Knit a Boob for Breast Cancer Survivors

photo credit: bookgrl via photopin cc

photo credit: bookgrl via photopin cc

In June this year, Angelina Jolie revealed to the world that she had undergone surgery to have both of her breasts removed, after learning that she carried the BRCA1 cancer gene, which put her at significant risk (87 per cent) of developing breast cancer.

Since revealing her decision to have a double mastectomy,  the BC Cancer Agency says that the number of people being referred for cancer risk assessments has increased dramatically, suggesting that Angelina’s news could be responsible for the spike.  You can read more about this story at CTV News.

Angelina’s decision to undergo preventative surgery (and to go public about it) must have been a difficult one. As she says in this New York Times article, “Cancer is still a word that strikes fear into people’s hearts, producing a deep sense of powerlessness,” but, hopefully, by sharing her story she has helped to raise awareness about breast cancer risk and genetic screening, and inspired and empowered women into action.

So, with this recent news story in mind, and in honor of  Breast Cancer Awareness Month, which begins in October, I thought it would be appropriate to write a post about boobs. But not just any boobs….No.

You guessed it, this post is about knitted boobs (this is a knitting blog after all)!

Sounds funny, I know, but after reading more about Knitted Knockers & Tit Bits (and the personal stories behind them), I am absolutely inspired!

The original Knitted  Knocker. Photo credit: The Knitting Experience Cafe

A knitted knocker. Photo credit: The Knitting Experience Cafe

More about the boobs…

Beryl Tsang, is the founder and Chief Executive Knitter of Tit Bits: Hand Knitted Breasts. When Beryl lost a breast to cancer, she found it difficult to find a comfortable prosthesis that fit properly. So she knit her own. Soon, her knitted Tit Bits were in high demand, and now she is sharing her instructions on how to make them for free!

Furthermore, in 2007 the Knitting Experience Cafe launched a unique charity knit program, Knitted Knockers, to provide soft, comfortable, and free knitted prosthetic breasts to breast cancer survivors.  Apparently,  when placed in a bra, the knitted prosthetic breasts take the shape and feel of a real breast and are lighter and more comfortable than silicone prosthetic breasts. Also, the knitted fabric breathes and prevents the heat rash experienced by many women wearing the silicone ones.

Knitted Knockers

Beautifully Colorful Knitted Knockers – Photo credit: The Knitting Experience Cafe

Why knit a knocker? 

Well, apart from the fact that it would be fun to knit a boob… it would also mean a lot to a woman who needed one. Apparently, you can’t be fitted for a traditional breast prosthesis until you have been out of surgery for at least three weeks, so a knitted breast would be a welcome gift to a mastectomy patient in those first few weeks post-surgery.

Also, silicone prosthetic breasts are expensive and without health insurance (in the US), many breast cancer survivors can’t afford them. Knitted breasts, on the other hand, are affordable and accessible to everyone!

How to get involved?

1) Knit a boob (or two or three…).

Get the FREE pattern HERE (Note: for personal use only; you may not make Tit-bits to sell under any circumstances.)

2) Tell a friend about the knitted knocker project – maybe they knit, or are breast cancer survivors.

3) Get in touch with your local yarn store and see if they know about knitted knockers, ask if they are receiving donations, or are interested in starting a knitted knocker knitting group.

4) Consider starting a knitted knocker group in your area.

5) Join a Ravelry Group (or create one).

Here’s what they suggest on the Knitting Experience (Knitted Knockers) site:

First, knit a knocker. Then, contact the local hospital, oncology unit, women’s health center, or your local chapter of the American Cancer Society.  Find out who serves as the liaison for breast cancer patients. Describe the knitted breasts and the tremendous impact they have already had. Feel free to refer them to our website and story and bring in the breast you have knit to show them exactly what it looks like.

If you just want to knit some boobs, you can send them to the Knitted Knocker Project, where they will be gratefully received! Tempe Yarn and Fiber, made a call on Ravelry for knitted knocker donations just a few days ago. They have recently mailed over 100 knitted knockers to women all over the US and are looking for donations.

 

photo credit: .curt. via photopin cc

photo credit: .curt. via photopin cc

Check out the following links for more information:

TitBits – a website for women living with breast cancer

The Tit Bits Pattern – FREE

KnittedKnockers.info

Breast Cancer Information:

Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation

Canadian Cancer Society 

The Breast Cancer Society (Canada)

National Breast Cancer Awareness Month (US) 

Pink Ribbon International

I’d love to hear about your knitted knocker projects, or any other breast cancer-related projects you happen to be working on, so please get in touch!

Now, I can’t wait to get started on some boobs!

Happy Knitting!

The Devil Finds Work for Idle Hands

hand knit cotton dish cloths

My last big project was the Sanctuary Beanie, and whenever I had a spare moment to knit, I was working on it. I knit so much in a matter of days that I think I got a little bit addicted to the feeling of having a project in my hands and being productive in those moments of the day when I would otherwise feel helplessly unproductive (like when I’m waiting at a bus stop or watching my kids play at the park).

See, this is why I love to knit. I like to be doing things, being creative and productive. Knitting allows me to do this wherever I am, and when I have a few (rare) moments to myself. People often say to me “Oh I couldn’t knit, I’m not a patient person”. This makes me laugh, because it is exactly because I am not a patient person, that knitting is a good for me. It keeps me occupied when I would otherwise feel restless and impatient. It helps me feel like I am doing something useful with my time.

So, when I finished the Sanctuary Beanies, I found myself empty handed all of a sudden, and didn’t have anything else to work on! I felt incredibly antsy. I needed to knit something! But as you may know, starting a new project can take time, because you need to choose a pattern/design a pattern, buy the right yarn, knit a swatch to ensure you have the correct gauge (a step that I’m sure nobody in their right might would knowingly skip), and if all is good, you can cast on.

So, from that day forward, I vowed that I would always have something to work on in between the bigger projects. These “in-between-er” projects need to meet the following criteria:

  1. Small – good for taking wherever I go.
  2. Easy – the kind of knitting that I can do while at the bus stop, at the park with the kids, or chatting with friends.
  3. Stash busting – something that allows me to use up left over yarn, or just use whatever I have available NOW!.
  4. Practical/Useful – It has to be something I actually want or would use. 
  5. Quick to cast-on and get started – for those times when I need to knit NOW!

Recently, I have been knitting cotton dish cloths and it is the perfect in-between-er project. I started with this one: Double Bump Dish Cloth. Then, I began to experiment with other stitch patterns, developing my own dishcloth pattern along the way.

Hand knit cotton dish cloths

hand knit cotton dish cloths

For months, we’ve been using old, ripped pajamas (cut into squares), as dishcloths, so I am actually pretty excited to start using these beautiful, and vibrant hand knit ones instead.

I picked up several balls of Bernat Handicrafter Cotton while shopping at Michaels, so I will continue to experiment with other stitch patterns and whip up a few more handy-dandy dishcloths, while also keeping the devil away from my idle hands.

hand knit cotton dish cloths