I am going to post some links to patterns for preemie items so that when I need to send them to someone, it will be super easy to locate. :)
Random preemie hat notes:
The hat that Hannah Kate wore around 4 pounds was 4.5 inches across the bottom & 4 inches tall.
Her 2 pound hat was 3.5 x 3.5 inches.
My favorite preemie hat or blanket yarn is Simply Soft or Red Heart Soft. You wouldn't believe how many donated hats I saw when we were in the NICU that were made out of regular plain ol' yarn that was scratchy! I would not want to put that on Hannah Kate's tiny head! Be sure to choose yarn that is machine washable. NICU hats must be washed in some way before the baby can wear it (I usually washed Hannah Kate's out in the sink before she wore them). If it is not machine washable, you probably want to include a note for the parents telling them how to properly care for the item.
I use double pointed needles for preemie hats and straight needles for the preemie blanket.
When I have been in a pinch to get a hat done quickly, I have knitted them on size 10 double pointed needles and cast on 32 or 40 then had the finished hat be the size of the palm of my hand. I don't like the finished look as well because it's a little loose, but it will work.
My very favorite hat pattern is the Basic Hat pattern from Susan B Anderson's Itty Bitty Hats book. To adjust for preemie size, with size 7 needles, cast on 40 for an extra tiny baby (2-3 pounds) or 48 for a tiny baby (4-5 pounds). I like to k2, p2 to make a ribbed brim for this hat. Do that for about 1/2 an inch. On the decreases, knit 14 rows, then decrease. Omit the knit around rounds after the k4, k2tog round. Close up the top of the hat after k1, k2tog. Otherwise, baby will look like a gnome (but it works well when there's a scalp IV!). Hope that makes sense! The finished hat should be 4-4.5 inches tall for extra tiny babies or 4.5-5 inches tall for tiny babies.
(There is a picture of Hannah Kate wearing this hat at the bottom of this post.)
My favorite preemie hat to make-the Berry Hat.
*to adjust to a preemie size-size 7 needles-cast on 40 for an extra tiny baby (2-3 pounds) or 48 for a tiny baby (4-5 pounds)-the finished hat should be 4-4.5 inches tall for extra tiny or 4.5-5 inches tall for tiny.
This picture below is my friend's little 31w5d baby girl-I am thinking she sent this to me the day after she was born. I made these hats by casting on 48 on size 7 needles because we weren't thinking they were going to be born that early (she had twins)! That's why it's a little big. But doesn't seeing a fresh, tiny baby in a knitted with love hat warm your heart!!!
Carissa Knits Preemie Hats
*I have done these before and used size 3 needles, they seemed a little bigger than what the pattern says, but I wasn't using that exact yarn. Any size will be fine because there are babies of ALL sizes in the NICU :)
Basic knit hat with folded brim
*I haven't made this, but a friend did when we collected things for Hannah Kate's birthday donations.
Knitted blanket like Hannah Kate's
I made this up in the NICU. (It's not anything elaborate, but please don't sell this pattern-I don't know why anyone would.....but......)
Cast on 70 stitches (size 8 straight needles, Simply Soft yarn)
Knit across 6 rows
R1: *k8, purl 54, k8
R2: Knit across*
Repeat from * to * until blanket measures approximately 13.5 inches x 17 inches
I liked that size because it was perfect to put on her in the isolette & later in her car seat.
10 Minute Crochet Preemie Hat
Several friends made these for Hannah Kate's birthday donations.
Diapers-sewing pattern for families who have lost their babies-this is a super neat idea, check it out!