Wednesday, August 02, 2006

How I Spent My Summer Vacation

Aside from the pink and blue hat on the left these were what I knit over the week. My goal is a hat for every head in the NICU. I was so incredibly grateful for what we were given that I get everything from giving these back. Hopefully it'll inspire some extra acrylic/hypoallergenic/baby yarn stash use. I'll be doing a NICU Knit-a-long from September 29th until October 8th. Nothing but NICU knitting for those 10 days. It's the time I spent in the hospital before, during and after PeeWee was born. I figure if I got all this done in a week without devoting myself to it, I ought to be able to reach my goal for my hospital.

My basic preemie hat pattern is to find a suitable yarn- I really love the Plymouth Dream Baby. I have lots of it because my mother went on a buying spree at the LYS when PeeWee made her early entrance to the world and let me tell you, one ball of that makes a LOT of hats. So, little bits of stash work great for me. I use a lot of Cotton Tots, too. Bigger gauge and soft as can be. I've used that for blankets that knit up quickly and get softer with every wash.

Once I've found the yarn I cast on anywhere from 48 to 72 stitches- depending on my mood and on the yarn and stitch pattern. The neonatologists and NICU nurses at my hospital have told me they have kids from 24 weeks to 6 months there and they all need hats to keep them warm. They have their little NICU hats, but they love the look on the parents' faces when they come in and see a handknit hat on their baby's head. I remember when we arrived one morning to find all the little babies had blankets that a retired nurse had sewn. It was incredible to look around at all the isolettes and cribs and see them all covered up in matching blankets. We have ours (and everything else we were given) still. Perfect baby doll size!

So....... I cast on then knit in the round- I find it's easier and I don't have to worry about a very flat seam so no chance of irritating delicate preemie skin. I work my edging for about 1/2 inch to 2 inches- again my mood dictates this completely. I continue with whatever stitch pattern I want to use- sometimes just plain stockinette, a lot of fairisle (fun with something so tiny!), and anything I am trying to learn- cables, twists, anything. When I have gotten to where the hat, minus the edging is just a little taller than a square I start decreasing. Sometimes I'll go longer, make a rectangle and put tassles on the corners- cute jester hat look. Sometimes it gets an i-cord on top tied in a knot- I really like that- it gives me a giggle. Sometimes a pompom. Soem of the hats turn out pretty sophisticated, some are really silly. The occaisional hat looks a little wonky, but seems fine when I try it on my PeeWee model.

Once I've woven in all the ends, I wait until I have a few (or 30) to run them through the wash. I use a small amount of baby detergent, Dreft because it's what we have here, wash the hats with extra rinse on the cycle, and then- this is important! wash my hands before I put them into the dryer. No fabric softener, no dryer sheets. When they are completely dry I wash my hands again and put them straight into ziploc bags. They stay sanitary that way. I know when they get to the NICU at the hospital, no one with a runny nose or dirty hands or anything like that has gotten ahold of them.

Join me from the 29th of September to the 8th of October and lets see how many heads we can get a hat on!