I assume during my computerless week off that you have been hard at work on those hats. Well, if not, that’s ok. The nice thing about hats is how quick they are to knit up. You could probably do a whole one in a day or two, which is why they’re my favorite suggestion for first projects.
Right, so let’s get to it! You have been knitting for a while now and have several inches of material. You’ve reached your desired length. If you’re not sure, try the hat on carefully. I’m not super talented at this part. I tend to lose stitches, so I just kind of eyeball it. I know I like hats to be about 7 inches long, a little longer for more slouch. If you decide to try the hat on, go to a mirror and see where the needles hit on your head. If it’s near the crown of your head (where your head starts getting narrower), you’re good to go. If not, knit a little bit more first.
Now that we’re ready to decrease, it’s time for more math. I know. If you were/are a liberal arts major like I was, math may not be your thing (or it might). This math is easy, though, or I wouldn’t be doing it. When you look at many hat patterns on Ravelry (or elsewhere), you’ll notice a pattern with the decreases. The first round usually starts with something like “knit 10, k2tog,” or some similar number. The pattern is saying that the total number of stitches on the needles is divisible by 12, and we want to make it divisible by 11 for the next round, and so on until we get to the part where we k2tog all the way around.
How many stitches do you have on your needle(s)? I have 80. My hat is divisible by 10, so my first round of decreases will be “knit 8, k2tog.” Generally, patterns have knit 8-knit 12, but do whatever works for your math. If I had 84 stitches, which is divisible by 12, my first round would be “knit 10, k2tog.”
Before we get going on the decreases, we’re going to knit one more round. Grab some place markers. This will make this part so much easier. Ok, so as I said, I know my total cast-on is divisible by 10. So, on this round, I will place a marker after every 10 stitches.
Do your first round of decreases. For the next round in your decreases, knit all the stitches. Every other row will be just plain knit so that you get something like this:
R1: k8, k2tog* repeat until end of round (Total sts: 72)
R3: k7, k2tog* repeat until end of round (Total sts: 64)
R5: k6, k2tog* repeat until end of round (Total sts: 56)
To make this a little easier, take a look at your stitch markers. During each decrease round, what you are doing is knitting up to the last 2 stitches before the stitch marker. Then, k2tog and slip your marker. Easy!
I like to do my decreases like this until I get to about 50-ish stitches, depending on whatever number my cast-on is divisible by. Then, I take out the all knit rounds between my decreases and go until I hit k2tog on its own. So, for my hat, I hit about 50-ish after round 5. I knit round 6, and then start my rapid decreases.
R7: k5, k2t0g* repeat until end of round (Total sts: 48)
R8: k4, k2tog* repeat until end of round (Total sts: 40)
R9: k3, k2tog* repeat until end of round (Total sts: 32)
R10: k2, k2tog* repeat until end of round (Total sts: 24)
R11: k1, k2tog* repeat until end of round (Total sts: 16)
R12: k2tog* repeat until end of round (Total sts: 8)
At any point when the stitch markers stop being helpful and start being cumbersome, you can lose them. I generally stop using them at about round 8 or 9 just because they start getting in the way. If you want to keep them up until the last stitches, go for it. They’re a handy guide.
Now I have a small number of stitches left on my needle, a total of 8 to be exact. Cut your working yarn so that you have a fairly long “tail” about 6 inches long. Grab either a blunt needle or a crochet hook and pull your yarn through the stitches. Go in the order that you would have knit the stitches, otherwise you’ll probably start unravelling.
All that’s left is our finishing touches. Weave in your ends and block your hat. Blocking hats can be a little tricky. If you’re making a tam/beret, that’s easy. pull your hat over a plate. The plate will give your hat the distinct shape you’re looking for. What if you just have a basic hat? You have the option of putting the wet hat on your head and letting it dry, but I don’t tend to go for that. My suggestion is wash the hat and lay it flat to dry. When I set it down, I kind of mold it into the shape I want.
Viola! You are done! How does it feel to have finished your first hat?