Showing posts with label chemo cap. Show all posts
Showing posts with label chemo cap. Show all posts

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Chemo cap knitting

Today I want to do a rundown on the free chemo-friendly hat patterns here at Hugs: I'm hearing a lot from people knitting one for friends or family about to go through treatment, and because there are so many options (here and elsewhere), sometimes they're not sure which hat to try.

Chemo caps have a few unique qualities over regular hats.

1. They have to be soft, because even hardy wool-wearers may find their skin is more sensitive when they're undergoing treatment and have no hair as an intervening party.

2. It's good if they can come down low in the back, to hide a missing hairline.  For the same reason, a really open lace should be considered carefully for its revealing properties... it's going to be a matter of style, I think, how much of that quality is appealing to someone who's just lost his or her hair.

3. Cosmetically, it's nice too if they have some extra details somewhere - something to add the bulk that went missing with the wearer's hair.

4. And technically - from the knitter's point of view - it matters whether or not they are complicated to make.  Because let's face it: when somebody you love is going through cancer treatment, you may not have the focus required for a lot of stitch counting.  Alternatively, you may want something completely absorbing and distracting so that the knitting is an escape from your worries.

A note on yarn substitution:

If you opt for non-wool to knit a pattern designed for wool, check this post on yarn substitution before you get going.  You can definitely sub in other yarns, but a little planning will help make your hat a success!

Since I keep being inspired by new hat designs, my library of free chemo patterns will probably go on growing, so I'll update this list as I needed.  For now, here are the main patterns people seem to like and my recommendations to help you choose which to try.  (or you can scroll to the bottom for a simple charty thing.)

Asymmetrical Cloche

This hat is very straightforward with a low-fitting asymmetrical brim achieved through simple increases, knits, and purls.  I designed it as a day hat for a friend in treatment who didn't mind wool, and in that version I used an incredibly soft sport weight superwash merino.  But I also did a version in heavier-weight cotton, for warmer days, and the pattern includes sizing for that.

Best on women, and an excellent choice for the distracted knitter.


Bobcap is essentially a toque, with a little detail over one eye to make it interesting.  It's that plain because it's designed to serve as a sleep cap - your head gets so cold at night when you don't have hair!  I designed it with the same sport weight superwash wool I used for the Asymmetrical Cloche, but if you lean toward generosity in your sizing choice, you could knit it in acrylic for someone who is too sensitive for wool.

Possibly unisex, but definitely cute on women, and another excellent choice for the distracted knitter.  (if the detail part is too advanced for you, you can leave it out.)

Double Double Cloche

This cloche uses a rolled brim to add bulk at the ends, and can tuck down low over the ears and neck, but the front has bonus detail with reverse-stockinette stripes and a button accent.  It looks interesting, but it's incredibly simple to knit - again, easy increases, and knits and purls.

Best on women, and an excellent choice for the distracted knitter.

Graduated Ribs Hat

This toque's simple shape is the ultimate in mindless knitting, especially once you have the ribbing started and can just keep knitting the same stitch again as the one below it.  There is a crown detail to make it interesting, and actually - this isn't in the pattern but you could make this modification with enough yarn - if you knit it longer than called for it would work as a slouchy hat that shows off said crown.  It's designed to fit a little loosely, in superwash wool, so if you need to use acrylic just be a little generous in your sizing choice.

Completely unisex, and an excellent choice for the distracted knitter.

Not Just For Chemo Reversible Cloche

Hands down, this is the most popular of all of my patterns.  It's also the most complicated to knit, because the linen stitch I chose to force the underspun Malabrigo yarn into a stiff-enough shape for the brim requires a ton of counting to keep in line.  Once the brim is done it's as plain as knitting can be, but you have to be able to get through that hurdle first.  The yarn I used is an incredibly soft wool that sags out as you wear it, so if you're using acrylic, do a good gauge swatch and plan to go up a size.

Best on women, and a not-so-great choice for the distracted knitter.

UpCountry Hat

This toque uses a DK weight superwash wool, a checkerboard of knits and purls, and a fold-under band of ribbing to add bulk as well as warmth.  I love this hat - it's so simple to knit and looks so interesting, without being too busy to compete with a self-striping yarn, and mine is so comfortable to wear.  I saw a version made for a man once, and it looks fantastic.

Completely unisex, and an excellent choice for the distracted knitter.

