My mother is a Registered Nurse who works in a local Neonatal ICU as one of their Head Nurses. It is a very busy unit, one of the busiest in the hospital, and requires specialized care be given to the patients. About a year ago, she asked if I could make socks for the micro-preemie babies in the unit and I thought to myself, “Why not?” After all, you’re not really a knitter until you’ve knit a sock. 😛
What is a micro-preemie, you ask? Well, in my mom’s NICU, a micro-preemie is a baby born between 23 to 26.6 weeks gestational age. For reference, a full term pregnancy lasts 39 to 40+ weeks.
These premature infants are not able to regulate their own temperature. Their brains, eyes, lungs, and other vital organs are not developmentally mature. It takes a tremendous amount of skill and dedication by nurses and love from parents to help these infants be discharged home.
Fast forward a number of months and I’d exhausted a number of both free and paid patterns and still not come up with a sock fit for a micro-preemie.
Six different patterns gave me six socks… and not a one fit a micro-preemie.
Turns out, people who haven’t seen or worked with Micros can’t imagine just how tiny they really are and so the patterns they make for preemies still aren’t small enough for these babies.
So, I started working on my own pattern.
I took the basic shape of a sock, made it super tiny, and then began tweaking things. Each sock had something a little different (this one had ribbing, that one didn’t; this one used the Kitchener stitch to finish and that one was a traditional bind off; so on and so forth) until I came up with a sock that had all the desired qualities.
The nursing staff were wonderful in giving much-needed feedback throughout the process. They were able to tell me when something was too tight, not long enough, or too narrow… so I made the socks a little looser, shorter, and wider.
After much trial and error, I finally managed the perfect pair of socks for a micro-preemie! The first pair was this gorgeous grey/lilac yarn leftover from a different project, but the next ones were purple, and then red, and then blue.
After I get the pattern written in an understandable way and polished up, I believe that I will put it up for sale. All proceeds from sales of the Micro-Preemie Sock Pattern will go toward the purchase of supplies to continue making these much-needed, tiny socks.