a reversible knitting hat Q&A


I recently checked in to my patternpage on ravelry, and saw my Reversible Biking Hat has passed 100 projects! Yey! I thought it could be nice to collect the questions I’ve gotten since releasing the pattern all in one place, so here we go – a little reversible biking hat Q&A. I’ll add to it as there are more questions, and hopefully it can be a resource! Follow this link for the actual Reversible Biking hat pattern.

What are the sizes?
They are Small, and Medium. The first hat was made to fit my boyfriends head and appearently it’s really small! I kept getting feedback from knitters about the hat ending up too small, so I added another larger size. Since the original wasn’t very big for men’s heads, I called the original size S, and the larger size M.

… and the stats?
The size S measures 16″ (41 cm) around, is 8″ (20 cm) tall, starts with 96 stitches, and counts 24 repeats.
The size M measures 18″ (46 cm) around, is 9″ (23 cm) tall, starts with 112 stitches, and counts 28 repeats.

Well, I’m making a hat for a *really* big head… how do I make a size L?
For the next step up, I’d reccomend casting on 128 sts. Here is why: The difference between the S and M sizes, are (112 sts – 96 sts =) 16 sts. The reason for adding 16 stitches between the sizes has to do with the decreasing pattern, so to keep that in check, add another 16 stitches on to the M size stitch count (112 sts + 16 sts), totaling 128 sts.

And, to get a little technical about the decreasing: This setup will give you 32 pattern repeats, which will decrease with 16 sts per decrease round until decrease row 6. Decrease row 6 has you halve the stitches, so at the end of row 6 you should have 32 stitches. For the final decrease row (decrease row 9) you’ll halve the stitches again, for a total of 16 stitches. You might want to do another round of decreasing half the stitches if you prefer ending with 8 stitches instead.

I’m going rouge and using a totally different gauge yarn than recommended. Any comments?
Yes! Do it! I love knitting based on what I have on hand, and I’ve never been very good at matching yarn and pattern perfectly. So, I’ve learned to adjust the pattern according to my yarn. It’s not that hard, I promise. I wrote about that in this post on alterations to the biking hat pattern, so be sure to read that too.

The general gist of it is this: you take the finished measurement of the project, multiply it with the gauge you get with the yarn you’re using, and that is the total number of stitches you need. Let’s do an example. The circumference of the Reversible Knitting Hat in size is 16″. My hypothetical gauge with my hypothetical yarn is 3,25 sts pr inch. 16 ” x 3,25 sts pr inch = 52 sts. So, I need to cast on 52 sts to achieve the goal of 16″ finished measurement.

In other words, goal # of inches x your stitches pr inch = amount to cast on.

Great. What about row gauge?
Yep, my example didn’t address row gauge. But for simple objects like hats, knitting until indicated length will be fine. However – if you use yarn that is way thicker, or way thinner than the original, you’ll probably have to adjust the number of rows to decrease over. Thinner yarn will need more rows to get enough height, and thicker yarn needs fewer rows. If you’ve knit until the decreasing starts, you can just measure your rows to see how many you get pr inch, and multiply by how many inches you’re doing the decreasing over – which for this particular hat is around 1 1/2″ – 2″.

And repeat patterns?
You also going to need to check that your new number works with any repeat pattern! The repeat pattern in the Reversible Biking Hat is 4 (k3, p1), which means any total number of stiches you get after doing our fancy math, should be divisible by 4. If it isn’t, round up or down to the nearest multiple of 4.

That was easy. To make it a little harder, let’s look at the decreasing again. This pattern is set up to work best with an even number of repeats. In the example above, I’m starting with 52 stitches, which is divisible by 4, producing 13 repeats. That’s not an even number. What is going to happen, is this: I start with 52 stitches, and decrease 1 sts pr repeat for half of the repeats, including the first and the last repeat, so 7 sts (now 45 sts total). Then I decrease 1 sts pr repeat for the other half of the repeats, 6 sts (39 sts total). I do that one more time, reducing first to 32 sts, then 26 sts. This number now gets halved at least once, to 13 sts, or alternatively another time if your stitch number at this point is above 15-ish, but this is depending on the thickness of your yarn.

Now, what has happened is that instead of each 4-stitch repeat section being combined neatly with its neighbour several times over for a wedge-like finish towards the crown in tidy pairs, you have one little section left over, and an odd number of stitches to pull the loop through. Most likely *nobody* will ever notice, but it doesn’t decrease as neatly as with an even number.

I want to make spirals like that picture up there.
Easy! I covered that in this post, so be sure to read that. Basically, you stagger the repeated section every yo-row by one stitch. So at the beginning of every yo-row, knit 1 stitch (or 2 if you’re into steeper diagonals!), *then* knit the rest of the section as normal. You’ve effectively just nudged the pattern over by one stitch, and when you keep nudging at the beginning of every repeat, you get diagonal lines!

Phew. I’m glad we’re done with all those numbers. Let’s look at some pictures.

image credit alois

image credit manosa

image credit kellys

Any recommendations for picking a good fiber? Something that won’t get too hot, but stay warm and keep its shape for cyclists biking in the cold.
I enlisted the help of my boyfriend – the handsome man in the pattern pictures – for an answer to these, since he’s the cyclist in our household. This is what I learned from him:
•  The version I made in a wool/cotton mix (the dark grey hat in the pattern pictures) is his lightweight version. I’ve also noticed it’s not as good at keeping it’s shape, I suspect the cotton does that. He doesn’t really use that one below freezing.
•  The sports wool version I made in brown, no pictures of that unfortunately (like a sock yarn with some poly I think) is what he uses when it’s cold.
•  Neither are enough for bitter cold (from -5 celsius or around 20 degrees fahrenheit), and he has a lined fleece earflap hat he uses for that, as well as one of those microfiber things that almost totally covers his face.
•  He says the eyelets means that neither of the biking hats never really get too warm, since they sort of self-ventilate!

And in conclusion, I admit to being very much partial to wool, just because I think cotton is more uncomfortable when it gets damp or wet. So my suggestion is a sports-weight wool (eg sock) yarn.

I like seeing this hat on men with beards.
I do too. Check out the ravelry project page for even more men with facial hairs wearing this hat.

image credit © lngom

I want to see this project mentioned elsewhere!
Aren’t you lucky? I’ve collected them right here!
•  Allergic to wool’s post on Winter cycle chic (Meghan is also the co-editor of Pom Pom!)
•  My own post on gauge, alterations, and potential design changes of the hat
• Ariane of Falling Stitches with her fabulous taste in knitting, featured the hat in a Ravelry round-up on her blog.
•  And of course, on ravelry! The project page have some really fun hats on there, like one made for running, with a hole in the back for a ponytail (!), people’s first go at eyelets, or knitting in the round (with success!), a whole lot of men, and a whole lot of bearded men (I honestly didn’t expect this to be so popular with the male demographic, but I’m thrilled! I’m sure the bearded boyfriend model helped in that regards!), and my favorite… a husband who had added the hat to his lady knitter’s queue and added “Make this for hubban since I love him“. How adorable!

Any questions out there about the pattern? Let me know! Also, find the pattern for the Reversible Biking hat right here!


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