Tuesday, January 8, 2008

February's Challenge: Chemo Hats

Ask any cancer survivor, the treatment for cancer is physically and emotionally debilitating, often leading to despair and depression. The loss of one’s hair can be one of the most emotionally draining aspects of the treatment. For February, the MKG knit along challenge is to make a “chemo hat” that is, an attractive hat for a cancer patient to wear during hair-loss.

Why would someone wear a hat during this time? In addition to boosting the feeling of pride or confidence in one’s physical image, the hat will protect the sensitive scalp and keep the wearer warm.

What kind of hat should you make? Here are some factors to keep in mind:
1. Attractiveness: the wearer wants to look good at a point when her (or his) self-confidence may be at an all time low.
2. Warmth: the wearer may feel chilled due to the treatment.
3. Softness: the wearer’s scalp will be sensitive due to the chemotherapy.
4. Ease of care: the wearer may need to wash the cap frequently.

What type of pattern should you use? Here are some suggestions.
The inimitable knit-blogger, Grumperina, designed the "Odessa" hat. It has a snug fit with an attractive spiral design. Click here to get the free pattern from Magknits. You may wish to eliminate the beads.

This snug beanie is simple and elegant, appropriate for either men or women. You can find the pattern at Knitty.com or by clicking here.

Teenagers also get cancer and other illnesses that result in hair loss. This is a particularly difficult experience for teens who are developing their self image and who want to blend in with their peers. This is a brimmed cap from Knitty.com. Click here for the pattern.

I've made this hat from Lion Brand several times. It is made from the top down, with a very easy lace pattern. Instead of making a ribbed edging, I used an I-cord bind-off (a la Elizabeth Zimmerman). This made the hat end above the ear. You can find the pattern at www.lionbrandyarn.com or by clicking here.

For more ideas on the internet, look at "Headhuggers" or "Chemocaps".

The Madison Knitters' Guild library also has books with hat/cap patterns. Try "Hats On" by Charlene Schurch, or "Caps and Hats" by Vogue Knitting. Or, invent your own pattern.

Remember, as every month, February is also "knitters choice."

1 comment:

stylishnoggins said...

Hello everyone
I think what you are doing is wonderful, coming from someone who a 4 year breast cancer survivor.
I too had a need for hats, and went a step farther by making soft, stylish hats, caps and scarves that can be worn casualy or to the office.
If anyone has a need for a hat, please take a look at who I am, and my designs by going to www.stylishnoggins.com
Keep up the great work.