How to Knit a Gorgeous Hat for Charity – for Free

Check out this free knitting pattern from reader Ginny to create a beautiful hat for charity

knitting hats for charity

A few years back, I published a post about donating yarn. I confessed that I’ve never donated yarn and that I have no intention of doing so in the near future.

I’m sorry to say that this remains true to this day. (*buries face in hands*)

This confession, however, at least reassured me that I’m not alone. Many readers wrote to me admitting they never donate yarn either. Many other readers wrote and told me exactly when and where they did donate yarn.

I was so glad to hear that so many knitters and crocheters were more than making up for my failings by their generosity!

One reader who shared about her donations went one step beyond. Here’s what Ginny Jovanovich wrote to me:

“Inherited large amounts of yarn from family members. Finding this local Wisconsin based charity wanting brightly colored knit hats for children was a perfect way to make good use of my overflowing stash of worsted yarn:
Hearts in Unity.

“Their mission is to feed, clothe and educate the orphan and at risk children of Tanzania.”

She went on to tell me that she had her own special pattern for a hat for charity that she would be willing to share with me and my readers, if I so desired. Of course, I very much did!

For more fabulous free hat knitting patterns, take a look at the Hats Category of my Free Knitting Patterns!

  • Use up that leftover yarn – This pattern makes it easy to use small amounts of different colors of yarn, so if you’re looking for a great way to use your leftover yarn, this pattern has it!
  • Great texture – I’m a big fan of textured patterns! This pattern creates delightful, beautiful texture with ease.
  • Interesting – Ever get bored with stockinette or garter stitch, or even simple ribbing? I promise you, you’ll never get bored knitting this pattern! You’ll fall in love with the unique “tuck” stitch technique.

The perfect pattern: a beautiful hat for charity

hat for charity
Photo: Ginny Jovanovich

Ginny sent me this amazing photo of the 60 (60!!) hats she knitted with this pattern and then sent to Hearts in Unity. She told me, “Love knitting these small projects. Finding this a great way to try out new stitch patterns and making good use of small amounts of yarn.”

She added, “[This photo] shows the endless color combinations one could use to give each recipient one of a kind hat.”

I hope by now you’re really eager for this pattern! Here it is.

Note: if you’ve seen this pattern before August 10, 2017, a correction has been made to the tuck stitch rounds. Round 6 should end with a k 4 down, and round 11 should end with k2. 

Ginny’s Cluster Stitch Hat Pattern

This hat for charity features knitted rounds of stockinette stitch with one row of tuck stitches that incorporates a color change and adds texture.

hat for charity
Photo: Ginny Jovanovich

Supplies needed:
Worsted weight yarn #4, three different colors (signified by A, B, and C)
Size 7 (4.50mm) or 8 (5mm) double pointed needles

Abbreviations used:
st=stitch, k=knit, p=purl, rd=round,

Tuck stitch pattern:
knit 4 down by unraveling st down 4 rds, inserting right needle in the front of the 5th st and knit, capturing the 4 unraveled rds behind the stitch.


1. Using color A: cast on 72 stitches, (24 on each needle, if using 3 DPNs)
Mark the beginning of the round.
(I use the tail from cast on to mark beginning)
Join in the round, making sure the cast on sts don’t twist.
Work rib pattern of k2, p2 for 8 to 10 rds, or approximately 1 1/2″ to 2″.

2. Switch to color B.
Rounds 1-5: knit

3. Switch to color C.
Round 6: K3, *knit 4 down, K3, repeat from * to last stitch, k 4 down.
Rounds 7-10: Knit

4. Switch to color A.
Round 11: K1, *k 4 down, K3, repeat from * to last 2 stitches, k2.
Rounds 12-15: knit

5. Switch to color C.
Round 16: Repeat rd 6
Rounds 17-20: Knit

6. Switch to color B
Round 21: Repeat rd 11
Rounds 22-25: Knit

7. Switch to color A
Round 26: Repeat rd 6
Knit rounds of stockinette until piece measures 6 to 7 1/2″ from cast-on edge.

8. Dec rows for the crown of hat

hat for charity
Alternating rows of the tuck stitch gave this single color infant hat depth and texture.
Photo by Ginny Jovanovich

*K7, k2tog, repeat from *
Knit 1 rd

*K6, k2 tog, repeat from*
Knit 1 rd

*K5, k2 tog, repeat from*
Knit 1 rd

Continue dec rds in this manner until 8 stitches remain.

Draw yarn through final 8 sts and weave in the ends.

Huge thanks to Ginny for a wonderful hat pattern. What do you think? What might you use this particular pattern for?

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    1. An explanation is found under “Tuck Stitch” just above the instructions:
      knit 4 down by unraveling st down 4 rds, inserting right needle in the front of the 5th st and knit, capturing the 4 unraveled rds behind the stitch.

      So what you’ll do is unravel the stitch down 4 rounds (you might want to think of them as “rows” if that’s easier for you), and then you’ll slip your right needle into the front of the fifth stitch down and knit it, being sure to capture the four unraveled stitches behind that stitch.

      Hope this helps!

        1. You’re welcome! Glad you found some assistance on YouTube. Sometimes it’s easier when you can see it, rather than it being described. 🙂

      1. I love this stitch I think it called bubble stitch onu tube use it a lot for hats for samaritans purse shoe boxes

    2. Okay never mind. I googled it and found a YouTube video for it but it’s called “knit 4 below” but yes clearly the same idea.