The recap charty thing:

Knitting for a man?

Go for either Graduated Ribs or UpCountry - both are super simple.  You might also look at Bobcap, for a sleep option.

Knitting for a woman and have no capacity for concentration?

For a day cap, try the Asymmetrical Cloche, the Double Double Cloche, or the UpCountry Hat.  For night, look at Bobcap.

Knitting for a woman and looking for something to absorb your attention?

Not Just For Chemo Reversible Cloche, no question.

Knitting for your local hospital's chemo cap stash?

You'll get the most flexible sizing and unisex qualities with Bobcap, Graduated Ribs, and UpCountry.

And that's my chemo cap library for now.  Happy knitting!

Friday, December 14, 2012

UpCountry Hat: a free pattern

I am loving the hat I made to match my UpCountry Cowl:

(just much as I'm loving the cowl, which is saying something.)

I've been testing in some pretty chilly weather: it's warm, and very comfortable.  It was easy to knit in just a couple of evenings, and it really does make the most of stripey yarn without having put me to any particular effort at all.  I think it would look great on a guy, and I might even consider making one as a chemo hat, for daytime or sleeptime use, because it's so squishy and soft.

The checkerboard-ish stitch pattern seems to hug my head well, and trap a bit more heat than plain stockinette.

And the ribbing that's folded up inside the bottom of it is not only very snug and just right for over my ears, it gives a purl ridge a chance to be the  bottom edge for a change.

Especially nice: for some reason (the inside ribbing? the accordian effect of the stitch?) my coat collar doesn't push it up out of the way.  And even if it did, the transition from texture to stocking makes the crown fall flat instead of sticking up with a hint of 'she's hiding something up there.'

And really, how cute are those circles at the top?  I don't think I'll ever get tired of that look in a stripey hat.

UpCountry Hat

Twisted Fiber Art
Duchess Self-Striping yarn (100% superwash merino wool, 240 yards, 100g), 1 skein
4.0mm 16” circular or double point needles, or size to obtain gauge
stitch marker
darning needle

20 sts, 28 rows = 4” in stocking stitch, after blocking

Finished Dimensions
S (M, L): 16.5 (18, 19.5)” circumference; 7 (7.25, 7.5)” long once the ribbing is folded inside the hat. Using Duchess, size M fits comfortably on a 22” head.

Level of Difficulty
Easy: stitches include knit, purl, and knit two together.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Bobcap - a free pattern

I've learned a lot about chemo hats over the past year or so since people have been writing me about the ones I've designed, but the thing that stays with me the most is the fact that your hair helps keep your head warm when you're sleeping.  This had never occurred to me.  When your hair is gone, you get cold, and it's just not cosy or even easy to sleep.

The solution is a sleep cap.  I've seen many versions of these, and what they all have in common is being Not Lumpy, because who wants to turn over onto a whomping huge cable?  But none of the ones I saw really made me think of my very hip friend who is starting chemo soon, so I designed this hat for her using an unfortunately out-of-circulation colourway in Playful from Twisted Fiber Art.

My idea was to keep it super plain on all sides, just letting the hand-dyed semisolid yarn be beautiful like her, and putting a little something onto the front for personality.  I decided on three ridges of seven stitches each, for luck - don't worry, it's not a hard maneuver - and knit my way up to the crown in no time.

Once I got it on and saw the angle those ridges make, well.

All I could think of was my big brother teaching the eight-year-old me to raise my eyebrow.

If you've been around my blogs long enough you will know how much I adored Bob, who died of malaria when I was just 15, and how much I think of him every day.  He was a lot older and I was a terrible pest, so he must have had a pretty huge patient streak. He didn't just take me on hikes and once to the local carnival when nobody else could be bothered, he also taught me how to tie my shoelaces, and - oh boy - how to raise my eyebrow like him and even waggle it.  I absolutely love being able to do that, at just the right moment in any conversation.  (I don't know about him, but while I can raise either, I can only waggle the right one.)

Anyway I had to name this hat for Bob.  And I think I have to make one for myself even though I have hair because you know what?  It looks to me like a pretty awesome snow-day hat.

Hope you enjoy it too, if you make one.

Download .pdf of Bobcap

Monday, February 14, 2011

Graduated Ribs Hat - a valentine freebie

It's not just about chocolate (even though it's mostly that) and flocked red or pink hearts exchanged by schoolchildren and young couples in love - for me, Valentine's Day is a colourful little day peeping out of the rest of the year when you can make not-quite-random acts of kindness just to say Thanks for being you.

