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 Hats, berets, and other head coverings
 chemo hat yarn?
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lizbirdie
Warming Up

82 Posts

Posted - 12/27/2007 :  11:26:19 AM  Show Profile Send lizbirdie a Private Message  Reply with Quote
My mom is about to start chemo next week for advanced stage breast cancer, and she asked me to make her a grey cloche style hat. She looking for something with clean lines and muted coloring, and she has never in her 66 years ever asked me to get her, much less make for her, anything specific. I'm an advanced beginner knitter (have knit for 2 1/2 years now), and I'd certainly appreciate any suggestions on a comfortable yarn or appropriate pattern. Thanks.

knits_for_preemies
Permanent Resident

USA
1957 Posts

Posted - 12/28/2007 :  08:22:22 AM  Show Profile  Visit knits_for_preemies's Homepage Send knits_for_preemies a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I'm so sorry to hear the news about your mom. I have a dear friend going through the same situation right now. It is quite a challenge, but there is so much the doctors can do these days.

Our knitting group knits bunches of hats for chemotherapy patients. So if your mother wants other patterns as time goes by, please let me know. I have lots of patterns in my "favorites" folder that are free and online.

Here is one that I think you might be able to use.

http://www.headhuggers.org/patterns/kpatt01.htm

As far as yarn goes, there are many choices.

Wool-- a merino is nice and not scratchy.
I personally like Berrocco Pure Merino and Mission Falls 1824 wool. They are both absolutely yummy to touch and knit up nicely. They are both 100% merino wool.

Acrylic: Caron Simply Soft worsted, Bernat Softee Baby (sport weight), Red Heart "Soft Yarn" (absolutely DO NOT get the SuperSaver by Red Heart--it's awful),

Microfiber: Lion Brand Microspun (kind of splitty and the only subtle color they have is an off white, buttercream color which is lovely).

Cotton: Knit Picks Shine (DK and worsted) You have to order that www.knitpicks.com
Rowan Calmer

I've not used Cashmerino and Baby Cashmerino by Debbie Bliss, but I've heard it is nice too.

Barbara

www.southernfriedknittin.blogspot.com
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leelee
New Pal

USA
13 Posts

Posted - 12/28/2007 :  5:44:20 PM  Show Profile Send leelee a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I've used Berroco Comfort for my aunt's chemo hat. She really likes it and has said it is very soft. Machine wash/dry is also a plus.


Lee Ann
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Katheroni
Permanent Resident

USA
1407 Posts

Posted - 12/28/2007 :  11:49:15 PM  Show Profile Send Katheroni a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I've read cancer survivors saying that their skin became so sensitive that even soft acrylics were irritating, and certainly all wools (even soft ones) were out. They only wanted the softest cottons. Not all cancer treatments or reactions to the treatments are the same, but maybe just to be safe I'd stick to soft cottons or blends that are mostly cotton.
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knits_for_preemies
Permanent Resident

USA
1957 Posts

Posted - 12/29/2007 :  06:49:47 AM  Show Profile  Visit knits_for_preemies's Homepage Send knits_for_preemies a Private Message  Reply with Quote
There is cotton, and then there is cotton...I forgot to mention that the Knit Picks cotton is a blend of cotton and "modal", another natural fiber. It is much softer to me than the Rowan Calmer, and it is much less expensive. Knit Picks even has some of it on sale right now. (I would never use the Peaches n Cream type cotton from WalMart).

My friend had the super-sensitive scalp for a while (mostly while the hair was falling out), but didn't seem bothered by any of the yarns I used (I did not use the wool--we're in Georgia, so not such an issue for warmth). Her hair has now begun to come back in. She is taking a different, a bit less harsh, type of chemo now as well as going through radiation. This has been quite a journey for her (and an education for those of us who surround her with our love and support).

With the chemo she has, she goes through hot and cold flashes as well.

Someone in our group made a prayer shawl for another friend of mine who was undergoing chemo. She was so touched by the thought and was enthusiastic about wearing it to her treatment center--she said the type of chemo she was taking made her feel cold while it was being administered. Both friends have had to sit there for several hours while the medicine drips in. I was thinking you might consider a shawl or throw for your mom to take if she wants.

There are several knitters here who have been through the chemotherapy treatments themselves. I'm hoping they will give us some insight into their own preferences as well.

Barbara

www.southernfriedknittin.blogspot.com
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Wen
Permanent Resident

Australia
3244 Posts

Posted - 12/29/2007 :  5:46:14 PM  Show Profile  Visit Wen's Homepage Send Wen a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I used Angora for my Mum's chemo hats. She had no problems with them. (see pictures in the link below.)

Another thing she may like especially if she has to spend time sitting around in hospitals with needles in her arm (my Mum did) is a shawl - no sleeves to worry about but warmth around her shoulders. Make it light as hospitals generally are heated to some degree.

