Learn how to knit a hat on circular needles

Learn how to knit a hat on circular needles

Knitting can be a relaxing and rewarding hobby, and one of the most satisfying projects to tackle is knitting a hat. While knitting a hat may seem like a daunting task for beginners, using circular needles can simplify the process and make it less intimidating. This step-by-step tutorial will guide you through the process of knitting a hat on circular needles, from choosing the right materials to finishing off your project.

First and foremost, it’s important to gather all the necessary materials. You will need circular knitting needles, typically around 16 inches long, in a size appropriate for your desired hat. You will also need a set of double-pointed needles for the crown of the hat, a tapestry needle for weaving in ends, and a stitch marker to mark the beginning of each round.

Once you have your materials ready, it’s time to choose your yarn. Select a yarn that is appropriate for the season and the level of warmth you desire for your hat. Worsted weight yarn is a good choice for beginners, as it is easy to work with and creates a medium-weight fabric. Choose a color that speaks to you and complements your personal style.

Now that you have your materials, it’s time to cast on. Start by making a slipknot and placing it on one of the circular needles. Hold the needle with the slipknot in your right hand and the other needle in your left hand. Wrap the yarn around your left thumb and hold it with your right hand. Insert the right needle into the slipknot from front to back, and use your right hand to move the right needle behind the left needle, catching the yarn as you go. This is known as the long-tail cast on method, which creates a stretchy and even edge for your hat.

Choosing the Right Circular Needles and Yarn

When it comes to knitting a hat on circular needles, choosing the right needles and yarn is essential for the success of your project. Here are some factors to consider:

  • Needle Size: The size of your circular needles will depend on the desired gauge and the yarn you are using. Make sure to check the pattern or gauge recommendations before selecting your needles.
  • Material: Circular needles come in various materials such as metal, wood, and plastic. Each material has its own advantages and feel, so choose the one that is most comfortable for you to work with.
  • Length: Circular needles come in different lengths, typically ranging from 16 inches to 40 inches. The length you choose depends on the circumference of the hat you are knitting. For most hat projects, a 16-inch or 20-inch circular needle will work well.
  • Yarn Weight: The weight of the yarn you choose will determine the thickness and warmth of your hat. Bulky yarns are great for cozy and quick projects, while finer yarns create a more lightweight result. Make sure to match the recommended yarn weight for the pattern, or choose one that gives you the desired outcome.
  • Fiber Content: Consider the fiber content of the yarn, such as wool, acrylic, or blends. Each fiber has different properties, such as warmth, stretch, and durability. Think about the care instructions and the desired characteristics of the finished hat when selecting the yarn.
  • Color and Design: Finally, think about the color and design of your hat. Circular needles are great for colorwork projects, as you can easily switch between colors without needing multiple separate needles. Choose yarn colors and patterns that match your style or the recipient’s preferences.

By taking these factors into account and making informed choices, you will set yourself up for knitting success and create a beautiful and functional hat on circular needles.

Casting On: Getting Started on Your Hat

Casting on is the first step in starting your knitting project. It creates the foundation row of stitches on your circular needles. Here’s how to get started on your hat:

  1. Gather your materials: To cast on, you’ll need circular needles, yarn, and a pair of scissors. Make sure you choose a yarn and needle size that matches the gauge suggested in your pattern.
  2. Make a slipknot: To begin, make a slipknot by creating a loop with the yarn, slipping the end through the loop, and pulling tight. Leave a long tail of yarn, around 4-6 inches.
  3. Hold the needle: Hold one needle in your dominant hand and the other needle in your non-dominant hand. The needle in your non-dominant hand should have the slipknot on it.
  4. Insert the needle: Insert the needle with the slipknot on it into your dominant hand, going from left to right.
  5. Loop the yarn: With your non-dominant hand, wrap the yarn around the needle in your dominant hand. This creates a loop.
  6. Pull through the loop: Using the needle in your dominant hand, pull the loop of yarn through the slipknot. This creates your first stitch.
  7. Continue casting on: Repeat steps 4-6 until you have cast on the required number of stitches for your hat. Keep the stitches loose, but not too loose.
  8. Join in the round: Once you have cast on all the stitches, join the round by pulling the needle with the slipknot through the first stitch. Make sure the stitches are not twisted before joining.
  9. Ready to knit: Now you’re ready to start knitting your hat! You can begin following the pattern instructions for the body of the hat.

Casting on can feel a bit tricky at first, but with practice, it will become second nature. Take your time and don’t be afraid to start over if needed. Once you get the hang of it, you’ll be casting on with confidence!

