November 12, 2003 | By: Laura Skillman
PADUCAH, Ky.

Kittie Metcalf has been sewing for years making clothes for her family, as well as knitting beautiful sweaters often used in fund-raising events. But she may be best known around McCracken County for her tireless efforts in making turbans for chemotherapy patients.

To date, Metcalf has made 2,525 turbans that are distributed to patients in the McCracken County area. She’s also made them for family and friends across the country and helped others begin to make them as well.

In late 1997, she was invited by a friend to go to English’s Sew and Vac in Paducah to learn to make turbans. That day, the group made 15.

“I thought I bet I can make 10 of these by myself,” she said “So, I got the directions and the pattern and I made 10. Then, I thought, well I bet I can make 15 and then it was 25, then it was 50 and then 100 and then 200 and now it’s 2,525.”

That figure is only what Metcalf has made on her own and does not include the ones she works on during Extension Homemaker work sessions at the McCracken County office of the University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service. She never closes her sewing machine or serger in her sewing room of the Lone Oak home she shares with Earl, her husband of nearly 65 years.

After learning to make the turbans in 1997, Metcalf approached the Homemakers executive board about taking it on as a project and they made her the project chairwoman.

The turbans are free and are delivered to the English’s Sew and Vac where the turban idea began, and from there they are distributed to local hospitals and oncologist offices. A small tag is placed on each one letting the recipient know that the turban is a gift from the McCracken County Extension Homemakers.

Oftentimes, we may not know what to say to a person battling cancer, but if we can take them a turban it can make them feel like someone cares, and it gives you a good feeling as well, said Belinda Bryant, McCracken County Extension Agent for Family and Consumer Science.

The turbans are both for self-esteem and for warmth. Metcalf said she sent a few to a friend of her son’s who said her head got so cold at night.

Metcalf has lost a very close friend, two sisters and her father to cancer, but that isn’t what drives her work. It lets her give something back to her community and keeps her fingers busy, she said.

“It’s just something I can do and I like to sew,” she said. “I’ve had so many people donate fabric I just hope I live long enough to use it all.”

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Contact: 

Writer: Laura Skillman  270-365-7541 ext. 278