A Very Plain Hat

by Huan-Hua Chye

Also available as a Ravelry PDF download here.

It took me a long time to come to terms with the fact that my boyfriend Rahul didn’t want a hat with cables and Fair Isle and fanciness. All he wanted, it turns out, was a Very Plain Hat. He’s rejected various hats I’ve made—Koolhaas, Shedir, a black cabled hat with earflaps, a hilarious balaclava-style hat with attached beard and mustache—by admiring them at first, then quietly leaving the house without them.

When we took a recent trip to Madison, Wisconsin, in March, and the icy wind was whipping off the lakes, turning his unguarded ears a distressing shade of red, I decided to make him a new hat to keep his head warm, a hat he would actually wear. I stopped in at a local yarn store and bought a skein of Berroco Ultra Alpaca, and less than 24 hours later, Rahul had a Very Plain Hat, his current favorite, the only hat I’ve made him that I’ve seen him wear consistently and ask after when it’s being washed.

I kept getting ideas in my head about stripes and knit/purl patterns and cables, but my thoughts of all those virtuosic, beautiful, yet unloved and unworn hats reminded me to just keep it simple. Here is the result of my emergency hat-knitting marathon: a simple watchcap with the 2×2 ribbed brim knit single-stranded and the rest of the hat knit double-stranded, for extra warmth, in stockinette in the round, for extra speed. The double-stranded Ultra Alpaca makes a very thick, cozy, slightly fuzzy fabric.

SIZE
One size provided, to fit a 22-inch (56 cm) head

FINISHED MEASUREMENTS
Circumference, unstretched: 18 inches (46 cm)
Length: 10 inches with ribbing unfolded (25 cm)

MATERIALS
Berroco Ultra Alpaca [fiber content: 50% superfine alpaca, 50% Peruvian Highland wool; 215 yd/197 m per 100 g skein]; color: 6245 Pitch Black; 1 skein. Note: This is a worsted weight yarn, suggested yarn gauge in stockinette: 20 sts per 4 inches/10 cm on US size 8/5.0 mm. Since the yarn is used doubled for most of the hat, the pattern gauge of 16 sts per 4 inches is misleading—this is indeed a worsted weight yarn, not a chunky—and nearly all of the skein will be used.

One 16-inch US #8/5.0 mm circular needle
Tapestry needle
Stitch marker

GAUGE
16 sts/20 rows = 4 inches/10 cm in stockinette stitch, with yarn held doubled

PATTERN NOTES
2×2 rib (in the round): *k2, p2, repeat from *.
Stockinette (in the round): Knit all sts.
Kitchener stitch (optional): Hold stitches on needles with points facing to the right, held parallel, with one needle closer to you (front needle), one needle farther from you (back needle), right sides of knitting facing out. Break the working yarn, leaving a length of about 3 times the width of the knitting you want to graft together, and thread a tapestry needle with this yarn, and it should be coming from the right of the work.
Set-up steps: Insert tapestry needle through first stitch (the stitch closest to the needle tip) on front needle purlwise, pull yarn through, do not drop stitch from needle. Insert tapestry needle through first stitch on back needle KNITWISE, pull yarn through, do not drop stitch from needle.
Step 1: Insert tapestry needle through first stitch on front needle KNITWISE, pull yarn through, drop stitch from needle.
Step 2: Insert tapestry needle through first stitch on front needle purlwise, pull yarn through, do NOT drop stitch from needle.
Step 3: Insert tapestry needle through first stitch on back needle purlwise, pull yarn through, drop stitch from needle.
Step 4: Insert tapestry needle through first stitch on back needle KNITWISE, pull yarn through, do NOT drop stitch from needle.
Repeat steps 1-4 till all stitches are gone.

PATTERN
Make sure your yarn has been wound into a centerpull ball or divided into two balls, so you will be able to work using a double strand of yarn after working the brim.

Cast on 72 sts. Place a stitch marker to mark the beginning of the round, join to work in the round, and begin working in 2×2 rib. Work in 2×2 rib for 2.5 inches (6.4 cm). Switch to stockinette and begin holding a second strand of yarn with the first one. Work in stockinette with double strand of yarn for 5.5 inches (14 cm), or to desired length of hat minus about 2 inches (5 cm).

Begin working decreases as follows:
Round 1: *k6, k2tog* around
Rounds 2 and 3: Knit.
Round 4: *k5, k2tog* around
Rounds 5 and 6: Knit.
Round 7: *k4, k2tog* around
Round 8: Knit.
Round 9: *k3, k2tog* around
Round 10: Knit.
Round 11: *k2, k2tog* around
Round 12: Knit.
Round 13: *k1, k2tog* around
Round 14: k2tog around
Round 15: Easy method: Break yarn, and using tapestry needle, run it through the remaining 9 stitches and pull closed. Harder method: k2tog once, then Kitchener stitch the remaining 8 stitches together.

FINISHING
Weave in ends and block.

by orata / Huan-Hua Chye, March 2008. A Very Plain Hat, v. 1.0. All rights reserved. For personal, non-commercial use only. Please do not copy or distribute this pattern without express written permission. Do not sell items made from this pattern without express written permission.
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