I have an aunt who was recently diagnosed with breast cancer, and is starting her chemo treatment. I asked her if she would enjoy some knitted hats, and she said she would LOVE some! So I started scouring Ravelry for some extra cute hat patterns, as well as for suggestions from fellow knitters who have made chemo caps before.
Here are just a few of the tips I received (mostly from former chemo patients themselves):
#1: Don't use animal fiber yarn- Unless the recipient of the hat knows that they can handle it, don't use animal fiber yarn for chemo caps. I guess that chemotherapy makes patients skin extra sensitive, to where any animal fiber seems extremely itchy. In my aunt's case, she has super sensitive skin to begin with, so wool is a definite no. Most of the Ravelers I talked with suggested acrylic or cotton. I really don't like acrylic myself, either to work with or to wear, so I found a couple of nice cotton options (see below).
#2: Stay away from blacks, greys, yellows, and some greens- I don't know if this is true or not, but I was told that these colors don't look good on chemo patients. Since chemo gives their skin an 'ashy' look, these colors sometimes emphasize that. My aunt really wanted one of her hats in a grey yarn, however, so I'm going ahead and trying it. I found a pretty dark grey to work with, because I figured a darker grey would look livelier than a pale grey. I really hoping it works for her, but I figured the most important thing was letting her be involved in the process and pick the colors!
#3: Avoid patterns with openwork and lace- This one is pretty self-explanatory, since the point of a chemo cap is to cover up their scalp, not let it show!
#4: Make a 'just-for-fun' hat- Several of the former chemo-patients on Ravelry expressed that while sometimes they wanted to wear a hat that made them feel pretty or dressed nice, other times they just wanted to have fun and wear a silly hat! They suggested I find out what characters/movies my aunt likes, and try to make a themed hat based around that.
#5: Avoid seams- Again, pretty self-explanatory, but something I hadn't thought of before going on Ravelry. For extra-sensitive scalps, nobody wants a bulky seam to cause discomfort!
I hope these tips have helped any of you who are working on making some chemo caps!
My aunt picked out two hat styles for me to work on, but I'm hoping I can make even more than that! The first one is Ksenia. She wanted it just as pictured, with the gray and red. I decided to make it with Blue Sky Fibers Worsted Cotton. It's 100% organic cotton yarn, and SO soft! I'm absolutely loving how it's working up with this hat, and am already thinking to make her more hats with the same yarn!
The second hat she picked out was the Caroline hat. I had made this hat previously, and my aunt decided to do those same colors. For this hat I decided to use Cascade Ultra Pima yarn. I've worked with this yarn before and love it, so I think it's going to turn out lovely for this hat! I haven't started on this one yet, but am really looking forward to it!