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HOW TO KNIT A HAT: THE BASICS

Updated: Nov 6, 2023

It’s hat season! That time of the year when the weather starts getting colder, and the mornings are crisp.


Hats are perfect projects for every knitter out there. If you're a new knitter, you can learn a lot while finishing a project quickly, and if you're an experienced knitter, depending on the pattern, hats can be a challenge. Basically, hats are satisfying to make no matter who you are. But how do you knit a hat?


Generally, hats consist of three distinct parts: the brim, the body, and the crown.


a green hat over a wooden table with arrows pointing to the brim, body and crown.
© Theresia Lew

Knitting a hat step by step

The most common way to knit a hat is by knitting it in the round, starting at the brim, with a smaller needle to make it snug.


After knitting a ribbing (either knit 1, purl 1, or knit 2, purl 2), you'll switch to a needle one or two sizes larger for the body of the hat. The easiest way to knit the body is in plain stockinette, as it only consists of knit stitches.


Once you reach a specific height, you need to knit the crown of the hat. There are several ways to do so. Basically, you need to decrease stitches to only a handful so you can close the hat easily. Once it’s closed up, your hat is done. Yay!



Hat patterns

Hats are definitely a knitting hack when it comes to their versatility. Not only can you knit them in all possible directions (brim up, crown down, sideways), but they come in all kinds of patterns.


The advanced search on Ravelry for hats has over 153,000 hits! From cables to colorwork to all the way ribbed or lined for extra warmth, you'll definitely be able to find the perfect pattern to meet your needs.


Now, let's take a look at some great patterns to inspire your next hat:


Toddler boy outside wearing a striped knit hat and wearing a red, buffalo plaid jacket.
© Kelly McClure

The Sockhead Slouch Hat is a free pattern available in seven sizes. It's made with one skein of fingering-weight yarn. For this project, you just need to know how to knit, purl, and make decreases.



on the left, a black hat with grey brim; on the right, colorful hats
© Theresia Lew

Kane is a top-down hat that can be knitted with any yarn and any gauge. It's available in 12 sizes, and the pattern contains a table to help you knit the right size.



on the left, hand holding yellow hat; on the right, person wearing yellow hat
© Andrea Gaughan

The Essential Beanie is a classic fitted rib beanie with an interesting crown design. It can be made with a single-fold or double-fold brim. The pattern is available in four sizes and six different yarn weights.




blond woman wearing knitted hat and black glasses
© Meret Bützberger

Bruna's Beanie by Meret Bützberger is an intermediate-level pattern knitted from the bottom up. The brim is knitted in a classic two-colored brioche pattern, and the body is in a different brioche stitch pattern that gives it a woven look.


On November 8th, Meret will give away a printed copy of the pattern and two skeins of Zealana Rimu yarn (one in each color). Check out the designer's Instagram account to participate. You just have to follow her, like the photo, and comment your favorite color combo for Bruna's Beanie.



Tips for choosing yarn for hats

One of the best things about hats is that they're very portable, and you usually can get away with just a single skein of yarn. When knitting a hat, you should keep the fiber content of your yarn in mind.


We recommend using yarns with at least 50% wool, as wool will ensure your hat will fit for a long time. When you wash wool, it'll shrink back to its original size. If you were to use something like 100% alpaca, your hat would stretch out and stay that way, as alpaca has no elasticity. The same goes for other camelid fibers like yak or baby camel, plant fibers like cotton or linen, silk, and acrylic yarns.


If you enjoy knitting hats as much as we do, we suggest taking a look at the Musselburgh 4-1 hat for a fun project.

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