If you saw a woman knitting last year while out in a restaurant—or while boating, or on a bus, or in a doctor’s office—it was probably Judi Rogato. She had her needles in her hands everywhere she went, even on a Caribbean cruise.
“Who knits a hat on a cruise in the Caribbean?” Judi says with a laugh. “Me!”
Judi’s goal at first was to create 25 hats to sell for $25 apiece to raise money for Patrick’s Pub Mania and her team, The Diving Ducks, to benefit the 2018 Greater Lakes Region Children’s Auction. Judi got carried away, though. She made and sold 169 hats, raising $4,225.
“It was a great conversation starter,” Judi says, noting that in addition to raising dollars for Pub Mania and the Children’s Auction, she also inadvertently raised awareness. “People would ask ‘What are you making?’ It gave me so much pride to tell them what I was doing, and a lot of people learned about Pub Mania and the Children’s Auction through me.”
Children’s Auction Coordinator Jennifer Kelley says that Judi offers people in the community a great example of what one individual can do to benefit the auction, which provides grants to children and families in need.
“The amount of heart and soul in this community is unbelievable,” says Jennifer. “The Children’s Auction and Pub Mania have brought out so many people like Judi who have huge hearts and worked so hard for this cause. It’s great for people to think of their own unique ways to contribute, and they inspire others to do the same.”
Last year at this time, Judi had taken part in Pub Mania on The Diving Ducks team with other members from the Winnipesaukee Yacht Club for the fourth time. She hadn’t done much in the way of fundraising, making a donation herself instead. She wanted the fifth year to be more remarkable.
“I wanted to do more,” she says. “I wanted to give more. It’s such a good cause.”
So, Judi began brainstorming. Her 29-year-old daughter Jenna suggested she use her knitting talent to make and sell hats.
“I said, ‘I bet I could make 25 hats and sell them. I’ll donate my time and the yarn,’” Judi recalls.
She started selling the hats through word-of-mouth to friends at the yacht club and at a few club functions. “All of a sudden, I started getting orders and had to make up order forms,” she says. “One person ordered 11 for Christmas gifts.”
As the orders came in, Judi got nervous about whether or not she could keep up. She began knitting in every free moment—no matter where she was.
Judi ordered tags that she sewed into each hat. They read, “Handknit by Judi. Pub Mania/Diving Ducks.” She worked with nearly 60 different colors of yarn, making two styles of hat: a cabled hat that takes about five-and-a-half hours to make and a more lightweight, striped hat that takes less time. The hats come in three sizes and can be custom-ordered, with optional pom-poms.
“I absolutely loved it,” Judi says of her fundraising project. “I did get stressed sometimes, like when I had 15 orders to do. I loved when people would send photos of their children and grandchildren wearing the hats I made.”
“I am so proud of what I was able to do, and I am so thankful that so many people supported the effort and bought hats,” Judi says, noting that when she tallied the total amount she’d raised, she was a bit shocked.
Members of the yacht club were also impressed. They presented Judi with the first-ever Diving Ducks team award: a plaque with a pair of knitting needles on it.
Even with 2018’s Pub Mania behind her, Judi hasn’t slowed down.
“I haven’t stopped knitting,” she says. “I can’t stop! I’ve already started working toward next year’s goal!”