I once designed a hat (back in 2017) with yarns we used to sell in the shop. It was a simple pattern, using 6mm needles and Aran weight yarn. Something quick and easy, doable in a weekend when the temperatures suddenly drop.
I never really finished the pattern and it sort of remained at the level of a tutorial, but now I feel it’s time for an upgrade of sorts.
In this blog I’m using Lang Yarns Carpe Diem and Chiaogoo Twist interchangeable needles along with the Red Lace cables. If you click on the names you’ll be taken to our webshop in a new tab.
The pattern will be published later this month and the whole thing will also be available as a kit.
We get a lot of questions about magic loop and needle sizes in the shop, so I decided to post a blog so people can try it out and see for themselves.
I’m going to walk you through the process of knitting a double brimmed hat and we’re going to explain how and why things are done the way they are done.
There’s a number of ways to start a hat, this one is cast on from the bottom and worked up. Usually when a hat is cast on from the bottom, you can see the cast on edge, it’s right above (or on) the eyebrows and it’s quite visible. It’s not a problem of course if you use a fancy cast on, but if you cast on tight or too loose, you’re going to see it on your forehead.
One way to prevent this is by making sure the cast on edge is on the inside by making the brim twice as long and folding it inwards. The brim will be fluffier and thicker (which I personally really like)
Since the cast on will disappear it’s no longer relevant which cast on method you use. The only important thing is that it’s a stretchy or loose cast on so the hat won’t be restricted. I personally recommend the backward loop cast on for this type of hat. This means you make a slip knot and loop the yarn around your finger and put the twisted loop on your needle.
Sure this cast on is not the prettiest, but there are two huge advantages to using this cast on:
1: there’s no waste and no guesswork as to how much yarn you need for the amount of stitches. Just make a slip knot and continue until you have the amount you require.
2: this cast on is quite impopulair because the cast on is loose and the loops are quite big. Which in this case is a huge win, since you’ll need to knit the live stitches together it’s the cast on edge to finish the brim. This cast on allows you to very easily knit them together without struggling to find the stitch.
When you’ve cast on the number of stitches you need, you’ll work 1 row K1, P1 until the end. I’m using an 80cm cable and 5mm needles here.
You’ve probably seen patterns that recommend 40cm cables (and short needles), but I’m personally not a fan. Not because they don’t work great (because they do!), but because you’ll need to use the magic loop technique in the end anyway. At some point (in most patterns) you’ll decrease the stitches and you’ll get to a point where even the 40cm cable will be too long.
(Ofcourse you can use DPN’s, but this post is mainly about magic loop and circular needles)
If you want to be able to use magic loop comfortably, you’ll need to make sure the cable you’re using is long enough. For a hat you’ll need a 75-80cm cable. We just worked 1 row, but if we want to work in the round we need to fold our work half way and pull out the cable in the middle. When you pull out the cable you can lay the sides on top of each other, needles on one side, cable on the other. The technique is called “magic loop” because the long cable can be adjusted to fit smaller projects.
The picture above shows the cable and the needles and how the project is knit. If you want to knit you’ll push the front needle into the stitches, and you’ll pull the back needle out (so you can use it to knit). At the end of the front half, you’ll turn the work and repeat the push and pull to get the needles in the correct position.
When you feel your brim is long enough, fold it inwards and make sure your stitches are lined up correctly. If the first stitch is a knit stitch, the folded one should be a purl stitch.
Put the right needle into the first stitch as if to knit, put the needle into the cast on stitch, knit as if 1 stitch. Repeat this until all stitches have been worked and the brim is folded and closed.
One thing to pay close attention to is lining up the stitches correctly and not skipping any stitches, so this part is something to pay attention to. If you do miss one or two, you’ll end up having stitches in the front and no more space to pick up in th back, or no more stitches in the front but one or two spots open in the back.
It’s not a huge deal if it happens, but it’s neater to make sure you get everything in one go.
Even though it looks really simple, it can be a bit of a pain, especially if you’re using smaller needles and yarn. While you’re working this row, make sure to put all loose threads in the brim. If you do this you’ll no longer have to weave them in, and they’ll be tucked inside the brim.
At the end of the row your work will look something like this. See how neat this is? I bet you’re pretty happy you used the backward loop cast on right now! It’s nice and stretchy, it’s spacey enough to pick up the stitches through and it’s still got room for a little stretch, even after knitting the brim together. Your loose ends are tucked in and it looks really neat
Of course it’s fidgety, takes up more yarn and takes longer to finish in general, but I’ll be honest, all of those reasons mean nothing when I see this pretty brim. Bask in it’s glory.
I honestly believe this little detail lifts a project form home made to hand made quality. Like handmade Italian quality suits 🙂
Once you’ve finished the brim, move onto bigger needles (here’s a valuable tip for you: only exchange the right needle and leave the smaller needle on the left as it is. This makes for a MUCH better knitting experience). Knit a few rows and await further instructions 🙂
This was the end of step 1. Next week I’ll post a blog about the colorwork part, choosing colors and different techniques for doing colorwork projects. Stay tuned!