It’s not too late to make a special gift for a tiny stranger and their family. Today would have been my nephew’s 5th birthday, if all had gone well, but sadly he didn’t make it to his due date and arrived far too early to survive, tiny but perfect and beautiful. In his 17 minutes of life he touched each and every one of us, and changed our lives forever.
I cannot even begin to comprehend the loss suffered by my sister that day, and the gaping hole left in her heart ever since. I experienced this boy’s loss as his aunt, as his mum’s sister, and I will never forget how utterly useless we all felt, standing around, lost for words, trying to find a way to share the burden of grief and yet knowing, at the same time, that there was nothing we could do other than just be there.
One thing I wish I could have done for him was clothe him. He was wrapped in a blanket, but to me he looked cold. I know, of course, he wasn’t cold, he was at peace and he didn’t need anything other than the love and prayers we offered. But it hurt me, and felt wrong, to see him without any little clothes of his own.
Since that day, I have felt a strong need to pass on the love we still feel for our little angel boy by making and donating tiny clothes for all of the other little children who may, or may not, get a chance to grow into newborn sized clothing. I started with hats, of all sizes and colours, and then added little cardigans, and this year some trousers and blankets too. It is hard, emotional work, but it also brings a sense of peace. I know just how precious these little clothes will be to the families of the tiny children, and it keeps me going.
Tonight I am sharing a basic pattern for a stretchy, soft preemie hat that crochets up in next to no time. If you start now, you could have 10 made before bedtime, and drop them off at your local NICU tomorrow for a share in that inner glow.
Basic Crocheted Preemie Hat
You will need; less than 50g soft DK yarn, 4mm hook.
Tension is not crucial for size of finished item, as preemie heads come in all sizes – but try to aim for a stretchy fit rather than a tight fabric. Use a larger hook if necessary.
Start with a loop of yarn, and work 6 SC into the loop.
Pull gently on the end of the yarn to draw your stitches into a ring. The hat will be worked in a continuous spiral. Work over the yarn end and you won’t have to sew it in at the end.
From this point on, work into the BACK LOOP ONLY. This increases the stretch of the hat, and gives a spiral pattern.
Working in HDC , increase as follows;
First increase row; Work 2 HDC into each stitch (12 HDC)
Next increase row; Work 1 HDC into next stitch, 2 HDC into following stitch, and repeat 5 more times (18 HDC)
Next increase row; Work 1 HDC into next 2 stitches, 2 HDC into following stitch, and repeat 5 more times ( 24 HDC)
Next increase row; Work 1 HDC into next 3 stitches, 2 HDC into following stitch, and repeat 5 more times (30 HDC)
Next increase row; Work 1 HDC into next 4 stitches, 2 HDC into following stitch, and repeat 5 more times (36 HDC)
Your work may start curving into a bowl shape; that’s fine. You can continue to increase in this manner for a bigger hat, or work fewer increases for a smaller hat.
Now work 1 HDC into each stitch and continue until your hat reaches the size you need. I like to work a longer hat, as the brim can be rolled up or down to give an adjustable fit.
Finish by working 1 SC into each stitch for one round, then slip stitching into next stitch, and fastening off. Weave in the loose end, and your basic hat is complete.
You can customise your little hats to make them more personal, adding a button or bow, maybe working a row of SC in a contrasting colour around the brim, or sewing a bobble (securely!) on the top.
If you work this pattern in a 4 ply yarn you can make a hat about the size of a tangerine, for the micro-preemies. Heartbreaking to make but so appreciated. I try to make the hats and clothes in as many different colours as possible, bright as well as pastel, as you just never know the preferences of the parents, and choice is always a good thing.
I hope this hasn’t been an upsetting post for anyone suffering from grief and loss right now – I just wanted to share a positive thing that came from something painful. My sister inspired us all with a strength we never knew she had, and life went on. Time passed slowly but it did pass, and healing came. I hope if you are in pain that healing comes for you too.