Carbondale’s Martha Rabe sends newborns home from Valley View in style

Martha Rabe puts a new set of hand knitted baby hats into bags which she will deliver to the birthing center at Valley View Hospital.
Chelsea Self / Glenwood Springs Post Independent

Thanks to Carbondale resident Martha Rabe, newborns at Valley View Hospital rarely go home empty headed. Since 2012, Rabe has knitted more than 2,500 pink and blue colored beanies for the hospital’s newborns.

“When there’s a newborn baby’s picture up at Valley View, he or she usually has one of my hats on,” she said. “The only trouble is keeping up with the demand.”

Valley View Family Birthplace Director Michele Zywiec said the hospital gets around 60 to 70 births each month, for an average of around 700 a year. Rabe knits at least one hat each day.

It usually takes her about three hours to knit a beanie, each one with its own unique design.

“I’m not as fast as I used to be,” Rabe admitted. “You need to knit the hat in such a way that there are no seams on it. Newborn heads don’t like those seams — you want it nice and smooth all the way around.”

After moving to the Roaring Fork Valley in 2012 from Colorado Springs, Rabe has kept busy with a variety of volunteer efforts.

Every Tuesday, she leads the Threads of Love knitting group. Each month, she turns in around three dozen beanies to the hospital herself.

Expecting mothers and new parents will often go over to the group in the hospital just to say thanks.

She once had a pregnant mother seek her out to ensure she would have a beanie for her newborn to match her two other children. She’s sent beanies to England, Canada, Singapore and all over the country.

“Whenever someone tells me they are going to have a baby, I knit them a hat,” Rabe said.

Rabe already has two bags full of recently knitted hats that she will soon turn into the hospital.

“It’s been a busy January,” Zywiec said. “The patients are extremely grateful.”

The Threads of Love group meets every Tuesday at 2 p.m. at the Valley View Café. Newcomers are welcome to attend and all supplies are provided.

“We’re happy to help people learn how to knit,” Rabe said.

In addition to knitting beanies for newborns, the group also makes prayer shawls for patients of the Calaway-Young Cancer Center.