Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Sewn Lap Quilts

One of our group has made machine sewn lap blankets. This is an option for those who can't knit or crochet, whose hands are sore and tired or who would like to try something new. It is a great way to use up that stash of fabric. Our patients, especially the men, love these blankets.

Our Inspiration

Jane's friend, Brenda Christmas, was the inspiration for formation of this group. Although Brenda didn't knit or crochet, she could sew just about anything and was an amazing crafter. Brenda was diagnosed with colon cancer in 2006 and Jane made a couple hats for her. She loved them and suggested that all patients should have such lovely hats. That inspired the formation of this group. Many hats were made while accommpanying Brenda for her treatments. Brenda died from her cancer in June, 2008. Her generosity and love has continued to inspire this group.

Our Pritzker Forefront Stitchers

A group of students at the University of Chicago Pritzker Medical School has organized to join us. They are registering as an official student group with Jane as their faculty adviser. They will make things with us. They will be an important part of our distribution - taking things to patients. Not only is this good for patients, but it is good for young medical students to have direct interactions with hospitalized patients.

FAQ- Do We Teach?

Many people want to help us but don't know how to knit or crochet. We are asked if we can give lessons. Since we all have full time jobs, that isn't possible. We refer people to the various knitting stores in and around Chicago where lessons are given. Many people can teach themselves from YouTube or on line lessons. Baby blankets and rectangular shawls can be made with a basic knowledge. Caps and more complicated patterns require an ability to read patterns and facility with various stitches. Mastectomy prosthesis require ability to work with small double pointed needles (if you can do socks, you can do these) Once you have an appropriate skill level, we are happy to help you. And occasionally we will do workshops outside of work to teach a particular pattern or skill

Loopy Yarns on Polk Street in Dearborn Stationis is a fvaorite of Jane's, they have lots of classes, wonderful yarns and host a lot of open knitting events.

Knitwerks 1934 S Wabash Ave
Chicago, IL 60616
Phone: (312) 949-9276
URL: is closer to Hyde Park - Jane hasn't been there yet but has heard wonderful things about it.

Mastectomy Prosthesis

These are known as tit bits or knit knockers. The knitting pattern can be found here

A collaborative in Maine has a lot of information about this project

This is a new project for the FFS in January, 2009 and we are working with the breast surgery team to decide the best way to get these to patients, so stay tuned.

The picture here is the first one made by Jane. It is very soft, breathable and the size can be adjusted by adding or subtracting the soft stuffing.


The FFStitchers meet once a month at noon on the second Friday of the month in A 114 of the Medical Center. This meeting is open only to members of the University of Chicago community.

The FFStitchers meet occasionally after work for workshops and social events. Details of such events will be sent to our listserv. To get on the listserv, send your email and a request to

About the University of Chicago Medical Center

The University of Chicago Medical Center, established in 1927, is one of the nation's leading academic medical institutions. It consists of the renowned Pritzker School of Medicine; Bernard Mitchell Hospital, the primary adult patient care facility; Comer Children's Hospital, devoted to the medical needs of children; Chicago Lying-in Hospital, a maternity and women's hospital; and the Duchossois Center for Advanced Medicine, a state-of-the-art ambulatory-care facility with the full spectrum of preventive, diagnostic, and treatment functions. Care is provided by more than 700 attending physicians - most of whom are full-time University faculty members - 620 residents and fellows, more than 1,000 nurses and 9,500 employees.
The Medical Center is consistently recognized as a leading provider of complex medical care. It is the only Illinois hospital ever to make the U.S.News & World Report Honor Roll, with eight clinical specialties--digestive disorders; cancer; endocrinology; neurology and neurosurgery; heart and heart surgery; kidney disease; geriatrics; and ear, nose and throat--ranked among the top 30 programs nationwide. The Medical Center was awarded Magnet status in 2007, the highest level of recognition for nursing care.

Patterns and Ideas - general sources

There are many free pattern sites on line.

Join Ravelry - they have lots of patterns that are free. And it's a great place to find people with interests similar to yours, who happen to knit or crochet. It also has great tips for things - like how to remove smells from old yarn..

