Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Largo woman finds comfort in crocheting hats, blankets for anyone in need

Dorothy McDade, 87, crochets a boy’s blanket Friday at her home in Largo. Every day, she aims to crochet at least one winter cap and has various other projects going on at once.


Dorothy McDade, 87, crochets a boy’s blanket Friday at her home in Largo. Every day, she aims to crochet at least one winter cap and has various other projects going on at once.

LARGO — Dorothy McDade is 87, and sometimes wonders why she's still here.

Her friends are dying off, one by one. Her husband is gone, too.

She doesn't move around much anymore, not since she broke her hip and got an inferior replacement. She gave up her car, and with it most of her freedom.

"Why am I here?" she asks.

In simple skeins of yarn, she searches for an answer.

• • •

Whenever McDade sits, she crochets.

"Never wanted to knit," she says.

She picked up the craft as a teenager in Iowa. She lived on a farm surrounded by corn and oats and stinking pigs, and when she wasn't tending to animals, she crocheted doilies to drape on furniture.

Yarn over, yarn over, double crochet.

As the years passed, her hobby took a back seat. McDade's first marriage was hell, her second marriage bliss. Don held open doors and spoiled her rotten.

"We were so happy," McDade said. "It was the best 26 years of my life."

Don died in 1994, after they retired to Florida, and McDade adjusted to life without him the best she could. Then five years ago, she had to adjust again after tripping over a speed bump and breaking her hip.

Able to do little else, she found comfort in crocheting.

Loop over two, loop over two, chain one.

• • •

She found purpose, too.

There isn't much use here for the heavy afghans she made in Iowa. But plenty of people need pillows, baby blankets and hats.

McDade sells her hats for $5 each. Mostly, she gives them away.

She donates them to the homeless, poor and dying. To stillborn babies, schoolchildren and veterans. To people she reads about in the newspaper and thinks might be uplifted with one of her hats atop their heads.

She relies on her friends from the Largo Community Center craft club to deliver the goods. She wishes she could see the faces of the recipients.

"Oh, is this for me?" she imagines them saying.

It makes her feel good to help others, especially the homeless when the weather turns cold.

"Here I am with all the covers I can get on me," she says. "They don't have anything."

• • •

This year, McDade aimed to crochet one hat a day.

She kept count on a notepad. Nothing official, just a tally for her own satisfaction.

A few weeks ago, the total reached 440 hats. That may have been a little low.

"I don't remember if I remembered to write down everything," she said.

She threw out the paper and started counting again.

Yarn over, pull through two. Yarn over, pull through two.

She works several projects at once, maybe has a hat and baby blanket going in the den and another hat under way in her bedroom. Her fingers move swiftly as she twists yarn around her favorite G needle.

Six months ago, she broke her hand. Her first thought: I won't be able to crochet.

The injury slowed her down, she admits.

"But it didn't stop me."

Colleen Jenkins can be reached at or (813) 226-3337.

Largo woman finds comfort in crocheting hats, blankets for anyone in need 12/31/10 [Last modified: Friday, December 31, 2010 8:44pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Lacking support, lobbying ordinance gets no hearing in Hernando

    Local Government

    BROOKSVILLE — A push to publicly identify people who lobby top county officials was rejected by a majority of the Hernando County Commission this week when commissioners decided to pull a proposed lobbying ordinance from the agenda.

    Commissioner Steve Champion said there was not a consensus to bring a lobbying ordinance forward so the item should not have been placed on the agenda.
  2. 80 books disappear from classroom that sheltered Irma evacuees


    DUNEDIN — When Martha Hereford-Cothron returned to her classroom at Dunedin Highland Middle School on Monday morning, her heart sank as her eyes scanned the room and landed on a white bookshelf, empty except for a broken DVD player and a thermal blanket.

    Gone from this shelf at Dunedin Highland Middle School were some 80 books and several board games in the classroom of teacher Martha Hereford-Cothron. The items disappeared after the classroom was used to shelter evacuees from Hurricane Irma. [Photo courtesy of Martha Hereford-Cothron]
  3. Lanes closed after pedestrian fatally struck by semi-tractor on U.S. 19 in Clearwater


    CLEARWATER — Southbound lanes on U.S. 19 were closed early Wednesday morning after a pedestrian was fatally struck by a semi-trailer.

  4. [National Hurricane Center]
  5. Manhattan Casino controversy resumes after taking a break for Irma

    Local Government

    ST. PETERSBURG — Mayor Rick Kriseman's administration has once again found itself defending its controversial choice of the Callaloo Group to open a "Floribbean" restaurant in the historic but currently empty Manhattan Casino.