Get the pdf here: The September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month Hat
There will be three free patterns in all, released over the course of the next few months leading up to the publication of the book. For the first time when one does a pattern search on Ravelry using the phrase, “childhood cancer” a result is presented. This pattern has been a long time coming…..
It was more than a year ago, while Bronwyn was recovering from VAD surgery, I was consumed with this idea of raising awareness for childhood cancer. First I looked for patterns for childhood cancer……nothing! How about just cancer patterns? Pink everywhere! Great! Just change the colour and, voila!, you have a childhood cancer awareness scarf, bag, hat, sweater, washcloth, socks, headband, cup cozy, water bottle cozy, tea cozy……and even a chemo hat wearing, chick shaped Cadbury easter egg cozy. I have knit a couple of breast cancer items for friends like the Boobie Scarf and Tit Bits ……ya…….neither of those transfer well to childhood cancer. Hmmm. Why are there no patterns designed for childhood cancer awareness?
Hey! That’s what we need! Patterns designed for childhood cancer awareness! Boom! That’s what I can do! Ya, I’m just one of millions of knitters. Ya, I’ve never designed a pattern. I’m no one special in the fibre community but something I have learned in our childhood cancer journey is anything is possible. You just have to find the right people to help. I felt confident I would find the right people in the warm, creative and passionate community of fibre enthusiasts.
I started talking to people…..a carefully selected few. Just bounced the idea around a bit and see what happens. People loved the idea but no one had a clear idea of where to start. I had a feeling it needed to start with me. I needed to make a pattern, I needed to show people what was possible but I didn’t know how. I had no idea where to start with that….. and that is where the idea stayed for months.
In the fall of 2012 I decided it was time I did something for me. Since January 13th, 2012, the day Bronwyn and I were airlifted to the Children’s Hospital in London, ON, my focus had been fully on Bronwyn. My life had ceased. I lived for Bronwyn.
–>Side note: At this point some may like to point out that I have 2 children and that Sinead needed just as much help. I agree. Sinead was in Thunder Bay, finishing grade 11. She came for a couple of visits while Bronwyn was being treated for cancer but, truth be told, I didn’t have enough for her and Bronwyn. When Sinead had to go back to Thunder Bay, after her first visit to Bronwyn in London, in January, 2012 I told her as she cried, “This is going to be the hardest thing any of us have to do. One day this will be over and we will have the luxury of falling apart but that is not this day. You do whatever you need to to get through. Ask for help when you need it because when this is over I need you to be there. I need you to still be Sinead.” I made sure she was surrounded by supportive family and friends and always knew I loved her, was proud of her and she was incredibly important to me but she had to know I could not micromanage her life anymore. She needed to take charge and be responsible for herself. She was and she is amazing! Bronwyn’s story is incredible but there is a whole other story here, Sinead’s Story, and it’s super!
I joined the Downtown Knit Collective, a knitting guild that met within walking distance of Ronald McDonald House… easily assessable. It met once a month… I think I can handle that kind of commitment. They also organized workshops and a Knitter’s Frolic. I didn’t know what that was but it sure sounded fun! It was a breath of fresh air to me. A room packed full of knitters, at least a 100, all click-clacking away while listening to the president give announcements of upcoming speakers and events that sounded too good to be true and congratulating members on their latest publications, names I knew! Designers’ names I recognized from magazines and Ravelry. Wow! Then a few members showed off the wonderful things they had knit over the summer and then the guest speakers…..indie dyers! Two of them! Dye Version and Indigodragonfly. They talked about their business and yarn and new colours for their fall lines…… It was heaven! No one talked about hospitals or doctors or cancer….just fibre.
I walked back to the House glowing. I had found my people!
In October, 2012 I discovered there was a convention for crafters, the Creativ Festival! It was being held in the same building the Fan Expo was in. The best thing I had done that summer was take Bronwyn and Sinead to the Fan Expo shortly after Bronwyn was discharged. It was such a pleasure to make something great happen for them. The best part was sitting in on the Q & A panel with Matthew Grey Gubler and A. J. Smith. The girls are both HUGE Criminal Minds fans. We saw John Barrowman [Dr. Who and Torchword] and John Rhys-Davies [Lord of the Rings] and Stan Lee passed by us so close I could have kissed him. It was wonderful treat for them. [Bronwyn, wearing the shawl I knit her, Bigger On the Inside, and Sinead waiting eagerly for Matthew and A.J.]
I wandered around, all by myself and drank it all in. The displays, the artwork, the fashion shows, the shopping! I came across a beautiful display of what was clearly hand-dyed yarn but in an amount I was not accustomed to seeing all in one place. Who is it that can create so beautifully in such a large quantity? No surprise I was drawn in and fondling it all. I complimented the vendor and asked his name.
Huh. Never heard of it. I consider myself pretty savvy and knowledgeable in the yarny world. How is it possible that an indie dyer, who clearly is not a beginner, who has so much stock and experience is not known by me? I asked. He answered. Suffice to say he used to dye for another company but they parted ways and he was flying solo. I was an instant fan! He noticed the pins I had on my jacket. I ended up telling him why I was in Toronto. Instant friends!
Rhichard became one of those “right” people to help me. He took my flier explaining my project with him on business trips to other conventions. He displayed our picture and talked about the project. Nothing seemed to come of it. I tried to sum up the courage to approach yarnies and designers at DKC meetings but just ended up being the weird lady who was hanging around trying to be casual while looking for my moment. But I was not discouraged. I knew it would happen……
…….at the back of my head that niggling feeling that I needed to lead by example would not go away.
Jump ahead to August of 2013. September was approaching. The niggling feeling became an unavoidable urge. With the pressure came clarity. I could do it. I would do it! What to do? I grabbed my laptop and went directly to Ravelry’s pattern search. What was the most popular, unisex pattern category? Hats. Ok. I would design a hat. It needed to be attractive to both men and women and lightweight so it could be worn in September. Rhichard’s fingering merino would be perfect. I already had several gold skeins on hand. I worked about a day on figuring out the basic ribbon cable and cast on. Within a few days I had a pattern. Sheesh, that wasn’t so hard.
Then came the pattern testing…… turns out designing is a lot harder than it looks. My testers were wonderful and patient with me. I found my first round of testers by posting a request to the facebook page we keep friends, family [and many supportive strangers] up to date on Bronwyn’s progress. Twenty- two testers stepped up. Some discovered the cabling was beyond their present skill and others didn’t have the time to test immediately but there were enough who got the job done, find errors, inconsistencies, unclear passages and a volunteer to transcribe my chart into words.
I was ready to look for the second round of testers in the Ravelry group, The Testing Pool. This is a group, full of people willing to test out patterns before they are published. I was eager but intimidated by the whole process. I needn’t be. It was another wonderful experience. The testers that volunteered understood my cause and were willing to help. The wording was further clarified. I discovered I cannot edit my own patterns as I know what I mean and have difficulty wording instructions in a way that others can get it. There I met Renee Burton, a designer who knows her stuff and also a left-handed knitter. Instant bond! I was having difficulty with the sizing of the hat. Which size would fit what size head? It required math and was beyond me. She figured it out, did the math, created charts to show it and gave me permission to use them. I was ready to publish.