How to Knit a Hat to Fit Any Size Head


1. Make a swatch with the yarn and needles you will be using.

2. Note the number of stockinette st per inch.

3. Note the number of rows per inch.

4. This is your gauge (st gauge and row gauge, respectively).

5. Measure the circumference of your subject’s head. On the middle of the ear and at the middle of the forehead and at the base of the skull is the traditional guy fit. If your hat-recipient likes ears completely covered or a hat worn very low on the forehead, use that circumference instead.

6. My hat-recipient had a circumference of 21.5”, my gauge on the needle I wanted was 4 st/inch. 21 inches x 4 st/in = 84 stitches. I knocked off the .5” because my gauge drifted a little between 3.5 and 4 st/in. My gauge depends a bit on the time of day or where I’m knitting. I anticipated a little drift, and wanted to make sure the hat would fit if the standard deviation of my gauge was between a certain amount. Plus the design I wanted was stranded, so the hat would be a little tight if my gauge didn’t drift a little. If your gauge is steady, make it exact.

7. The brim of the hat should be 1 inch. The pattern of the hat should be 5 inches. After that the crown shaping comes in.

8. If you don’t like the stockinette pattern, use whatever you do like (any pattern, fair isle or otherwise, will do, really) as long as it has the same number of stitches (note though if you use a lot of colors and strand them, the gauge might be impacted because of all that extra yarn). If you decide to use a cable pattern, make a swatch in the cable pattern you want to use because cable patterns tend to be narrower than stockinette.  In fact, whatever pattern you use, make a swatch of that and start at #1 for the calculations so the hat fits right.

9. If you want horizontal stripes around the crown, use the CC in Row 2 instead of the MC. [See Crown, Row 2]

10. If you want a roll brim hat, k all around the brim (instead of k2,p2 for 1 inch)(since you are knitting in the round, this creates a stockinette stitch which curls naturally). If you want a wider ribbing on the brim, (k4,p2), or (k2,p4) instead of (k2,p2) around the brim. If you want a narrower brim, (k1,p1) instead of (k2,p2) around the brim. If you want a garter stitch brim, (k one row, p one row) instead of (k2,p2) for the brim. If you decide not to use a ribbed brim, make sure your gauge is exact because it won’t stretch. If you want a fair isle pattern around the brim, make sure you check the gauge for the design carefully, since all that stranded yarn makes for a tighter fit.

11. You can add a pom pom or tassel to the hat. When you close the hole at the top, thread the pom pom or tassel into the hole and secure.

12. You can crochet or knit a flower and add it to the hat for a feminine look.

13. If you intend to line the hat (with fleece), take that into account and make the hat about a half inch bigger (add to the circumference). If you complete the hat in the fair isle stranded design, I do not think it is necessary to line the hat with fleece (unless you live with the penguins in the South Pole, or something like that).


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