How to Knit the Perfect Chemo Cap
Knitting a chemo cap that will make a world of difference to a cancer fighter, plus free patterns
Have you ever wondered what makes chemo caps such an important part of the recovery process for a cancer patient? You may not realize that it goes far beyond covering a newly-bald head.
Pamela Haschke (no relation!) of the former Halos of Hope wrote a powerful testament on her website about what it feels like to undergo chemotherapy:
Your hair falls out in clumps and your scalp hurts feeling like pinpricks where the hair follicles used to be. It’s not possible to perform a simple an act like running your fingers through your hair without strands becoming entwined. As the chemotherapy eradicates the cancer cells within your body, you’re recovering internally while the pain on your scalp makes you want to cry.”
Before I read Pamela’s testimony, I had no idea that chemotherapy could be so painful — even for the scalp!
It gave me a whole new appreciation for just how important it is to knit a chemo cap that is both warm and — perhaps even more importantly — comfortable.
In this post, you’ll learn the basics for knitting chemo caps. You’ll find tips, yarn suggestions, knitting patterns, and more.
How to knit the right chemo caps
Here are the Big Three, absolutely crucial aspects of the perfect chemo cap.
- Little to no texture
When choosing yarn for these caps remember the sensitivity of the patient’s head. If it’s delightfully soft to knit with, it will be soft enough for a chemo cap.
These are some of the yarns that are considered the very best for knitting chemo caps. (These came from the Knots of Love website; you’ll find a far more extensive list there. If you don’t see your favorite yarn here, try their site!)
Note: this list includes affiliate links, marked by an *. If you click on an affiliate link and then make a purchase, I may receive a commission.
- Bernat Baby Coordinates*
- Bernat Boa*
- Bernat Satin Yarn*
- Berroco Comfort Yarn*
- Brown Sheep Cotton Fleece*
- Caron Simply Soft*
- Cascade Fixation*
- Debbie Bliss Cashmerino*
- Hikoo Caribou
- Hikoo CoBaSi DK
- Hikoo CoBaSi Plus
- Knit Picks Shine Sport*
- Knit Picks Shine Worsted*
- Lion Brand Fun Fur*
- Lion Brand Heartland*
- Patons Silk Bamboo*
- Plymouth Encore*
- Red Heart Soft Baby Steps*
- Red Heart Soft*
Please note that some of these yarns are wool blends. If you choose to use one, be sure to tag your cap to alert patients who might have wool allergies.
What color should you consider when you’re knitting caps? Some patients prefer neutral colors that can be worn with any outfit and be inconspicuous. Others want to have fun with their hats and enjoy bright colors that match their personalities.
For the most part, you can knit whatever color pleases you. However, if you plan to knit a lot of chemo caps for years to come, consider changing up your colors from time to time!
Little or No Texture
When you’re choosing a pattern for your cap, avoid texture. Strive to make the stitches as smooth as possible to prevent uncomfortable “bumps” against the patient’s head.
Also, remember that some cancer patients wear caps so their baldness doesn’t show. With this in mind, avoid stitches that create “holes.” Some examples include shell stitch, V-stitch or granny squares. Most lace patterns, obviously, are a “no.”
It is best to knit caps in the round, as they are seamless. Chemotherapy patients tend to find seams quite uncomfortable against their sensitive heads.
Once you’ve knitted that cap, check this article for how to care for it before you send it!
One Last Note from a Reader
I am indebted to reader Isobel, who brought the following to my attention:
Being in Memphis, I had decided to knit some hats for the children undergoing chemo at St. Jude’s Research Hospital. I had already made a chemo cap out of Lion brand fun fur which was incredibly soft and looked like a short-hair pink wig. Just perfect for a young lady, I thought.
“But when they asked me about pets in my home, I had to tell them that I had a cat and two dogs. They told me that they could not accept the hat. Most (if not all) of their patients have compromised immune systems from the chemo and cannot tolerate any pet hair. So if I wanted to make the hats, I would have to limit my chemo hat knitting activities to my office.
“I think it might be worth mentioning to your readers that it would be a good idea to check with the medical center where they intend to donate the caps, to find out what their policy is regarding pet hair contamination of the caps.”
Thank you, again, Isobel, for this very important reminder!
With these qualifications in mind, here are links to some terrific patterns for chemo caps and headcoverings.
Free Knitting Patterns for Chemo Caps
Six Free Knitting Patterns for Hats
A Guide to Knitting Warm Weather Chemo Caps
How to Knit for Cancer Patients with Style
Head Huggers Hat Patterns
Chemocaps Free Patterns
Finally, are you wondering where to find knitting charities that take chemo caps? You’ll find many right here, in the the Knitting for Charity Cancer Patients category.
This is such a wonderful way to make a difference to people fighting cancer! Are you ready to knit some chemo caps?
Click here to sign up for my free email course, Getting Started with Charity Knitting, and subscribe to the free Knitting Nuggets Newsletter.
Is there a pattern for the red hat? It’s so pretty.
I agree, it is quite pretty! I’m not sure what pattern was used to create it, but this one looks very close: https://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/snappy-hat And the flower looks very much like Head Huggers’ own pattern: http://www.headhuggers.org/patterns/flower02k.htm
Oh, I forgot, the copy cat Colorado Chicks hat on ravelry is very popular, would it be appropriate?
Tacy, I think as long as you’re using a really soft yarn, that pattern that you’re referring to would definitely be appropriate. And yes, reverse stockinette stitch would be an excellent idea as well!
Would it be good to do reverse stockinette stitched hats so the flat side is on the inside? Also I love all the hard work you put into this wonderful site. Thank you very, very much
I knit chemo hats using 100% 4-ply cashmere yarn. I provide a tag with each hat showing them how to care of the hat. The hats are extremely soft and the chemo patients absolutely love them.
Ooh, cashmere! Who wouldn’t love that?! ❤