We are still eagerly awaiting the arrival of my newest niece (although, I’m sure this waiting is hardest on my very pregnant sister-in-law.) In the mean time, I’ve been preoccupied with making sure my newest niece’s little head is warm when she finally arrives.
It is a happy coincidence that my recent sock knitting binge has coincided with the pregnancies of so many friends and family, because newborn hats are the perfect way to deal with the little balls of leftover sock yarn that I have collected over the years. I know I have previously railed against knitting tiny impractical baby clothes, but I make an exception for these. Newborn hats are quick, easy, adorable, practical (albeit very briefly) and the perfect use for leftover yarn.
My favourite pattern for baby hats is a modified version of Carissa Knits’ Preemie Hats for Charity. These lovely little hats are simple, versatile and easy to modify. Using sport or sock weight yarn makes these hats more practical, since they are the perfect thickness for indoor or warm weather wear. The hats are not intended for full term babies, so some changes are needed if you intend to use them as a shower gift. When in doubt, if you are making anything for a baby or small child, err on the side of big – they will always grow.
When I make these hats, I make them on size 6 needles and cast on 84 (rather than 72) stitches. Modifying a pattern in this way requires a bit of basic math. If you look closely at this pattern, you will notice three instances where the pattern repeats:
1. The ribbing is p2, k2 – so you need to cast on a multiple of four for the ribbing to work out.
2. The hearts and diamonds repeat every 12 stitches – so you will need to cast on a multiple of twelve for the texture pattern to work out.
3. The eyelets and first row of crown decreases repeats every 6 stitches – so you will need to cast on a multiple of six.
Once you have carefully recorded all of the repeats, make sure that the number of stitches that you increase or decrease by matches the repeats in the original pattern. (in this instance, the original 72 sts and my 84 sts are multiples of 4, 6 and 12).
Since the pattern is so versatile and quick, it’s a great place to start experimenting with new ideas and techniques. Any texture or colourwork that repeats horizontally can
be easily substituted for the hearts, eyelets and diamonds. The grey hat at the top is a simple knit, purl combination that was inspired by a rug I liked. Here, I tried a basic fair isle pattern.
Of course, this pattern is originally intended for donation to NICU wards. I was really moved by stories of parents recieving hand made clothes like these in the hospital. However, my basic internet search has not yielded anywhere in Ontario that accepts donations like this. If you know of anywhere, please share. I’d love to make some of these in their original size and for their original purpose.