Little Rock Volunteer Uses Love of Knitting to Give to UAMS Cancer Patients

By Linda Haymes

“I knew there was a need so I began by making 50 or more hats a year,” said Ferren, 54, a former elementary school teacher who is legally blind.

“A lot of knitting and crocheting is by feel,” she said. She taught herself to knit when she was about 9 or 10. An accident several years ago left her visually impaired and unable to continue working as a teacher.

“It was a hard, long recovery,” she said. For the first 10 years, she was regaining memory and relearning things.  “Some days, knitting and crocheting are all I can do.”

Linda House, administrative coordinator, and Margaret Syrgley, social worker with the UAMS Myeloma Center, sort the hats Ferren crafted and donated to the UAMS Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute.

Linda House, administrative coordinator, and Margaret Syrgley, social worker, sort some of the hats Ferren gave the UAMS  Cancer Institute.

Ferren originally made caps from knit fabric but when the material she used became more difficult to find, she began knitting and crocheting hats instead. She crafts both year-round and winter hats.

Last year, she set a goal of crocheting 100 hats.

“I reached my goal and recently gave about 80 of them to the UAMS Cancer Institute,” said the Little Rock resident.

Ferren and her husband, Don, who works as a computer programmer, moved to Little Rock from Searcy five years ago.

When she began making the caps, she shared them with cancer patients she happened to meet or learn of through others.

She was inspired to create the caps after something abnormal appeared on one of her mammograms years ago.

“I remember thinking, ‘If this really is cancer, how am I going to deal with this? How am I going to cope?’ Ferren said. “It turned out to be an infected cyst but it gave me a sense of thankfulness and I made a vow to begin making caps for cancer patients.”

At church she had met Margaret Syrgley a social worker. She discovered Syrgley works at the UAMS Myeloma Center and knew of patients who could use her handcrafted hats.

“I was so happy to be able to share them with UAMS patients,” Ferren said. “The institute is amazing; treating and curing cancer is its entire focus. The kind of help it offers patients, from treatment to support groups, is huge. When I was recovering from my accident, I reached out to support groups and it made a big difference.”

Ferren’s goal is to continue making 50 to 100 caps a year and sharing them with Cancer Institute patients. “It’s my way of being able to do a little something to help.”