Wen

2007 stats: 5 FO, too many WIP, 1 frogpond.
http://www.flickr.com/photos/wen1965/
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lizbirdie
Warming Up

82 Posts

Posted - 12/30/2007 :  1:44:10 PM  Show Profile Send lizbirdie a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Thanks for the kind thoughts & suggestions. After finding myself in welling with tears clutching a few balls of yarn in my LYS, I'm casting on one of the headhuggers patterns in Trendsetter's Kasmir. Hopefully, it'll be soft & warm without irritating. I imagine I'll do another in cotton when I'm done, just in case. A shawl is a great idea. Chemo starts tomorrow so any prayers are appreciated.
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knits_for_preemies
Permanent Resident

USA
1957 Posts

Posted - 12/30/2007 :  3:11:11 PM  Show Profile  Visit knits_for_preemies's Homepage Send knits_for_preemies a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Hang in there. Your hat will be wonderful I'm sure.

Here's a shawl pattern you might want to consider. It's easy and lacy so as not too be too warm maybe. Of course,your yarn choice will make a difference in the warmth dept. too.

http://knitty.com/ISSUEfall04/PATTcozy.html

You might want to take the pattern to the local yarn shop and browse a bit, and see what they suggest too.

Our prayers and thoughts are with you and your mom.

Barbara

www.southernfriedknittin.blogspot.com
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E. Bess
Warming Up

USA
85 Posts

Posted - 01/04/2008 :  4:56:54 PM  Show Profile  Visit E. Bess's Homepage Send E. Bess a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Hi everyone,

I'd like to make and donate some chemo caps and stumbled on this thread about yarn. Regarding cotton/acrylic... I have a LOT of Cotton-Ease and was hoping to use up some of that. I see that LB mentions that Cotton-Ease would be good for chemo caps, but before I make a zillion, I'd love to hear any first-hand accounts of how it goes over in actual practice.

Cotton-Ease: yay or nay? :)

Also, what's the best way to donate? Headhuggers?

Thanks!

http://www.elizabethgenco.com
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maribelaprn
Permanent Resident

USA
2033 Posts

Posted - 01/04/2008 :  5:26:10 PM  Show Profile Send maribelaprn a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I can't resist...gotta jump in. Ever been thru hair loss? Ever been thru cancer treatment? I have and I am. I'm offering my personal opinion on this topic and then I'll go take my sedatives and go away.

How one covers one's head is as personal decision as the underwear one prefers. If you think you can decide what kind of underwear someone should have, then go ahead and decide what kind of head gear they should have. Whilst I appreciate that people want to "help", I don't understand how people can just make things for total strangers and know what's right for those strangers. When I feel like crap and I look like crap, the *last* think I want to do is wear something on my head that makes me feel and look even worse. Ever see some of those patterns out there?? Just love the ones that look like football helmets with flowers stuck to them. I really want that extra attention drawn to me, especially when I feel and look so awful.

I *absolutely* DESPISE the term "chemo cap"/"chemo hat". What on earth is different about a hat someone undergoing chemotherapy would wear from any other hat?? Barbara, bless you for not using those terms! You're a good student and you have a heart of gold! Those phrases are fingernails on the chalkboard for me.

Before you decide to "help" someone by knitting them a hat, I implore you to actively involve the person in choosing the pattern and choosing the yarn. Lizbirdie's Mom knows what she wants, so let's keep that in mind...it's a personal choice, not a committee decision!

Please don't take this as a personal attack. I just don't get this whole "donating chemo caps" thing. In fact, there isn't a single hospital in the greater Boston area that will accept such donations because they've got bins full of fun fur hats that no one wants.

As for LB mentioning that Cotton-Ease would be good for "chemo caps", LB sells Cotton-Ease so of course they think it's great. I think it's not a good choice at all.

Off my soap box....

Mari (10 year breast cancer patient; currently on third round of treatment for metastatic disease)
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E. Bess
Warming Up

USA
85 Posts

Posted - 01/04/2008 :  6:08:16 PM  Show Profile  Visit E. Bess's Homepage Send E. Bess a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I don't take it as a personal attack. How could I? You don't know me from Adam. *throws up hands*

Seriously: I appreciate your need to rant. However, maybe next time you can remember that there's a real live human being behind the screen.

Maybe I should make underwear? Enough so that recipients can pick out what they want... (Note: this is sarcasm)

Thanks for your help. I'll make hats for preemies instead. Or something.

http://www.elizabethgenco.com
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Margie
Permanent Resident

USA
1032 Posts

Posted - 01/04/2008 :  10:26:30 PM  Show Profile Send Margie a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I was asked by a man in my bicycle club who was undergoing chemo to make him the loudest, wildest, craziest hat I could. I did. Full of colors and Ed loved it. That's what he wanted and I was more than happy to help in some small way.

