give a little love

Little Hats, Big Hearts is a great project to donate your maker magic to!

Little Hats, Big Hearts is a great project to donate your maker magic to!

Have you ever heard of the project “Little Hats, Big Hearts?” I just found out about it this year, and it aligns perfectly with my vision of giving back through craft. If you’re looking for a way to share your time and talent and give a *little* love through making, here’s the perfect opportunity. 

What is Little Hats, Big Hearts?

Little Hats, Big Hearts is a project of the American Heart Association in connection with The Children’s Heart Foundation that invites knitters and crocheters to employ their craft to make and donate *tiny* red hats. With the mission of celebrating babies born in February, and raising awareness about heart health and Congenital Heart Defects, Little Hats, Big Hearts distributes these *miniature* red hats to babies born in February at participating hospitals all over the United States. Since February is American Heart Month, these *teeny-tiny* hats are distributed along with information packets regarding heart healthy living in the effort of inspiring mothers to live heart healthy lives, and empowering them to make heart healthy decisions for their families. 

Little Hats, Big Hearts started in 2014 in Chicago, IL. That first year, they collected 300 hats. As of today, the organization has expanded to more than 40 states, and they are constantly looking for additional hospitals wanting to participate. For 2018, they have collected 200,000 handmade hats that will be distributed!

While they are no longer accepting hats for February 2018, I still contacted the North Carolina representative of Little Hats Big Hearts to see how I can be involved. She replied that the North Carolina branch accepts hats year-round in preparation for the following year (if already past the deadline), so I decided to make some hats for 2019! You can contact your individual state representative to find out about deadlines for your state, or if your state does not yet participate in the program, the nearest participating state closest to you. 

How You Can Give a Little Love

Little hat, lotta love

Little hat, lotta love

There are a couple  *small* parameters with regard to the making of the hats: the hats must be red and made out of cotton or acrylic yarn so that they can be washed and dried (medium and bulky weight preferred). Little Hats, Big Hearts ask for the hats to be made from simple patterns without embellishments, as embellishments often can become separated from the hat and may prove dangerous for the baby. They provide a couple of links to patterns on their website - or you can find one online (or even make one up yourself). The hats are provided to newborns and preemies, but since babies come in all shapes and sizes, use your best judgement when sizing. Here’s the knit pattern I worked for one of the hats (I am going to vary the number of stitches and rows slightly to accommodate for different sizes):

(I’m not sure the actual weight of the yarn, but I’m working on US 13 (11mm) DPNs, so I’d say it’s ‘Bulky/Super Bulky’)

  • CO 32 stitches
  • Join in the round and K1, P1 all the way around for 2 rows
  • Knit in the round for 3 inches
  • K1, K2tog around until you have 4 stitches remaining 
  • Cut the tail and weave through the 4 live stitches, pulling closed. Weave in the ends.

I did try to get a *wee* fancy a couple of times. On one hat, I tried cabling (didn’t quite work). On another, I tried the seed stitch (didn’t look great). I even knit a hat with a heart pattern (pictured at the top of the page, may keep that one). But I discovered that really, truly, simplicity is key.

Red is not normally a color I gravitate toward, but I happened to have a bulky skein in my stash that was gifted to me. It fit the bill perfectly! They don’t require a certain amount of donated hats, but I imagine I can get three *baby* hats out of this one skein. I live really close to a Michaels (talk about dangerous), so I frequently take advantage of their coupons, which would be perfect to buy another skein to make more. (Michaels, JoAnn Fabrics and Hobby Lobby always have super coupons, so I always try to shop at those stores for my donation crafts.)

Since these are *mini* hats, they knit up really quickly, and despite my not making the deadline this year, I'll send them off once finished to my state's headquarters (information found on the Little Hats, Big Hearts site). There, the hats will be cleaned, sorted and packaged for the 2019 delivery. I’m also going to put it on my calendar in November to remind myself to send some more for February 2019 - I think the actual deadline is early January.)

Image borrowed from Little Hats, Big Hearts to show you just how cute your contribution will look! 

Image borrowed from Little Hats, Big Hearts to show you just how cute your contribution will look! 

Love Your Big Heart

I didn't know this, but Congenital Heart Defects are the most common form of birth defect. So common, in fact, that nearly 1 in 100 babies are both with a Congenital Heart Defect (CHD) every year. CHD's are also the most common cause of infant death. In supporting Little Hats, Big Hearts, you are also supporting The Children's Heart Foundation, the leading national organization that was created to exclusively fund congenital heart defect research. Your big maker heart is contributing to raising arareness about this important issue. 

While you're out there giving a little love to February babies, why not give some consideration to how you love your heart too? Did you know that heart disease is the number one killer of women in the United States? While there are some risk factors to heart disease that are out of our control (such as age, gender, and heredity), there are numerous risk factors that are within our control (like high blood pressure, smoking and lack of exercise). If you don't know where to start to invite more heart healthy living choices into your life, check out the American Heart Association and ask your doctor to find information, tips and resources.

Let's all celebrate the 'month of love' by giving a little love to ourselves and others!