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It’s a yarn good hobby

Sacred Heart woman has been making lots of sweaters for decades

By Scott Thoma

Some women enjoy shopping for clothes or purses or jewelry. Sharon Hagford would rather shop for yarn.

Hagford, who lives in Sacred Heart with her husband, Wayne, is a regular knitting machine, having assembled around 400 sweaters since she first learned how 70 years ago.

Hagford holds up the first sweater she ever knitted many years ago. Photo by Scott Thoma

“I still have the first sweater I ever made,” she said, proudly, before going into her bedroom to retrieve the gray sweater with a red stripe. “It still looks as good as the day I made it. I use yarn to tie off my sweaters instead of thread so they don’t come apart and will last a long time.”

Hagford has become so engrossed in her knitting and crocheting that she sheepishly admitted that many people in Sacred Heart hardly knew who she was until recently.

“We’ve lived her for four and a half years and everyone knows my husband (Wayne), but hardly anyone knew me because I was always in the house knitting sweaters,” she said with a smile. “I just wasn’t going outside. So, I’ve started getting out more often and going out for coffee with the other ladies in town now. I’ve made some great friends here.”

During a coffee session one morning, one of the ladies admired the sweater Hagford was wearing.

“She saw the yellow sweater I was wearing and she said she really liked it because yellow was her favorite color,” Hagford recalled. “So, I went home and knitted a yellow sweater and gave it to her.”

Hagford, a native of the Twin Cities, was an elementary school aid for Lyndale Elementary for several years. While there, she knitted mittens for each of the kindergarten children each year as a Christmas gift.

The basement in the Hagford home has more skeins of yarns in an endless variety of colors than some stores carry. They are all neatly stored in tubs sitting on a large shelf.

“I figure there are over 300 skeins down there,” she said.

Hagford shows a few of the 400 sweaters she has knitted in her life. Photo by Scott Thoma

Hagford is also as proficient at crocheting as she is at knitting. She crocheted a set of beautiful curtains that hang in the Hagford’s living room, as well as many Afghans.

When her daughter, Tamara, was getting married, Hagford crocheted an elegant and stunning wedding dress that took three months to assemble.

“I didn’t have a pattern,” Hagford said. “I just started crocheting it and I kept going the way I thought it would look nice.”

The best part? These talents were basically self-taught.

“My mother showed me how to crochet a chain when I was 12 or 13,” Hagford said. “After I had crocheted about 30 or 40 feet of chain, I asked her ‘now what?’ and she said ‘I don’t know.’ That’s as far as she knew how to knit.”

Hagford eventually purchased a children’s book on crocheting and began the learning process.

“After that, I picked up a knitting book and I’ve been doing it ever since,” she said with a laugh.

She has given away or donated many of the sweaters to people in need, but she still has “around 40 or 50” in her home that she made for herself over the years.

“It takes me about five days to knit a sweater and I can knit three or four pairs of mittens in a night,” said Hagford.

Sharon Hagford works on the beginning stages of another sweater in her home in Sacred Heart. Photo by Scott Thoma

Hagford retired as an instructor of Sociology, Anthropology and Criminology at the University of Minnesota in 2003.

Sharon and Wayne have been married for 46 years and have four children, 10 grandchildren, and six great-grandchildren, all who are recipients of her knitting and crocheting prowess.

The Hagfords moved to Sacred Heart to be closer to their daughter, Amy, who lived in Willmar and was taking care of her husband who was battling cancer.

“We were looking for homes in the area, and when I saw this home in Sacred Heart that was painted lavender, I knew this was the home I wanted,” Hagford said.

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