Nov. 23—WORTHINGTON — Two boxes filled with stockings made of rich burgundy velvet lined with white satin are stored in the sewing room at Joyce Soderholm's Worthington home, waiting to be delivered to Sanford Worthington Medical Center.
The stockings — 50 in all — were made by Soderholm over the course of the past seven months as a gift to the hospital's labor and delivery unit. They will be sent home with families of newborns during the month of December. Any extra will carry over to next December, Soderholm said.
A member of the hospital auxiliary, Soderholm had the idea to make the stockings after seeing a similar project done by volunteers at Sanford in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, last December. That story aired on KELO-TV.
"I thought, 'Oh, I could do that,'" Soderholm recalled. "I was born on Dec. 19 and I was brought home in a stocking that the Luverne hospital made — just a few years ago."
Soderholm grew up learning from her mother the importance of giving back, and it's something she's strived to do throughout her life. That her mom died in December made doing a December-long donation program a good way to honor her memory.
Soderholm was able to get not only the stocking pattern from the auxiliary in Sioux Falls, but one of the stockings as well. When she discovered she couldn't buy the velvet or satin locally, she made a trip to Sioux Falls in May to buy the fabrics.
The "spendy" velvet was purchased with a donation from the Worthington hospital auxiliary, and Soderholm opted to work alone from the comfort of her sewing room.
"I thought 50 would be a good number," she said.
The stockings are 14 inches long, and when the fabric cutters heard about her project, they offered to cut the velvet yardage into 50 much more manageable pieces of fabric — and gave her a discount to boot.
To keep her project from becoming too overwhelming, Soderholm said she decided to do one step at a time — starting with cutting out the 50 pieces of satin lining, and then the velvet into the pattern's shape.
"That was even more fun because velvet likes to shed," she said, all seriousness aside. "It reminded me of the no-see-ums (tiny biting flies) that we had this summer. I was filled with these red no-see-ums and they followed me all through the house."
Always one to alter a pattern — or a recipe — Soderholm said the original design had the word "Noel" on the front lapel. She decided instead to have them say 2022, so instead of four different letters, she had stacks of 2's and 0's to cut out of red and green felt to adorn the stockings.
"During spring field work, I brought my card table out to the living room and I could watch TV and cut out the 2022 numbers," she said. "I made goals — by July 1 I'd have this done, and Aug. 1 I'd have this done. Then 4-H judging came and that was about all I could manage for about six weeks."
On dedicated sewing days, she'd work at her machine from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., and had food in the crock pot to avoid stopping to make lunch.
Soderholm's goal was to complete the stockings by Nov. 1, but when she tried to spend her Sunday afternoons making them during the Vikings game, she realized rather quickly it wasn't going to work.
An extremely loyal Vikings fan, she'd get too caught up in the game and then have to rip out her work.
"I decided Sundays were off," she said.
Still, she finished all 50 stockings on Nov. 4 — just a few days off of her goal. She has the 2022 year attached to about 38 of the stockings, and the pre-cut numbers — additional 2's and some 3's — ready to either be added this December or prep for next year.
While there may be some left over for December 2023, Soderholm said this was likely a one and done project. She figures she spent about 100 hours on the project, and there were days where it became too much.
"Towards the end, it was like, 'How am I ever going to finish these?'" she shared. "I had 10 to go; the others were all done. I decided to put the Christmas music on and that really helped."
Now that the stockings are complete and ready to be delivered to the hospital, Soderholm said it makes her feel good that she's helping others.
Each stocking has a label attached on the back: "Made with Love from Worthington Hospital Auxiliary."