Crochet Hats On Repeat For Refugee Babes

beanies for babes, made on repeat.

beanies for babes, made on repeat.

Robyn here!

One statistic that makes me super sad? Hundreds of babies are born every month in refugee camps. Almost 100 alone in the biggest refugee camp in France. Babies born to families who were fleeing terror, are now being born into uncertain conditions.

I remember when I was super pregnant with both my babes - the last thing I wanted to do was travel, much less travel long distances through perilous conditions, not knowing where I'd be giving birth. NO THANKS. So for these women to leave everything, to take such a journey? Their lives must have been un-imaginable.

And so, as part of my holiday hat-making, I have been crocheting baby hats on repeat, using my leftover balls of wool. The pattern I've been using most often? The Basic Beanie, from Sweet Kiwi Crochet. (ravelry | etsy)

Two things to know about this pattern. One, it costs $5. That's a price that may turn away some crocheters, but I'm here to tell you it's worth EVERY PENNY. I use this hat all year long. It's got sizes from newborns through adults, directions for adding ear flaps or not, and tutorials for stripes, ties, and poms! Did I mention I've more than gotten my money's worth out of it?!

Second, I alter it a bit for true newborn hats. The smallest size in the pattern is for 0-6 months, so I do 9 instead of 10 for the first row, which gives me fewer increases and a more true newborn size. When made this way, the hat will fit for the first 6-8 weeks on the babes I know here in America, which makes them perfect for super tiny newborn heads all over the world.

These hats are tiny, for sure. They will not fit for an extended period of time, it's true.  But the bigger sizes don't always work on true newborns, and babes need so much extra warmth those first precious few days and weeks. So while I also donate bigger hats, I love to toss as many super tiny newborn hats into every package I send off to refugees.

Where do I send these hats? To the Salaam Cultural Museum, an organization in Seattle that regularly sends medical aide to refugee camps. There's a huge group of knitters and crocheters on Ravelry who send items to them regularly, and I trust my fellow knitters with just about everything, so I send things their way as well!

Holiday Make-Along: Preemie And Baby Hats

Most of us can agree that babies are all precious and amazing, and come into the world with no baggage but that which we place on them.

So let's love on some babies this holiday season! There's a lot of charities that accept baby hats - you can donate to most local hospitals, so long as your yarn is acrylic. You can also donate to Salaam Cultural Museum, which will take the hats to the hundreds of babies being born in refugee camps every month.

Before I start bombarding you with charity options over the next few weeks, let's talk patterns, though!

Pictured above are some free knit favorites ... plus one sewing pattern!

Quick Knit Chevron Baby Hat, by Kayla Pins
Hello Preemie! Hat, by Heather Walpole
Rainbow Baby Hat, from Little Red Window

DIY Baby Hat Sewing Pattern, from Coral & Co.
Simple Newborn Beanie, by Casey Braden
Tegan Baby Hat, from Love Knitting

What other patterns do you love using when you knit for babies? Share hat patterns for sure, but I'd love to hear about other patterns you love to use!

January: Vests For Refugee Children

Robyn here!

Winter has arrived in the Northern Hemisphere, and cold is settling in, even on the shores of Greece in the Mediterranean. According to my friend Alison, the temperatures feel freezing as the volunteers stand at the edge of the water pulling refugees off boats, and children are being hauled to the medical tents freezing to death thanks to a combination of wind, being soaked through their clothes from the waves, and exhaustion from their travels.

One of the easiest ways to provide some extra warmth is with vests made from 100% wool, and that's where the Mini Thermal Vest pattern comes in. I shared a bit about this at the end of last year, but vests are uniquely perfect for refugees, especially when made in wool - they keep the body's main organs warm by covering the trunk of a person, all while keeping extremities free of the bulk of sweaters and blankets and such. This means vests can be layered over or under other long sleeved clothing and provide one extra layer of warmth, and when made with wool there's the added advantage of some amount of protection from the weather.

And so, for January, Heather and I will be knitting Mini Thermal Vests with our wool stash. The pattern is written to create different sizes based on the yarn weight and needle you use, and the waffle pattern means your vest will almost certainly fit a refugee child perfectly. Made long and skinny, these vests can keep babies through toddlers and younger children warm all winter long as they hunker down in refugee camps or travel on after landing in Greece, hoping to find safety and freedom from fighting.

As you make your vests, send them on to Salaam Cultural Museum, which is a well-known and much-respected organization doing refugee work, and which has collection addresses both in the US and in London!

Salaam Cultural Museum
℅ Rita
3806 Whitman Ave N
Seattle. WA 98103

Knit for Peace (Refugee Appeal)
Radius Works
Back Lane

I'll be back early next week with my first vest, either in progress or ready to share, and some of the hints I may come up with as I've been knitting! Happy new year, and happy knitting!

