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Swapping firecrackers for knitting needles: Minnesota woman spreads July 4th cheer with caps for newborns

"That's what brings me joy: when perfect strangers see hope,” said Marie Maher, a 78-year-old Rochester resident who knit 10 caps to be worn by newborns at Mayo Clinic Methodist Hospital over the holiday weekend.

Marie Maher hats
Marie Maher knit 10 hats for newborn babies born over the July Fourth weekend to wear. She delivered them to Mayo Clinic Methodist Hospital in advance of the holiday. "That's what brings me joy: when perfect strangers see hope,” Maher said. (Photo courtesy of Marie Maher)
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ROCHESTER, Minn. -- While some grab hold of fireworks in preparation for Independence Day, Marie Maher reaches for her knitting needles.

Maher spent the last month crafting tiny red, white and blue caps for the heads of July 4th newborns. On Thursday, she delivered her creations to Mayo Clinic Methodist Hospital in time for the holiday weekend.

"That's what brings me joy: when perfect strangers see hope,” the 78-year-old resident of Shorewood Senior Campus said. She is overjoyed that family members will know that someone is thinking of them as they welcome new life into the world.

Maher had to set down her knitting needles for the last five years because she was experiencing pain in her hands. This June marked her return to her holiday tradition of creating tiny articles of clothing for families she has never met.

She initially planned to follow a uniform pattern, but as she brainstormed new designs, she decided to go rogue. The result? Ten different caps, fitting for 10 different babies.

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Marie Maher delivered 50 hats to Mayo Clinic Methodist Hospital for newborns to wear over the Christmas holiday six years ago. She's since taken a break from knitting after losing mobility in her hands, but resumed her hobby in time for Independence Day. (Photo courtesy of Marie Maher)

"I like to do that because each baby is different, you know, to get a unique hat."

Before her hiatus from the hobby, Maher was a prolific knitter, creating 50 hats for Christmas time. That added up to 250 hours spent weaving holiday patterns. She'd often pass the time listening to audiobooks — Maher goes through about 46 books a month, she estimates.

It's been difficult not creating the little hats for the past few years, but Maher is overjoyed to be able to do so again.

“It’s just so fun. Little babies in red, white and blue hats. It’s almost as good as thinking about kittens!” she said with a laugh. (Kittens have been on Maher’s mind since one of her friends adopted one recently.)

Aside from seeing her daughter, Maher has one major plan for the Independence Day weekend: start knitting her baby pumpkin hats for Halloween.

Related Topics: PEOPLEMAYO CLINICMINNESOTA
Nora Eckert has previously worked with NPR, The Associated Press and The Wall Street Journal. She holds a master’s degree in journalism from the University of Maryland and undergraduate degree from St. Norbert College in De Pere, Wis. She’s reported on national investigations into jail suicides, how climate change disproportionately affects the urban poor, the spread of coronavirus in nursing homes and the race for artificial blood. She joined the Post Bulletin team in January 2021 as their investigative reporter.
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