The Harvard Knitting Project

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Hats Galore! (for the HCWC Sunday knitters)

Hats are amazing! (But also amazingly addictive, so be warned). Here is my...

Basic hat recipe for beginners:

Knit a gauge swatch, using your intended yarn and needles. A swatch is a 4x4 inch (ish) square. Measure it to see how many stitches it is per inch. (To count stitches, count the little triangles you see. I'll try to get a picture up at some point.)

Measure your head or the head of the intentded recipient. Multiply the number of inches per head by the number of stitches per inch. Cast on this many stitches. :)

Divide your stitches evenly between 3 needles if you have a total of 4 dpns, or between 4 needles if you have a total of 5 dpns. If you have a circular needle, you're already good to go.

Join the stitches in the round. To do this, knit the first stitch you cast on. It should now be "knitted on to" the last stitch you cast on. (I don't know how to explain this better. If you have thoughts, leave a comment). You should now have a "round" of stitches, either on dpns or all the way around your circular needle.

Continue knitting ad infinitum in any pattern you choose (stockinette, ribbing, seed stitch, etc.). You will be knitting all the way around your round over and over again forever. Eventually you should have knit 4 or 5 inches of fabric. At this point you should pause and take a deep breath and maybe have a meal or go to the bathroom or something. ;)

Now begin your decreases. There are lots of different ways of decreasing, but the most straightforward is probably to simply knit 4 or 5 stitches, then k2tog, and repeat over and over again.

When you're left with somewhere between 12 and 8 stitches, you're done. Well, almost done.

What you should do now is NOT cast off. I repeat... DO NOT cast off. Instead, cut the yarn off several inches from the knitting with the work still on the needles. Now take a yarn/tapestry/darning needle (or whatever it's called), and thread the yarn through it. Now thread the yarn through the remaining stitches and pull tight.

Ok, NOW you're done.

Weave in your ends. Wrap prettily if you're giving it away.

1. if you started out using a circular, you'll need to switch to dpns at some point during the decreases.

2. Near the end of your first round, MAKE SURE THE KNITTING DOESN'T HAVE A TWIST IN IT! trust me, you don't want to knit 3 inches and then realize you're knitting the amazing non-functional moebius strip hat.

3. When knitting a hat, I find it fun to look at patterns just for certain aspects, for example, the decrease pattern, the earflaps, the colorwork, etc. This actually applies to all pattern-reading, I think, but it's especially simple in hats.

4. Stitch patterns such as ribbing and seed stitch will, as Mischa pointed out, make your hat MUCH warmer

5. Make sure your hat is long enough for your head! I said 4-5 inches, but that's variable, of course. Last year I tried to knit myself an earflap hat with a very limited amount of yarn and what I ended up with was basically an oversized yarmulke with funny triangles hanging off it. BLECCH.

6. If your hat isn't long enough or isn't wide enough or both, give it to a small child. :)

7. If you don't wear hats, you should still knit them. Here's why: newborns, especially premature newborns, all over the country are in need of hats! We recently got this link forwarded to us. It's about knitting caps to keep babies warm and hence decrease infant mortality! Save The Children

8. PLEASE comment if you have additional notes/tips/whatever about hat knitting! :)

Here are some cool hat patterns from

Basic hat that bald guys apparently like
Cable-band hat
Winter Sport Hat
Basic hat with cool color patern
VERY wearable earflap hat (or "chullo")!
Only for the terminally dorky: Klein Bottle Hat (Wikipedia Klein Bottle Entry)

The photos are of a hat I designed for my friend Kirk. I call it the "Zig Zag Helmet Hat" (to be worn while fighting the good fight, heh heh), and one of these days I'm going to write up the pattern. The cool swirly thing (decrease pattern) was stolen from "Swell," the chullo in knitty that I linked to above.

Happy knitting!


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