A few weeks ago, I wrote a post about my favorite hats. Since then, I’ve received several questions from beginner knitters (or knitters who have never knit a hat) about what pattern I would recommend for a very first hat! Of course, I dug around on Ravelry and found some excellent ideas that I’m happy to share here!

Back in 2009, I was in college and rediscovering my love of knitting. (I guess a full-time job and full class load weren’t enough? I needed a hobby!) I can’t remember exactly why, but I decided I needed to knit a hat. I must’ve gone to Michael’s to find some acrylic yarn and a book (at the time, I had no idea YouTube videos about knitting were even a thing). I purchased this book, which taught me how to join in the round, change to DPN’s, decrease, and cinch up the top of the hat. Although the patterns in it are pretty outdated and I don’t really recommend it (i.e. I think you’re better off with the patterns below and YouTube), it did teach me all the basics of hat knitting! And, obviously, I fell in love. I’ll take knitting in the round and no bind off over a huge stockinette shawl any day! I could wax poetic about my hat-knitting love forever, but instead I will tell a quick story and then share those patterns!

It took me 3 tries to knit my first hat. I remember always knitting before bed (you know, after studying, to wind down…) and I had cast on, joined in the round, knit the ribbing, and started the stockinette portion. I put the hat down to go to bed, feeling quite accomplished. When I picked it up the following night, I noticed that, while the stitches I was knitting were knit stitches, all the stitches I had knit the night before were now purl stitches! (I’m actually laughing out loud typing this.) I couldn’t figure it out, so I frogged it and restarted. I swear the same thing happened again the next night! More frogging and restarting and maybe a curse word or two. When it happened the third time, I was ready to give up. Like, threw it across the room ready. Then somehow, in my frustration, it finally dawned on me: it was turned inside out. I know. duh. But it hadn’t occurred to me that this was possible. When I finally finished, I was so proud… even though looking back now, it didn’t fit well at all and I did a terrible job at weaving in ends (see below)!

The moral of the story: when you pick up a WIP, make sure it’s right side out.


I also want to quickly mention that I started with a set of fixed circular needles and DPNs. It works well, but if you want to knit hats in multiple sizes, I highly recommend an interchangeable needle set with short tips (I own and love this one) and a longer cord like this in at least 32″ length so you can decrease using magic loop. I find DPNs to be too fussy and much prefer this method.

Okay, on to the patterns!

Most of these incorporate only knits and purls, have simple decreases, and very little or no color-changing. For the adventurous beginner, I throw in one with slipped stitches and one with stripes. But don’t worry – there’s nothing too complicated here!

A great place to start is the ultra-unfussy Classic Cuffed Hat by Purl Soho. This one is written for sizes to fit the whole family and it’s free! I love the fold-over brim – it basically gives you two hats in one: wear it cuffed for a more fitted look or wear it slouchy! It will also knit up pretty quickly in a worsted weight yarn! For a great affordable option, I love Paton’s Classic Wool.

cuffphoto © Purl Soho

Next up is Pete by Susan B. Anderson. Pete is a very straight-forward pattern with a few stripes – my favorite! I haven’t personally knit this hat, but I think it’s an ideal “guy” hat – simple and understated, yet attractive. I love that this pattern can be knit with two strands of fingering or one strand of worsted weight yarn. If holding two strands of yarn together intimidates you, just grab a skein of worsted and cast on! I love the tweedy wool blend in the original version, but it would look great in nearly any wool or wool blend! If changing colors is too adventurous for you, you can always skip them… but it’s not much extra effort for huge payoff, if you ask me!

photo © susan b. anderson

Millie by This.Bird.Knits is a deliciously simple, modern slouchy hat! I have yet to knit my own, but it’s definitely on my list. Just like the Classic Cuffed Hat, you can fold the brim over for extra warmth on your ears! The designer Annie is one of my absolute favorites and I’m sure this hat won’t disappoint! You’re just one skein of DK-weight yarn away from this beauty! The sample shown below is actually knit using a self-striping yarn, so she didn’t have to change colors, but it would also look awesome in a solid, variegated, or marled yarn!

photo © This.Bird.Knits

Another fantastic option for guys (or ladies!) is Earthen by Alicia Plummer. I knit this pattern for my husband (project page) last winter, adding some ear flaps, and he loves it! I used and highly recommend the luxurious madelinetosh Tosh Vintage. But any worsted weight wool will do! Earthen is more of an “adventurous beginner” as it does have some slipped stitches and the decreases are just slightly more involved. But it’s not difficult at all – just one step at a time!

photo © AliciaPlum

 Finally, I want to share a hat I mentioned as one of my favorite hats and it just happens to be great for beginners! It’s Birdie by This.Bird.Knits! This was my car knitting project for our trip out West, and I had to get a snap of it in beautiful Utah. Knits and purls are utilized to create a thermal texture, which is super warm, especially using the suggested Cascade Eco Cloud. So cozy!

photo © theknitpicky 

If you’re a seasoned hat knitter, what was your first one?!
If you’re a hat knitting newbie, maybe one of these patterns will be your first!

Are you joining my Any Hat Knit-A-Long?! 

It’s hosted on Instagram & there are lots of fun prizes! You can knit any hat by any designer and by the end of the month, you’ll have at least one cozy hat, just in time for Fall!

If you want to join in, simply follow me on Instagram @theknitpicky and use #anyhatkal to share your WIPs and FOs! It’s a fun way to knit together virtually, share successes, and help each other out! We cast on this Friday, September 1st! I hope to see you there 🙂

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