Right, decreases, double pointed needles (dpns) and binding off our completely unseasonable wool hats!

Well hopefully you have made it through the knit 2 purl 2 ribbing without wanting to chew up your yarn and spit it out, or put it in time out for awhile (it happens, its normal, don’t worry). Still with me? Great. And now your hat should look something like this:

What mine looks like before decreasing, click to see bigger.

What mine looks like before decreasing, click to see bigger.

Of course, ymmv, and likely you used different colors, and a different yarn, and hopefully you haven’t run into any gauge issues and you have something you will be able to wear this winter. If you had gauge issues and ended up with a baby hat, see if you can find someone who will have a baby this fall! If you ended up with a huge hat…we’ll call it a style choice. As an aside, I usually try mine on while it is on needles to see if it is long enough. If it comes down over my ears even without finishing, I figure it is good.

So, where to go from here? Now we need to start decreasing for the crown of the hat, so that it has a rounded top, instead of some sort of avant garde top. Decreasing can be extremely easy, and we are going to use the easy techniques on this hat. On the next round, we are going to knit 2 (k2) and then purl 2 together (p2tog), instead of k2p2. To purl 2 together, you just put your right hand needle through 2 stitches instead of 1, and purl them as if they were just 1 – thus decreasing from 2 stitches to 1. Like so: 

 

See how the right hand needle is through 2 stitches? Then I purled. Click to make bigger.

See how the right hand needle is through 2 stitches? Then I purled. Click to make bigger.

After k2 p2tog all the way round, we are now going to k2p1 for 4 rounds. This is so we end up with the right amount of rounding. If you decrease too quickly, you end up with a way shorter hat than expected, with a very flat top, if you do it too slowly, you end up with a point on your head. On the next round, we will knit 2 together (k2tog) and then p1, all the way around. This works the same way as purling 2 together, just with knitting. Like this:

Knitting 2 stitches together, to decrease by 1. Click to make bigger.

Knitting 2 stitches together, to decrease by 1. Click to make bigger.

At a certain point, you are going to find that your stitches are being stretched way out by your circular needle (usually right around the end of the k2tog p1 row). This is when you move to your double pointeds or dpns. Note: you will find it hard to use a stitch marker with dpns. At this point you should have 32 stitches left, and will need to do some more buffer rows to make the hat just round enough. On the next round k1p1 onto your dpns. Don’t be scared, just do it, and make sure that when you have about 10 or 11 stitches on one needle, you start a new needle (I am assuming you are using 4 dpns). Like this:

Starting a new dpn, so the stitches are evenly distributed.

Starting a new dpn, so the stitches are evenly distributed.

When working with the double pointeds, you should always have 1 that is not holding any stitches. This becomes your right hand needle, and you knit and purl the stitches off another needle, onto it, thereby freeing the left hand needle to become the right hand one. Clear as mud? This tutorial has lovely pictures that may help.

Ok, now that the hat is on dpns, k1p1 for another 2 rows (for a total of 3 since the decrease row). Then we are going to get crazy, k2tog, p2tog for 1 row. You will now be down to 16 stitches total. k1p1 for 1 row, and then k2tog all the way around for 8 stitches left, and we’ll bind off now. This is what you should be looking at:

I'm ready to bind off!

I'm ready to bind off!

Binding off hats is REALLY simple. Easier than any other bind off ever. Cut your yarn, to leave about 8 inches of tail. Now, using your yarn needle, thread the tail through each of the 8 stitches you have left, take the needles out, pull it tight, and thread the rest of the tail down into the hat, and voila, you have a hat!

Yay, we finished knitting!

Yay, we finished knitting!

A hat with weird tassle things inside it, but a hat, none-the-less.

But not finishing!

But not finishing!

Usually with hats I’m not much for finishing, and tend to just knot my loose ends tightly and then trim them so they don’t show while I’m wearing it. However, many people believe you should weave in ends on everything. The choice is yours, but I am a firm believer in hiding ends on the inside of things (scarves and shawls being obviously exceptions). Oh, and last but not least, blocking! I never pin hats out, but a good soak and dry often softens up rough yarns. Here is a great method that I have used.

Hope this worked for you (though it was long-winded) and you had fun and now have a hat you can wear! (once it gets cold again.)

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