My goal this year was to make little felted wool heart pins for all my friends far and near, but I ended up not having enough time (does this ever happen to you?), so instead I set aside a day last week to make this pattern.

Thank you for being you, and for sharing this blog with me!

It's pretty basic, but I liked knitting it - there's one setup row, and then you just go on doing what you did before until you're ready for the crown.

I did something a little different this time and put three sections into purl relief.

The neat thing about a hat like this is that it's reversible, and because it's not just an ordinary rib but a graduated one that gets wider and the narrower again, you do get a different look when you put it on the other way.

Even the crown changes.

I made this with Aran-weight yarn and bigger needles so it goes fast, and it's unisex, so it's got definite last-minute gift potential.  Just maybe not for this particular Valentine's Day.

Graduated Ribs Hat

Difficulty Level:
Beginner, but worked in the round

Araucania Toconao (100% merino, 139yds/100g) 1skein #401 green blue
1 set 4.5mm/US 8 double pointed needles (dpns) or size to obtain gauge
1 stitch marker
darning needle

17 sts, 26 rows = 4" in stocking stitch after blocking

Adult Small (Medium, Large) - 16" (17", 18") around, 7" (7.25", 7.5") long - all sizes stretch significantly; size M is pictured on my 21.5" head.

Download .pdf of Graduated Ribs Hat

Friday, October 29, 2010

Double Double Cloche - a free pattern

The Not-Just-For-Chemo Reversible Cloche has been out there for a while now, and a lot of people have made it, some for themselves and some for friends and family about to undergo chemotherapy. In the case of the latter I've been enormously glad to be able to offer something that can comfort both the knitter and the person receiving the hat.

It's slowly dawned on me though that that particular cloche, with all the counting required for the stiff linen-stitch brim that disguises hair loss, is not really practical for knitting in worrying times. Some people may find all that necessary attention to detail a useful distraction, but what about people who don't?

I wanted to do something for them, too.

This hat is all knit and purl, and mostly knit. It starts out as flat knitting, a few stitches on a straight needle that you add onto three stitches at a time for a long, rolled, asymmetrical brim.

The brim ends in a bunch of stitches added on at once, after which it's worked in the round. It takes me about a day to knit one, and I knit some of this one standing in line and walking around, so it should stand up to the rigors of pacing or bedside sitting or, if you're lucky enough to be making it just for fun, TV-watching or general chat.

It's named for a popular choice at the popular Canadian coffee shop, Tim Hortons. I'm not much of a coffee drinker myself, and when I do indulge I prefer skim milk and sugar to double cream, double sugar, but I am a fan of Tim's. Since the restaurant expanded beyond donuts into soups and sandwiches every road trip, a lot of last-minute meals, and quite a few lunches with my mum involve Tim's.

You can find Tim's just about anywhere in my neck of the woods, including hospitals. And as I've spent rather a lot of time waiting around in hospitals over the last couple of years, I've learned to appreciate that fact a lot. Tim's represents everyday normalcy and routine, which is exactly what I'm after in a place like that.

Of course, the other reference is to this hat's ability to do double duty. It's cute over hair, but it dips down low enough in back to cover the lack of it. And you can wear the button over either side or over either eye, depending on the angle that best suits your style and the shape of your face.

I knit it in Rowan Silk Wool and whoa, does that stuff ever not tangle! Drawing out a length of that from the ball inside my messenger bag as I moved around was effortless. It feels reassuringly soft in your hands and, having just worn mine out in just-above-freezing temperatures, I can assure you it's quite warm as well.

Download .pdf of Double Double Cloche

Saturday, March 21, 2009

The Not-Just-For-Chemo Reversible Cloche - a free pattern

At long last, one chemo cap with a bonus:


What can I say? I'm all about the multitasking, even for hats. This 1920s cloche works with hair and without it, protects curls or conceals the lack of them, and looks stylish whether or not the softer stocking stitch is worn in by a girl who's having treatment.

NOTE: for some reason I have yet to identify and fix, some people are having trouble downloading this pattern. If you turn out to be one of them, just e-mail me and I'll send it to you directly. Thanks!

Download .pdf of Not-Just-For-Chemo Reversible Cloche