Jean Harriman knit and sent ‘ear savers’ to nurses at Mount Sinai hospital in New York City, N.Y. The ear savers, which help keep face masks bands from chafing one’s ears, were much appreciated by the hospital staff who were in the midst of fighting the COVID-19 pandemic. They sent Harriman a letter, yarn, a stuffed heart and tote bag as a token of thanks.


Photo Courtesy of Dorothy Rudoll

When Jean Harriman saw the news last November of health care workers at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York, N.Y., working hard to fight the COVID-19 pandemic and treat patients, she thought there must be some way she could help them.

So in November 2020, she started knitting “ear savers,” small, knit bands with two buttons for face mask ear loops to hook onto behind the head, reducing pressure and chafing on a person’s ears. She made 91 for the staff at Meadowbrook, where she resides, 20 for staff at Mayo Hospital in Barron, and she sent 50 to a nurse at Mount Sinai.

“I watched on TV, the wonderful work you do, so I decided to make 50 of them for your hospital,” Harriman wrote in a letter she sent along with the ear savers.

She didn’t expect to hear back, but then she received a package from New York. The package contained a thank you note from the Mount Sinai nurses, yarn, a tote bag and a stuffed heart as toekns of appreciation of her ear savers. They were a hit among the nurses.

Harriman said she was amazed at the thank you gifts and letter. She will have to write a thank you letter and make more ear savers to send to Mount Sinai. “When they gave me the yarn, that must be a hint,” she added.

She said it takes just a few hours do the six rows of knit stitch and attach the buttons.

Harriman enjoys knitting and has been doing so for many years. She has knit sweaters for all relatives and taught countless people how to knit.

She has made more than 70 hats to give to newborns at the Barron hospital. Her late sister, Sandra Henricksen, taught her how to make the hats. Henricksen made more than 500 hats for the hospital she lived near in Phoenix, Ariz.

Local residents and members of Chetek Lutheran Church have donated yarn and buttons to Harriman, and she plans to continue making ear savers and other things. “I really enjoy knitting,” she said.

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