Hello and welcome to my Week of Preemie Hats! I started this project in December 2018 after I learned of the passing of my dear friend Petra. I’ve known her since I was eleven years old, and she was my very first (and, to the end, closest) yarning buddy. She was always the first to ‘like’ anything I ever made or posted, online or off. We hadn’t lived in the same zip code (or even same country) for 20 years, but our conversations would always pick up mid sentence, usually along the lines of ‘What do you think about this color?’ or ‘Stop me before I buy more yarn!’
I will miss her dearly.
One of her favorite projects was crocheting baby hats for many causes, especially for one in particular called Alexander’s Toy Trunk. It was started by a five year old (FIVE!!) boy who wanted to use his birthday money to purchase toys for hospitalized children. Fast forward to today, and this impressive 13 year old now has corporate sponsors, scholarships, television and media appearances, and donates thousands of items a year. He and Petra are both huge inspirations to me.
When I heard of Petra’s passing, the first thing I did in my grief was to pick up a crochet hook and start a hat. It has always been a form of meditation for both Petra and me. She could infamously crochet in dark movie theaters without looking at her hands. In her absence I wanted to continue her legacy in helping the countless babies on which she and Alexander spent so much of their time.
This week I’m publishing some short little written patterns of the hats I made, partly as notes for my future self, but also for any of you out there are also feeling inspired to help some babies in need.
Today’s pattern is the basic beanie on which I finally settled. I went through several iterations of stitches, hooks, rows, etc before landing on this one.
A few notes about these baby hats:
- Preemie babies have extremely sensitive skin and require really soft yarn. Petra’s favorite was Caron Simply Soft, of which I had an abundance, along with Red Heart Soft. These are worsted weight yarns and work well with H or I hooks.
- These hats need to be machine wash and dryable, as preemie babies are in the NICU and their small immune systems need to be protected. Therefore, any designs or embellishments need to stand up to machine washing and drying. I used a few buttons and made sure they were *seriously* sewed on tightly. Depending on the hospital, they still may not accept them.
- Some hospitals don’t allow any embellishments at all for the above reasons. Please check before you donate.
Basic Beanie Pattern
Using worsted weight yarn and H or I hook
Row 1: Ch4, sl st to form loop. Ch2, 12 dc into loop. Sl st to top of first ch2 (12 st).
Row 2: Ch2, dc in same st, 2 dc in each ch around, sl st to last st (24 st).
Row 3: Ch2, dc in same st, *1 dc in next st, 2 dc in next st* repeat from * around. Sl st to last st (36 st).
Rows 4-7: Ch2, 1 dc in each st around. Sl st to last st (36 st).
Rows 8-9: Ch1, sc in each st around. Fasten off yarn and weave in ends. (Optional: reverse sc in row 9 around. You can find a tutorial here.)
Optional: Cluster Stitches
After row 3, you can finish off the hat with any cluster stitch you prefer. In general, hospitals prefer solid hats without any lacy holes (so tiny appendages don’t get caught), so I would recommend staying away from granny, v stitch, etc., but I’ve tried stitches like the 5dc shell stitch and the grit stitch with good success. Just remember your hat needs to be in multiples of your chosen stitch. I made my shell stitch hat 35 dc instead of 36.
That’s it!! Super fast and easy. I find seven rows to be perfect for alternating stripes, and 36 is generally an easily divisible number for optional cluster stitches.
Good luck and happy crocheting!
*The coral hat above on the very left is my favorite newborn pattern, Alice’s Itty Bitty Bow Beanie by An Extra Blessing, minus the bow.
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