I needed this years ago, but I hadn’t yet read Elizabeth Zimmerman’s Knitting Without Tears. This summer I started these caps because I wanted to make something for the grandkids and use up scrap yarn. The hat turned out to be so popular, I gave some to older folks and then had to make a trip to JoAnn's for some Lion Brand Fisherman's Wool to keep the project going.
Size 3 needle (16" circular and set of double points)
Gauge: 5.5 stitches per inch with worsted weight wool.
Cast on a multiple of 7 stitches. [91, 98, 105, 112, 119]
Measured on the outside, the hats are approximately: [17", 19", 21", 23, 25"]
Use a provisional cast on by holding a piece of scrap yarn and twisting it between each stitch of your working yarn. There are different methods for doing this. I recommend experimenting till you find one that works for you. Of course you can also use a regular cast on and pick up stitches for the inside lining of the hat, but this is an excellent opportunity to practice the provisional cast on.
Row 1: Purl. This will be your turn row after you pick up the stitches on your provisional cast on.
The reason I work one row before joining is to make it easier not to twist the stitches. You can tug on the scrap yarn that you used for your provisional cast on. This tightens up your stitches, so you can get them smoothly in a circle before joining.
Rounds: Don’t turn your work. Put on a stitch marker to show the beginning of your round, join, and begin knitting around. Knit a few rounds. Don’t be legalistic about how many you do. It might depend on the size of your hat, the amount of contrasting yarn you have, or how engrossing the conversation is while you are doing this section.
Attach a contrasting color and start making patterns. You can look at a chart if you want, but mine seem to turn out best when I determined each row’s stitch pattern as I went along. It makes for such pleasant knitting when you don’t strain your eyes and your brain trying to figure out which row you are on.
Use patterns that require no more than 5 stitches in a row of one color. Draw your unused yarn loosely across the back. You will be putting a lining inside the hat, so there will be no concern about loose strands getting caught on ears or eyeglasses.
Knit in patterns until your hat is 5 1/2 to 6 inches, depending on the size head you want it to fit. Knit a row in MC. Then begin decreasing. Divide your number of stitches by 7. Subtract 2. The answer is the number of stitches you will knit before each decrease. If you cast on 91 stitches, your answer is 11.
Decrease: (K [11, 12, 13, 14, 15] K2tog) 7 times. Knit one row. Then decrease again. This time knit one less stitch before decreasing. (K [10, 11, 12, 13, 14] k2 tog).
Continue decreasing every other row until you have 49 stitches. Now switch to double points and decrease every row until there are 7 stitches left. Cut yarn and run through the stitches. Pull tight and secure yarn.
Now go back to your starting point, pick up the stitches and remove the scrap yarn. Make sure you have the same number. (Pick up cast on stitches and slide all the stitches onto the wire of your circular needle. Then pull the scrap yarn out.) Knit another cap of the same size in a solid color.
Before you finish the inside cap, tie off any stray yarns. When it is done, pop it inside the first cap. You now have a very warm cap with three layers of wool.
Set it out on the coffee table for a while to admire your doodles. Then give it to a grandchild who lives somewhere cold where he can play in the snow.