This post first aired in August 2011. Since then, my dear friend Jay Lake passed on June 1, 2014. My beloved relative still continues her fight against the demon cancer with grace and chemo caps. Now I have another friend battling cancer. I made her a bright purple and a lovely teal cap.
Sometimes all we can do is knit, pushing love and healing energy into each stitch. As the gift giving and insane shopping season descends upon us once again, I need to contemplate the gifts we give and receive all through the year. The gifts of love, and help, and support in times of desperation.
By Phyllis Irene Radford
Sometimes I have to knit to maintain a certain level of insanity, as in complex cable knits or lace patterns. Sometimes I have to knit for sanity. This past year I’ve had a dear friend and a beloved relative diagnosed with cancer. I am not in a position to drive them to appointments, hold their hands, or cook enticing dishes for them as they battle their treatments as well as their disease.
A friend from my knitting club gave me a pattern I love from www.knitpicks.com “Twig Lace Cap.” The symbolism of the Tree of Life for health and long life, and the Lobster Claw for prosperity seem most appropriate for cancer patients.
The first ones I made in worsted weight acrylic. The yarn is stretchy and bulky so I got away with using one size smaller than the pattern required. Those were the sizes I had on hand. The bulk suited the man I knit them for. For my beloved relative, female, I wanted something a little more delicate. A friend cleared out her stash and found multiple skeins of yarn from Ivoro in a sport weight and not nearly as stretchy. I had to up my needle size to the pattern requirements. It is 40% silk, 30% cashmere, 20% lambswool, and 10% nylon and works up wonderfully, though the lambswool and cashmere might not be appropriate for people with sensitive skin or allergies.
There is something miraculous about silk in the way it “wants” to become the pattern. I love working with it. My first professional sale of a nonfiction article examined a lace veil in a historical museum made in black silk. I described the texture as soothing as cool water flowing over a tired hand.
Yeah, silk is like that.
Brenda Clough sent me the following links for more ideas and yarns for chemo caps. There are websites that actually rate the yarn for chemo caps, so it would be worth scouting around. Here’s one: http://mathomhouse.typepad.com/photos/chemo_caps/pink_ribbon_bbcdotcodotuk.html
Elann.com offers a number of reasonably priced blends–have a look at their bamboo-silk combo: http://www.elann.com/Commerce.Web/product.aspx?catID=30&id=123979&tid=7
The important part of these caps is not the silk or the acrylic, or matching the colors to the personality of the recipient. For me, the sanity saving part of this exercise is working each stitch with love and prayers for healing.
Phyllis Irene Radford is a founding member of the Book View Café. Though raised in the seaports of America, she was born in Portland, Oregon and has lived in and around the city since her junior year in high school. She thrives in the damp and loves the tall trees.
For more about her and her fiction please visit her bookshelf here on BVC http://www.bookviewcafe.com/index.php/Phyllis-Irene-Radford/
Or her personal web page ireneradford.com