This year, babies born on Valentine’s Day at Schneck Medical Center in Seymour will receive a gift made with love to commemorate their special birthdays.

Seymour teacher Angie Rennekamp and her longtime dance instructor friend, Tammy Lewis of Brownstown, have been busy crocheting tiny red and white hats and bonnets with hearts on them as a fun way to share their love of crocheting and to do something nice for someone.

The idea to make the hats got started after Rennekamp was diagnosed a year ago with hemochromatosis, a rare genetic disorder that results in too much iron in the body.

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She would have to go to the cancer center every two weeks to have a pint of blood taken out. It was during this process that she noticed cancer patients wearing “adorable” knit hats, she said.

Liking the hats so much, Rennekamp turned to Lewis, whom she knew crocheted.

“Tammy had crocheted a few things for (my daughter), so I asked her how she learned to crochet, and she said YouTube,” Rennekamp said.

That led Rennekamp to begin teaching herself how to crochet.

“I started out with doing a blanket,” she said.

She made blankets for her parents and both of her kids. Although the blankets were larger than the hats, they were easier to make because they used the same stitch, she said.

While at the Indiana University Cancer Center in Indianapolis for an appointment, Rennekamp saw a basket where people could donate hats for cancer patients, so she began making adult-sized hats.

She switched gears to children’s hats after she saw a “Today Show” video shared on Facebook where the American Heart Association and Children’s Heart Foundation were looking for volunteers to make little heart hats for babies born in February.

Rennekamp reached out through her own Facebook page to see if anyone wanted to join her in making the hats, and she would take them to the hospital.

Lewis saw the post, and the next time Rennekamp brought her daughter to dance practice, Lewis had some hats ready for her.

Some of the 50 hats they completed went to Riley Hospital for Children at Indiana University Health in Indianapolis for babies born with heart defects. Rennekamp also has given hats to families she knows that have had premature babies.

Rennekamp and Lewis agree crocheting the hats helps relax them, and it’s an activity they can do just about anywhere, whether it’s at home watching a Purdue basketball game, in a car traveling, while getting treatment or sitting at dance or taekwondo practices.

It takes Rennekamp around two hours to make the regular hats and just 30 minutes to make the smaller ones for preemies. Patterns for the hats are available free online.

The duo plan on donating red heart hats to hospitals every February and are crocheting more baby hats throughout the year in pink and blue. Rennekamp also is working on adult hats for cancer patients.

“It’s just a wonderful keepsake for the parents to have,” Rennekamp said of the baby hats.

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January Rutherford is a reporter for The (Seymour) Tribune. She can be reached at jrutherford@tribtown.com or 812-523-7069.