Hugs to your mother. May all go well.

Margie

Silly Cone Valley, CA
I live in a crazy place -- I fit right in
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Katheroni
Permanent Resident

USA
1407 Posts

Posted - 01/04/2008 :  10:51:06 PM  Show Profile Send Katheroni a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Um, I donate (unused) underwear to the YWCA all the time. It's at the top of their most-needed items list. Geez.
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bfaye
Seriously Hooked

USA
721 Posts

Posted - 01/04/2008 :  11:10:07 PM  Show Profile  Visit bfaye's Homepage Send bfaye a Private Message  Reply with Quote
There is a turban pattern written by Ann Cannon-Brown of elann.com
Her mother died of breast cancer a few years ago and she wore turbans while she underwent chemo. Ann had a hat design contest for hats for patients undergoing chemo and there are several other patterns in the Free Pattern section of the site.
Here's the link:

http://elann.com/ShowFreePattern.asp?Id=150024

Here is another hat designed by a breast cancer survivor.

http://elann.com/ShowFreePattern.asp?Id=182024

(Edited to add hat pattern link)

benne
http://feathersong.wordpress.com
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maribelaprn
Permanent Resident

USA
2033 Posts

Posted - 01/05/2008 :  06:01:55 AM  Show Profile Send maribelaprn a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Katheroni, I also donate new, unused underwear to organizations who ask for it.

What I meant to say was that how one chooses to cover his or her head during cancer treatment is a very personal choice. There are lots of options...scarves, ball caps, bandanas, ski hats (which can be pretty wild). My whole point is that you can't know what people want to use to cover their heads without asking. Perhaps organisations like HeadHuggers has so many different hats that someone can find something they want to wear, but I just don't get how strangers can make head coverings for other strangers without knowing what that person wants and would wear.
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E. Bess
Warming Up

USA
85 Posts

Posted - 01/05/2008 :  10:12:37 AM  Show Profile  Visit E. Bess's Homepage Send E. Bess a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Haven't you ever done something kind for someone you don't know? I'm guessing that the overwhelming majority of cancer patients don't have someone to handknit them a hat. Yes, it's a personal choice and yes, they could just buy one. But, you know, maybe if I make hats that don't suck, someone will happily choose mine, and they'll wear it, and they'll really love it.

Which brings me right back to my original question: is Cotton-Ease a good choice for a donated hat for a cancer patient? By "good choice", I mean, not irritating to a bare scalp. Mari has weighed in. Any second opinions?

Perhaps an organization like Head Huggers could figure out some way to take special requests. That would probably be a huge amount of work, but it would be really cool, too.

benne, I love those patterns you posted. Thank you!

http://www.elizabethgenco.com
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bfaye
Seriously Hooked

USA
721 Posts

Posted - 01/05/2008 :  10:38:54 AM  Show Profile  Visit bfaye's Homepage Send bfaye a Private Message  Reply with Quote
The question was asked about the difference between any other hat and a hat designed for patients undergoing chemo. The hats I make and the ones at the elann site are different than a hat you would walk into a store and buy. They come down farther on the back of the neck and behind the ears, are sized slightly smaller or use yarn with some elasticity to compensate for the lack of hair. They are also designed to be as smooth and seamless as possible to avoid possibly irritating very sensitive skin. I have used elann's esprit for several caps for friends who liked that the caps stayed put while napping, etc. I put a lot of thought and care for the comfort and attractiveness of the hats I knit and hope that in some small measure, they make life just a little easier and more comfortable for a cancer patient.

I do not presume to speak for everyone, as none of us can, but I have made caps and sent them to friends of friends who were complete strangers to me and they were much appreciated and worn. *For those patients I did not know personally, I did inquire about color and style preferences.* This is just my experience with making caps for friends and strangers.

*Edited to add*


benne
http://feathersong.wordpress.com
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rather be knitting
Seriously Hooked

USA
954 Posts

Posted - 01/05/2008 :  1:56:26 PM  Show Profile Send rather be knitting a Private Message  Reply with Quote
If anyone has ever taken a look at Mari's blog than they would know that yes, she does a lot of kind things for people she doesn't know. Her shawls for cancer patients are some of the most beautiful shawls i have ever seen. Each one is made with high quality yarn using a pattern that produces stunning results. I don't think of them as "prayer shawls" or "comfort shawls" -- they are just beautiful shawls that end up being given to cancer patients.

