Tuesday, October 3, 2023
With sunlight shining into her living room, Jean Farr works on yet another pair of slippers to show her appreciation for American veterans.

Slippers for vets

Her hands and fingers may not be as nimble as they once were, but that doesn’t keep Jean Farr from doing something she loves to do in the coziness of her own living room for the comfort of others. 

With many balls of yarn in various colors at her side, the Blooming Prairie woman puts her hands to work crocheting yet another pair of slippers. It began as a hobby five years ago and has since grown into something greater. She spends hours after hours creating foot warmers for the benefit of others in need.

Farr donates the fruits of her labor to the VA Hospital in Minneapolis where they are given to veterans who are hospitalized or living in the nursing home. Since she took up crocheting, she has made more than 500 pairs of slippers and donated them all. Just last week, she had another bag of 40 slippers ready to be delivered to the VA.

Helping veterans leaves Farr with a warm feeling about her crocheted slippers. “They have done a lot of suffering for us,” she said of vets. “The least we can do is show some appreciation for them. It’s for a good cause and that’s the most important thing.”

Auxiliary president Joyce Johns is delighted with Farr’s commitment to making slippers for veterans. “It’s out of the goodness in her heart,” Johns said. “It’s pretty special.”

Johns said what makes it even more special is that the veterans know someone made the slippers for them. “It’s a little gift to them,” she said. 

Farr drops off the slippers with Johns, who then delivers them to Owatonna before they are taken to the VA. 

“We’re just trying to give back to the veterans for their service to our country,” Johns said. “It’s just a little bit we can do to say thank you,” she added. 

Patience and time

Besides a scissors, yarn and crochet needle, Farr says a little patience and time are needed to create the slippers. 

After learning through the local Auxiliary that the VA was searching for slippers, Farr didn’t waste time in fulfilling the need. One of her daughters helped her find a slipper pattern and the slippers began piling up in her apartment in no time. 

Designing slippers has never been difficult for Farr. Surprisingly, she doesn’t get them done by reading instructions at all, but rather she learns by looking at the patterns. 

“It’s really very simple. It’s easy for me because I’ve been doing it for so long,” Farr said of crocheting slippers. “They go pretty fast,” she said, adding a pair takes a couple hours to create. 

Once she’s done crocheting the slipper, she uses a sewing machine to add gripper material on the bottom to prevent sliding. 

She has crocheted miles of yarn over the years and relies on other people to donate the yarn for her to use. But Farr also buys some of her own yarn from time to time only “because sometimes I want a certain color.” 

The slipper lady makes every color imaginable. “They probably think sometimes, ‘What was that woman thinking when she made them?’” Farr said. 

Asked about her madness with color schemes, she replied: “I just look at what goes good together.” 

Farr is thankful for the generosity of others in donating yarn. “I wouldn’t have been able to make as many slippers as I have without the yarn being donated,” she said. 

If there are ever any leftovers from her balls of yarn, Farr donates them to churches for quilts. “It all gets used,” she quickly pointed out.

A litte suffering

The art of crocheting has its drawbacks as Farr blames it on leading to carpal tunnel in her hands. But she is determined to keep going.

“I just suffer through it,” Farr said as she crocheted yet another pair of slippers. “It comes from holding your hands in a certain position. It’s like your hands go to sleep, but it really only bothers me at night.”

Even though surgery would likely cure Farr’s carpal tunnel, she’s not lining up at the doctor any time soon. “I know people who have had surgery and it didn’t do them any good,” she says, adding she rather just deal with it for now.

Despite the onset of carpal tunnel, she keeps a good sense of humor and finds that the crocheting has helped her physically in other ways. “It keeps your fingers timber and keeps Arthur away,” she said, referring to arthritis. 

Winter pastime

Crocheting has become her favorite pastime during the winter months. “There isn’t much to do in the winter time in Minnesota,” she confesses. She takes a break from it all during the summer months. 

She spends much of the day utilizing the sunlight beaming into her living room to crochet. “Natural light is easier on the eyes. It doesn’t put as much strain on your eyes,” Farr said. 

While her days are mostly consumed with crocheting, she takes some breaks for morning coffee and lunch and other activities at the nearby senior center. “Quitting time is 4 o’clock,” she said. 

“It’s just very relaxing for me,” Farr said. “The time goes fast when I’m crocheting,” she added. 

However, she admits, there are some days when she doesn’t do any crocheting. “There are days that I just want to sit,” Farr said. “I do take a day off now and then.”

The irony of Farr’s passion to crochet slippers is that she has never kept a pair for herself let alone even tried on a pair. Chuckling at that thought, she said, “I hope others are getting good use out of them.”

At 80 years old, Farr doesn’t foresee her crocheting stopping any time soon. 

“As long as the good Lord lets me, I plan to keep on crocheting,” she said. “It’s very much rewarding to be able to do this.”

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