Knitted berets are classic cold-weather accessories that look equally good when paired with tailored wool coats or casual denim jackets. Unlike beanies, which hug your head, berets have a fitted hat band and a slouchy top. Despite the difference in structure, berets are as simple to knit as any other hat. Even if you're a beginner, you can work up a basic knitted beret from bulky-weight yarn and larger knitting needles within a few hours.
Cast 60 stitches onto a 16-inch circular needle, US size 9. Hold the needle tip with the last cast-on stitch in your right hand and hold the other needle tip in your left hand.
Arrange the stitches so the cast-on ridge sits along the underside of the needle tips and the cable connecting them. The stitches must remain in this position as you knit the first round in order to keep them from twisting.
Knit into the first stitch on the left-hand needle with the tip of your right-hand needle. Wrap the working yarn around the tip of the right-hand needle from back to front and pull the needle tip and the wrapped yarn back through the stitch and then drop the stitch from the left-hand needle. Pull the working yarn taut to close the gap between the new stitch and the last stitch you cast on.
Bring the yarn to the front of your work and purl into the next stitch; insert the tip of the right-hand needle into the front of the stitch's loop form right to left, wrap the working yarn around the needle tip from back to front and pull it back through the stitch. Drop the stitch from the left-hand needle to complete your first purl stitch.
Continue knitting across the first round, alternating between knit stitches and purl stitches. When you get to the stitch marker, which signifies the end of the round, slide it onto your right-hand needle and purl one, knit one across the second round. these two rounds will create a textured seed-stitch pattern.
Work all odd-numbered rounds in the knit one, purl one pattern and work all even rounds in purl one, knit one until your work measures 2 inches in length.
Switch to larger needles and knit plain stockinet stitch--knitting each stitch--in the next round. In this round increase for the beret's slouchy top. Knit two stitches and make one. To "make" a stitch, slide the tip of your right-hand needle under the bar of yarn extending between the stitch you just knit and the next stitch on your left-hand needle. Drape the bar over your left-hand needle and knit. Repeat the knit-two, make one pattern until you reach the end of the round. You should have 90 stitches on your needles. Knit rounds of straight stockinet until your hat measures 5 inches from the cast-on edge.
Work the first decrease: knit six stitches, yarn over, insert your right-hand needle through the front of the next two stitches' loops and knit them together, yarn over, and knit two together. Repeat the knit six, knit two together, yarn over, knit two together pattern until you reach the end of the row.
Knit the next round even, then alternate between knitting decrease rounds and knitting even. In each subsequent decrease round, knit one fewer stitch between each knit two together, yarn over, knit two together sequence. As you continue knitting decrease rounds, the yarn-overs form eyelets that spiral up the sides of the hat.
Switch to double-pointed needles when you no longer have enough stitches to comfortable knit around the circular needles. Knit an even number of stitches onto three double-pointed needles and use the fourth as your right-hand needle. Every time you knit all the stitches from one needle onto the fourth needle, rotate your work clockwise and use the new empty needle as your right-hand needle.
Work the final two rounds of the pattern when you no longer have any knit stitches between the decrease sequences. Knit two together across the second-to-last round and in the final round, slip one stitch from your left-hand needle to your right-hand needle, knit the next two stitches together, pass the slipped stitch over the knit two together stitch and drop it from the right-hand needle.
Break your yarn, leaving a 5-inch tail and thread the tail through a yarn needle. Pull the needle through the remaining stitches, remove them from the double-pointed needles and pull the yarn taut to close the top of your beret. Weave in any remaining yarn end before wearing.
This pattern makes a medium/large woman's beret. To make a smaller or larger beret, go up or down a needle size. If you want to make an extra warm and soft beret, use an alpaca or an angora blend yarn.