Other great free pattern sites: - this site has a great collection of crochet patterns. Under their “flower” section, they have many flower patterns which are easy to make and look wonderful on hats. You can also embellish hats with buttons or beads.
( on line crochet magazine - good patterns has lots of KNIT patterns, but not a lot of photos. knit and crochet – cute bear cap for kids… lots of hats – all crochet

All knitting – good links

Patterns and Ideas - Caps

Chemo Caps - There are many patterns, both knit and crochet. The patterns are not really very different from any other hat you might make, except that they aren’t heavy and they are made of soft yarns. The patterns can be somewhat lacey and open, but not too open since women don’t want their scalps to show through when they have no hair. Wools or other animal product yarns must be labeled since some people have allergies to those. If you use wool, please only very soft materials such as merino. The newly bald head is very sensitive and chemotherapy agents can make the scalp break out.

The site has a lot of patterns. Once you have made a few caps, it is easy to freelance and design and embellish on your own.

Making caps is a great way to use up your stash since it takes about 50 grm to make a cap.

Patterns and Ideas - Shawls

For prayer/healing shawls, these can be designed by you. They can be triangular, rectangle, circular. Can be a shawl or a lap blanket. There are many web sites with directions, the best I’ve found is

For men, make a small afghan type blanket that would cover their lap and legs when sitting. Men also like shawls if they are rectangular and in manly colors.

The Lion Brand web site also has two simple shawl patterns, made in homespun.
And the free pattern central sites both have shawl lists with lots of patterns…

Stitchers in the News

We will be attaching links to news articles about our group once I figure out if it is possible to attach documents to a blog. In the meantime, here are links to some of the articles and videos,0,6069812.story,Op-knitting-032608-p1.fullimage

patterns and ideas- baby blankets

NICU blankets - they have asked specially for boy colors since people donate a lot of girly things - although any color is welcome. And they do not need to be pastel - many people love bold and brilliant colors. These can be small 24 inches by 24 inches and are used for warmth as well as for snugglies. Bigger is OK too. They must be soft and machine washable. They will be laundered at a moderately high temperature so as to follow infection control guidelines.

Several people have made gorgeous blankets from flannel with a crocheted edge around it. Those are lovely.

Our parents love that a UCMC employee or friend has made something for their baby. All of our blankets are tagged with the FFS tag.

Join Ravelry - they have lots of great free patterns.

See Our Projects

We maintain a scrapbook at

and the Day of Service project is at

Our Fellow Stitchers/Collaborators Knitters for Obama

The Knitters for Obama, found on Ravelry ( has joined with us in Service. They donated 200+ caps to us for the Obama Inaugural Day of Service to honor Martin Luther King, Jr.

About Knitters for Obama
A group of 4,000 knitters and crocheters from around the world, Knitters for Obama produce knit hats and other apparel for cancer patients and premature babies and have donated them to hospitals across the country. They have also made more than 1,200 items for veterans in homeless shelters and other veterans' groups.

After the election, Knitters for Obama has stayed together to continue knitting for charitable causes. Their motto, "Wielding Our Pointy Sticks for Change." Many of the FFS have joined the Knitters for Obama and are making things for their designated Service projects too.

See a scrapbook of this project at

Who We Thank

We have received many donations of yarns from individuals and estates, to whom we give grateful thanks.

We have received monetary support from the American Cancer Society, the University of Chicago Cancer Research Center, the University of Chicago Department of Pediatrics and the Chicago Lying In Board of the University of Chicago. We have also received money donations from individuals.

Premier Laundry in Chicago has donated laundry services so that our baby items meet appropriate standards in the nursery.

We are thankful for all of the support since we couldn't do this without it.

Our stitchers have also donated generously by buying yarn for projects.

What We Need

We need stitchers who are willing to donate as much or as little time available to help us make things for our patients.

We accept donations of yarn

What we Do

We knit, crochet and stitch items for patients at the University of Chicago Medical Center. We make caps for cancer patients of all ages and for other patients who have had hair loss due to a medical condition. We make prayer/healing shawls and lap blankets for cancer patients and for women admitted to the hospital with a difficult pregnancy. We make blankets and caps for babies in the intensive care nursery of the hospitals. In 2009, we began makings Knit Knockers for women who have had mastectomy surgery.

Who We Are

We are a group of University of Chicago Medical Center and University of Chicago employees, faculty, medical students and friends and family donating time, materials and talent to make items for our patients.

Contact the Leader at

And join our efforts......