Staff members at Cox South are putting their knitting skills to good use and making hats for preemies in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit and orphans in Africa
When we were chatting with Glenna Muse about the hats she knits for babies in the neonatal intensive care unit, a doctor walked in wearing a stocking cap with an exaggeratedly long top that ended with a yarn puffball. It was one of Muse’s handmade hats, quite a bit bigger than the ones she makes for NICU babies. Muse, a respiratory therapist at Cox, started knitting for the NICU three years ago, when she turned the room into a pumpkin patch and knitted 30 tiny little pumpkin hats for the babies. Before long, she was knitting premie-sized hats for six holidays each year: Easter, Independence Day, Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas and the Super Bowl (a nod to the NICU dads).
“The NICU can be such a frightening experience for parents [...], so I particularly enjoy how the joy of the hats gives everyone a few moments to step back, have some fun and be able to treat our babies like babies instead of patients,” says Muse. “A few years ago, a mom said to me about her 1½ pound baby, ‘For the first time, you made me feel like my baby is real.’ Of course our babies are real, but sometimes it takes a little bit of normal and fun to remember that they’re not just little bodies with wires and tubes and lines coming out of them.”
Today, Muse has a new project up her sleeve. Her tiny little hat patterns for micropreemies to 1-year-olds are being published by Leisure Arts, Inc. in a book titled Seasonal Hats for Babies. The book will feature 18 designs and should be published sometime this year.
Knitting for Africa
Muse isn’t the only knitting artist who is using her skills to spread a little joy and do a little good. The Cox South Knitting Club, a group of about 10 Cox employees led by Cheryl Blevins, meets once a month at Borders in Springfield. They’ve been getting together to knit for about three years, but for the past two they’ve been making hats for children and babies in orphanages in the African village of Kaoma. An acquaintance, a member of W.I.S.E (Women’s Initiative for Strength and Empowerment), brought the need to their attention, and the group jumped to action producing hats. Lots of them. In fact, last year they sent more than 100 hats to Africa (and 55 the year before), and they also make mittens and blankets. With temperatures dipping at nighttime and babies and children going without blankets, hypothermia is a serious threat to infants, especially with the lack of available incubators. A knit hat can literally save a baby.