Can’t Stop Won’t Stop Hats

A recipe for knitting top-down hats.

People that I knit with know I love knitting hats. While I have a deep appreciation of bigger projects and a decent skill set when it comes to knit and crochet, I have a short attention span. I like being able to knit up something quickly. My go-to lately is top-down hats. While a common construction in crochet, most knit hats are created from the brim up. I’ve come across a few knitted hat patterns that are top down but they’re more of a novelty.

Following the same recipe used by crocheters, you can make a top down knitted hat. Starting with 8 stitches in a ring, you continue by increasing 8 stitches every other row until you come to a diameter that is about a third of your desired circumference. It starts a little fiddly and I employ some tricks for placing my increases but once the increase is done, it’s smooth sailing and you’re on your way to a new hat!

The two needle choices I’ve been using to get started are either double points or magic loop. You’ll start by casting on 8 stitches and joining in the round. If you’re using double points, I would start with three needles – a working needle and two other needles with 4 stitches each. For your next round, you’ll knit every stitch. The round after will be doubling the stitches from 8 to 16. I kfb (knit front and back) every stitch to create the increases but if there’s another increase you like, go for it!

Now that you’re at 16 stitches, you’ll knit every stitch for the next round and then choose how you’ll place your increases. Unless you’re wanting to try out some specific sculptural shape (like an elf hat that droops to one side), you’ll want to have your increases evenly spaced. To do this, I’ve either placed markers ever 2 stitches splitting the stitches into 8 sections or if using double points I’ve split my stitches onto 4 needles with a fifth needle for working the stitches (alternatively, you could place markers splitting the stitches into four even sections and doing the increases as I do on dpns).

From here, you’ll continue alternating an increase row with a straight row until you’ve reached your desired size (a diameter 1/3 of the desired circumference). When I split my stitches into 8 sections, I simply make an increase either right before or after the stitch marker. Kfb is in my opinion the easiest way to increase but a yarn-over for a slightly lacy effect or a make one picking up the yarn between the stitches below and creating either a left-leaning or right-leaning increase is another option. When knitting in double points I kfb at the first and last stitch of every needle.

It’s up to you what you want to do for the body of the hat. Stockinette (knitting every stitch) is of course the easiest but if you want to add in a stitch pattern, anything in multiples of 2s, 4s or 8s should work. Just be mindful that some stitch patterns – cables for example – may tighten up the hat and make it a little snug or possibly too small. You can counter that by continuing to increase until the diameter is slightly larger than desired. Striping and colorwork are also options if you’re so inclined. For colorwork, just remember to adjust so that your design is not upside down.

Once the hat is getting close to your desired length, you’ll switch to a stitch pattern for the brim. I like a ribbed brim and usually do 1×1 or 2×2 but as with the rest of this hat recipe that decision is up to you.

Once you’ve reached your desired length, it’s time to bind off. I usually bind off in stitch pattern but again, it’s up to you. Just make sure that your bind off is loose. You can either consciously make an effort to make the stitches loose or choose to use a working needle (the needle in your right hand for most people) a size or two larger than what you’ve been using. As the needle will only have a stitch or two on it at a time, it doesn’t matter if the needle is straight, circular or double pointed.

Weave in your ends and you have a hat that’s ready to wear! Of course, if you like a pompom do add one.


Author: Kelly

Artsy. Crafty.

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