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Woman who knits baby hats celebrates milestone birthday

Vesta Kerns celebrated her 99th birthday Tuesday afternoon at Birchaven Village Apartments. She has knitted more than 100 newborn hats this past year, even though she has lost the majority of her eyesight due to macular degeneration. Pioneer Photo/Monte Draper

There was no goal set, but for Vesta Kerns knitting 100 stocking hats this year for newborns was a huge accomplishment. So on Tuesday, it was a dual celebration as friends gathered to celebrate her 99th birthday at Birchaven Village Apartments.

Vesta has been knitting for more than 20 years. Ten years ago, she moved into Birchaven because of her eyesight; she has macular degeneration. Though she has lost most of her eyesight, it has not prevented her from knitting.

Since the move to Birchaven, her production has increased. She donates the infant hats to the North Country Regional Hospital, First Lutheran Church and the Bi-County Community Action Program.

"I started with a pattern but it was too small. I stretched it out to make them larger so in a way, it's my pattern," Kerns said. "People ask to sell them but I won't; just give me more yarn that's good enough."

Kerns said she has tried other knitting projects, as well.

"I made some scarfs and booties last year, but the scarfs are boring and it's rather tricky to make booties when you can't see," she said.

Kerns shows no favoritism; she is an equal opportunity knitter and makes the same amount of hats for boys and girls.

She admits she makes mistakes, but those can be re-done. She does get nervous when her yarn supplies get low but her daughter always comes through.

"It's good to keep the fingers busy," she said.