Monday, September 11, 2006

Question from Reader: How Do You Know What Size?

Dear Dee,
I am a new crocheter and want to crochet some hats for the Caps to the Capital you have written in your blog about.  I wonder if you can tell me a good way to figure out if my hats will fit the babies they are intended for?
Thanks, Jackie

Hi Jackie,
Thank you for contacting me and inquiring.  There are a number of ways to determine if your hats are of the proper size for the "Caps to the Capital" campaign.  One way is to download the pattern from the Save the Children website and look at their gauge requirements.  You'll see that for the crochet portion of the brochure they have two patterns listed -- actually it's one pattern using two different sized fibers, and in relation, two different sized crochet hooks.  Take note that both patterns have something called "gauge" listed.

If you make a small swatch measuring about 4" square, you can measure your stitches to see if it matches that of the pattern.  If it doesn't then you can bump your hook up or down a number of sizes until you do reach the intended gauge.  Plus, as an added benefit of working up a gauge swatch, you get to feel the fabric and determine if it's really going to make you (or the recipient) happy in the end.  If it's too stiff & scratchy then you can easily choose another fiber more pleasing without a lot of time invested in the project.

If you're a doll collector, there are a number of dolls on the market listing themselves as "preemie" size.  You can always purchase one and keep trying your hat on it to get a good visual on how the fit is coming along.

Or, you can make yourself a template; they are fairly easy to make.  You'll need a piece of cardboard, a ruler, a pencil, scissors, and something round, like a coffee mug.

First,draw out a rectangle that meets the measurements.  For the "Caps to the Capital" campaign, they want a cap that has a 10" circumference, and measures 4" to 4.5" inches high.  Their pattern also calls for a cuff, so figure another 2.5" to 3" to the height.  This means you'll need to draw a rectangle that measures 5" (half of the desired circumference) by 7".  Next, place your coffee mug on the top line of the rectangle and trace the top so that it curves (if your coffee mug is not large enough, try a bowl). 

Now measure up from the bottom where your cuff line should start.  In my example I have a dotted line and a solid (please note it is an example; it is not to scale!).  You can do the same.  You'll then cut out the template and slip your hat over it as you crochet along. 

On my template I wrote down that it's a template for a preemie weighing between 1-3 pounds.  Some have commented that their preemie hats circumference is measuring 11" or 12" -- go ahead and submit these hats as a preemie weighing between 3-5 pounds has an average head measurement of 12"-12.5" -- but do try to keep most of your hats to the 10" circumference because again, although they are full-term babies we're trying to save, they are born the size we associate as preemies.  For more information about baby head sizes, visit

9/11: God Bless America!

1 comment:

weissmaus said...

Dee: Thanks for an excellent explanation! As a beginner, I appreciate these detailed explanations. Perhaps being a crochet teacher makes you more in tune with how beginners need more specifics on how to do things. Laura