Are you ready to knit a cabled hat?! In this tutorial we will go step by step through the FREE Antler Toque pattern. This is a great way to learn about cables, charts, and hat knitting in general. If you are looking for something a little simpler, try our free Barley hat pattern and tutorial from The Simple Collection.
Knit a Cabled Toque in 6 Simple Steps
Ready your supplies:
- Download the FREE Antler Toque pattern. For more information on reading a multi-size pattern check out our pattern reading tutorial here.
- Yarn: 125 (150, 175, 200) yarsd worsted / aran weight yarn (in this tutorial we are using Malabrigo Rios in ‘water green’). For more information on yarns check out our yarn tutorial here.
- Needles: US #6/ 4mm 16″ circular needle, US #8/ 5mm 16″ circular needle and double pointed needles (DPNs) OR a long circular needle for the magic loop method.
- Notions: cable needle, stitch markers, darning needle.
- If you happen to have a surly bearded man around for modelling that’s great, but optional.
Choosing a size:
Baby (Child, Adult S, L)
To fit 16 (18, 21, 23)” head
While some patterns include ‘finished measurements’ you will note that the Antler Toque has ‘to fit’ measurements. That is because this hat has a little bit of negative ease built in for a proper fit. Negative ease means the hat is a little smaller than your noggin’, so the knitting stretches a little to fit snuggly. So if, for example, your head is 22″ you would choose the Adult S size, giving you 1″ of negative ease. I’ll be knitting the child size.
Ready to cast on:
Using smaller needles, cast on 76 (84, 96, 106) sts, PM and join for working in the round.
Work in 1×1 rib (k1, p1) for 1.5 (2, 2, 2.5)” from cast-on.
With your smaller needles, US #6 / 4mm, you are going to cast on the number of stitches for your size. Lots of cast on types will work, here I’ve used a long tail cast on, but a knitted cast on will work well too. If you have never cast on using circular needles before, check out our tutorial here for casting on to circular needles. Try to cast on a little bit loosely, as this hat has to go over a head.
Once you’ve got your stitches cast on you will place a marker (PM), letting you know where the beginning of your round is going forward. For more informations on markers and how to place them, check out our marker tutorial here. Now you are ready for ribbing! If knitting, purling, or ribbing are new to you check out our tutorials here: how to knit, how to purl, basic stitches. Once you have completed your ribbing your toque will look like this:
A little adjustment:
Adult S (L) only: work in 1×1 rib to last 2 sts, k2tog [95 (105) sts]
Why this little adjustment? Because the ribbing must be an even number, but the cable and purl repeat must be an odd number for these sizes, the Adult S and L need a little decrease. You’ll just have to trust us on this one!
Time to cable!
All sizes: change to larger needles.
Set-up round: [k16, p3 (5, 3, 5)] around
To change to larger needles you will have the smaller needle (the #US 6 / 4mm needle) in your left hand. In your right hand you will pick up the larger needles (the US #8 / 5mm). Proceed by working the stitches off of the smaller needle onto the larger needle. At the end of this round you can put down the smaller needles and remember to re-place your beginning of round marker.
Since I am working the child size, I will work [k16, p5] around.This is a 21 stitch repeat and I will have 4 cables. The square brackets tell you what your repeat is, and the round brackets indicate the number of purl stitches for your size. If you are knitting the baby size, for example, you will work [k16, p3] around, the child size is [k15, p5] around etc.
Next you have a choice to make, will you use the chart, or the written instructions? Charts can seem intimidating, but if you haven’t used one before give it a try. Since this pattern has both a chart and written instruction you can easily verify you’ve got it right! For more information on reading a chart check out our chart tutorial here.
If using chart: Baby and Adult S use chart A, Child and Adult L use chart B.
Work chart rounds 1-6 a total of 5 (6, 8, 9) times, then proceed to decreases.
If using written instructions: proceed as follows:
Round 1: [k4, c4b, c4f, k4, p3 (5, 3, 5)] around
Rounds 2, 4, and 6: [k16, p3 (5, 3, 5)] around
Round 3: [k2, c4b, k4, c4f, k2, p3 (5, 3, 5)] around
Round 5: [c4b, k8, c4f, p3 (5, 3, 5)] around
Work rounds 1-6 a total of 5 (6, 8, 9) times, then proceed to decreases.
No matter which method you are using, you will be working the 16 stitch antler cable with 3 or 5 purl stitches in between.
The chart is read from right to left, bottom to top. Why do charts work that way? Because that is the way knitting goes!
For the child size, round 1 will look like this: [k4, c4b, c4f, k4, p5] around. Never cabled before? No problem! Check out our full cable tutorial here. For the child size, I am working rounds 1-6 of the chart a total of 6 times.
