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She puts her skills to good use for others

January 25, 2007|by MARLO BARNHART

Sitting in her favorite chair with the afternoon sun streaming over her shoulder, Doris Dillon talked about her love for knitting as she put the finishing rows onto a soft violet-colored sweater for herself.

"My grandmother said I needed to know these things," Doris said. "So she started me before I went to school."

Now 85, Doris isn't about to let all her skills go to waste so she keeps her fingers nimble and busy most of the time.

Before Christmas, Doris heard of a project called Caps to the Capital, a knitting and crocheting endeavor designed to benefit newborns in parts of the world where infants often die soon after they're born.

Caps based on an available pattern were solicited by Save The Children and Warm Up, America. "I either saw it in the newspaper or on my computer," Doris said.

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Initially, Doris knitted 125 caps and then took them to Y2Knit in Funkstown, where Sue Wolcott was gathering them for shipment from this area to Washington, D.C.

"I noticed one cap had fallen out when I got home," Doris said. "So I did another 25."

Doris found she could complete five caps in one day. But why would she want to do that, one might ask. Her answer is simple.

"I have the skill, I have the time, I have the yarn so why not?" she said.

Doris said she has two rooms in her house devoted just to yarn. "I find yarn on sale and I buy it," she said.

Her daughter, Marjorie Coffin, works for the U.S. Department of State in Washington, D.C. In her daughter's travels for her job with the foreign service, she has bought yarn for her mother in many parts of the world.

"I got a shipment from Mexico just before Christmas," Doris said.

Another benefit for Doris is her ability to travel to places such as Japan, Guatemala, Spain, Turkey, El Salvador and Mexico to be with her daughter on assignments.

"I've gotten to visit wherever she has served," Doris said.

Born and raised in Hagerstown, Doris was first married to Jeff Coffin. Her second husband, Howard Dillon, died in 1976.

"I'm a retired schoolteacher," Doris said, noting she put in 34 years in middle school classrooms in Washington County, Texas, New Jersey, Germany and Washington State.

In addition to contributing to the Caps to the Capital project, Doris makes caps and mitten sets for Head Start in Washington County. "I already have 15 sets done," she said.

Caps and booties go to Washington County Hospital, the Washington County Health Department and The Salvation Army.

She makes afghans and sweaters for herself and for others from time to time.

And she adds to her large collection of finger puppets she has made over the years for children having blood work done at the hospital.

"I always have a lot of projects and lots of leftover yarn so I do the puppets," Doris said. "It keeps me centered."

This holiday season, Doris experimented with a circular Christmas tree pattern and ended up knitting six of them.

Now each year, she will add an ornament to each tree from somewhere in the world.

Keeping busy with something she's good at is all about attitude and Doris says that philosophy has kept her active and happy.

"My motto is T.C.O.D. - take care of Doris," she said.

The fact that she takes care of so many others in the meantime is just icing on the cake for this active senior.

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