Easy, any-size beginner hat recipe

Beginner hatThere is a dearth on Ravelry of dead easy hat patterns which are knitted flat.  I’ve crunched through the maths to get it clear in my mind proportions for constructing a simple hat, and you are welcome to share what I learnt.

The bottom of this hat will curl up to make a nice rolled brim (and hide any messy cast-ons).  The instructions below give rules of thumb for any size of hat using any weight of yarn.  You start at the bottom of the hat and work your way to the top.  The bottom of the hat is just a rectangle, once it is long enough you decrease several times, then cut your yarn, pull through the stitches left on the needle to secure them, then sew up the sides.  That’s it.

Pick your size, pick your yarn, then look at the tables to find out how much yarn you need, how many stitches to cast on and how long to knit for before beginning your decreases.


Cast on your stitches, number given in table 1, loosely – if they are tight, your brim will be very tight on the forehead.  You can cast on over two needles to stop this.  Any cast on method can be used.  Use the knitting needle size recommended on the yarn ballband (you may need to change needle size to match the gauge given in table 1).

Knit in stocking stitch for the number of inches specified in table 2.  Stocking stitch is when you knit every odd row, purl every even row.   The cast on edge will roll up when it’s actually worn – the measurements in the table are with it unrolled.   If possible, wrap it around the intended’s head – the decrease rows quickly narrow down the hat so once it covers to the top of the head it’s long enough.

Beginner hat side view

Begin decreases:

Row 1: K1,*K4, K2tog*, repeat from * to * across row, then K1. The very first and last stitch on all rows are called the selvedge – they are used to sew up the seam neatly and do not contribute to the width of the hat.

All even rows: Purl.

Row 3: K1,*K3, K2tog*, K1 across row.

Row 5: K1,*K2, K2tog*, K1 across row.

Row 7: K1,*K1, K2tog*, K1 across row.

Row 9: K1,*K2tog*, K1 across row.

Row 11: If you have more than 10 stitches left, do an extra row of *K2tog* across row – if there is an odd number, just knit the last stitch (and ignore the two edge stitches).

Break the yarn, leaving a tail about three times longer than the length of your hat.  With a large needle, thread this strand of yarn through the remaining loops on tBeginner hat top viewhe needle, and to stop a hole from forming at the top, thread it round a second time.  Sew the sides of the hat together, starting with the top – the neatest way is to use mattress stitch, with the right side (smooth side) facing outwards.  When you get to the rolled up bit, switch sides and mattress stitch on the inside (as the inside will be the outside when the brim rolls up).  Weave in the ends of the yarn on the inside of the rolled up brim.

Wash your hat and if possible dry it over a balloon or round icecream tub – it will look even better.

Table 2Some of the teen/woman and woman/man sizes have the same number of cast on stitches, but the head size table recommends you knit for different lengths – you basically get the same hat which is longer or shorter.  This is due to choosing to base decreases on a multiple of six stitches for the first decrease row, and when using thicker yarn there’s only so many multiple of six you need to fit a head.  Because the brim rolls, it doesn’t matter much if you decide to make it a bit longer or shorter before starting your decreases.  Table 310% error margin to account for errors in gauge, short balls and allowance for sewing up.

To convert to knitting in the round

Minus two from the cast on number in table 1, as you won’t need to sew a seam.

Instead of purling the even rows, knit them.

If the hat is bigger than 40cm/16”, you can knit the bottom part of the hat on a 40cm circular needle.  You’ll need to switch to double pointed needles for the top of the hat when the stitches have been decreased enough that you can’t stretch the stitches around the circle.

The theory

The hat circumference should be 5-10% smaller than the person’s actual forehead circumference, so the hat is stretched a bit so it clings to the head.

The number of stitches to cast on is figured out by (circumference of head x 0.925 x number of stitches you get in 4”)/4.

Round this figure up or down to get a whole number divisible by 6, then add 2 for the selvedge.

This hat has a smooth spiral pattern at the top when it is sewn up.  If you start your decreases spaced further apart (i.e. begin with K10, K2tog, then do K9, K2tog, etc) you’ll get a long pointy hat.  If you’re making a pointy hat, keep decreasing until you have only a couple of stitches left, for maximum pointiness.  If you start them closer together (K1, K2tog, then do K2tog) you’ll finish the hat sooner and have a gathered-in top.

Brought to you by The Sheep Shop, http://www.sheepshopcambridge.co.uk


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