Rebecca Ching’s third-grade class pose with their new hats, handmade by Oak Harbor’s Dorothy Bell. Photo provided by Rebecca Ching

Neighborhood knitter makes hats for classroom

Winter is coming, but, thanks to a local knitter, Mrs. Ching’s third-grade class is well prepared.

Dorothy Bell, 84, has knitted hats for Rebecca Ching’s entire class for the past three years.

Bell met Ching at their neighborhood pool, where the two swim twice a day during the summer. They have been friends for around 10 years, according to Ching.

One day, Bell said the teacher lamented about the fact that some kids in her class didn’t have hats when the weather started to change. Bell has been knitting since she was about 6 years old and decided then to make one for all 30 kids in Ching’s class.

“Some of my friends think I can knit in my sleep,” Bell said.

This year, as they are every year, the kids were ecstatic when the hats arrived in October, Ching said.

Bell said she always makes extra, so even the last kid in line still gets a choice, and no two hats look the same.

“That’s the fun of it,” said Bell.

Originally from England, Bell has lived in Oak Harbor since 1978. She learned to knit in school in England and has put the skill to good use over the years. She’s made clothes for Native American children, hats for people with cancer and even blankets for the cats at WAIF.

Over the years Bell has worn a variety of hats herself. She has worked as a cook, made circuit boards at Technical Services Inc. and became a master gardener.

Ching said she appreciates Bell’s broad variety of experiences and knowledge.

“It’s really neat to have somebody come in that can give me advice,” she said.

Ching said she values Bell’s generosity with her time, energy and resources. ”I just think it’s amazing that she’s always giving; you don’t meet a lot of people like that.”

Bell also never shies away from adventure. She celebrated her 81st birthday by jumping out of an airplane and said she’d like to do it again.

“I think I’m here forever,” said Bell. “If you can go jumping out of airplanes at 81, I don’t know what else you can do. I’m looking for the next thing to do.”

She doesn’t plan on ever stopping making hats for students either.

“I just love doing it,” she said. “And I’ll keep doing it for as long as there’s children.”

Dorothy Bell knitted hats for an entire class at Crescent Harbor Elementary. In front of her are the hats she’s already started for next year’s class. Photo by Laura Guido/Whidbey News-Times

Dorothy Bell works on a scarf she is knitting. Bell used her skills to knit hats for an entire third-grade class at Crescent Harbor Elementary. Photo by Laura Guido/Whidbey News-Times

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