Steve Stoner/Loveland Reporter-Herald
LOVELAND (AP) – Known as the “Capman,” Robert Schmidt of Loveland knits to give.
On Sept. 11, Robert and his wife, Dorey Schmidt, dropped off at the Angel House more than 100 knitted caps, his first large donation in the Loveland community. The Schmidts moved in March from Lubbock, Texas, where he donated his caps to children’s homes and hospitals, and now are looking for new places to donate.
“It’s something to do with your hands,” Robert, 86, said when asked why he knits.
Through his knitting ministry, Robert thinks of the infants and children who will receive his caps, which are stretchy enough to fit some adults, said Dorey, 80.
“He’s not a person who verbally expresses himself easily,” said Dorey, who knitted when she was younger but now does painting and mixed-media work. “With the knitting, he thinks about these kids. He has a great big soft spot in his great big heart. He’s a real philanthropist.”
Robert, who also does woodworking, plans to donate his caps to nonprofits and hospitals in the area, once he and Dorey identify a few agencies, Dorey said.
The Angel House was their first pick because of the number of children the agency serves.
“I think the kids will love them,” said Rebecca Brace, program manager at the Angel House, about the five bags of caps Robert knitted in a rainbow of colors. “This is great, especially with the cold weather coming up.”
The Angel House will distribute the caps to the families living in rotation, who have access to the agency’s day center and stay in host churches at night, and transitional housing. The leftover caps will be given to the House of Neighborly Service a block away, Brace said.
“There’s never a problem getting rid of the caps,” Dorey said. “Being elderly, it’s been hard to find ways to give back. This way, he can continue to reach out.”
Robert started knitting six years ago when he sat in on a Texas church group of 14 or 15 women knitting prayer shawls.
One of the women asked Robert if he wanted to try knitting, using a circular loom. He did and learned in one or two sessions, Dorey said.
“It’s all their fault,” she said.
Robert knitted shawls for his three daughters and daughter-in-law, and caps and scarves for the men in his family, including his son. The shawls proved too bulky, so Robert chose making the caps instead – he’s made 2,452 or 2,453 so far.
Each year, Robert makes 800 or so caps, using a 42-peg loom. He can make a cap in three hours and spends, on average, four hours a day knitting.
Most of Robert’s yarn is donated or comes from garage sales.
“I’m really proud of him for finding his own purpose,” Dorey said.
Robert farmed for 30 years, then worked in building maintenance for 15 years before retiring and starting a ranch, all in Texas. Dorey was a creative writing professor for 27 years and now is a freelance writer.
“We’ve always been interested in making things,” Dorey said. “We have a pretty strong work ethic. For us, this work is fun.”