The Skill Set Hat: Make it Your Own

The Lesson 4 Hat in the Skill Set: Beginning Knitting is perfect—quick and straightforward to knit, and suitable for all styles and heads. But I think the most perfect thing about a hat like this is that it’s a fantastic template for customization and personalization.

After all, knitting is about being able to make something exactly the way you want!

Change up the prim

Fancy a different brim? Try some of the stitch patterns highlighted in my previous column on combining knits and purls.

(K1, P1) ribbing, for example, is always a classic combination for hats. I’ve used it in the mini on the right.

I really love a hat with garter stitch for the brim—look at how cute it is on the mini on the left in the picture.

To work garter stitch in the round, you have to knit one round, and then purl the next. Some knitters love working in the round so there’s not so much of that pesky purling, but if you like an effect, it’s worth the effort.

Tip: When you’re working any knit/purl texture stitch for the brim—anything other than stockinette stitch—I recommend starting the hat on a needle one or two sizes smaller than the one you’ll use for the body of the hat. So for the Lesson 4 Hat, you’d start with 4.5mm/US 7, changing to the larger needles when you’ve finished the brim. I discuss why this is a good idea here.

If your stitch count divides evenly by four—as it does for the Lesson 4 Hat—(K2, P2) ribbing works well too as you see on my stripey hat.

How deep is your brim?

A standard ribbed brim depth is about 2–3 inches/5–8 cm; so if you prefer a fold-over cuff like you see above, work about 6 inches/15 cm of brim stitches.

The Lesson 4 Hat allows for a brim depth of about 1 inch/2.5cm of stockinette for that nice rolled edge before you start the crowns decreases. There’s a simple adjustment to make if you’re working ribbing or another pattern stitch for the brim: start the decreases when the hat above the brim stitches measures about 6 inches/15 cm long.

Add a second color

Who says you have to work with only one color? The simplest way to add color is to use one for the brim and another for the body of the hat.

When you’ve finished your chosen brim pattern cut that yarn, leaving a 4-inch/10 cm tail for weaving in. To avoid leaving a gap between the colors, tie the second color around the first one and snug up that single knot, leaving a similar length tail. Then just start working with the new color. (Later when it’s time to weave in the ends, where the two yarns join above the brim, you’ll snug up the single knot and weave the ends in opposite directions, each into its own color.)

Kate’s Stripey Hat

I used two skeins of MDK Atlas, one in Natural and one in Shale.

Two great tastes that taste great together—I couldn’t resist.

I cast on with a US 7/4.5mm, 16 inch/40 cm circular needle. I worked 6 inches/15 cm of (k2, p2) ribbing in Shale. I then joined the Natural and started working with the 5mm/US 8 needle.

I worked 4 rounds in Natural, before switching back to Shale. Each time I returned to the start of the round, I twisted the two yarns around each other, so that the “resting” yarn traveled up, and the inside stayed tidy.

When the hat measured 6 inches/15cm above the brim, I started the crowns decreases on the first round of a stripe. It all worked out beautifully—the final stripe is one round longer than the others, but you can’t tell!

I always recommend blocking your hat before you weave in your ends. A quick hand wash settles the stitches, makes the fabric look smoother and more even, and gets the dog hair and cookie crumbs off it (or is that just me?) Soak the hat for 15 or so minutes in lukewarm water, using a wool Wash or gentle soap or shampoo (laundry detergents can be too harsh), roll it in a towel to squeeze most of the water out, and then lay it flat to dry. All of my blocking tips are here.

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