Parpan Column: So that’s where baby caps come from

07/04/2014 2:00 PM |
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Jen Becker making hats for newborns and preemies at her home in Southold this week.

At 4 a.m. the morning after my son was born, a nurse ducked into the room as my wife and I were falling asleep and gave him his first bath. When she was done, she swaddled him up tight and placed a red, green and white knit cap on his tiny bald head.

It was two days before Christmas and baby Jackson had his first hat. Even with a dresser drawer full of infant caps, the hospital freebie kept his skull warm long after the holidays.

Perhaps it’s because it was made by hand, or maybe just because it was sturdier than the others, but we loved that darn hat. While we realize he’ll never wear it again, there’s no way we’re tossing it in the garbage any time soon.

It turns out we’re not alone.

“I saved all four of my boys’ hats,” said 44-year-old Jen Becker of Southold. “I just love them.”

She loves the hats so much she recently started making them herself.

In an effort to check an item off her “bucket list,” Ms. Becker watched YouTube videos and taught herself to knit, something she says she’d always wanted to do.

She also wrote letters to four area hospitals to see if they’d be interested in her knit baby caps. Stony Brook University, where my son was born last year, quickly accepted her donations. She’s since made contact with Peconic Bay Medical Center in Riverhead, Good Samaritan Hospital in West Islip and South Side Hospital in Bay Shore — and newborns at all three will soon wear Ms. Becker’s creations as well.

It might seem tedious to some, but Ms. Becker has incorporated knitting into her everyday routine. The television has become secondary as she focuses on her hats. The preemie caps take 20 to 25 minutes to make. The others take a few minutes more.

Since February, Ms. Becker has made more than 400 caps.

Like me, Ms. Becker wondered who, exactly, made these hats when she received them for each of her sons, who now range in age from  2 to 16.

“I pictured a cute little old lady,” she said. “Then, when I started, I said, ‘Hey, I’m not old.’ ”

With four sons and no daughters it’s easy to understand why the baby girl caps are her favorite. She makes them in pink and yellow and adorns each one with a small flower.

Like any volunteer, she could always use some support, so she recently went on Facebook asking her friends to donate yarn they might have left over from any craft projects. Anne Bialeski of Mattituck saw her note and reached out to the local media to help in spreading the word. Fresh from the birth of my first son, I jumped at the opportunity to do so.

What better way to send a kid home from the hospital than with a knitted cap made with love and care by a local mom?

Donate your yarn: Ms. Becker could use donations — however big or small — of baby blue, white, pink, mint green or yellow yarn. You can mail your package to 1435 Ackerly Pond Lane, Southold, NY 11971.

TGrant Parpan is the executive editor of Times/Review Newsgroup. he can be reached at gparpan@timesreview.com or 631-354-8046.

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