I'm sure there are cancer patients who would want a hand knit hat. And i'm sure many knitters make beautiful things to donate that will be appreciated by the person receiving it. I also know that knitters pawn off a pile of ugly, poorly made with cheap yarn items to local charities. My knitting group makes baby hats for the local hospital. Most are soft and cute. But i've also seen people donating hats because they want to use up some 20+ year old scratchy yarn that they "inherited" when their mother/aunt/friend/neighbor passed and they don't want to "waste it." I agree -- don't waste it, put the da**ed thing out of it's misery and throw it in the nearest dumpster!

I'm sorry, but i can't offer any information on LB Cotton-ease because i have never used it. I do a lot of charity knitting, and i try to find out what is needed BEFORE i make it rather than trying to find a place to deposit completed items. There are a lot of charities with specific requests. For example in the past year i have made baby hats for the local hospital, shawls for the local hospital oncology department, shawls for our local Hospice, wool items for both the Afghanistan and the Dulaan groups, scarves for the Knit Your Bit project for WWII veterans, scarves for the Red Scarf project, and squares for Warm Up America blankets. If you are making items for a particular group, they probably have guidelines and links to appropriate free patterns on their web site.

Before donating an items, i suggest asking one of several questions. "Is this an item i would wear out in public?" "If i were a cancer patient, do i think this is something that i would put on my head?" If my sister (mother/aunt/friend) were a cancer patient, would i give this hat or shawl to her?"

Happy Knitting!
claire
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knits_for_preemies
Permanent Resident

USA
1957 Posts

Posted - 01/05/2008 :  2:14:54 PM  Show Profile  Visit knits_for_preemies's Homepage Send knits_for_preemies a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Cotton yarn for hats for chemotherapy patients:
I love the Knit Picks Shine (cotton and modal). Super soft and lovely colors. It comes in worsted and DK weight. I've used it for the Odessa Hat and it looks and feels great.


What to do with "inherited" yarn that is scratchy
I am part of a charity knitting group. Yes, we have "inherited" some scratchy yarn from folks who mean well and want to help. Instead of using it for hats that are unacceptable, we have given it to a local Alzheimer's adult day care center. They do all sorts of wonderful crafts with these folks and the program director is delighted to get the yarn for craft time. This is a win-win situation. As a former elementary school teacher, I had to buy yarn for various educational projects for my students. You could donate the yarn to an elementary school (or possibly a high school art teacher--not sure about that). Call around and I'm sure you'll find a satisfactory home for this yarn.

The charities we knit for want the acrylic type yarns for the most part. Fortunately there are some really good ones out there that are washer/dryer friendly.

Bernat Softee Baby
Bernat Berella "4"
Caron Simply Soft
Red Heart "Soft Yarn" (NOT the SuperSaver--it's the scratchy one)

I'm sure there are others, but these are available to us in our area.

I did hear from a friend of mine who is a cancer patient that the yarn with the elastic thread in it (such as the cotton ones with elastic) are not good for cancer patients' hats, because the tiny hairs on their heads can get caught in the elastic and pull. Ouch.

The main thing with charity knitting, I think, is to make personal contact (if possible) with the charity you are knitting for and ask them what they need and what, if anything, their policies require.


Barbara

www.southernfriedknittin.blogspot.com
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bfaye
Seriously Hooked

USA
721 Posts

Posted - 01/05/2008 :  3:33:48 PM  Show Profile  Visit bfaye's Homepage Send bfaye a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Barbara said:
quote:
The main thing with charity knitting, I think, is to make personal contact (if possible) with the charity you are knitting for and ask them what they need and what, if anything, their policies require.



I think this is key to charity knitting. For example, when I contacted Vanderbilt Children's Hospital to inquire about knitting for them, I asked for their specific needs. They had real needs but some requirements I had not considered; using fibers that cannot build static electricity around medical equipment, very specific measurements for the blankets for incubators, hats and garments for older babies and children, and burial gowns for babies and infants of all sizes. Everyone wanted to knit for the tiny babies so they had lots of items for them, but they needed items for older babies.

A note about the yarn with elastic, I didn't stretch the yarn when I knit it so that may explain why it didn't pull on the hairs. One friend liked the first one I knit her so much she asked for a second one in a different color. I will definitely keep the pulling factor in mind the next time I knit a hat. I do not want to make something that is not useful or comfortable for the recipient.

I don't think anyone here wants to do anything but that which will be welcomed and helpful.



benne
http://feathersong.wordpress.com
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rather be knitting
Seriously Hooked

USA
954 Posts

Posted - 01/05/2008 :  7:14:13 PM  Show Profile Send rather be knitting a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Thanks Barbara for the good ideas about what to do with "scratchy" yarn. With so many affordable, soft, washable yarns, there's no need to use scratchy stuff for charity groups.

And i agree with benne -- people want to do what is welcome and helpful. But sometimes they just don't know what it is. So, yes, checking with the charity before you get started is definitely the way to go!
Happy knitting,
claire
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