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The IWK Auxiliary sent out a message addressed to all volunteer knitters who made purple hats for their Period of PURPLE Crying campaign. I am very happy to post it here for all of you. We, knitters and crocheters, made 5500 (five and a half thousand!) purple hats and that supply will be sufficient for babies born in 2013. Isn’t it something?

Below is a picture of the hats display and the original message from the Auxiliary. Also, please click here for the official thank you letter.

Well done, crafters, well done.

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Dear Volunteer Knitters (and those who crochet),

Thanks to knitters of the Maritimes and beyond (England, Thailand, Ontario, & USA) we have now collected over 5,500 hats and storage is becoming an issue.  Approximately 4500-5000 babies are born at the IWK each year so we are well outfitted for 2013. The hats are wonderful and are well received by parents. Of course their new little ones look adorable in their purple hats!

We look forward to receiving the hats you have ready to send to us and assure you they will be used in the program, however we are now suspending collection until Fall 2013. I will email you at that time to let you know when we are starting to collect purple hats again.  I have attached a photo of a collection of hats, as well as a Thank You note to all knitters. We do continue to need comfort dolls and finger puppets.

Thanks,

Kelly Cameron
Secretary
IWK Auxiliary

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A while ago, a staff member at the IWK Health Centre asked me to test a few patterns for purple hats to see if they are the right size as they were getting hats that were either too big or too small. I replied  that a finished object really depends on the crafter’s choice of yarn and needles/hooks and on individual’s tension. Also, if a program lists ten patterns for newborn hats, many people would immediately go on Ravelry to look for the eleventh. If you knit purple hats for the Period of PURPLE Crying Program, you probably know that you can use pretty much any pattern as long as hats are not too ‘heavy’ as they are used indoors. It’s just how we knitters are, we love this creative freedom in choosing the cutest, the simplest, the most unusual pattern. And it should be allowed because happy knitters produce more little hats.

I thought ‘What if instead of suggesting certain patterns, we could offer a common measuring tool that any knitter/crocheter (or designer) could use with any pattern to check finished hats?’ A few days ago, I went to bed thinking about it and then got up, walked up to my refrigerator and measured this.

It’s a 750 ml (32 oz) package of yogourt, and it’s exactly 37 cm (14.5 inches), the most commonly listed  head circumference for an average newborn.

Now, I know it’s kind of funny but hear me out. When you try to put a hat on a plastic tub of yogourt you can answer a number of important questions that will help you decide if the hat has the right fit. Plus, you can find this simple measuring device in your own kitchen, and if it’s not there, in the closest supermarket. It’s good for you anyway. I assume 750 ml/32 oz package is pretty standard but you might want to double-check the circumference of the lid, if you have a tape handy.

So, the first thing we need to test is the stretchiness of the bottom edge. My friend is a nurse at the IWK and she told me that some beanie-style hats have such small openings that they simply wouldn’t go over baby’s head even though the hat looked big enough.

When you put the hat on, imagine that you put it on a newborn baby that is a gentle, fragile thing. There should be no pulling or tugging, and you should be able to fit your fingers under the cast on edge to make sure it’s not going to be too tight. Also, please make sure it’s not too loose either because a hat that doesn’t stay on is quite annoying even for unexperienced in fashion trends newborns.

Next, we can check the depth. The reason the IWK prefers a hat with a foldable brim is because the depth can be adjusted. But since many patterns come in a beanie style, I measured hats that were previously tested by new babies and received their quiet approval.

To measure the depth (how tall the hat is), pull the hat down the yogourt package so that it is centered nicely.

Any hat that falls below baby’s eyebrow line or barely covers the forehead will not see much use, no matter how pretty it is. I marked the bottom edges of all three hats to see if they will be the same depth. This is a new pattern, and I was testing it against the  other two. Just in case you wonder, patterns for these hats can be found on Patterns page.

Then I looked at the marks, and they were exactly three inches (7.6 cm) from the top. See?

However, I decided that it’s too early to rest on laurels and went to the IWK hospital with my trusty measuring device for more testing. This neat compartment is full of newborn hats that are given to new parents as a part of a layette.

After checking how my yogourt looks in a good number of them, I am happy to report that they measured the same three inches from the top (give or take a few millimeters), folded as they are. To be completely honest some of them felt ‘roomier’, especially ones made with homespun-style baby yarn but overall the look was the same. So next time you need to measure a baby hat and a handy newborn is hard to come by, you might want to give this method a try. So when all is said and done (or knit and measured, in our case), can we rest assured that the hats are perfect? If you want to sleep well at night, ask for feedback when you donate your hats.

