5 Ways Knitters Can Celebrate National Cancer Survivors Day

Every first Sunday in June, people around the country and the world are invited to gather together to honor cancer survivors and demonstrate that “life after a cancer diagnosis can be fruitful, rewarding, and even inspiring.” It’s a day of “celebration for those who have survived, an inspiration for those recently diagnosed, a gathering of support for families, and an outreach to the community,” according to the National Cancer Survivors Day website.

Cancer has touched most of our lives, whether we’re survivors ourselves or have friends and family who are. The National Cancer Survivors Day Foundation defines “survivor” as anyone living with a personal history of cancer, whether they’re currently in treatment or have been in recovery for years. As humans, we are drawn to events like National Cancer Survivors Day to show our support for loved ones who have engaged in the fight against cancer; as knitters, we are often compelled to incorporate our craft into that fight. In honor of this year’s day, we’ve compiled a list of 5 ways knitters can honor and support the survivors in our lives.

Knitting Senior Project Editor Joni Coniglio knit this hat for a friend undergoing chemotherapy. Photo by Joni Coniglio.

1. Knit a Chemo Hat

If you have a friend or family member currently undergoing chemo, a knitted hat is a thoughtful and practical way to show your support. “I made a chemo hat because it was one thing I could do,” said Interweave Senior Project Editor Joni Coniglio in a blog post earlier this year. No matter your knitting skill level, you can knit a hat for a loved one in need. Read Joni’s article for tips on making a comfortable, usable hat.

Designer Alan Dart’s Guardian Angel is a great gift for a survivor at any stage in her or his journey. Photo courtesy of Alan Dart.

2. Knit an Angel

Knit an adorable angel and donate funds to cancer research at the same time. Knitted toy designer Alan Dart has designed a darling angel pattern available for download, and 100% of the proceeds from the sale of each pattern will go to The Christie Charitable Fund, part of the U.K.’s NHS Foundation Trust. Alan designed his Guardian Angel pattern “to knit and give as a small token to offer support and comfort to anyone who is, or has been, affected by cancer.” (Alan has also donated patterns to the Work of Heart Garden, a truly magical knit and crochet garden at the Sue Ryder Leckhampton Court Hospice in the U.K. The garden serves as both a fundraiser for the hospice and as a way for knitters struggling with cancer to cope with stress.)

National Cancer Survivors Day

When knitting a prayer shawl for a survivor, use a basic pattern like Kathleen Cubley’s Lace Prayer Shawl to keep your mind on the recipient and not the stitches.

3. Knit a Prayer Shawl

Prayer shawls are a fantastic way to show the cancer survivors in your life some love. When knitting prayer shawls, knitters pray for or send good thoughts to the recipient, literally knitting their love and good wishes into each stitch. Prayer shawl patterns are typically pretty basic so that knitters can focus on those good thoughts rather than the stitches. Read a bit more about prayer shawls here, and find a couple of free prayer shawl patterns here.

Give the survivor in your life the gift of fun with yarn wigs (and beards)!

4. Make a Yarn Wig

Make a child’s day with a yarn wig! Yarn wigs can help take a child’s mind off cancer by inviting them to imagine and play—just be sure to use your softest yarn, as children’s scalps can be quite sensitive. If a kiddo in your life is facing cancer, find out their favorite book, TV, or movit character and then get to work! If you’d like to make a wig for other kids, check out The Magic Yarn Project, a nonprofit group that creates and distributes wigs for kids all over the country. (They even have a handy list of all the things they currently need.)

Taking a loved one groceries or other necessities is a practical and thoughtful way to show you care. Photo by Getty/RyanJLane.

A kind and caring neighbor or friend delivers fresh produce from the grocery store to an elderly man at his home. He receives the gift with a smile on his face, grateful for the help and assistance. Horizontal image.

5. Make a Meal, Send a Card, Show You Care

If a loved one is undergoing treatment and already has all the hats and shawls they need, make them a meal (chemo can affect their appetite, so ask beforehand what they’d like), bring them groceries, bake some cookies, clean their house, take their dog for a walk, or just keep them company during an appointment—all of these things are helpful and show that you care. For loved ones in remission, send a card on the anniversary of their last chemo date or organize a Survivors Day event with them; the National Cancer Survivors Day website has information on how to get started.

Whether you knit a shawl, create a yarn wig, or send a card, let the cancer survivors in your life know you’re thinking of them this National Cancer Survivors Day. For more information on cancer survivorship, check out the National Cancer Survivors Day website or the American Cancer Society website.

—Rachel

Other Ways You Can Honor Survivors

Jelly Buddies 4 Mandy

Information on Chemo Caps from The Spruce Crafts

Tips on What to Do for Loved Ones

Bring Them a Meal

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