Local knitter Noel Minneci shows appreciation to teachers with winter hats
Project honors son who died in 2012
Noel Minneci, a Midway resident who loves knitting, wants the teachers at Park City’s Trailside Elementary School to keep warm during the winter.
So she hand-knitted 54 winter hats that were distributed by her daughter-in-law and fourth-grade teacher Susan Minneci this week.
The idea to knit the hats came to Ninneci while she and her husband, Jack, decided to social distance themselves during the coronavirus pandemic.
“Every year during Christmastime, I would give Susan a few things I have knitted throughout the year to give her classroom mates who have helped her, and this year, when Jack and I decided we were going to be strict about staying home, I decided to knit hats,” Minneci said. “I wanted to do something nice for the teachers, because they work so hard. I wanted to recognize them for keeping school going for the kids.”
One of those kids is Minneci’s grandson, Lars, who is 10, she said.
The project also aligns with something Minneci decided to do in memory of her son, Christopher Minneci, a freeskiing pioneer who was featured in many winter sports films, including Teton Gravity Research’s 2001 documentary, “Mind The Addiction.” He died in a motorbike accident in 2012.
“Every year I try to do something in memory of Chris,” Minneci said. “He had started a Park City business called Better View Professional Window Cleaning that is still a locally owned, prosperous business, and we are very proud of him and happy to keep his memory alive. So I decided I would make these hats to contribute to the community.”
Although Minneci didn’t initially know how many teachers there were, she knew she would be busy making hats.
“Every one of the hats is different,” she said. “A lot of yarn came into my house — wool, alpaca, cashmere, silk, yak, camel, all the luxury yarns that are fun to knit with.”
Margaux Kelleher, who owns Wasatch and Wool in Redstone, helped Minneci select the yarn.
“I used finger weight yarn, which is thin,” Minneci said. “It requires very small needles, but it makes a fabric that is tight, warm and dense. I chose to knit hats that would stretch and fit everybody.”
Minneci bought her yarn from Kelleher because she saw how the pandemic had impacted local small businesses, and because Kelleher helped her get back into knitting five years ago.
“I was heavily involved in quilts as a business owner, but knitting was always on the back burner,” Minneci said. “She mentored me along and got me back into it.”
Kelleher also contributed some yarn to the hats, according to Minneci.
“I would buy yarn from her every Tuesday, and she would secretly put a free skein of yarn in the bag,” Minneci said.
Knitting the hats proved to be a good stress reliever during COVID-19, she said.
“It was nice to have something to focus on after hearing bad news every day,” Minneci said. “It turned out to be something that was really fun.”
Minneci also recruited her husband to help.
“Jack and I would sit on the sofa, stream Netflix, and he would make pompoms for the hats,” she said.
Minneci knitted the 54th and final hat on Thanksgiving.
“That hat was made from yarn that reminded me of Old Town Park City,” she said. “It reminded me of an old stock photo where you see all the houses in a line that are red, yellow, blue and green. I had all of these colors, and made the hat.”
Minneci is grateful for the opportunity to knit these hats for the Trailside teachers.
“I respect and love them and my daughter-in-law so much,” she said. “It makes me happy to do something that will be a surprise to them during the holidays. It gives me a joyous feeling to be able to contribute something when we’re all struggling right now.”
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