Chemo Cap

My cousin-in-law is undergoing chemotherapy treatment for breast cancer. There is never a good time for this, but right now is particularly hard with social distancing precautions in place. I know she is receiving many virtual hugs and prayers and support.

I decided to contribute in the form of a knitted chemo cap. I researched what yarn would be best for this purpose and looked at patterns. Recommendations included cotton or a cotton/acrylic blend, or bamboo. Being it will be in direct contact with her skin, and summer is hot where she lives, I decided on some cotton and rayon blend yarn that I had in my stash.

Yarn selected for the chemo cap

I found a pattern on Ravelry that looked fun and stylish, the Regina Hat by Carina Spencer. I could visualize it on my giftee and she liked it too. The pattern involves knitting a long narrow band with a fan shape at the end in one color yarn, then picking up stitches from the band to knit the main part of the hat in a different color yarn, with a slouch style. Following is a photo of the knitted band with a fan shape at the end.

Band with fan for the beginning of the hat
Stitches picked up from the band for the main part of the hat

This pattern is knit inside out. Normally when you knit in the round the front or right side is the smooth looking side with all the little “v”s. This pattern has a stitch pattern that is showcased on the back, which is the “right” side in this case.

After starting decreases for the crown and switching to double pointed needles, with the color not showing accurately
Completed hat

It looks like there are mistakes in a couple of places, but after looking and looking I think the tension is just wonky there. The cotton yarn acts differently than wool or a wool blend, with less elasticity. The pattern called for using needles three sizes bigger than normal for the main part of the hat, which makes it loose and drapy.

The center back is very loose due to the large needle size (or my knitting?)

Where the stitches all come together at the top looks way looser than the photo in the pattern, but I guess it is OK as long as they do not come undone. For the purpose, it is just as well that it is “airy” as it will be cooler to wear during this summer’s hot weather.

What it is supposed to look like
Modeling the finished hat

Wigs are another method used throughout the centuries by both men and women to cover up bald or thinning hair, as well as for fashion and hygiene purposes. My mom had one in the 1960’s when they were in style. I also remember that when my grandma was getting older and her hair was thinning, she wore a wig that was supposed to look like her own hair.

My mom’s wig from the 1960’s or 1970’s that we found stored in a trunk
Marie Antoinette in a “pouf” hair style with her own hair on top of a hairpiece
Thomas Jefferson wearing a wig in 1786

When my daughter was on a semester abroad in Equador during college, she and another student shaved their heads. It was not because of the hot humid weather there, rather it was a statement about being beautiful with or without hair. A few months later when she was back home she was a bridesmaid in her cousin’s wedding. By then her hair had grown enough to have it professionally styled into a cute short cut. My mom was beside herself that not only did my daughter have this non-standard looking hair for the wedding, but my niece, another bridesmaid, had remnants of blue dye in her hair. It was a boho wedding with the bride wearing a long wedding style skirt with a camisole top, and her fringed moccasin boots. It was perfect.

My giftee’s hair completely fell out after one chemo treatment. She posted a bald photo of herself…she was and is beautiful. It is wonderful that she has options for going natural, or wearing a fun hat or stylish scarf. Or even a wig if she wants to.

Published by Meg Hanson

Hello. I am a recently retired empty nester. My husband and I moved to Jewett Lake in Otter Tail County, Minnesota, after living most of our lives in the Minneapolis area. I have no trouble keeping busy with knitting and spinning of wool, selling yarn and handmade goods, reading, walking, watching movies, surfing on the internet, traveling, doing bookkeeping for our family cabin, and spending time with family.

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