Knit Your Way to the Top


Christmas is just around the corner, and there are exactly 27 cents in the entire world that belong to you. You have a list of people you love and want to remember in some personal way this holiday season, but your mom helped you make zucchini bread and sugar cookies to give them last year when you found yourself in this same fix.

The situation clearly calls for a great deal of creativity. If there is enough snow available on Christmas Eve, you could build an igloo for your younger brothers. It’s not exactly a lasting gift—you may be called on at any time after the sun warms the day to help unbury Herbie—but at least your budget could handle it.

If what you would really like to do, however, is give something not only beautiful and made by you, but also something warm and useful and lasting, why not design your own line of winter hats and headbands? They can be knitted or crocheted, and colors and patterns can be chosen or created by you to exactly match a favorite coat, a uniquely painted bicycle, or even an especially distinctive personality. For example, if your brother is really a little honey bear at heart, design him a hat circled with friendly bears. If your mom’s new parka is brown, add a crocheted hat and gloves to the ensemble.

Pictured here are some hats and a headband to show you how it’s done. In addition to the yarn and needles you’ll use (leftover yarn from another project will do nicely), all you’ll need is graph paper and a pencil, a measuring tape, a piece of cardboard, and some scissors.

Designing and Measuring

First you’ll have to measure the head of the person for whom you’re making the hat. Write the measurement down immediately so you won’t forget. Then, with the yarn and needles you are going to use to make the hat, knit a square about 2-by-2 inches. Measuring the area in the middle of the square, check how many stitches you knit to the inch. If you knit 6 stitches to the inch, and your brother’s head measures 20 inches around, you will need to cast on 120 stitches to make a circle that will go around his head. Hats can be knitted in a circle or in a flat piece that you can seam together. If you plan on making a seam, add 4 stitches for the seam to your total number. Remember, you will still only have 120 stitches to use in designing your pattern.

Next take a piece of graph paper, and using one square per stitch, create a design for your hat. If you want to make a repeating pattern (see the bear hat or the heart headband), make sure the number of stitches to complete the pattern once will divide evenly into the total number of stitches available (minus the seam stitches). For example, if the pattern requires 10 stitches, it can be repeated 12 times around your brother’s hat. You may have to adjust the hat size or your pattern slightly to make things come out evenly.

Other Decisions

For the edge of your hat, you may want to do a band of ribbing (usually knit one, purl one, or knit two, purl two; see the yellow-striped hat). If so, the ribbing should be done with needles one size smaller than those used for the rest of the hat. On the other hand, you may just wish to knit your hat an inch or two longer and make a hem as you would in sewing (see the bear hat). In this case, you will use the same size needles for the entire hat.

Now you should decide about the shape of the hat. You can just knit it the same size all the way up and then gather the top together to close it, as was done with the bear hat (a).

Or you may want to knit or crochet for about 5 to 8 inches and then begin to decrease stitches every one or two rows or inches, as was done in the brown and tan crocheted hat or the yellow-striped knit hat.

Making Pom-poms

If you want to top your hat with a decorative pom-pom, cut a piece of cardboard about 5 inches long and as wide as the desired radius of the pom-pom. Wrap yarn around the cardboard many times (this will determine the fulness of the ball). Then thread a piece of yarn along one edge of the cardboard, draw it tightly together, and knot it. Cut along the other edge. You may wish to trim the yarn strands slightly (b).

Attach the finished pom-pom to the top of the hat.

Get busy and design and create some hats for the people you care about. If you hurry, you might even have time to build an igloo and design a hat to go with it!

[illustrations] Red and White Heart Headband; One pattern=18 stitches; One pattern=6 stitches; Zigzag pattern

[illustrations] One pattern=32 stitches; Blue and White Bear Hat

[photos] Photos by Jed Clark