Knitting the Body of the Hat

Once you have completed the ribbing section, it’s time to start knitting the body of the hat. This is where the hat really starts to take shape.

Here are the steps to knit the body of the hat on circular needles:

  1. Continue knitting in the round: Now that you have finished the ribbing section, simply continue knitting in the round using your chosen stitch pattern. This can be a simple stockinette stitch, a seed stitch, or any other stitch pattern you prefer.
  2. Knit for the desired length: Keep knitting for the desired length of the hat. This will depend on the size you are making and your personal preference. Measure the hat occasionally to make sure it is long enough.
  3. Switch to decreases: Once you have reached the desired length, it’s time to start decreasing the stitches to shape the crown of the hat. There are several decrease methods you can use, such as knit 2 together (k2tog) or slip slip knit (ssk). Follow your chosen pattern or decrease method to shape the crown of the hat.
  4. Continue decreasing: Repeat the decrease rounds as indicated in your pattern until you have a small number of stitches left. This will create a tapered top for the hat.
  5. Finish off: When you have only a few stitches left, cut the yarn leaving a long tail. Thread the tail through a yarn needle and insert it through the remaining stitches, pulling tight to close the top of the hat. Weave in any loose ends.

Once you have finished knitting the body of the hat and closing off the top, your hat is complete! You can now enjoy your cozy and stylish new accessory or gift it to a loved one.

Adding Decreases: Shaping the Crown

Once you have completed the body of the hat and reached the desired length, it’s time to shape the crown by adding decreases.

Decreases are stitches that are worked together to create a tapered shape at the top of the hat. They can be simple or more advanced depending on the desired effect.

Here is a basic method for shaping the crown of your hat:

  1. Divide the stitches: First, divide the stitches evenly onto your circular needles. You can do this by placing markers every few stitches to help keep track.
  2. Begin decreasing: To start decreasing, knit two stitches together. This is often abbreviated as “k2tog.” Knit the next stitch as usual.
  3. Repeat the decrease: Continue repeating the k2tog decrease every few stitches until you reach the marker.
  4. Move the marker: Once you reach the marker, slip it from the left needle to the right needle and continue knitting the next stitches together.
  5. Continue decreasing: Repeat the decrease process until you have decreased all the stitches and only a few stitches remain.
  6. Finishing: Cut the yarn, leaving a tail. Thread the tail onto a yarn needle, and slip the remaining stitches off the circular needles. Pull the yarn tight to close the top of the hat, and secure it by weaving the yarn through the remaining stitches.

Adding decreases to shape the crown of your hat gives it a more fitted and polished look. Experiment with different decrease patterns, such as knit three together (k3tog) or slip, slip, knit (ssk), to create unique designs.

Remember to try on the hat throughout the decrease process to ensure it fits well. Don’t be afraid to adjust the number of decreases or the spacing between them to achieve the desired fit.

Once you have finished shaping the crown, your hat is complete! Enjoy wearing or gifting your handmade creation.

Switching to Double Pointed Needles

Once you have completed knitting the body of your hat on circular needles, it’s time to switch to double pointed needles for the crown shaping. Double pointed needles allow you to work in a smaller circumference and are essential for creating the decrease rounds at the top of the hat.

Here is a step-by-step guide on how to switch from circular needles to double pointed needles:

  1. Before you begin, make sure you have the correct number of stitches on your circular needles. It’s important to evenly distribute the stitches onto the double pointed needles, so the hat is symmetrical.
  2. Take one of the double pointed needles and slide half of the stitches from the circular needle onto it. For example, if you have 80 stitches on your circular needle, slide 40 stitches onto the double pointed needle.
  3. Repeat Step 2 with a second double pointed needle, sliding the other half of the stitches onto it.
  4. Now, take a third double pointed needle and hold it in your right hand. Insert the tip of this needle into the first stitch on the first double pointed needle.
  5. Hold the second double pointed needle with the remaining stitches in your left hand.
  6. Start working the first round with the third double pointed needle, following the pattern instructions for the decrease rounds. As you knit or purl across the stitches on the first double pointed needle, the stitches from the second double pointed needle will become the working stitches.
  7. Continue to work the decrease rounds with the double pointed needles until you have reached the desired number of stitches for the hat’s crown.
  8. Once you have finished the decrease rounds, you can use a technique called the “magic loop” to close the top of the hat and finish it off.

Switching to double pointed needles may seem intimidating at first, but with practice, it becomes a natural part of your knitting process. Remember to take it one step at a time and refer back to this guide as needed. Happy knitting!

