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Mission to make ear protectors

By Katie Collins


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A ball of yarn with a hook that’s being used to crochet the pictured ear protector by Nicole Ree. Lifestyles photo by Katie Collins.

HAWLEY - Using countless skeins of yarn with numerous hooks, Nicole Ree has crocheted many hats, blankets and more through the years.

Inspired by Nana

Since Ree was inspired by her Nana years ago, and saw a video online, she has gone on to crochet items for causes she cares about in her community and beyond.

Today, Ree recalls watching her Nana crochet neon orange hats for hunters that she would donate and from that memory, her journey of crocheting for the community began five years ago.

The beginning

It took Ree months to crochet her first hat, which she calls “wonky” because it was oddly shaped. That didn’t stop her however, since she went on to donate 20 hats to Wayne Memorial Hospital and soon after, 50 more hats and gradually she continued to crochet and give them since “they’re not wonky” anymore.

Mission begins for ear protectors

Now, Ree is on a mission to crochet ear protectors for the students, teachers and staff in the Wallenpaupack School District. Since most people will be wearing masks because of Covid-19, the protectors cover the elastic then goes around buttons and the back of the head.

Ree learned how to make the ear protectors after seeing a photo online and from there, she determined that there are 15 stitches per ear protector with four rows. Making the ear protectors are “fun” she says, because she is crocheting and is able to do something that’s easy and she enjoys doing. All total, it takes Ree about five minutes to crochet one protector. Each ear protector is made of cotton and from one skein of yarn, Ree figures she can make 12 protectors.

Excited about buttons

Buttons, Ree calls “gold” because she needs thousands, since just 150 buttons cost $30. With the need for buttons being so huge, friends are giving them because Ree says she is in “desperate need” since there’s a demand for the protectors. For faculty alone, Ree expects to make thousands of protectors, but her need for buttons has posed a challenge. Ree laughs when she says, she’d never imagined being excited about buttons.

To make 1,000 protectors, about 1,600 buttons are needed, but Ree’s challenge is finding the same colored nickel sized buttons, because she doesn't want people to look “weird” with “two-tone buttons” she says.

Sitting in her home with her skeins of yarn nearby, Nicole Ree demonstrates how to crochet an ear protector that she is making and intends on giving to the faculty, staff and students of the Wallenpaupack School District. Lifestyles photo by Katie Collins.

Never imagined

Ree has been crocheting the ear protectors for two months now, because she thought people might want them. She never imagined however, that she would crochet them for the entire school district that her son will be going into this year.

Prior to starting this mission, Ree was in the process of crocheting afghans for each resident of a nursing home in the region. With that, she says, “I’m never bored,” although the golden buttons are always an issue.

The joy of crocheting

Ree says she crochets for the many causes because there is a need for the items and she enjoys doing it since she sits at home and crochets for others who can’t and it's her way of “giving back.”

Since moving to the region from New Jersey, Ree said she became community minded because she likes making people smile and she anticipates her son will become interested in crocheting once he’s older because he has made friendship bracelets.

Despite making the ear protectors for the school district, Ree has made many others and yet, it doesn’t take every minute of her day.

Golden buttons

One of the thousands of cotton ear protectors Nicole Ree has made for faculty, staff and students of the Wallenpaupack School District. Lifestyles photo by Katie Collins.

A skein of yarn costs $1.00, but the cost of buttons is “horrific” because “they’re gold” Ree says. Ree has received buttons from friends and family because she’ll accept them from “anywhere I can.”

Since her search for buttons has continued, Ree has turned to community Facebook pages and some people have given her some. She laughs and says, “I never thought I’d be excited about buttons.”

Although she will crochet the ear protectors for anyone who asks for free, people do need to pay for shipping because there have been so many requests. Ree has appreciated the feedback and gratefulness she has received from people who have gotten the ear protectors.

Distraction from COVID-19

Crocheting has helped Ree stay focused on something during the pandemic and overlook much of the negativity online. Personally, Ree was affected when her husband was unable to work since the restaurant he cooks at was closed.

Anyone can crochet

Crocheting is something anyone can do Ree says, and she hopes younger people will start because it's easy. She suggests just watching a few videos online since there’s many tutorials.

Always, Ree is looking and accepting buttons and cotton yarn too. To learn more about Ree’s mission of crocheting the ear protectors for the district, she can be found on Facebook.

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