“I’ve always enjoyed knitting and it’s something I can do to help somebody else,” said Riley.
Each of the caps that Riley knits is unique. If she makes solid colors caps, they are knit in different patterns. She may mix in stripes of other colors of yarn left over from other projects.
“I do not intentionally make any two alike,” said Riley. “I do different stitches. I try to make every one different.”
It takes Riley anywhere from a half-hour to a little more than two hours to make a cap, depending on the complexity of the pattern.
“I have my pattern in my fingers I’ve made so many,” said Riley. She makes one size for women, and another for men, using very soft, synthetic yarns. Riley has allergies of her own, which makes her thoughtful about the materials she uses in her creations for others.
A few years ago, Riley also started making hats for Man4Man Ministries, a rehabilitation agency for ex-offenders in Anderson.
“They’ve had people come in with nothing,” said Riley. The hats are set out at the facility. “If the fellow needs it, he takes it.”
“Carolyn’s a special lady,” said Jeffrey Dowers, of Man4 Man. “We deal with a lot men who are homeless, transient, have very little resources …. It makes a huge impact on their comfort. And knowing they’re homemade – that adds a little warmth, too …. The guys wear them all winter.”
Riley knitted her way through life. That included earning degrees at Ball State University, having a career as a teacher in Indianapolis, and raising three kids. Riley and her husband moved to Anderson in 2000.
The pair are actively involved In First Friends Church, helping out with the food pantry there for more than 10 years. The couple was honored for all their charitable service with the Golden Hoosier award in 2012.
Riley is self-effacing about her charitable endeavors. “Those of us who do it think ‘So what?’” For those gifted with the token of love and care from a stranger, however, it’s priceless.
Like Nancy Elliott on Facebook and follow her on Twitter @ NancyElliott_HB, or call 640-4805.