A hat is a gratifying project for both beginners and experts. It allows you to make as simple or as complex a pattern as you wish. It's also quicker than many other projects, which makes it a good thing to knit up as a last-minute gift.
Use your tailor's measuring tape to measure around the crown of your head. Wrap the tape around the forehead, just where your ears meet your head. Write this measurement down.
Using your 12-inch circular needle, cast on enough stitches to measure 4½ to 5 inches across. Knit in stockinette stitch until you create a square-shaped swatch.
Look at your swatch. If you want a denser fabric, knit another swatch on a smaller needle. Knit on a larger needle for a looser fabric. When you have a density you like, gently wash your swatch. Squeeze out the water and allow to dry overnight. Determine your gauge by measuring 4 inches across on the knit side and count the number of stitches. Divide this number by 4. This gives you your gauge, or number of stitches to the inch. Measure 4 inches vertically on the purl side of your swatch and count the rows. Divide by 4 to determine your number of rows to the inch on your gauge.
Multiply your stitches to the inch by your head circumference. Figure out if your chosen stitch pattern, knit consistently in a circle, fits that number of stitches. If it doesn’t fit, add on enough stitches to allow that pattern to be knit continuously.
Using your larger needle, cast on that number of stitches. Transfer them to your preferred needle size. Join the ends of the circle and begin to knit, taking care not to twist your row as you go.
Keep knitting in rounds until the body of your hat is as high as you want it, then begin forming the crown. To form the crown, begin to decrease by knitting 2 stitches together at regular intervals throughout the round, alternating a row of decreases with a row of plain knitting.
When you have too few stitches to knit comfortably on one circular needle, begin using your second circular needle. Each needle will hold stitches for the other as you continue to knit your rounds. By using 2 circulars, you can create tighter and tighter rounds without having too much pull on your hat. Keep decreasing as specified in Step 6 until you have 8 to 10 stitches left. Cut your yarn, leaving a tail of about 12 inches.
Thread your yarn through a tapestry needle and pull it through the open stitches. Insert the needle into the center hole and pull to close the hole and seal the stitches. Weave in your loose ends and trim the excess.