation Army, Patterson knitted some hats for KCRG-TV9's Coats for Kids.