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Instructions for knitting chemo hats

Updated April 17, 2017

Most chemotherapy patients lose their hair, which may leave them self-conscious about their appearance and cold. Making knitted chemo hats can allow you to make a hat that meets the special needs of chemo patients while expressing your care for them. These hats are useful for anyone who has lost her hair.

Chemo Hats are Different

Chemo hats are different from other hats. They are not designed to be worn over hair, so they fit differently. They are in direct contact with a sensitive scalp, so they must be smooth and soft. They should provide plenty of coverage for the entire head. Because chemo hats form such an essential part of a cancer patient's wardrobe, versatile hats are especially welcome. Consider hats that can be decorated with removable accents such as knitted flowers, ribbons or pins.

Choosing a Pattern and Yarn

When choosing a knitting pattern, choose one specifically for a chemo hat when you can. If not, keep the chemo patient's special needs in mind and modify the pattern as necessary. Do not choose lacy, openwork patterns. When choosing yarn, choose fibres that can be washed without special care or instructions. Soft acrylic yarns are a good choice. Avoid wool, which can be irritating to sensitive scalps. Choose a worsted weight yarn or yarn weight based on the pattern you select.

Basic Pattern

To make a simple knitted chemo cap with a rolled brim, you will need 100g or one skein, of an appropriate worsted weight yarn. You will need one set of size 7 double pointed needles, or whatever size you need to get the correct gauge of your pattern (if you are following one). You can also use the magic loop knitting method using a circular knitting needle, if you desire. You should be knitting at a gauge of 5 stitches of stockinet stitch equal to 1 inch.

To begin, cast on 100 stitches for a small adult hat, or 110 stitches for a large adult hat. Cast on loosely. If you are using double-pointed needles, divide the stitches evenly among the needles, holding one in reserve. Join the stitches for knitting in the round, being careful not to twist the stitches. Place a stitch marker at the beginning of the round. Work in stockinet stitch until the hat measures 6.5 inches for the small hat, or 7 inches for the large hat.

After you have reached this length, begin to decrease the stitches. Begin your decrease round at the stitch marker. Knit 8 stitches, Knit 2 together and repeat until you reach the stitch marker; knit one round.

(Knit 7 stitches, Knit 2 tog) and repeat until you reach the stitch marker; knit one round.

(Knit 6 stitches, Knit 2 tog) and repeat until you reach the stitch marker; knit one round.

(Knit 5 stitches, Knit 2 tog) and repeat until you reach the stitch marker; knit one round.

(Knit 4 stitches, Knit 2 tog) and repeat until you reach the stitch marker; knit one round.

(Knit 3 stitches, Knit 2 tog) and repeat until you reach the stitch marker; knit one round.

(Knit 2 stitches, Knit 2 tog) and repeat until you reach the stitch marker; knit one round.

(Knit 1 stitch, Knit 2 tog) and repeat until you reach the stitch marker.

Knit 2 tog and repeat until you reach the stitch marker.

Leaving a 15-inch tail, cut the yarn and run it through all remaining stitches. Pull to close the top of the hat, and weave in ends. Decorate hat as desired.

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About the Author

Stephanie Crumley Hill is a childbirth educator who for more than 20 years has written professionally about pregnancy, family and a variety of health and medical topics. A former print magazine editor, her insurance articles for “Resource” magazine garnered numerous awards. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Georgia.