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How to Knit a Hat Using Straight Needles: A Beginners Guide

Updated on June 19, 2013

So you’ve just started knitting, have the basics down and you would like to venture into the world of knitting warm winter wear for your head. Or maybe you would like to knit a hat for your loved ones or significant other. The thing is you don’t know how. Luckily, you’ve come to the right place. If you don’t have the luxury of having someone you know teach you how to knit a hat, the internet is the second best place to go (next to knitting books of course). Below is an outline of two ways to knit a simple hat. Nothing too fancy, just a simple way to get you started.

Before we start, you need to decide a few things first:

#1: Who is this hat for?

If the hat is for you, find a hat you already have and take a look at the circumference of the bottom. The number of stitches you cast on will determine how wide the rim of the hat is. A woman’s and child’s hat will most likely be smaller around the bottom than a grown man’s hat.

If the hat is for someone else, you will need to take into consideration the size of their head and maybe take a look at a hat they may already own.

#2: What type of yarn do you want to use?

For beginners, using a worsted weight yarn will be the easiest since it’s the most common, cheap, and simple yarn to use. It’s not too thick or too thin or too slippery or fuzzy. You can find this yarn in any discounted store like Wal-Mart, or at various craft stores like Michael’s or JoAnne’s. There are also shops dedicated especially for yarn, but those tend to be a little more money and if you’re living on a budget, you may want to steer clear of those for awhile.

#3: What size needles do you want to use for this hat?

It’s recommended that you use between size 5 and 8 for beginner hats if you are working with a worsted weight yarn as mentioned above, although this is not set in stone. Just keep in mind that the smaller the needle, the more stiches you will need to cast on in order to make a hat that fits.

Once you have decided these three things, you’re ready to start!

Method To Knit A Hat #1: Using straight needles

This was the way I was taught how to knit a hat. It’s very similar to knitting a simple scarf. So lets start.

Please note that because there is no ribbing at the bottom of the hat, the hat will curl at the base once it’s complete like this:

1. Cast on however many stitches you feel you may need for your hat on one needle. This number will vary depending on the size of the head and how loose or tight you want the hat to be. Try this general rule if you are unsure: knit a few inches and count how many stitches are in 1 inch. Measure your head in inches. Then multiply these two numbers together like this:

21 inches around head x 4 stitches in one inch = 84 stitches for a snugly hat.

Of course this number will vary depending on head size, needle size, and how bulky or thin your yarn is.

2. Once you have the number of stitches cast onto your needle, start knitting this entire first row with the knit stitch. If you do not know how to knit stitch, below is a link to a helpful video.

3. After this first row of knitting, you will purl stitch the next row (again, a helpful video for those visual learners):

4. Alternate knitting one row and purling one row until you almost have the desired length of your hat. If this hat is for you or someone who would wear a similar size as you, you may want to test this by wrapping the hat around your head. Leave 1 ½ - 2 inches for the top of the hat where you will be decreasing, i.e. making your knitted rows smaller so the hat comes to a point.

5. Before starting to decrease, make sure you end your last row on a purl stitch so you will start with a knit stitch row. Decreasing involves only a few steps:

  • knit 8 stitches, knit 2 stitches together – repeat until end of row
  • purl next row
  • knit 7 stitches, knit 2 stitches together – repeat until end of row
  • purl next row
  • knit 6 stitches, knit 2 stitches together – repeat until end of row
  • purl next row

You will need to repeat this pattern until you have only a few stitches left.

6. Once you have only a few stitches left, cut the string off so only a few inches remain and thread it through the rest of the remaining stitch loops and tie a knot.

7. At this point you will need to sew the two sides of the hat together to complete the hat. This can be done two ways:

  1. Sew the side with a needle and thread or
  2. Sew the side with a larger needle and the leftover yarn from the hat.

Either way works, at this point it is just a matter of what you think looks good and what you prefer.

Once the sides are sewn the hat is complete! Enjoy!

*NOTE: If you would like to learn the second way to knit a hat with circular needles, please be on the lookout for this article coming soon!


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      Kate 2 years ago

      Hi! I made this hat today however it ended up being in a point not nice and round like yours..any clue where I may have gone wrong?