Tuesday, 23 October 2012

The Helen Hat

This hat was named after the person it was designed and made for, who is the beautiful and lovely art teacher at our local school.  She is a friendly bubbly person who is always happy, and who comes up with the most amazingly beautiful artworks as easily as she breathes.  She looked after our cat one holiday for us while we were off on our honeymoon (cruise around the pacific - amazing!!  But that's another story :P).  Since she had seen me out and about in my knitted hats before, as payment for looking after our cat she asked me to knit a hat for her, which I was more than happy to do!  

The Helen Hat

I have now knitted this hat twice, once for her, and because I loved it so much, once for myself as well :)  I love it because it's such a simple easy pattern, with only a single row of a 2-stitch repeat to remember.   It takes me around 8 hours or so to knit this hat, but I am by no means a fast knitter, so for some people it would take less.

This hat was worked in acrylic yarn – normally I don’t like using acrylic because it feels pretty awful to knit with and doesn't keep you nearly as warm, but this was all our local store had in the right colour (yes our local store sucks that much!).  It is designed to be a bit of a baggy hat, but of course you can change the size of the hat by changing the number of stitches cast on to give it more or less of the baggy feel.  Just keep the number of cast on stitches as a multiple of 6, and you will be fine. 


  • Size 4.0mm (US 6) circular needles or DPNs
  • Size 5.0mm circular needles
  • Size 5.0mm DPNs
  • One 100g ball of 8 ply Panda Magnum Soft - 100% acrylic
  • Tapestry needle for weaving in ends

Top of the hat

Cast on 108 stitches on size 4.0mm circular needles. Join to work in the round.

Work in the round in K2 P2 garter stitch until work measures one inch long (8 rounds)

Switch to size 5.0mm circular needles for lace pattern.

Work lace pattern for as long as required to get desired hat length (for me this meant 16 repetitions of lace pattern – i.e. 32 rows).  Decrease as per below instructions; switch to DPNs when necessary. 

Round 1: *K2tog, YO*
Round 2: Knit

Round 1: *K2tog YO, K2tog YO, K2tog*
Round 2 and all even rounds: Knit
Round 3: *K2tog YO, K2tog YO, K1*
Round 5: *K2tog YO, K2tog, K1*
Round 7: *K2tog YO*
Round 9: *K2tog YO, K2tog*
Round 11: *K2tog YO, K1*
Round 13: *K2tog YO, K2tog YO, K2tog*
Round 15: *K2tog YO, K2tog, K1*
Round 17: *K2tog YO, K2tog*
Round 19: *K2tog, K1*
Round 21: *K2tog*

Cut yarn and weave tail through remaining stitches, pull tight. Weave in ends.
Bottom of the hat

If you do use this pattern, drop me a note in the comments below to let me know how it went :)


  1. Something about this pattern is off - I have knitted it twice now, and the decreasing never turns out the way that it's supposed to - either the number of cast on stitches is off or something else is.

    1. Hi Rose, thanks for the feedback. Can you elaborate on what is going wrong? I have also knitted this hat twice from this pattern and haven't had a problem, and I also just recalculated all of the decreasing rows, and again I can't find an error. Could you give me more info so I can see if there is something I have overlooked?

    2. So when I start the decreasing rows, I have 6 extra stitches at the end of the first row. that don't fit into the repetition. Which makes sense, because the 108 stitches I have on the needle is not divisible by the 8 stitches used by the repetition (K2tog YO, K2tog YO, K2tog). After deciding what to do with those extra stitches (I have tried both just knitting them and continuing the pattern until I reached the end of the row), the pattern gets off crazily.
      Perhaps I'm supposed to just start the next row? Perhaps I'm supposed to do one more repetition? Perhaps I'm not understanding this pattern at all?
      For the record, assuming I just knit the extra stitches to the end of the row, the stitch numbers I have at the end of each row are as follows: 1: 95 (6 extra), 3: 95 (4 extra), 5: 85 (5 extra), 7: 85 (1 extra), 9: 68, 11: 68, 13: 60 (4 extra), 15: 50, 17: 40, 19: 27 (1 extra), 21: 14 (1 extra)
      The interesting thing was that I tried to start from the bottom and adjust the number various ways and work my way up to see if the cast on number was wrong, and the system breaks between lines 15 and 17 (and foreseeably further up, but I couldn't get that far).

