Friday, February 13, 2015

Ways to Shape a Beanie Top

I had a rather good question today, a very common issue.  How can you machine knit a hat without having lumpy gathers on top?  It's not easy to decrease evenly across a knitting machine's needles, because each one is on its own needle.
Here are some thoughts about how to solve this problem:
For a perfect finish, check out my golf club covers – done exactly like a hat top, using a garter bar to make nicely even decreases, here: 

That’s part one, and then YouTube will offer you part 2 – it’ll pop up in the suggested videos on the right. 
Although my photo has them lying on a table, so there are some wrinkles, they're smooth with the proper circular decreases for a fitted hat.  No gathers!

This is a lot of stitches to move, though.  By the time you finish a golf club cover, you're have had a garter bar workout.
The other way to do the same job is to take it all off on waste knitting, then put the stitches back on with the necessary spaced decreases, unravel the waste yarn, knit a bit, take it off on waste yarn again, etc.  Tedious but you can get that same perfect shaping.

There are other ways to do this, as well – none quite so perfect as the method I show in the golf club covers – 

1.      I did a watch cap in the Goldilocks Book that shapes beautifully at the top of the head because I disguise the decreases in among some latched cables. 

2.      You can transfer every fourth stitch to its neighbor, take the empty needles out of work, tighten the tension some, knit a few rows, then transfer every second stitch to its neighbor and take those needles out of work, tighten the tension as much as you can, knit a few rows and sew the stitches off and gather up.  This is smoother but not as pretty.  This is how I did the monkey hats in the KnitLeader course.  They're still a little gathered, but not much.

3.     You can make the whole hat ribbing, which gathers better than stockinette stitch, especially if you gather the knit stitches and then gather the purl stitches.  Here's a ribbed hat that I think looks very professional:

4.  You can make your hat sideways and short-row the crown, as I did in this short-rowed baby hat, pictured in shades of light blue and green.



  1. Recently, a lady asked in a FB MKing group for a beanie on the standard gauge, using a decrease method like HK beanies. I suggested converting a HK pattern. They didn't think they could do that. This might be a good project for you--and not using the garter bar, or the changing tensions styles. I'm frequently telling knitters that they can design their own items, like hats and fingerless gloves, by the simple math of a gauge swatch and desired measurements, but they don't seem to believe it and think there's something magical about commercial patterns. It is a pain to move the stitches over if you only have a 3 prong tool, but if that's the look they want, they'll do it (and they were looking for kid sizes). I like the sideways hats, but I haven't done an adult one on the standard gauge, just on the LK150.

  2. Those videos and instructions are perfext. Thank you.