Finishing Touches: Binding Off and Weaving in Ends

Once you have completed knitting your hat on circular needles, it’s time to finish it off with binding off and weaving in the ends. Here are the steps you need to follow:

  1. Binding Off: Start by knitting two stitches onto the right needle.
  2. Take the first stitch on the right needle and pass it over the second stitch and off the needle. You now have one stitch left on the right needle.
  3. Knit one stitch onto the right needle again, and repeat the previous step by passing the first stitch over the second stitch and off the needle.
  4. Continue this process until you have only one stitch left. Cut the yarn, leaving a long tail for weaving in.

Weaving in Ends: Take the end of the yarn and thread it through a tapestry needle. Insert the needle into the first stitch on the left needle and pull the yarn through.

Knitting image

Illustration for weaving in ends

Next, weave the needle and the yarn through the stitches on the wrong side of the fabric, following the path of the yarn to secure it. It’s important to avoid pulling the yarn too tightly, as this may cause the fabric to pucker.

Continue weaving in the ends for a few inches, or until you are confident that the yarn is secure. Trim any excess yarn, leaving a small tail.

Repeat the weaving in process for any additional loose ends from color changes or joining new yarn.

Once all the ends are woven in, gently steam or block your hat according to the yarn instructions. This will help the stitches relax and the hat to take its final shape.

Congratulations! You have successfully completed knitting a hat on circular needles and finished it off with binding off and weaving in ends. Your cozy and stylish hat is now ready to be worn or gifted to someone special!

Styling and Customizing Your Knitted Hat

After completing the basic pattern for your knitted hat, it’s time to let your creativity shine by styling and customizing it. Here are some ideas to help you personalize your hat:

1. Adding Embellishments

One way to customize your hat is by adding embellishments. You can sew on buttons, beads, or pom-poms to give it a unique touch. You can also use embroidery thread to create intricate designs on the surface of your hat.

2. Choosing Different Colors

Experiment with different color combinations to make your hat stand out. You can use multiple colors within the main body of the hat or create stripes by alternating colors on different rows. Consider color blocking techniques to add visual interest.

3. Trying Different Stitch Patterns

Instead of sticking to a basic knit or purl stitch, try incorporating different stitch patterns into your hat. Cable stitches, ribbing, or lace patterns can create beautiful textures and add a touch of elegance to your hat.

4. Creating a Brim

You can add a brim to your hat to give it a more structured look. This can be done by knitting a few extra rows or by using a different stitch pattern for the brim. A ribbed or garter stitch brim can provide a nice contrast to the rest of the hat.

5. Personalizing with Pom-Poms

Add a playful touch to your hat by attaching one or more pom-poms to the top. You can make pom-poms using yarn of the same color or experiment with complementary or contrasting colors. Pom-poms can add a fun and whimsical element to your hat design.

6. Incorporating Cables

If you’re feeling more adventurous, try incorporating cables into your hat design. Cables can add a unique and intricate detail to your hat, giving it a professional and polished look. There are many cable stitch patterns available online to guide you through the process.

When styling and customizing your knitted hat, remember to have fun and let your personal style shine through. Don’t be afraid to experiment with different techniques and ideas to create a hat that is truly one-of-a-kind.


What materials do I need to knit a hat on circular needles?

You will need circular knitting needles, yarn, a tapestry needle, stitch markers, and a pom pom maker (optional).

Can I use straight knitting needles instead of circular needles for this hat?

Yes, you can use straight needles, but the circular needles are recommended for this project as they allow for knitting in the round without needing to seam the hat later.

What kind of yarn should I use for knitting a hat?

You can use any type of yarn, but it’s recommended to use a medium weight yarn (worsted weight) for beginners as it is easier to work with. The yarn label should provide information on the recommended needle size.

How do I cast on stitches onto circular needles?

To cast on stitches onto circular needles, you can use the long tail cast on method. This involves making a slipknot, placing the needle through the loop, and then wrapping the yarn around the needle and pulling it through the loop.

What are stitch markers used for in knitting?

Stitch markers are used to mark specific points in your knitting, such as the beginning of a round or a pattern repeat. They help to keep track of your progress and ensure that you don’t lose your place.

How do I knit a ribbed brim for the hat?

To knit a ribbed brim for the hat, you will alternate between knit and purl stitches. For example, you can knit two stitches and then purl two stitches, repeating this pattern until the desired length is reached.


Free Chunky Knit Hat Pattern | Step by Step Video Tutorial

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *