Tribal Grandstand | hats of hope

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A five to eight hour process, lots of patience and lots of yarn is just the beginning of a life changing hobby. With a smile on her face, junior Kylie Crookes presents her handmade hats to the hospital workers.

Crookes makes crochet hats and donates them to NICU babies and chemo patients.

“I’ve been crocheting for over a year now and I’ve been knitting since… sixth grade,” Crookes said.

A COVID-19 hobby turned into an ongoing production for Crookes. Instead of doing this just to pass the time, she found a good way to give other people these special gifts.

Despite all the hard work, the pandemic limited their production.

“Unfortunately, because of COVID-19, I was never able to distribute them,” Crookes said.

So instead of being able to see all the cute faces of the patients she gave her hats to, she gave them to another hospital worker.

“When I give them to the lady, she’s just always so grateful and it’s always so sweet … because she’s just a little old lady,” Crookes said.

Crookes specifically wanted to donate her hats to NICU babies and toddlers going through chemotherapy.

“I’ve always loved working with kids, I just think it’s so cute,” Crookes said.

Her parents also work at MUSC Children’s Hospital so she was able to socialize through them.

“I used to hear them talk about getting chemo caps and stuff, so I thought maybe I should do that,” Crookes said.

To make her work stand out, she spent a lot of time selecting patterns and different types of hats for the children.

“Whenever I want to find a new design [I] just look at it, but mostly it’s something… like an animal,” Crookes said. “I made some with little bows and flowers on them.”

Instead of an ordinary pattern, she adds details that people will appreciate.

“I just look at a pattern and see which one I like, and it depends on which one I think suits the people in the hospital better,” Crookes said.

Crookes is particularly focused on the children who have long hospital stays. Even though the babies and toddlers don’t really understand what the hats are for and what’s behind them, Crookes’ parents express their appreciation. An important part of their process is the specialization of the hats.

“I like to put my tag in it so they know I made it,” Crookes said.

This year, Crookes took the extra step and started a crochet club at Wando with some of her friends. She wanted to develop what she was doing and hopes to get people at her club to get involved.
“There are a lot of people who have joined [crochet club] and I was like, ‘Man, I didn’t know a lot of people wanted to crochet,'” Crookes said.

Corinne Mills, the teachers’ sponsor, was a great help with Crookes. She hopes to take over the crochet club and get members to make more hats to keep donating.

“We have to learn to do more than just one line, but we’ve talked about the nonprofit project, so that’s ultimately going to be our goal,” Mills said.

Due to the long manufacturing process of the hats, the crochet club offers its members service hours.

“They get seven hours per hat, which is great, so from the amount I donated I have about 840 hours now,” Crookes said.

Aside from her parents, Crooke’s biggest inspiration is her grandmother.

“You only have a limited amount of time with your grandparents, so it kind of helps me to talk to her about these things, and she just loves what I do,” Crookes said.

Crookes’ grandmother, Jodi Luke, was of great help to Crookes throughout her process.

“She started knitting these baby hats and all kinds of designs and patterns, and she’s been doing it for a few years now, but she’s almost never without something on her hands,” Luke said.

Crookes has been passionate about crocheting and knitting since she was young.

“You know, some kids listen to music, but they like to crochet and knit,” Luke said.

Crookes spends a lot of time crocheting. No matter what she does, she always finds a way to incorporate crocheting and knitting.

“She was a teacher’s assistant for a year, just sat there and crocheted,” Mills said.

Crookes not only changes perspectives for hospital families, but also for the people around them.

“I was surprised at her age that she came up with such a time consuming project because I remember what it was like to be that age and if she knitted some hats that would be one thing but we do a bunch of hats talk about it,” Luke said.

“It’s incredible that she chose to spend so many hours alone to give something away with the hope that someone would put it to wonderful use. I don’t think there is a greater satisfaction.”

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