Knitted with love
90-year-old Junction woman spends days knitting blankets for babies
Knit one. Purl one. Slip two. Sea-foam green yarn slides around Maudie Felton’s fingers, transforming into a snuggly blanket for a baby.
A baby who will be 90 or more years younger than Felton, a baby who likely will never meet Felton, but who was thought of from afar as Felton’s knitting needles moved back and forth and a blanket flowed into her lap.
It’s often quiet in Felton’s living room, except for the whisper and hum of the oxygen machine and the voices of friends who stop by occasionally to check on her.
She sits on her couch, which is covered in an afghan she crocheted, and she knits. The sunlight cheerfully drifts through the sheer living room curtains and over Felton’s shoulders and plays over the faces of several finely dressed tassel dolls in a nearby cabinet.
“I just do it to fill time,” says the 90-year-old Felton.
Sometimes she turns on the TV while she knits. She likes game shows.
“I don’t care for all those sitcoms and modern stuff,” she says.
She long ago lost count of the number of baby blankets she has made and donated or given away as gifts. Maybe she started donating them in 1986? Or earlier? She doesn’t recall.
“I’ve always done it,” she says.
She started knitting and crocheting when “I was just a kid. My mother did it,” she says.
Felton grew up in Kremmling and her husband’s folks lived in Cedaredge, and they spent much of their married life in Grand Junction and Denver. Felton’s husband died a number of years ago, and their two daughters live in Denver. They don’t knit.
“They don’t do none of that,” Felton says. “They’re into computers and all that stuff.”
Felton prefers books and yarn and blanket patterns. It’s easier for her to read a pattern than a book these days.
“I have double vision a lot of the time,” she says.
The oxygen helps — she’s had two heart attacks. But she’s an independent woman with plenty of spark behind her blue eyes.
She’s working on the “Growing Beautiful Blanket” from Mary Maxim Inc. It’s one of Felton’s favorite patterns, and the creases have worn thin. “I just had to tape it back together the other day,” she says.
She has plenty of patterns and she uses “whatever yarn I have,” but the softer, lighter-weight baby yarn is easier for her to manage.
People who know what she’s up to give her yarn from time to time, and if she has something particular in mind for a blanket, she orders the yarn.
“She whips them out quickly,” says Melinda Merrell, one of Felton’s neighbors. “She usually just calls me when she’s got some ready.”
Then Merrell delivers Felton’s baby blankets, seven or so at a time, to The Crisis Pregnancy Center or HopeWest.
“Now, you can keep whatever ones you want,” Felton always tells Merrell. So Merrell has given a few blankets as gifts to those who would love them, and she has kept a few for future grandchildren.
The blankets are “pieces of art,” Merrell says. “Her stitching is just amazing.”
While Felton mostly makes baby blankets these days, through the years she has crocheted doll clothes “that are just so intricate,” Merrell says.
Felton has made christening gowns and delicate doilies, the kind you starch, Merrell says.
She has made tiny hats for preemies and used to donate them to St. Mary’s Hospital.
About 20 or so years ago, Felton says she got a call from a friend: “Hey! Did you see your hats in the paper?” Sure enough, there was a picture of triplets in the paper, each wearing one of Felton’s hats. She would recognize her hats anywhere.
Felton doesn’t put her name on her blankets. She could, but she doesn’t. No particular reason. She just likes to knit and to give.
“Every day, that’s my company,” she says.
Slip two. Knit one. But Felton’s the pearl.