A Labor of Love

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Linis Rozema
Linis Rozema of Hermiston knits about 300 caps a year for newborns. This batch will go to Good Shepherd Medical Center. She's just about to get started on a batch of 100 for Doernbecher Children's Hospital in Portland.
PHOTO BY STEVE MEYERS

[quote style=”2″]Hermiston Woman Devotes Her Time To Knitting Caps for Newborns[/quote]

As a little girl growing up in Stanfield, Linis Rozema resisted the efforts of her mother to teach her to sew. And while she did learn to cook, Rozema found any kind of needlework a bore.

“My mom did a lot of sewing for us – clothes, dresses,” Rozema said. “She tried to get me to sew but I wasn’t interested.”

It’s ironic, then, that Rozema spends a good deal of her time these days knitting hundreds of caps a year for newborns at Good Shepherd Medical Center and Doernbecher Children’s Hospital in Portland. It seems the ladies at the Irrigon Moose Lodge succeeded where her mother had failed. She was visiting the lodge in 2010 to hear her son play music there. The lodge ladies were knitting hats for local school children and Rozema thought it looked like fun so she began knitting hats for her family and friends.

“After a while, I ran out of family and friends to give them to,” she said. Rather than give up her new-found pastime, Rozema began looking around for new recipients and thought of Doernbecher Children’s Hospital. As young girl, Rozema was treated at the hospital for rickets, never forgot the care she received and decided to show her appreciation by knitting hats for young cancer patients.

“Then the P.R. lady told me they needed hats for newborns,” Rozema said. “And I’ve been doing that ever since.”

During a recent visit to her home in Hermiston, the 88-year-old Rozema had just finished up a batch of 25 caps for Good Shepherd.

“I’ve got to get busy on the 100 for Doernbecher’s,” she said. Twice a year – in the spring and the fall – Rozema sends off a batch of 100 for Doernbecher’s and four times a year she delivers 25 caps to Good Shepherd. It takes her about an hour to knit each cap and she usually limits herself to two caps a day, otherwise she’ll wear out her thumb.

For Rozema, providing caps for newborns is a labor of love. It’s time-consuming and painful at times, but always satisfying.

“It’s a lot of fun to realize they are going to be used,” she said. Although she buys her own yarn when she is out of a particular color, a neighbor donates yarn to her which keeps her inventory pretty well stocked.

Rozema is a woman who likes to keep busy. Years before she took up knitting caps for newborns, she worked as a fish counter at the McNary Dam. Seven months a year, Rozema counted every fish that passed through the dam. She was given a fish counter with a keypad that had different keys for the different fish. If a sockeye salmon swam by, she pressed the key for sockeyes. If a coho salmon or chad passed by, she had to press the particular key for that particular fish. It seems like a daunting task, but Rozema soon had it mastered to the point where she could converse with visitors at the dam while still keeping track of each variety of fish that passed through.

“Those were some fun years,” she said. “I really enjoyed it.” She got the job through a friend who was also a fish counter. But when she applied, her application was initially declined because she did not have a high school degree. Undeterred, Rozema set out to get her GED, which she did at the age of 63, and got the job – one she kept for 18 years.

“I never had to have a diploma to get a job before that,” she said. “But I really wanted that job.” She quit only when it became too difficult to climb the stairs to her work station.

Prior to her job at McNary Dam, Rozema worked at Good Shepherd when it was on Orchard Avenue. She also worked at Burnham’s Department Store in Hermiston and Zivney’s , a department store in Stanfield years and years ago. Zivney’s was located where the Elephant’s Trunk is now.

These days Rozema keeps busy knitting caps – a far cry from the young girl in Stanfield who had no interest in sewing, knitting or anything that had to do with needlework.

“I enjoy it now,” she said. “It’s been a good thing. Everyone needs to feel needed.”