Thursday, March 26, 2009

Eenie, Meenie, Minie, Moe: Lots of cute premie hats to go! (with free pattern)

Lent: it's not just for giving up candy for 40 days! The Lenten season is a time for spiritual growth, which does involve sacrificing luxuries to learn discipline, and can also involve service. My knitting group made preemie hats for a service project recently and decided that since they're fun and quick to make, and there's an ongoing need, that we'd continue supplying our local hospital with hats. Since Lent was approaching, several people decided to make a pledge to make and donate hats. I figured that since the hospital needs about ten a month, I could probably turn out that many in 40 days. As it turned out I completed a nice even dozen, here posing in an egg carton. Very seasonal, n'est-ce pas?

I started out with these red ones in four sizes, using some Lion Brand Microspun sport-weight acrylic that I had left from another project. I call 'em Eeenie, Meenie, Minie, and Moe:

I started with a simple roll-brim hat pattern from Knitting on the Net and adapted it for preemie sizes. For each size you will cast on some multiple of 9 stitches. Here's how to make them:

  • Sport weight or DK weight yarn. (Ask to talk to the NICU at your local hospital about fiber. Some want NO acrylic, some want ONLY acrylic, and some will take any fiber so long as it is washable)
  • Size 4 DPNs

Between 5 and 6 stitches per inch, depending on the yarn that you use. Don't fret the gauge too much. Just make lots of hats in lots of sizes. They'll fit someone sooner or later.

Eenie (Large, about 10" circumference -- nearly full-term)
Cast on 54 stitches on three needles (18 on each needle). Join without twisting.
Knit around until piece measures about 3 to 3 1/2 inches, then begin decreases.
R1: *K4, K2tog* repeat for the entire round
R2: knit
R3: *K3, K2tog* repeat for the entire round
R4: knit
R5: *K2, K2tog* repeat for the entire round
R6: knit
R7: *K1, K2tog* repeat for the entire round
R8: knit
R9: K2tog for the entire round
You now have 9 stitches (3 on each needle).
R10: *K1, K2tog* repeat for entire round.
You should now have 6 stitches.
For a round-topped hat, cut the yarn and use a tapestry needle to run the yarn through these last stitches. Pull tight and fasten off.
For a "stem" on top, K2tog around, reducing the last 6 stitches to 3. Knit i-cord with these last three stitches to the desired length. Knit the last 3 stitches together, cut the yarn, and pull it through the last stitch. With a tapestry needle, run the yarn down the length of the i-cord, then cut.

Meenie (Medium, about 8 inches in circumference)
Cast on 45 stitches (15 on each needle). Join without twisting.
Knit around until the piece measures about 2 1/2 to 3 inches.
Begin decreases from R3 of the Eeenie pattern and continue as the Eeenie pattern directs.

Minie (Small, about 6 1/2 inches in circumference)
Cast on 36 stitches (12 on each needle). Join without twisting.
Knit around until the piece measures about 2 to 2 1/2 inches.
Begin decreases from R5 of the Eeenie pattern and continue as the Eeenie pattern directs.

Moe (Micro, about 5 inches in circumference)
Cast on 27 stitches (9 on each needle). Join without twisting.
Knit around until the piece measures about 2 inches.
Begin decreases from R7 of the Eeenie pattern and continue as the Eeenie pattern directs.

Now that you've got the basics, would you really like to knit up a load of smiles for the NICU? Get out your leftovers and see what your color combinations inspire. Check out these ideas (most of them done in Elann Sonata, an all-cotton yarn left from my Pondemonium project):

Watermelon: Two shades of green for the "rind," red for the flesh, and the "seeds" done in duplicate stitch with black yarn. This would be even cuter with a seafoam green instead of the yellow-green I had for the lighter shade, and a pinky-red.

On the left, a two-tone denim hat done in Rowan Denim. On the right, a patriotic red, white, and blue. I might try that one again in time for 4th of July, and use multiple narrow red and white stripes:

Here's a lovely cloche for some tiny diva. The leaf is Just a Leaf, a pattern from Ravelry. I made it a few rows smaller than the original pattern. The purple is Takhi cotton, another good choice for all-cotton hats since it comes in lots of brilliant colors.

Keeping the boys in mind, I made these two boyish hats, one in green and blue, the other in blue with three one-row white stripes:

And what's cuter than a bug? How about a ladybug hat? The spots are done in duplicate stitch, though they could be knit in with stranded knitting. To make the two antennae, when I had six stitches after the decreases I divided them between two needles and knit i-cord on each needle. Near the end, I increased in each stitch (by knitting in the front and the back of each stitch) then immediately reduced back to 3 stitches by knitting two together three times. After knitting all three stitches together, I cut the yarn, ran it through the last stitch, then used a needle to run the end of the yarn down through the i-cord and tugged until the slightly pointy ends turned round.

Now, what else could we have? Flowers for spring, pumpkins in the fall, oh, there are lots of ideas once you get started!

In order to avoid jogs where colors join, check out the Jogless Stripes article on TECHKnitting.


lunaticraft said...

Those are adorable. Great use of the lenten season. I really should get moving myself and get some service done before it's over!

Katie said...

D'oh! I keep getting distracted and forgetting my own Lenten resolution, and I still need to make 3 more hats!

Kelly said...

I love your lenten hats. I am doing the same thing. But I am making 1 a day for the 40 days.

Karen said...

Wow, 40 hats in 40 days is amazing! Post a picture when you have them all done and send me a link!

Anonymous said...

so very cute and sweet!

Kaian said...

That watermelon hat is rather lovely~~ :D

PlayinHooky said...

Thank you for the cute pattern & all the info. I wouldn't have thought to ask if there were fiber restrictions in the NICU.

Sherriann Fisher said...

Might this be the Karen Bledsoe that is married to my old friend Glen Bledsoe? Hope so. I want to knit some preemie hats for Salem Hospital. I need an easy pattern. I don't do round needles just the old fashioned straight ones. Do you have a pattern to share?
Say hey to Glen,
Sherry Fisher

Karen said...

Sherry! How the heck have you been? WHERE the heck have you been? And remember, we'll always have Paris. Email me -- my Google addy is in my profile. I'm also on Facebook.

Koren said...

Your patterns are wonderful and just what I was looking for. I have not been able to find any patterns for preemie hats that would actually fit the smallest of them. I am making hats for Calvin's Hats; which is also local to Salem. I was surprised to find upon reading the comments that we are in the same town. My father was a professor also so I am surprised you even have time to knit. Thank you for posting such great descriptions and pictures of the patterns.

quiltazoo said...

Our local NICU in Kalamazoo wants to have orange hats for the babies at Halloween. Your patterns seem perfect. I am thinking a cute little green stem...... So glad I found your patterns!

Mom of Three!! said...

From Calvin's Hats...PERFECT!!


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