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Handmade donations help warm the Northland

A nurse at Essentia holds a newborn outfitted with a hat made by internal medicine chart scrubber Kayla Daugaard. Daugaard is one of many Northland knitters and crocheters creating warm clothing items for the newborns – and needy — in the area. Photo courtesy of Essentia.1 / 2
Daugaard crocheted 52 hats in one week for newborns at Essentia in Duluth. A group of women in Two Harbors has also been knitting and crocheting hats, sweaters, scarves and mittens and donating them to the birthing centers in Duluth and schools and nonprofits in Lake County. Photo courtesy of Essentia. 2 / 2

Thanks to generous northland knitters and crocheters, many babies born in Duluth hospitals during this chilly winter season have been gifted with a handmade hat. The hats come from all over, but they have one purpose – to provide some needed comfort and warmth to newborns and their parents.

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Diane MacFarlane of Two Harbors has been crocheting for years and just recently started donating her work to area organizations, like the birthing centers in Duluth, Minnehaha Elementary and North Shore Horizons. She’s part of a quiet movement in Two Harbors known as Warming the North, loosely organized by Rita Schluneger, owner of Moose-cellaneous Gifts.

“I know that there’s been a demand for things this year because of the cold. It seems like each winter, there is more and more demand. I guess there’s a need out there,” MacFarlane said.

She said she can crochet about one hat per hour and spends her evenings making her way through donated yarn, creating snuggly wearables to give away. Schluneger collects yarn at her shop in Two Harbors and knitters and crocheters pick up the fibers and turn them into sweaters, hats, scarves and mittens to be worn by people throughout the region.

“We always have either funding or donations coming in,” MacFarlane said. “As long as there’s a need, I’ll keep doing it.”

Scluneger has baskets of yarn in her shop waiting for willing knitters to stop by, pick up a skein or two and put their talents to work for a good cause. She hand- delivers the donated goods to wherever there is a need.

Many of the newborn hats come from within Essentia. Kayla Daugaard, an internal medicine chart scrubber at Essentia Health in Duluth, was inspired by a coworker to start making caps. In just one week in early January, she made 52. She’s preparing for a craft show now, but plans to go back to making hats for the birthing center when she has more time.

“Bringing a baby into the world is scary,” said Daugaard, who has a 4-year-old daughter. “That was my way of providing a little bit of comfort.”

Daugaard’s willingness to share and give has apparently set an example for her young daughter, too. After the little girl helped her mom wrap up the hats for the newborns, she decided to start making bracelets and necklaces for her friends at preschool.

“I’m always looking for how to make somebody’s day,” Daugaard said. “I wanted my daughter to see that it’s not all about you.”

MacFarlane said that novice knitters and crocheters are encouraged to volunteer. There’s a project for every skill level and patterns are available to anyone who needs one.

“We encourage people to join in,” MacFarlane said.

Contact Moose-cellaneous at (218) 834-8111 or stop by the shop at 603 7th Ave., Two Harbors, to help warm the Northland

LaReesa Sandretsky
LaReesa Sandretsky is a Two Harbors High School graduate and Duluth native who began working at the News-Chronicle in 2012 as a reporter. She took over as editor in 2014. She covers County Board, including the Lake County broadband project.
(218) 834-2141