And to wrap it up, I would like to ask people on the receiving end — program coordinators, nurses, volunteer services personnel — please, do provide feedback on the hats you get. As a knitter, I would prefer to hear constructive criticism that next time hats should be made bigger/smaller/lighter than knit unfitting hats in blissful ignorance for the rest of my life.

Thank you all and happy knitting!

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This is a modification of the baby hat pattern that used to be posted on the IWK website. Here is a print version of the pattern in .pdf format.

This hat is favoured by the hospital nurses because of the foldable brim that gently hugs a baby’s head. The pattern is published to raise awareness about the Period of Purple Crying Program at the IWK Health Centre. The PURPLE program educates parents about normal infant crying and teaches coping skills in order to prevent Shaken Baby Syndrome.

The striped (not-all-purple) hat sends a message that the ‘purple period’ is a part of baby’s normal development and will pass. Both hats are made with the same pattern. For a plain hat, see a purple note at the end.

Click here for the IWK Health Centre address, or check the implementation map (scroll down the page) to find your local PURPLE program.

Photography: Shannon Bower. Photos used with permission.
Technical editing: Charlotte Quiggle.

Materials:  DK weight (Light #3) soft acrylic yarn in purple (MC), 43m (47 yrds), and green (CC) 6m (7 yrds); 3.25 mm (US#3) and 4 mm (US#6) double-pointed needles, tapestry needle, 1 stitch marker

Abbreviations:

k = knit
p = purl
p1-tbl = purl through the back loop
k2tog = knit 2 stitches together
sl (slip)= transfer a stitch purlwise from the left needle to the right without knitting
sts = stitches
MC = main colour
CC = contrast colour

Gauge:  23 sts and 32 rnds over 10 cm (4″)  in stockinette st on larger needles.

Head circumference: 37 cm (14.5 inches), average newborn size.

PLEASE NOTE:  the hat’s cast-on edge must be very stretchy to fit comfortably over a baby’s head. Please follow cast-on instructions.

Pattern Note: This pattern is written for a smooth, ‘jogless’ colour change. Do not cut the contrasting color between stripes; carry up the inside.

With two smaller needles held together, cast on 60 sts using MC yarn. Pull one needle out. Distribute sts evenly on 3 double-pointed needles (20 on each); mark beginning of round and join, being careful not to twist.

Rnds 1-22: K1, p1-tbl.

Switch to larger needles.

Rnds 23-28: MC. Knit.
Rnd 29: CC. Knit.
Rnd 30: Sl 1, knit to end.
Rnd 31: MC. Knit.
Rnd 32: Sl 1, knit to end.
Rnds 33-34: Knit.
Rnd 35: CC. Knit.
Rnd 36: Sl 1, knit to end.
Rnd 37: MC. Knit.
Rnd 38: Sl 1, knit to end.
Rnds 39-42: Knit.

Shape Crown

Rnd 43: (K8, k2tog) 6 times. (54 sts)
Rnd 44: Knit.
Rnd 45: (K7, k2tog) 6 times. (48 sts)
Rnd 46: Knit.
Rnd 47: (K6, k2tog) 6 times. (42 sts)
Rnd 48: Knit.
Rnd 49: (K5, k2tog) 6 times. (36 sts)
Rnd 50: (K4, k2tog) 6 times. (30 sts)
Rnd 51: (K3, k2tog) 6 times. (24 sts)
Rnd 52: (K2, k2tog) 6 times. (18 sts)
Rnd 53: (K1, k2tog) 6 times. (12 sts)
Rnd 54: (K2tog) 6 times. (6 sts)

Cut yarn, leaving a 15 cm (6″) tail. Using tapestry needle, thread tail through remaining sts and pull tight. Weave in ends.

To knit a hat in one colour, read the pattern as follows: Rnds 23-42: Knit.

Sizing tip: change the size by adjusting the cast-on number by 6 sts. The decreases are worked over 6 sections (2 sections on each of 3 needles). Calculate the number of stitches in each section when you start decreasing (Rnd43) and work knit to last 2 sts of section, k2tog, in each section, alternating decrease and knit rounds until you have 42 sts left. Then follow the pattern as given, starting from Rnd48.

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