If you’ve been practicing knitting for a while and want to graduate from the stylish-yet-humble scarf, learning how to knit a hat is a natural step up. Not only can you coordinate it to match those scarves, but you’ll learn a bunch of new knitting skills too. Let’s get started! 

Knitting Supplies to Knit a Hat

purple and green stipe hat
Yarn and knitting needles are essential supplies for knitting a hat.

If you’ve completed a few beginner knitting projects, you probably have most of the supplies needed to knit a hat, but you’ll definitely need the following: 

Hat Knitting Pattern

some directions
Part of a knitting pattern for hats.

You’ll need to follow a pattern to make sure you increase and decrease at the right times and complete the correct number of rows on the ribbing or other edging. 

Patterns include all the instructions you’ll need, including information about the required materials, the skills you should have before starting, and step-by-step instructions.

Knitting Needles for Hats

Choose the right knitting needles for your project.

Different hat knitting patterns call for different needles and sizes. In general, knitting a hat requires knitting in the round, either on circular needles or on four/five double-pointed needles, or both. While some hat knitting patterns may only require one needle size, others might call for two or more, so check your pattern.

The Best Yarn for Knitting a Hat

three different yarns
Beautiful yarns.

Hats are meant to be cozy, warm, and worn close to the skin. Choose a yarn that feels comfortable to you, in a color and texture you like. 

While you can use fine, thin yarn, your hat will take a long time to knit. Chunky hats knitted with bulky yarn are on-trend right now, but the yarn weight you choose is ultimately up to you (and the pattern you’re following!). 

Tres Chic!

Stripes Beret: Step-By-Step Knitting Tutorial Class

What Stitches to Use to Knit a Hat

blue beret
Skillshare instructor Hannah Gilly’s hand-knitted beret.

You don’t need to know anything more than the most common stitches to knit a hat, though if you’re an advanced knitter who can execute textured stitches, they look great on hats!

Casting On/ Casting Off

Davina Choy teaching the long-tail cast on method.

They aren’t stitches per se, but you’ll definitely need to know these knitting fundamentals before you start to knit a hat. If you don’t, backtrack to a knitting class for beginners and brush up on the basics.

When it comes to casting on, use the long-tail cast on method for knitting hats, as the regular cast-on method doesn’t have as much stretch. Need a reminder how to do this? Go to lesson 6 of Davina Choy’s Skillshare class, Knitting III: Learn Knitting in the Round with a Slouchy Hat.

Knit Stitch and Garter Stitch

brown knit
Garter stitch. Student work by Andrea Zadro for Knitting I: Learn the Basics with a Simple Scarf.

Knit stitch is the fundamental knitting stitch. When you knit row upon row of knit stitches, you end up with garter stitch. 

Purl Stitch and Stockinette Stitch

A scarf in stockinette stitch. Student work by Silvie He for Knitting I: Learn the Basics with a Simple Scarf.

Purl stitch is another fundamental of knitting. It’s the opposite of the knit stitch because instead of inserting your right needle from the front to the back of the yarn in the left needle, you insert it from the back to the front.

When you alternate one row of knit stitch with one row of purl stitch—a common combination—you end up with stockinette stitch. Instead of the horizontal rows of bumps you see with garter stitch, stockinette stitch creates rows of little v shapes.


Many hats will require ribbing, which is a stretchy band around the bottom. Rib stitch is just a mixture of alternating knit stitches and purl stitches. The number of each depends on the pattern, but rib rows could be single, double, or multiple.

How to Knit a Hat

Learn to knit a slouchy hat like this.

The following step-by-step instructions teach you how to make a slouchy beanie hat similar to the one above. While it’s an intermediate-level project and you’ll need some fundamental knitting skills already, it’s designed to be accessible to knitters who have never knitted a hat before. 

To follow a written pattern or a video tutorial for this hat, check out Davina Choy’s Skillshare class, Knitting III: Learn Knitting in the Round with a Slouchy Hat.

Step 1: Gather Your Materials 

Consult a knitting pattern for hats. For this pattern, you’ll need:

  • 2 skeins of yarn (about 105 yards)
  • 7mm 16-inch circular needles
  • 6mm 16-inch circular needles
  • 7mm double-pointed needle set
  • Stitch markers
  • Scrap cardboard (for the pom pom)
  • Tape measure
  • Scissors
  • Tapestry needle

Note that the needle size you need will depend on your gauge (more on that below), so you may need to use needles a size larger or smaller after doing your gauge swatch. Have a few different sizes on hand unless you don’t mind making another trip to the craft store mid-project.

Step 2: Calculate Your Knitting Gauge

Making a gauge swatch before you start is necessary for all advanced knitting projects. Everyone knits with a different “tension,” which is how loosely or tightly you hold the needles and form the stitches. Give two knitters the same needles, yarn, and pattern, and you’ll end up with two finished products of different sizes. 

