At 80 years young, Rita Whitlock finds plenty of ways to keep herself busy. Rita has lived in Colorado Springs for 42 years and has always been active in the community. She was a Silver Key volunteer for many years and is always looking for ways to serve her neighbors, friends and family. She lost her husband 2 years ago and remains very active.
Rita bowls once a week, gardens in the summer months and these days she crochets hats for chemotherapy patients at UCHealth Memorial. You see while she paces herself through her daily activities and takes breaks, she’s never been one to just sit around and for now yarn and a crochet hook are her constant companions when she spends time in her basement, she now calls her woman cave.
"It's just automatic I wake up in the morning, go upstairs make a coffee come down here and sit down. There Is usually something here I can work on as I'm watching the news and I pick it up and just start going. I like to knit, but crocheting is faster when you're doing something like this. This I can do practically with my eyes closed."
When you average 2 hats a day, coming up with different colors and designs can be a little challenging at times for Rita.
"I use every bit of my yarn. It's a challenge and then I look down in my basket and think what am I going to mix with what? If I pick up yarn and I start a hat and I don't like the looks of it, I just take it apart and start over. My great granddaughter is 11 years old, and she says ‘nana, you can mix this with this or this with this’, I have made her so many hats it's not funny."
Crocheting hats at Rita’s pace might seems daunting, but she always finds ways to keep it interesting.
"I have 2 or 3 hats going at the same time because I get tired of working with the colors, so I pick up a different color hat and start working with it and I come back to the other one. Automatically when I sit in this chair it (the hat) says pick me up. I if were a smoker i would be a chain smoker.
Her addiction to crocheting these hats has produced no small amount for patients at UCHealth Memorial who can always use something to brighten their day.
"I have made 375 hats so far since April, sometimes I have to stop for a day or two because it gets my shoulder but I just enjoy doing it. I make things for the neighbors, I just enjoy giving. It makes people feel good. I’m always making something, that's what keeps me young"
Rita is always looking for more yarn. Bronco Blue and Orange are very popular colors she says. If you would like to donate yarn for Rita to crochet into hats for hospital patients you can drop it at the UCHealth Memorial Foundation across from the hospital on Boulder. You can also drop it at her daughter's salon, Image By Design on Wasatch in Colorado Springs.