How Many Stitches to Cast On for a Hat
These charts will show you just how many stitches you should be casting on for your next hat pattern!
When you're knitting your first hat, the hardest part can just be planning the whole thing out. When I did my very first hat, I had never even attempted knitting in the round before, so it was quite the adventure. Ultimately, I did end up with a hat that fit, but it was definitely on the larger side of things.
Knitters and knitwear designers like to learn by trial and error, and I've definitely knitted enough hats in my time to know a thing or two about where casting on a hat can go awry.
Below is our complete guide to figuring out how many stitches you should be casting on for your next hat. Whether you're creating a brand new pattern from scratch or resizing an existing pattern, the charts and resources below are just what you need in your knitting toolbox.
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But First: Resources for Knitting a Hat
Knitting your first hat can be a big undertaking, but if you're anything like the AllFreeKnitting staff, you're going to become addicted to knitting them after your first one. There are a few things about knitting hats, though, that make them a unique undertaking in knitting. If you're knitting your very first hat, here are some resources you might need:
- Yarn Weight Category Chart
- How to Knit a Hat Guide
- Knitting Needle Size Guide
- Knitting Decreases 101
- Knitting Gauge Guide
- Knitting Increases 101
Knitted Hat Size Chart
Different noggins call for different size hats! While most patterns will specify in their notes the intended size and/or age range, it can sometimes be hard to tell if a hat is going to fit perfectly until you actually start knitting it. Below is our knitted hat size chart that will show you the recommended sizes for hats for both the brim and the height of the hat.
That said, this chart is only a rough guide for sizes based on age range. Everyone's heads are a little bit different, and if you're able, we recommend measuring the head of the person the hat is for to get a better idea of the size you should be knitting.
Important Note: Remember that knitting is very stretchy. We recommend going one inch down from the head measurement.
How Many Stitches Should I Cast On?
Alright -- you've figured out the size your hat should be. Now comes the tricky part -- figuring out how many stitches to cast on. Why is this so tricky, you might ask? Well, it comes down to several different factors that can all determine the final count of stitches your particular pattern will require.
- Yarn Weight
The first thing you'll want to consider is the weight of the yarn you're using for your hat. Each yarn weight has a number range of stitches-per-inch; the thicker your yarn is, the fewer stitches-per-inch you will have. Check out our yarn weights guide for more information on the various yarn weights. If you aren't sure of the typical stitches-per-inch for your yarn, check the gauge part of your yarn label. This will most likely give you the average number of stitches required for 4 inches of fabric, so you can just divide that number by 4.
- Needle Size
Yarn weight isn't the only thing that factors into stitches-per-inch, though. The needle size you're using will play a part in this and can dramatically change the size of your hat. The recommended needle size for the yarn your using should be on the yarn label itself. If you don't know for sure, check out our guide to knitting needle sizes.
Note: Many patterns will tell you to go down a needle size or two for the ribbing of a hat; the purpose of this is to create a hat that's a little more secure and has more structure.
Gauge is a sort of mystical part of knitting that can be very frustrating, but understanding it can make or break your hat. Each knitter's hands are a little different, and even the way you hold your yarn can impact your gauge. Think of gauge as the place where your hands, yarn weight, stitch choice, and needle size meet. This guide to calculating knitting gauge is a great place to start if something seems wrong with the size of your hat or the number of stitches you're casting on.
- Pattern Repeats + Ribbing
The last thing you want to keep in mind is the ribbing and the pattern repeats within the hat you're planning to knit. The number of stitches that you cast on should accommodate every repeat used in your hat. This is vital if you're planning to adjust an existing pattern for a different head size.
For example, if your pattern repeat for the body of the hat is a 12-stitch repeat and the ribbing is a 2x2 rib, you will want to make sure that the number of stitches you cast on is both a multiple of 12 and 4. If you're new to ribbing or something seems off about the appearance of your hat's brim, check out our guide to knitting ribbing.
Once you've factored in everything you need in order to cast on, it's time to consult this handy chart below. Based on the yarn weight and the hat size of your choosing, do your calculations and then check this chart below to see if your stitch count matches these rough estimations of the number of stitches for the hat you're trying to make.