Ready for decreases
The decreases for this hat are fairly straight forward, written out line by line. If ssk and k2tog are new to you, click the links for a detailed explanation. For the Antler Toque decreases, just watch out for the cabled decreases. They are the c4bdec and c4fdec, you are decreasing and cabling at the same time.
When your stitches start to feel too stretched on the circular needle it’s time to switch to double pointed needles (DPNs) or a long circular needle for the magic loop method. Why the DPNs you ask? You can knit things larger than the circumference of a circular needle, but not smaller, in order to work on the few stitches left in the decreases you will need DPNs.
Switching to DPNs is easy peasy, just the same as switching from the smaller needles to the larger. You will pick up your first DPN in your right hand, and your circular needle will be in your left. You will work the stitches off of the circular onto the DPN. You will need to work your stitches onto at least 3 DPNs (or 4 if you prefer).
When I distribute my stitches on DPNs I like to put about 1/2 the stitches on the first needle and about 1/4 of the stitches on each of the other 2 needles. This way I don’t need the BOR marker, I know the beginning of the round is at the start of the ‘full’ needle.
Break yarn leaving an 8” tail. Thread tail through remaining sts, pull tight and secure end. Wet-block your hat, weave in your ends and enjoy!
The biggest question is to pom pom or not to pom pom. Bodhi went wild with a hot pink faux fur number, but it’s really up to you. If you are looking for a tutorial on how to make a pom pom, we have that too! Want a fancy 2-tone pom? Check out our advanced pom pom technique tutorial here.
That’s it! You are ready to wear your Antler toque out and about. Now that you are confident with your cables you can go forth and conquer a matching set of mittens, or even an Antler sweater!
More Antler goodies from Tin Can Knits
February 16, 2022 @ 3:36 pm
I love this pattern, it’s perfectly explained and i made it twice in the child size.
Now I have a problem: i have been doing the adult S size and i am at 3rd row decrease. I started decreasing with 95 stitches and with the first row i decrease 5 ( p2tog for 5 times) and i got 90; second row is just k and p, in the third row i shall decrease 10 stitches ( 5 times k2tog and 5 ssk) , which makes 80…but on the pattern it say 70, and all following decreases start from the 70…the same happens between round 5 that shall finish with 65 stitches and row 7, where i decrease of 10 but it say i should end up with 45 stitches…. What am I missing? Am I supposed to repeat row 3 and 5 twice? I love this pattern and i would love to finish it properly. :). Thank you so much!!
February 18, 2022 @ 12:27 pm
Hi Maria – It seems like maybe you’ve missed the cabled decreases c4bdec and c4fdec
December 17, 2020 @ 5:12 pm
hi I’m confused. I Got up to the part where it says all rounds and for me I thought would work the cable pattern then p3 but round 2 below under the chart it says knit 16 – I’m confused and I’ve now messed up already and not sure how easy it is to tink cables.
December 17, 2020 @ 5:26 pm
Hi Suzie – Round 2 of the chart is knit 16, but you will have 3 or 5 purl stitches between the charts depending on what size you are knitting.
February 16, 2022 @ 3:38 pm
Hi! I made it twice and i hope I can help:
On every uneven round (1, 3, 5) you make the cable pattern + 3 purls ( 16+3= 21 stitches) for as many times you need it to complete the round. Ever even round (2,4,6) you just knit 16 and purl 3, as you find the stitches… Does it make sense? :)
February 18, 2022 @ 12:25 pm
Hi Maria – yep, that’s correct, except 16+3 = 19 (not 21)
January 27, 2020 @ 8:19 pm
I love this pattern. So beautiful and the color is great! Thank you for sharing!
October 18, 2019 @ 6:27 pm
How do I do the cables decreases?? I’m at such a loss. Thank you!
October 21, 2019 @ 9:33 am
Hi – The instructions for these decreases are within the pattern, in the abbreviations section. It involves slipping sts onto the cable needle, holding it front or back and working a decrease from either the cable needle or the left hand needle.
October 18, 2019 @ 6:26 pm
Halp! How do I c4bdec and c4fdec??? Thanks!!
October 10, 2019 @ 5:22 am
I would really like to make the antler hat in 8ply (DK) because I have a lot of it.
What stitch adjustments do I need to make for the largest adult size please.
October 11, 2019 @ 9:41 pm
Hi Mary – It would depend on your gauge etc. but you would want to add a repeat of the chart plus the purl sts, so 21 sts.
