How to Knit a Hat From Scratch
1. Measure Your HeadGrab your measuring tape. The first step to knitting a hat that fits just right is measuring the circumference of your head. Wrap the measuring tape around your forehead, then go around the full circumference of your head. Pull the tape as taut as possible. You want to get the true measurements of your head so you don’t end up with a hat that keeps falling down over your eyes. If you have a thick head of hair, it helps to round down your head circumference number just a bit. That will give your hat a better chance of fitting snugly on your head. Plan to round down about 2″. So if your head circumference is 22″, you’d round it to 20″ to give yourself a 2″ negative ease — or round down just an inch if you want your hat to fit more loosely. Once you’ve got the circumference, write that number down so you don’t forget it! Next, measure the length of your head, starting at the crown and going down to the bottom of your earlobe. This is roughly how long you’ll want to knit your hat before you start decreasing for the crown. Write this number down, too. Remember, you can go longer for more slouch, or to accommodate a folded brim, or shorter if ear coverage isn’t your thing. 2. Gauge Check Got your yarn picked out? Now let’s swatch it! First, check out the yarn label to see which needles work best with the weight. Don’t have a label? Take a guess at the yarn weight and experiment with a few different sizes of needles. Remember that for a hat, you want the stitches to be close together for a snug fit. Once you’ve found the right needle size, knit a gauge swatch. The larger the swatch, the more accurate the measurements, so try to knit a swatch that’s at least a few inches in width and height. If you’re planning on using a stitch pattern (ribbing, cables, stranded colorwork, etc.), make sure you knit that stitch for your gauge swatch; that will give you the most accurate picture of what your final hat stitches will look like. Pro Tip If you’re knitting your hat in the round, you should technically swatch in the round, too.
Now you need to figure out how many stitches per inch you’ve got. Use a ruler to measure how many stitches fit within 1″. Write that number down.