How to Knit a Basic Hat: Your Ultimate Introduction to Hat Knitting

Do you find hat knitting intimidating? Conquer your nerves with this very simple beginner’s hat pattern

A hat was one of the first wearable knitting projects I ever made. I had knitted a scarf before then, but scarves are so easy–just knit until you can’t stand knitting anymore, then knit many, many more rows, and poof–a scarf.

(Okay, that might be a slight exaggeration… but only a slight one.)

Hats intimidated me for quite some time. I think the main reason is that a hat has to fit. That’s scary, isn’t it? Scarves are easy; unless it’s far too short to be a scarf, it’s really hard to mess them up. Hats, though… they can be too big. They can be too small. Yikes!

Another reason hats can be intimidating is because there’s a mistaken belief that they must be knit in the round. And if you’ve never used circular or double-pointed needles before, that really can be worrisome!

However, I’m happy to report that you absolutely can knit a hat flat. You’ll still need to decrease–that is, reduce your stitches–to get the shaping required. But it’s far easier than you might think.

If you’re ready to try your first hat, read on!

More Easy Knitting Patterns

Looking for more simple knitting patterns? Take a look at these patterns available at the Mosaic Bookshop!

What You’ll Need to Get Started

Basic Hat
Photo: Eric Haschke

A skein of worsted weight yarn (also called medium yarn) and a set of U.S. size 8 and 9 knitting needles. These could be circular, straight, or even DPNs if you’re really in a pinch!

You’ll also need a yarn needle, sometimes called a darning needle, so that you can sew up the seam once you’re finished.

Starting and Knitting the Body

This pattern creates a medium-sized adult hat.

Step 1: Cast on 87 stitches onto your size 8 needles.

Step 2: *Knit 1, purl 1, repeat from * to the end of the row, knit 1.

Step 3: *Purl 1, knit 1, repeat from * to the end of the row, purl 1.

Step 4: Continue to knit in this manner–doing a K1, P1 rib stitch on the even rows and a P1, K1 rib stitch on the odd rows–until your work measures 1 inch from the cast-on edge.

Step 5: Switch to size 9 needles and continue the rib stitch pattern for another 6 to 8 inches (depending on how long you’d like the hat to be).

Basic Hat - smaller size
Photo: Eric Haschke

It’s perfectly fine to keep your stitches on the size 8 needle and work the stitches with the size 9 needle when you’re making the switch. Just switch entirely to your size 9 needles once you’ve worked all the stitches off the size 8 needle.

Time to Decrease: Reduce That Stitch Count

This part is where some people get intimidated, but it’s really quite easy! Just take your time and work as carefully as you need to.

Step 6: *Knit 3, knit 3 together (that is, work 3 stitches at the same time as if you were knitting one stitch), repeat from * to the end of the row. If you have fewer than 3 stitches at the end of the row, knit them.

Step 7: Purl all stitches.

Step 8: Continue Steps 6 and 7 until you have only 7 stitches remaining.

Finishing Your Hat

Cut your working yarn about 18 inches out from your working stitches. Use this yarn to thread your yarn/darning needle.

Thread the needle through the remaining stitches on your needle–I like to simply slip the stitches one at a time from the knitting needle to the darning needle.

When all the stitches have been threaded, pull the yarn tightly to close. This creates the closed top of the hat.

Fold the right sides of the hat together so that the edges meet (and the wrong side is facing outward) and seam the edges together.

When you get to the end, secure the yarn into the brim (I like to weave the yarn a few times around where I seamed the final stitch) and cut the yarn. If you need to trim it, go right ahead.

Then, turn the hat right side out again.

It’s just that easy!

If you want to make this basic hat a smaller size, the easiest way to do so is by using a thinner yarn. This pattern, for an adult-sized hat, uses worsted weight yarn. You can drop it to an older child’s size by using DK or sport weight yarn; use finer yarn to make a baby or toddler-sized hat. Then just use the size of needles called for by your yarn.

I hope you’re now inspired and excited to knit a hat!

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How to Knit a Basic Hat

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