BETHESDA, Md. (NNS) -- For the past 22 years, every three to four weeks, a Navy commander's wife with a slight French accent has delivered five baby blankets to the Navy Marine Corps Relief Society Bethesda (NMCRS) office.
That translates to more than 1,300 blankets that 86-year-old Yvonne Richaudeau Skidmore has knitted, which are given to parents who complete the NMCRS Budget for Baby class.
"She's by far our most prolific blanket provider," said NMCRS-Bethesda Director Gillian Connon.
Skidmore said knitting is just a part of her life and has been since she started at age 8 after her mother asked if she wanted a sweater.
"'Okay, I'll get you some needles and some yarn,'" Skidmore recalled her mother telling her. "I've been knitting ever since."
She has knitted in the various places she's lived since she learned as a young child in Cannes, France. She spent some of her childhood in Northern Africa and returned to Cannes to go to fashion school.
Skidmore immigrated to Canada with her first husband, Camille Richaudeau, and 10-month-old son, Patrice, in the 1950s. They lived in Canada for two years before her husband got a job at a restaurant in Miami.
"I was working in a shop in Miami Beach because we needed the money, but I didn't know how to say scissors or thread or I used to go to the store and show them that I need some ribbon, I need this," Skidmore said holding her arms out showing how much ribbon she needed. "They would take the measurement because I didn't know how to say yard."
She's since learned English and has added that language to the French, Italian and Spanish she also knows.
Her youngest son, Didier, was born after they moved to Washington, D.C. Since living in the area, she's worked as a fashion stylist at department stores and said her dresses have been worn by the Washington, D.C. elite.
Being a fashion stylist has helped her create the designs she uses for the baby blankets, she explained, showing off her springtime design. She has a Navy-style and Army-style design to match the color of those services' uniforms.
She didn't get involved in knitting baby blankets for NMCRS until after she married her second husband, Navy Cmdr. Wesley Skidmore, in 1987.
"I started coming here at the hospital and I heard that I could knit for the babies and I said 'Well, I don't mind doing it.' I've been doing that now for 22 years," she said.
She continued to knit for NMCRS after her husband died. She said she knits to keep herself busy and is up knitting until 11 p.m. every night.
"I like to keep busy - at my age I cannot sit and watch TV all day long," she said. "I can't do that. I was not raised that way and I think I will knit as long as I can use my hands."
And she doesn't just knit baby blankets for NMCRS, she also knits for her grandchildren as well as people she meets while waiting for appointments at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center.
"Sometimes I am waiting for my medicine and if I knit - of course I knit all the time - and I ask 'When is your baby due?' and she says 'Two months from now,' ... and I take their address and I send it to them," Skidmore said.
She said she enjoys giving away what she knits, and while she doesn't hear much feedback on her blankets, Connon said she hears many positive things when they hand out the blankets at the end of the Budget for Baby class.
"They say, 'These are so beautiful, who made this?' and we tell them we have a lady here who has volunteered with us for 22 years, and they're all so very thrilled and excited to hear about that," Connon said.
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