My most recent charity stitching project has been the Hipster Preemie Hat, by Stefanie Bold. It's a free crochet pattern I found via Ravelry.
This hat pattern is an introduction to Bosnian Crochet. Traditionally, Bosnian Crochet uses a somewhat differently shaped hook than other crochet techniques, but a normal crochet hook a few sizes larger than you would expect works just fine. Bosnian Crochet creates fabrics exclusively from crocheted slip stitch, and judging from a Google image search, differences in the placement of each slip stitch can be used to create patterns in the fabric. In this pattern, all the slip stitches are worked in the back loop only, creating a dense, but elastic fabric that looks like knitted fisherman's rib when stretched.
The Hipster Preemie Hat is worked side-to-side, and the last row is worked through both ends of the fabric to create the seam. The shaping at the top is achieved through crocheted shortrows that give the impression of four decrease points at the top, arranged into wedges that come together at the center. The pattern is simple, well written, and easy to follow, and a good use for leftover sock yarn or other fingering weight yarns. While the pattern says it's for a preemie hat, instructions are given in both preemie and newborn sizes. I made the newborn size.
If you have ever tried to insert your hook into a slip stitch, you know it can be tricky. I found that making this hat worked best by starting each stitch with the hook held hook-side up, rather than the usual hook-side down. Instead of inserting the hook into each stitch starting with the top of the hook, I started with point of the hook--almost like sliding a fishhook onto something--and then turned the hook to its usual orientation to complete the stitch. Going through that process for each stitch took a little getting used to, was more time consuming than normal crochet, and required that I be looking at my work for every stitch. The final stitch of each row is also hard to see, so finishing the rows took a little patience if I didn't want to lose stitches.
Between the fact that I was working in slip stitch in fingering weight yarn (specifically, one that split easily--my bad!) and that I had to be visually focused on my project even though nothing new or complicated was happening in the pattern, the hat was slower going than I expected and a bit on the tedious side to make. On the other hand, I love the feel, drape, and weight of the resulting fabric.crocheted a little flower in a contrasting yarn and attached that to the top instead of a pompom or button.
Overall, I'm glad I tried out this pattern, and I do plan to play around with Bosnian Crochet again. This is the second Stephanie Bold pattern I've tried (the other being her knitted No Gauge Hat), and I like her pattern writing style. I'm definitely thinking about trying some of her other patterns.
Since this pattern is easy to use with sock yarn, if you want to make baby hats for charity, make sure that the yarn you are using has a fiber content accepted by your intended charity. Collections for the Pine Ridge and Rosebud reservations, for instance, do accept wool, including things that need hand washing, but many other nonprofits do not. Hospitals that accept donations for preemies usually require that items be made from machine washable, hypoallergenic materials, such as acrylic or cotton. If you want to make this hat as a baby shower gift, remember to consider what sorts of fibers the mom would welcome for her baby's wardrobe.