A child’s hand in yours — what tenderness it arouses, what power it conjures. You are instantly the very touchstone of power and wisdom. Marjorie Holmes
The process of creating a needlework community in my synagogue has included more than the basics. In addition to organizing, recruiting, and scheduling, I’ve had the task of sifting through both charity knitting projects to contribute to and patterns the group could use; our small group has a wide variety of skills, from the most rudimentary to wonderful expertise. While I’ve collected many of the simplest ones available online (here’s our current list), there have been requests to learn to do more than simple cast-on, knit, purl and decrease. So I’ve been working on a set of patterns that will give the R.S. Tikkun Knitters a chance to tackle cables.
The first is done: a Wise Owl Cap.
I’ve wanted to knit this motif for some time, after seeing examples such as this owl cap and cardigan, Pine Tree Yarns Owl Pullover, the Owl Dishcloth, this Horseshoe Cable Hat, and even owls on socks (link’s gone missing in my files). As I entered the cap into my Ravelry list I learned that Ruthi Nussbaum had also generated a similar pattern for adults, crediting Barbara Breiter at www.knittingonthenet.com for the owl motif (Ruthie’s pattern can be found here). How delightful to find others who share my enthusiasm for this simple bit of knitted wit. Wise minds think alike.
This little cap is all of 4″ x 4″, perfect for a premature baby in need of extra warmth. For the benefit of novice knitters, there are enough new challenges to keep busy, but on a manageable scale: left- and right-leaning cables for the horseshoe cable motif, left- and right-leaning decreases to shape the crown, and working with double point needles.
After using my model to teach new knitters at Congregation Rodeph Shalom, I’ll be donating my Wise Owl Cap (and a few others) to the Hats for Alex project, which aims to collect 500 preemie and newborn hats in 2008 for Children’s Hospital in Omaha, NE, the hospital that first cared for this special infant. You can read about the tragic circumstances of Alex’s short life here. If you would like to donate a hat, check the project website or contact Trillian.
- Preemie S (2 – 3 lbs): Head Circumference 10″ – 11 1/4″ hat circ = 8.5″ – 10″ Hat height = 4″
- Preemie M (4 – 5 lbs) : Head Circumference 11 1/2″ – 12 1/2″ hat circ = 9″ – 11.5″ Hat height = 4 to 4.5″
- Preemie L (1/2 – 6 lbs): Head Circumference 12 1/2″ – 13″ hat circ = 11″ – 12″ Hat height = 5 to 5.5″
- Newborn: Head Circumference 13″ – 14 ” hat circ = 11.5″ – 13″ Hat height = 5.5 to 6″
Any machine-washable DK weight yarn (I used Universal Bella DK, polyamide and acrylic); 1 skein will make quite a few preemie hats
Size 3 dpns (3.0 mm)
Optional: 2-3 feet of contrasting washable yarn (I used white) for the French Knot eyes
7 sts x 19 rows = 1 inch in St. st
1 cable owl pattern = approximately 1.25″
The hat is quite stretchy, so don’t worry if you get a slightly different gauge if/when you use a different yarn as long as you get 5-7 sts per inch.
C4F (Cable Four Front): Work on 4 sts. Place the first 2 sts on cable needle, hold in front of work, K2, then K2 from the cable needle.
Work the owl cable pattern over the next 16 rows:
Continue in *P2, K8* pattern until cap measures 4″ (4.5″, 5″, 5.5″) from cast-on edge.
Begin decreases for crown:
Optional owl eyes: Use tapestry needle and contrasting thread to add owl eyes by embroidering a pair of French Knots on each owl head. If you are unfamiliar with making French Knots, illustrated embroidery instructions can be found here. I anchored the first of each pair of eyes on each “owl”, made the pair of “eyes”, and stretched the cap well before anchoring the strand in the next owl to insure that the carried strand would not constrict the hat when stretched over a little head.
- While I usually avoid all acrylic fibers, knits for preemies and hospitalized newborns must be machine washable, and soft. The Universal Bella DK has a feel similar to some of the Debbie Bliss baby and DK yarns, without the wool that may give some preemies trouble.
- The model here is a Preemie M-sized cap (8 cable owls). I have not test-knitted all sizes provided here, but have used the size specifications provided by Bev’s Country Cottage table to generate the pattern instructions for the other sizes. Please let me know if you have suggestions or problems with the other sizes.