October 15, 2019 @ 5:34 pm
I’ve just finished my hat and everything turned out well. I’m now part way through antler toque number 2! The 8ply yarn knitted up without any problems and my daughter will be taking it to Bhutan with her in a couple of weeks. I also made her both the long and short Simple Yet Effective cowl in a beautiful hand dyed Australian alpaca from Adagio Mills. The hat and cowl should keep her warm in the Himalayas. Many thanks again for your assistance and I am very happy to have discovered your website, I love your patterns and tutorials.
October 6, 2019 @ 7:49 am
Can the you knit this without using the smaller size needles? Like, only using the one size all the way through?
October 6, 2019 @ 8:41 pm
You will end up with a rather small hat…it would depend on your gauge.
February 8, 2019 @ 10:08 am
I love this hat! Why is my purl three very gappy I’ve tried tightening this part up but doesn’t make any difference
January 7, 2018 @ 5:07 am
I’ve never seen double pointed needles like that! They look awesome, and like thee yarn wouldn’t slide so easily. Can you tell me where I might be able to get them (online)?
January 7, 2018 @ 3:48 pm
They are these ones! https://blueskyfibers.com/product/double-points/ (they have a whole list of stockists on the site!)
November 7, 2017 @ 10:23 pm
I knit a swatch for the Antler hat, which I will be knitting in a size large. It came out with 24 sts in 4″ unblocked. Is that too much of a difference or can I proceed? I knit the swatch in the round. I’m soaking it in hot water as I type. Thank you!
November 8, 2017 @ 9:31 am
Hi Katie – I would probably swatch again with a larger needle and block your swatch. Then you will have an idea if you are close.
September 9, 2017 @ 4:27 pm
I just finished knitting the antler toque. When I clicked on the link to read how to block the toque it didn’t address that in detail. Are there any special instructions??
September 12, 2017 @ 8:13 pm
Hi Lynn – no special instructions, I lay mine flat to dry.
March 8, 2017 @ 7:40 am
I have knit one of your hats 3 times and I am up to row 79 on the estuary shawl. I love your patterns. I believe the hat was stove top. I am terrible with names. They turned out well. It is difficult for me to get a hat to fit.as I have a big head. I have a 22.5 head and I made the 23inch hat. It was a bit big so I thread some elastic thread in the brim and it was much better. Thank you for your wonderful patterns Dallas Nixon
Lou M. Dennehy
February 19, 2017 @ 12:08 pm
I’ve finished my Antler hat a week ago (to use up the yarn leftover from my Antler cardigan) and got good use out of it today in the rain in Limerick. Going to cast one on shortly in green for my grandson in time for St. Patricks Day. It’ll pair with his Flax sweater. I adore your patterns and advise every knitter I meet to try them.
February 13, 2017 @ 9:30 pm
“Thread tail through remaining sts, pull tight and secure end.” And if you’re a cautiuos (paranoid?) knitter, thread the tail through the remaining stitches twice. ;o)
And a question: Are your superclear tutorials stored somewhere on your site or should I save this one to my own computer? Thanks
February 14, 2017 @ 9:30 am
Our Antler toque tutorial might not be up on the website yet, but it will always be on the blog!
February 12, 2017 @ 12:10 pm
First of all thanks for letting me join your site. I look forward to your emails. Your sock pattern was used in my first class at Stash. Great sock pattern. Thanks for sharing all you do.
May 9, 2019 @ 11:56 am
Can I knit this hat with two needles
May 12, 2019 @ 8:57 pm
Hi Joan – the Antler Hat is done in the round, so you would either need circular needles or 4 (or 5) double pointed needles.
February 10, 2017 @ 3:31 pm
Super cute hat, and I love the colors :)
February 10, 2017 @ 7:35 am
Love that color combo! I think I just might need to make my surly un-bearded man a hat. But no pom-pom. LOL!
Tori Penrose Digges
February 10, 2017 @ 6:32 am
I am loving this color combo! I haven’t tried this hat pattern yet, but it’s going on the list!
February 10, 2017 @ 6:25 am
You are going to be the death of me….I need to really hurry and finish my current project so I can try this one in a timely (as in wearing it this year!) fashion. Thanks for all your amazing patterns and tutorials!
February 10, 2017 @ 4:50 am
Merci beaucoup! Jài déjà tricoté cette tuque pour mon mari et il l’aime beaucoup!
February 10, 2017 @ 4:51 am
Elle est très jolie en couleur aqua et le pompons rouge, c’est magnifique.
February 9, 2017 @ 2:51 pm
Tincanknits is one of the most giving designer duo EVAH!!! Thank you so much! <3
February 9, 2017 @ 12:55 pm
This is absolutely adorable in aqua with the pom-pom! I have made this hat pattern over and over. It is such a great pattern for men and women and looks spectacular in every yarn and colorway I’ve used. Thank you, thank you!