Knitted beanie hats are a great way to learn how to knit in the round. As long as you know how to work a knit stitch and a purl stitch, you can quickly knit up a chunky beanie hat. If you're a more advanced knitter, you don't have to stick to a simple pattern; knit beanies are easy to customise. Depending on your skill level, you can try adding cable motifs, allover lace patterns or textured stitch patterns. With so many design options, a knitted beanie is the perfect project for any knitter.
Before you begin knitting a beanie, figure out the circumference of your head. This will help you determine the size of your finished beanie. Wrap a measuring tape around your head; it should hit at the centre of your forehead.
Once you know your head circumference, you can choose a yarn. If the knit beanie is your first in-the-round knitting project, pick a worsted weight or heavier yarn. Avoid yarns that might obscure your stitches, such as brushed mohair or eyelash yarns. If you're a more experienced knitter, your yarn choice will depend on the style of beanie you want to create. For intricate cables and bobbles, choose a yarn with three or more plies, or opt for a cable yarn. If you're knitting a lace beanie, opt for double-knitting, sport or fingering-weight yarn that you'll knit up on larger-than-usual needles.
Knit a 6-inch-by-6-inch square gauge swatch with your yarn. Since you'll be knitting in the round, you must knit your gauge swatch in the round if you want it to be accurate. Instead of truly knitting in the round to create your gauge swatch, work the swatch straight on either circular or double-pointed needles. Knit the first row, and instead of turning your work and purling the second row, slide it to the other end of your knitting needle, bring the working yarn around the back of the work and knit the next row. You'll end up with a swatch that has loops hanging across the back. Cut the loops down the middle and wash and block your swatch before you measure how many stitches and rows fit into a 4-inch square.
Knitting the Beanie
Cast on the number of stitches you need to equal the circumference of your beanie using either double-pointed needles or 16-inch circular needles. If you're using double-pointed needles, distribute the stitches evenly across four needles, leaving the fifth empty.
Join your cast-on row for working in the round. Slip a stitch marker onto your needle and knit into the first cast-on stitch using the working yarn dangling from the last cast-on stitch. Pull tight to close the gap and complete the first stitch in round 1.
When joining for working in the round, make sure you don't twist your cast-on stitches in different directions. This will create a twisted fabric and force you to reknit your first round.
For a simple beginner beanie, knit 2 stitches and purl 2 stitches and repeat across each round until you've knit 2 inches. Alternatively, knit a garter stitch hat band by knitting one row and purling the next for 2 inches. Switch to plain knitting and work straight until your hat measures 6 inches from the cast-on edge. In the next round, you'll begin your decreases. Evenly space 4 or 6 knit-2-together stitches across every other row, knitting until between 6 and 10 stitches remain. Cut your yarn, thread it through a tapestry needle, sew through the remaining stitches and pull tight to close. Weave in the yarn ends to finish your beanie.
If you're a more advanced knitter, you can customise this basic beanie pattern to include cable or lace motifs. Since knit beanie hats have such a simple shape, the possibilities are limited only by your skill level and creativity. Do create a gauge swatch using the stitches you will incorporate into your beanie; this is essential if you want the hat to have the correct fit.
If you're working in an allover lace motif, plan your decreases in advance. One alternative to evenly spacing decreases over every other row is to knit 2 stitches together, knit 1 stitch and slip-slip knit the next 2 stitches in four equidistant spots around the circumference of the hat. If you decrease in the same spots every other row, you can keep your lace pattern rows lined up without too much trouble.
Also consider how to work decreases if you're knitting a beanie hat with a cable motif. You may want to design the hat so that decreases fall in the spaces between the cables, which will draw the cables closer together as you knit toward the hat's top.