Corinne Sohns’ crocheted gifts warm hearts and heads alike.
Over the past nearly six years, the Scott Township, Lackawanna County, grandmother has crocheted about 450 seasonally-themed hats that her daughter-in-law, a nurse, presented to newborns at her posts first in New York City and now at Scranton’s Moses Taylor Hospital.
Sohns picked up her first crochet hook as a child, when her Zia (Aunt) Lana taught her the craft, using large strips of fabric she’d ripped up. Sohns’ mother crocheted, too, but couldn’t help her much because she couldn’t read a pattern, Sohns recalled with a laugh.
Retired since 2008 from teaching business and computers at Susquehanna Community High School, Sohns crocheted, knitted and quilted for her own family through the years, enjoying keeping herself busy by crafting afghans and other items. When one of her newborn grandkids came home from the hospital with a handmade cap she’d received as a gift, Sohns liked the idea and realized she could make those for babies, too. She reached out to her now-daughter-in-law, Ashley Sohns, then a registered nurse at New York-Presbyterian Weill Cornell Medical Center in New York City, to see whether she would pass on handmade hats to her patients.
“I thought it was great,” Ashley recalled. “I thought she was extra-talented, and she just loves to sit down in the evenings and crochet hats. And I thought the parents would absolutely adore the hats as a little parting gift when they leave the hospital.”
Corinne made her first batch of hats in early 2012 for premature babies in the neo-natal intensive care unit and then branched out to making larger ones for bigger newborns.
“I started thinking, ‘This would be cute to do something for Christmas,’ ” she recalled, adding that hats for Valentine’s Day, St. Patrick’s Day and Halloween followed.
Now, her repertoire includes those staples as well as most other major holidays, and her creativity has flourished. She follows a simple pattern for each hat — except for the Christmas ones, which look like Santa’s pointy cap — and changes the colors or adds embellishments to represent a holiday or season, from flowers in the summer to bunny ears for Easter. She tries to make 12 to 15 hats per holiday.
“Everyone looks forward to the hats at each holiday, and then they ask about what she’s making next,” Ashley said.
Since her son and daughter-in-law moved to Northeast Pennsylvania about three years ago, Corinne started making even more hats since they now serve the babies at Moses Taylor, where Ashley works as a per diem nurse in the mom-baby unit.
“I was thrilled that they were staying local,” Corinne said of the hats.
The time each hat takes to make varies. She can whip up a Santa hat in about half an hour, but ones that have more embellishments, such as bunnies and turkeys, take longer. She enjoys making little winter hats and the Santa ones in particular, and she works on them while watching television or during car and RV trips to pass the time.
“They’re not hard to make at all,” Corinne said.
Her daughter-in-law then takes the hats in to the hospital and passes them out.
“It’s just so nice in such a happy setting to be able to give something to these parents as they’re leaving,” Ashley said. “And they’re always so thrilled. So it just is very heartwarming.”
Parents usually ask where the hats come from and whether they can give or do something in thanks, Ashley said. Her mother-in-law enjoys hearing about the parents, she added, “and I think it just warms her heart to put smiles on their faces.”
“I just tell (the parents) she doesn’t make the hats for recognition,” Ashley said. “She just wants to hear they make the parents and other nurses happy.”
Corinne said she feels “satisfied knowing that these cute little babies have a hat that I made.”
“I don’t need any thanks,” she said. “I do it for me.”