My favorite way to make hats is to start from the top and work down. The knitter keeps increasing until he or she has enough stitches and then it’s straight on from there. Also, if I happen to run out of my main yarn before the end of the hat, I could totally just make the brim out of a random contrast color I have on hand.

I’ve made a fair number of hats off the top of my head, but this one came out so well that I wanted to get it down. The combination of the cotton yarn and the gauge that I got with the needles I happened to grab I think made for a good balance of firm, hard-wearing fabric and touchability. Thought I’d share.

Pattern below.

Size: Average adult. (My head is 22″ around and it fits nice. It would also stretch quite a bit bigger or fit a smaller head well, too.)
Gauge: 7 stitches and 9 rounds in stockinette knit in the round.
Yarn: 1 skein Brown Sheep Cotton Fleece (Worsted weight, 215 yards, 80/20 Cotton/Wool)
Needles: Whatever is needed to make gauge, and one size smaller. (I Magic-Looped on Addi Turbos 40″ circular in size 2 and 1, but my tension is increasingly looser as I go along. Everyone else will probably want size 4 or something.) Needless to say, a hat knit in the round can be done on a set of 5 double-pointed needles, 2 sets of circulars, or one long circular. Do what makes you happy!

Using Judy’s Magic Cast-On, cast on 8 stitches. Working in the round, form the crown by knitting the following:
Round 1 (and all odd-numbered rounds): Knit
Round 2: Knit in the front and back (KFB) of the each stitch. Repeat around.
Round 4: K1, KFB. Repeat around.
Round 6: K2, KFB. ”
Round 8: K3, KFB. ”
Round 10: K4, KFB. ”
Round 12: K5, KFB. ”
Round 14: K6, KFB. ”
Round 16: K7, KFB. ”
Round 18: K8, KFB. ”
Round 20: K9, KFB. ”
Round 22: K10, KFB. ”
Round 24: K11, KFB. ”
Round 26: K12, KFB. ”
Round 28: K13, KFB. ”

Note: An added or omitted increase round will change the hat’s circumference by a little more than an inch, if you’d like to change the finished size. If you do, the ribbing will still work out evenly.

After the crown, knit plain for about 2.5 inches.
Switch to smaller needles and knit twisted ribbing (K1 through the back loop, purl, around) for 2 inches or desired length. Hats on circular needles can easily be tried on as you go, so you can make it just the right length.
Knit 2 rounds plain. (A personal preference of mine – I don’t like the way ribbing looks with any bind-off technique)

Bind off using a nice stretchy bind off, like Elizabeth Zimmerman’s sewn bind off:
Break off yarn, leaving 3 or 4 times the circumference of the hat and thread it onto a tapestry needle.
Pass the yarn through the first two stitches purl wise and pull all the way through. Pass the yarn back through the first stitch knit wise, pull all the way through, and drop that stitch off of the left-hand needle.
Repeat around.

Weave in ends. Wear with pride. Break some hearts.

1/13/11: Fixed numbers in crown shaping.