    3. I'm not too sure how this happened for you, because the pattern phrase in round 1 uses 6 stitches, not 8 as you say... there are no leftover stitches at the end of the row for any of the rows. In the 108 cast-on stitches there should be 18 reps of that 6 stitch phrase (which decreases each rep from 6 stitches to 5, so by the end of the row you have 90 stitches left). I assume since the rest of the hat has worked for you that you are doing "K2tog YO" the same way I am - ie knitting two stitches into one, and then looping the yarn over again to replace that second stitch - i.e. turning 2 stitches into 2 stitches. Therefore it follows that "K2tog YO, K2tog YO, K2tog" turns 6 stitches into 5. Does that make sense?
      You are correct - the decreasing pattern changes (at row 13 actually), but it just goes from using 18 reps along the row to 9 reps, because it combines two of each of the previous reps into one.

      Below is a list of the decreasing rows with the rep info as follows:
      round number = reps x number of stitches left at the end of each rep (total sts left at end of row) - so to see what you have at the start of each row, just look at the previous row's numbers.
      Start = 18 x 6 (108)
      1 = 18 x 5 (90)
      3 = 18 x 5 (90 - row doesn't decrease)
      5 = 18 x 4 (72)
      7 =18 x 4 (72 - row doesn't decrease)
      9 = 18 x 3 (54)
      11 = 18 x 3 (54 - row doesn't decrease)
      13 = 9 x 5 (45)
      15 = 9 x 4 (36)
      17 = 9 x 3 (27)
      19 = 9 x 2 (18)
      21 = 9 x 1 (9)

      The last lot of info there should not be necessary to make the pattern work, but I thought since you brought it up you might be interested. Does this make sense? Please let me know if it does or doesn't, and whether you still have problems with it.

    4. All of that makes perfect sense. I guess the problem I'm having is that what you have listed as the repetition does not appear to me to be the length that you say it is. For example, you say that the first decreasing row turns 6 stitches into 5, but I see it turning 8 stitches into 7.
      "K2tog YO, K2tog YO, K2tog", how I see it, means that I am taking 2 (k2tog), 1 (YO), 2, 1, 2 and turning it into the final 1, 2, 1, 2, 1. Eight into seven.

      Beyond that, the repetition lengths that I see are also very different from yours:
      3 - 7 stitches used in the repetition, leaving 7 stitches,
      5 - 6 stitch repetition to leave 5 stitches,
      7 - 3 stitches to leave 3 stitches (or 6-6),
      9 - 5 stitches used, leave 4 stitches,
      11 - 4 stitches used, leave 4 stitches
      13 - 8 stitches used, leave 7 stitches
      15 - 6 stitches used, leave 5 stitches
      17 - 5 stitches used, leave 4 stitches
      19 - 3 used, leave 2
      21 - 2 used, leave 1

      I can see now where the pattern changes. But we still have a difference in counting the number of stitches in the initial repetition.
      (Sorry about this! I just really want to figure out why it's not turning out right!)

    5. Hi Rose,
      I'm sorry but all I can say other than what I have already explained is that you are not counting this correctly. Let me try to break it down further.

      K2tog turns two stitches into one. Do you agree?

      YO turns zero stitches into 1 (i.e. makes a stitch where there was none previously) Agree?

      Therefore K2tog YO turns 2 stitches into 2. Does this make sense?

      Here is a video I found on youtube that shows how to do this stitch - if you count her before and after stitches for each K2tog YO phrase, you will see that she is turning 2 stitches into 2. This pattern is the same as the general Helen hat pattern.

      Here is a video showing just K2tog:

      And here is one for YO:

      It may help you to read the comments on the YO video, as for example the first comment there and its response does explain a similar thing to our discussion.

    6. Here too is an instruction page for the YO, as I think this is where the misunderstanding lies...

      Google can provide more pages if this one doesn't make sense to you.

  2. There it is. When I did this hat for the first time I was new to both knitting in the round as well as the yarn over. The video that I initially watched made it seem like a complete yarn over stitch included not only putting the yarn around the needle, but also knitting one stitch with it.

    Thanks for your help! No doubt as I moved forward in the lace knitting arena this would come back to haunt me!

    1. No worries Rose! I am glad to be of help, and that we got this sorted. I only started lace knitting last year, and believe me - there were plenty of false starts on my end too :) All the best with your future knitting!