A handmade hat is one of the loveliest and easiest gifts to make, and nothing is quite so cute on a newborn or such a thoughtful and useful gift, as a handmade hat. As soon as you learn a basic pattern, there are so many things you can do to modify it, such as adding colors to make stripes, adding pompoms or trim, or sewing special articles like initials, animals or hearts right onto the hat. Increase the size for different-size children by simply adding rounds to the original pattern.
- Crochet hook, size H or size to fit gauge
- Skein or roll of sport or baby yarn, 3 to 4 ounces or the equivalent of 50 yards.
- Beginning crocheters should invest in a complete set of crochet hooks. You will be prepared for every project and able to adjust your projects by changing hooks as needed.
- Choose a yarn that is itch-free.
Determine the Gauge
Most projects base hook size on a test strip called a gauge. This is a step that advanced needleworkers often skip because they know what size hook to use. If you are a beginner, don't skip it.
- Chain 10 stitches with an H hook.
- Double crochet (DC) in the third stitch from the hook and continue to double crochet across the row.
- Single crochet (SC) three times and turn.
- DC in each stitch across.
- Crochet one more row in the same manner.
- Use an iron to lightly steam the piece and then measure it.
- The piece should measure 1 and 1/2 inches high. If it measures much more, switch to a G hook; if it's less, switch to an I hook for this project.
Create a Magic Circle
Creating a magic circle is the easiest way to crochet in the round.
- Form a loop with your yarn and hold it in your hand, where the skein of your yarn is to the right and the tail is to your left.
- Insert your hook through the loop and use your hook to grab the side of the yarn attached to the skein (the working end of the yarn).
- Chain 3 and then do 11 DCs in the loop. This counts as 12 double crochets.
- Slip stitch to connect to the first chain three.
- Now gently pull down on the tail end until the center ring tightens up nicely.
- Alternatively, you can chain 3 to start your piece and then make 11 DCs in the third chain from the hook. Try both if you want, but the magic circle is the way to go.
Round 2: Chain 3 and then 1 DC in the first chain on the hook. Now 2 DC in every other stitch in the round. You will have 24 stitches. Slip stitch to the first chain 3 to connect the round.
Round 3: Chain 3 and 2 DC in the next stitch. In this round you will increase in every other stitch. One DC in the next stitch and then 2 DC in the one after. Follow this pattern around the circle. You should end with 36 stitches. Connect the round.
Rounds 4 to 10: Chain 3. DC in each stitch all the way across the round. Connect each round with a slip stitch.
- Measure your piece periodically. A hat is not a demanding pattern, so you can add or subtract rows depending on the size you are making.
- It's better for a hat to be too long and roll up a bit than for it to be too short.
Round 11: Chain 1. Make one SC in the first stitch. SC until the end of the round. Slip stitch to the first chain to connect the row.
Round 12: Chain 1. One SC in the first stitch and SC in each stitch all the way around. Fasten off and weave in ends by threading the yarn through a large needle and sewing it between stitches. Check that the beginning tail-end is pulled tightly.
From the top of the magic circle to the final row, this hat will measure 5 inches. For a brim, add approximately an extra 1 inch. For the following sizes, continue crocheting rounds to these lengths:
- Newborn: 5.5 inches
- 3 to 6 months: 6.25 inches
- 6 to 12 months: 6.5 inches
- 12 to 18 months: 6.75 inches
- Toddler: 7.25 inches
- Child: 8 inches
Variations on a Pattern. Simply use your imagination to come up with any number of ideas to make each one of your handmade hats unique. Here are some possibilities:
- Add stripes of color or work in a variegated yarn for extra visual appeal.
- Add a pompom to the top of the hat.
- Use a contrasting and festive color to trim the edges of the hat.
- Applique a child's first initial, a simple animal pattern or a big heart to the hat using felt and a simple blanket stitch.
- If you would like your hat to have a roll-up brim, continue subsequent rounds in the same manner until you have the desired length. The brim works nicely for preemies who sometimes need to have their eyes covered while receiving light treatment for jaundice.
Don't add items to the hat with glue or a method other than sewing them on. Small items could come off and choke the baby.