  1. I am new to knitting. I am interested to learn how to knit hats for toddlers and adults. Many homeless people need hats too.
    I will start with hats , Do you have pattern square then knit to make hats.
    Was told it is easier for beginers. Sadly I suffer from Arthritis
    Looking forward to start.
    Many thanks.
    Sabi xx

  2. I think Round 11 is missing a stitch – Round 11: K1, *k 4 down, K3, repeat from * to last 2 stitches, k2.

    This would be an odd number – multiple of 4 plus 3 stitches.

    1. Cathy, I double-checked the math (which sounds so sophisticated, but really, I sketched out the stitches and then counted off the knits and the knit-4-downs, lol), and I know it looks wrong, but it actually turns out right. If you start with a K1 and then work the stitch pattern repeat, you’ll end with 2 stitches to knit.

  3. Our church Prayer Shawl Group has been knitting for many groups for 13 years. I have never seen this pattern before and I am always looking for new ones to share with the ladies. Thank you for this.

    1. You are so welcome, Sandra! I will forever be grateful to Ginny for sharing it with me, so I can share it with all of you!

  4. Thank you for letting me know where I can donate my knitted hats. Also, the opportunity to knit more for charity.

  5. This is a darling pattern and i have noted the 4 st inc/dec for size. Can you advise what size the pattern here fits? 30 of us charity knit at the NW YMCA and have made 2,500 items in 3 years w/donated yarn. We donate to our local food shelf, schools and churches in our community . Thanks again

  6. This is such a sweet hat. Im casting on today. I’m math challenged. After this one, I’d like to make it in different kinds of yarn to use up my stash. Would I increase (or decrease) in multiples of four? Thanks!

    1. Hi Ludmilla! Yes, the best way to make different sizes would be to increase or decrease in multiples of four. Good luck!

  7. I have never used dpn’s before, nor have I ever made the tuck stitch. I checked youtube for the tutorial on the tuck stitch, okay, got it down pat! This makes a very attractive hat! I can’t wait to make some of these hats now, and will take them to a local charity here where I live.

    Thanks to Ginny Jovanovich for the great pattern. Thanks to Knitting for Charity for always providing us with patterns and encouraging us to help take care of others who are in need! You all ROCK!

    1. Thank you Judy! So kind of you to say so! I know Ginny will be delighted that you’re making some of these hats for your local charity, too. 🙂

  8. Hi. I really want to make some hats with this pattern but I’m confused. If you cast on 72 sts, then on Round 6 you Knit 3, leaving 69 sts left , followed by “Tuck stitch, then K3) which is a multiple of 4. 4 doesn’t go evenly into 69.

    On Round 11, it’s K1, leaving 71 sts, then “Tuck st, K3” which is again a multiple of 4, which doesn’t go evenly into 71.

    I can’t figure out how to make this work — am clearly missing something. Would appreciate clarification. Can’t wait to make the pattern.

    1. Hi Kathryn! As it happens, another reader has also caught this problem, and I’ve passed it along to Ginny. She promises she’ll take a look at the pattern in the morning and try to figure out where she (or I, in transcribing her pattern!) might have made an error. So if you can hang on till tomorrow, we should get a fix taken care of. Thanks!

    2. Thanks for your patience, Kathryn. The pattern has been corrected above. Round 6 ends with a k 4 down, and round 11 ends with a k2. Hope that helps!

        1. You’re welcome, Kathryn. I’m chomping at the bit to try it now, lol. I knitted a little swatch when I was trying to help Ginny figure out a correction, and it was so much fun that I really want to knit the whole hat now!

  9. Fantastic hat pattern! Makes me want to get my needles out! I bet the different colors and small size of the project make it interesting. It’s a great feeling to make things for people in need.

  10. Nicole, thank you for posting this hat pattern- it’s a beauty!

    Also: I hope Lynda Harrison will share with us how we can also knit for the Native American children at the school in North Dakota. This is exactly the kind of project I want to beinvolved in.

    Thanks! Anita

  11. I bet the tuck stitches also give it great insulating properties, with the bit of extra air they hold! And somehow, they just look more interesting and special than ordinary stripes, with barely any additional effort.

    I’d love to use this for a kids’ charity when I get around to it. The wonderful photo of 60 hats shows just how versatile it is for different recipients, no matter what kind of colour scheme — some look “frilly” and some look “funky” all with the same pattern. Very nice!

    1. I suspect you’re right about the insulating properties, Carol. And I too love that added interest and uniqueness. It reminds me a bit of entrelac. I can’t wait to try this out myself. I’m so thankful to Ginny for sharing the pattern with me and allowing me to share it with all of you!

  12. I use up my left-over yarn (plus yarn I go and purchase specifically for this project) by making hats, scarves, and sweaters which are sent to a school for Native American children in the Dakotas. I usually make at least 100 hats of varying sizes each year.

      1. I’m not Linda, but the Pine Ridge group through Revelry groups will give you info for groups that really need your help! I send a large box of hats to them every year. Such a huge need there. (South Dakota Indian Reservation)

      2. Hi Nicole, the items I make are sent to St. Joseph’s Indian School in Chamberlain, South Dakota. Thank-you very much for your comments. I started knitting when I was 15 and have indulged my love for the craft ever since. I was at a loss to know what I could do as I had made just about all the sweaters, etc. that my family could ever use and my husband suggested making for the children at St. Joseph’s.