Mini Thermal Vest

Pattern: Mini Thermal Vest, by Claire Russell (free Ravelry download)

Yarn: dk weight through aran weight

Needles: sizes US 7 / 4.5mm, US 8 / 5.0mm, or US 9 / 5.5mm

Winter has reached the Midwest, and while in many areas of the US there's still warmth to be found, for those in need, the cold is setting in quickly ... and it can be extremely dangerous.

The Mini Thermal Vest can help keep little ones of a variety of ages warm, thanks to the free pattern and wide size range! You get the different vest sizes by changing gauge, which means you can make this vest to fit anywhere from infants to two year olds simply by switching needles and yarns!

While I mostly knit hats, this vest is going to be on my needles on repeat this winter, hopefully using up the bulk of the wool I have left on-hand to make vests for Syrian refugees. A vest is perfect for charity knitting, and especially for donation to refugees. A vest will provide warmth to the body, keeping vital organs warm, while not adding bulk to extremities (like arms), keeping mobility as high as possible. This means people will stay warm while still being able to do work, walk for weeks at a time (as many are), and carry their children and their belongings as they go.

For little ones, like this pattern is meant for, this type of warmth is even more important. Keeping warm while not adding bulk can mean the difference between life and death for these tiny refuge children! Wool is best in this case, although the vest can also be made in acrylics and donated to local homeless shelters for little ones in your area.

Simple Stroller Blanket

Pattern: Simple Stroller Blanket, by Sara Gresbach (free Ravelry pattern)

Yarn: any bulky yarn works (see my notes for substituting yarn below)

Needles: US size 11 / 8.0 mm

One of the items Nest Maine needs in abundance this season is stroller blankets. Simple and small, stroller blankets are perfect for wrapping around little ones who are out in the frigid temps in their strollers (and car seats) during winter months.

For families without permanent housing, much of the daytime hours are spent outside moving from place to place, which means if there's little ones in the family, they're spending time outside everyday in freezing weather - often without blankets to keep them warm. A simple stroller blanket, smaller even than a crib blanket, can help keep these little ones snug and cozy, and provide comfort, security, and stability in a time of constant change.

Don't have any bulky yarn, but want to make stroller blankets? Just hold some worsted weight double!! That's right, if you grab two strands of worsted weight yarn and hold them together, you've got yourself bulky weight yarn! This is a great way to use up stash yarn and make some fun color combinations for these blankets!

Toddler T-Shirt Vest

Pattern: Toddler T-Shirt Vest, by Sam Lamb

Suggested Yarn: Dream in Color Classy

Suggested Gauge: 18.5 stitches and 26 rows = 4 inches in stockinette stitch

Suggested Needles: US 9 / 5.5mm

I'm just going to be honest. When a vest pattern says "worked in the round, raglan style", I'm in. I'm 100%, throw myself over the deep end without looking first, into the pattern. Vests are a must-make for charity knitters - they help keep people in a wide variety of climates warm while still keeping arms free for all the day will throw at them. It adds a layer around the precious torso, keeping your body warm while not adding bulk to your extremities.

Vests are where it's at, basically. If I hadn't already committed myself to being a hat maker, I'd be making vests on repeat.

The problem is, many vests have a large amount of shaping and fussy details around the yoke, and then you have to go back in and pick up stitches practically EVERYWHERE. And I just don't have brain space for that. (truth)

The Toddler T-Shirt Vest eliminates all but the armhole ribbing, and works top-down with raglan increases, taking almost ALL of the fussiness out of the equation. And that means I make vests!!

You can use any aran weight yarn with this pattern, which means if you've got some slightly scratchy wool laying about, unsure of what to do with it, this pattern is for you! Vests are always layered, so this is the ONLY TIME I would ever say scratchy yarn is okay.

Aviatrix Hat

Pattern: Aviatrix Hat, by Justine Turner

Suggested Yarn: Cascade 220 Superwash and Cascade 220 Superwash Sport

Suggested Needles: US 2½ - 3.0 mm, US 3 - 3.25 mm, US 4 - 3.5 mm, US 6 - 4.0 mm, US 7 - 4.5 mm, US 9 - 5.5 mm

The Aviatrix Hat is one of the most versatile hat patterns available for knitters. The pattern includes instructions for both DK or sport weight hats AND worsted weight hats, and both yarn weight instructions include sizes from newborns through adults.

This pattern can be made for donations to hospitals for new babies and cancer patients. These hats can be made for refugee camps and homeless shelters. While knitters most often use wool for these hats, you can just as easily use acrylic yarns and end up with a super cute hat!