This doesn’t matter when it comes to simple items like scarves, but it does if you’re knitting something that’s meant to fit you closely, like a hat or a sweater. Knitting a gauge swatch will help you judge whether your personal knitting style will produce a piece of fabric of the right size for the project. If it’s too small or too large, you’ll need to adjust your knitting needles or yarn to accommodate for that. 

Step 3: Cast on With Long-Tail Method

The long-tail method of casting on creates a stretchy hem for your hat, which is important if you want a good, comfortable fit. This tutorial introduces the different cast on methods if you need a refresher. 

Cast 56 stitches onto the smaller circular needles. 

Step 4: Join in the Round

Knitting with circular needles is not much different from knitting on straight needles, but as you finish the first “row,” you will need to mark that place by putting a stitch marker onto the needle. This is so you know where a row begins and ends as you knit in a circle rather than a straight line. Also, when joining the first row together, make sure the stitches aren’t twisted. 

Continue to knit rib stitches following this pattern until you have 84 stitches: knit one, make an increase, purl one.

Step 5: Switch Needles

Move your stitches from the smaller to the larger sized circular needles.

Most hats aren’t just a straight tube of fabric. To add more shape to the hat, switch the size of your needles. After you’ve knitted up to 84 stitches, switch to your larger sized needles by dropping them onto one larger needle, then the other.

Once the stitches are on the larger needles, continue the pattern of knit one, purl one until your fabric measures eight inches from the cast-on edge.

Step 6: Begin Decreasing

To ensure your hat gets narrower toward the top, you’ll need to decrease your stitches. With this pattern, knit one stitch and then purl two stitches together to decrease. As you continue, the width of the hat will get smaller and smaller.

Step 7: Switch to Double-Pointed Needles

Migrate your stitches onto double-pointed needles.

At some point, the width of the hat will be too small to continue on the circular needles. You’ll know when this happens because it will feel uncomfortable to knit. 

Take four or five double-pointed needles and migrate your stitches onto them. It doesn’t matter how many stitches go on each needle, and it doesn’t have to be absolutely even or exact. Put the circular needles aside. Place a stitch marker on one of the needles so you know where the rows begin and end.

Once the stitches have all been migrated, continue with your decreases. Knitting with double-pointed needles can take some getting used to, but the process is the same as knitting with regular straight needles. Use an extra needle to do the knitting; that is, if you have your stitches spread out over three needles, use a fourth needle to stitch with.

Step 8: Finish the Hat

finish the hat
Finish off the hat.

When you’re left with just 10 stitches, cut the yarn. Leave a tail of about 10 inches and weave that through the remaining stitches. You’ll be left with a small hole at the top. Close this up with a tapestry needle and the tail of yarn that remains. Weave the remaining tail into the inside of the hat.

Step 9: Create Pom Pom (Optional)

circle with circle inside it drawing
A pom pom template. 

You can leave the hat as it is now, add a pre-made pom pom, or make your own. To do so, take your scrap card and a pencil. Think about the size of the pom pom you want. For a three-inch pom pom, draw a three-inch circle on your card (this doesn’t have to be an exact science). Draw around something circular, like a glass. Make two circles, and then draw two smaller circles within them. Cut out the main circles and the smaller circles in the middle so you end up with two cardboard donuts.

cutout donuts
Cardboard donuts.

Place the two donuts together. Cut a slit into one side, from the outer edge to the inner edge. Take your yarn (either the same as that used to knit your hat or something different) and wrap it around the cardboard donut many times.

wrap yarn around  donut
Wrapping the yarn around the donuts.

Continue wrapping the yarn all the way around the donut until you get back to the beginning. Then, take your scissors and cut the yarn around the outside, placing the bottom scissor blade between the two pieces of card. Hold all the strands in place in the middle so nothing comes loose.

cut the edge
Cut the outer edge of the yarn around the donut.

Once you’ve cut all the way around, take a strand of yarn and insert it into the space between the two pieces of card. Tie it with a knot.

put yarn around other yarn
Secure the ball with more yarn.

Remove the card, and voilá! You have a pom pom. Trim any loose ends to even it up. Attach it to the top of your hat by taking the loose tails of yarn and threading them onto a tapestry needle, then sewing that into the hat.

Wear and Enjoy

Source: instagram
Wear your own creations.

One of the best things about knitting as a hobby is that your finished products don’t just have to sit on a shelf at home, waiting for attention. You can, and should, wear them! Or gift them to friends and family. 

Either way, your hard work and newly learned skills deserve to be out there. Wear your hat with pride and tell everyone who asks that you made it yourself.

Looking for a Knitting Challenge?

Next Level Knitting: Knit a Sweater

Written by:

Elen Turner