Crazy About Knitting Hats and Tips For Perfect Results

Since I began knitting, I’ve discovered that the item I love most to make is hats.  Over the years I have become crazy about knitting hats of all kinds, in all sizes, for everyone I know. (The green hat shown is the Aran Watch Cap from the “Hat’s On!” book.)

Scarves were what I made most of the time when I lived in New Hampshire because my hats didn’t turn out all that well.  I loved to knit hats, but didn’t have all the info needed to begin them correctly – using a good-looking cast on, and then joining in the round.   And the beginning of a hat is one of the most important parts.  When beautiful yarn is used and intricate cables and colors mix to create a lovely handmade garment, it pays to do everything correctly, from the cast-on to the pompom on top.  

Three Ways to Join In The Round

Because I can’t always remember how to join in the round, I’m adding this YouTube video.  Once the cast on is complete, the ends must be attached so circular knitting can begin.  If the “join” is done wrong, the edge of the hat will have an obvious indent.  The YouTube video below, by Very Pink Knits, shows three easy ways to make the join correctly.

Creating a Jogless Stripe in Circular Knitting

Another knitting trick I usually can’t remember and have to look up is how to make stripes, or changing colors, in circular knitting.  The tutorial below shows how it’s done.  

Topping Off a Hand Knit Hat

Once the decreases are over and the hat is finished, it may need something a little extra at the very top.  Pompoms and tassels are often chosen for this honor.  

I’ve also come across a fun tutorial for making covered buttons to top off a hat.  This tutorial can be found at Kate Davies Designs and has pictures along with the description of how to cover a button with yarn.  The end product is quite stunning and would make a unique addition to a special hand-made hat.  I plan to try it myself one day soon.

Choosing Yarn and Figuring The Cast On Number

Most hats are knit on 16 inch long circular needles.  The needle size depends on the yarn weight and gauge.  I found a good printout which helps you guesstimate the number of stitches to cast on.  View the Earth Guild “Super Simple Circular Hat Calculator“, and if you know your gauge – how many stitches per inch – and the circumference needed to fit the head that will wear it, the cast-on number is given.

All types of yarn can be used to knit hats.  Yarns can be held together to create a speckled look, like the chunky child’s hat I made from Purl Soho’s Snow Day Hat pattern.

Often a soft merino, or some type of warm wool, is used because hats are usually meant to keep heads warm in winter.  

Pink baby hat, free knitting pattern
I added a flower to the side of this little pink baby hat, then mailed it to someone as a gift.

Some fun beginner hats to try are the Pink Baby Hat (see the one I made and find the link to the free pattern).  And my Dusty Rose Long Rib hat, which I knit with yarn to match a scarf I had made.  Or buy a Knitting Book for the Beginner.

Advanced Hat Knitting

Once I got the hang of hat knitting with basic knits and purls, I decided to try more intricate cables and patterns.  For hat knitting with advanced stitches, plan to pay for a pattern or buy a book.  It’s good to know how to read a knitting chart also because some pattern designers use charts only.

Here is a link to a YouTube video which shows how to knit a Fair Isle hat- called the Fimmel Hat – in 5 colors.  A link to the yarn kit and pattern is located beneath the video and Very Pink Knits provides the helpful “how to”.  This includes casting on using a German Twisted (or Old Norwegian) Cast-on.  It’s pretty involved, but it makes a nice edge.  I’ve never done it myself, but will definitely give it a try on my next hat.  I love the top of this hat with that star design.  She also shares how she blocks her hats.  It’s a great idea.  Watch the video!

Buy Hat Patterns and Books of Hats

Following a pattern all the way around and up a hat can be challenging, but fun.  Hats are small enough so as not to be overwhelming.  They are good practice for cables and intarsia / Fair Isle (using multiple colors to create patterns).  Or maybe start with two colors, like the Fana Cap I knit for my daughter (find in the Hat’s On book).

I just ordered the book listed below which has some very unqiue hat designs.  I only hope I am able to create them!

“Mair Heids” from Kate Davies Designs

Pink "snow day" hat for baby girl
Baby girl “Snow Day” hat to knit.

My version of the child’s “Snow Day” hat pattern found at Purl Soho. The chunky hat was knit using a different yarn and needle size to fit a young child.

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