It’s a classic! Simple and practical, the Basic Beanie makes a great wardrobe staple or a perfect gift. It’s the sort of knit to always have on your needles – ready to go on a road trip, to keep you company while waiting in line, or to busy your hands while chatting with a friend. Sizes range from newborn, baby, toddler, and child to adult S, M, and L. We also created the pattern for four different yarn weights – sock, sport, DK, and worsted/aran – and three rib patterns. With so many options, there’s definitely one for you!
First step: get yourself a copy of the Basic Beanie pattern, which is part of our excellent four-pattern Basics Collection! This in-depth tutorial will guide you through everything you need to know to follow the pattern.
This pattern is EVEN BETTER in the Tin Can Knits app!
- see only the instructions you need
- tick through the pattern and make notes
- support is just a tap away
- adjust the settings to suit you!
Click one of these links to jump right to the section you’re curious about:
- Select your materials: yarn weight, size – and skip the swatch!
- Weigh your options: which rib?
- Cast on and rib your heart out
- Finish it up: block, weave in ends, and add a pom pom?
Or skip on down to the bottom of the page for some Basic Beanie inspiration!
Select your materials: yarn weight, size – and skip the swatch!
Pick a yarn weight (or pick your yarn and then choose which yarn-weight pattern to follow)
The Basic Beanie pattern includes directions for four different yarn weights: sock weight, sport weight, DK weight, and worsted/aran weight yarn. That means you can use the yarn you’ve got on hand! If you’re wondering what we mean by yarn weight, and what the heck DK is, check out our tutorial on yarns here.
In the pattern, instructions that apply to different yarn weights have coloured backgrounds. Each yarn weight has a different background colour: blue for worsted/aran, pink for DK, green for sport, and yellow for sock. You’ll follow one of those instructions, so be sure to look for the highlight colour that applies to you. For example, the background colour for DK weight yarn is pink, so every time I get to a pattern section that has instructions that vary by yarn weight, I’ll use the PINK instructions.
Pick a size!
For over a decade, we’ve been sizing our knitting patterns inclusively, from baby to big. That means the Basic Beanie has a size to suit anyone you want to knit for. We included seven sizes: Newborn (Baby, Toddler, Child, Adult S, M, L), which will fits heads approximately: 13 (16, 18, 19.5, 21, 22, 23.5)” in circumference. Pick the head size closest to yours (or your little one’s), and that’s the set of instructions you’ll follow throughout the pattern.
You may notice that some sizes have the same cast-on stitch count, but they differ in length. Don’t worry… these extremely stretchy hats WILL fit, especially if you knit the folded brim. Here is the same Adult S hat on Alexa’s whole family!
Skip the swatch… trust us!
Maybe you’ve heard that it’s dire and dangerous to skip the swatch, but this project might just be your moment to go for it.
First of all, it’s tricksy to measure gauge over ribbing. Ribbing is stretchy (that’s what it’s all about), so how much does one stretch it before measuring? It’s a bit subjective to say the least.
Secondly, in our experience, head sizes are both wildly different (8 year old to 8 year old, for example), but at the same time surprisingly similar (my 4 and 5 year olds could always happily wear my adult size S hats!).
So… the proof is in the hat. Cast on and see how it goes. Does the fabric feel too loose? Too tight? Knit your first hat and see whom it fits. If it’s not the perfect size, you can go up or down a size when you knit the next one or (more likely) adjust the length. And this isn’t a pattern to knit just once… Trust me.
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The Basic Beanie is knit in the round, from the brim up to the crown. There are other ways to knit a hat (top down, side to side…you name it!), but Alexa and I prefer this method, as it’s a simple pleasure to work – and the fussy bit (decreasing on DPNs or Magic Loop Method) comes at the end of the project rather than at the beginning.
Now… you’ve got more OPTIONS
Which Rib? 1×1, 2×2, or 3×1?
After you’ve picked your yarn and your size, you can cast on, but then it’s almost immediately time for another decision: which of the three ribbing patterns will you work? The first round after cast on will establish the ribbing pattern, and then you’ll keep it going throughout the rest of the hat.
1×1 ribbing is classy, crisp, and takes sweet forever. But then you’ll wear this hat forever, so…worth it?
2×2 ribbing is really fun, a bit faster to work, and a little bit stretchier than 1×1 ribbing – so it’s quite forgiving when it comes to size. I can almost guarantee your hat will fit if you make it in 2×2 rib.
3×1 ribbing is just a little bit different. In this pattern, I think 3×1 is pretty cool because when you work a folded brim, you’ll get a different effect on the brim than you do on the body of the hat. Cool, eh?
Single brim or folded brim? Hint: the right answer is ALWAYS folded brim!
Either before or after you get started, you will need to decide whether to work a folded brim (this is really the way to go, trust us!) or a single brim (maybe there’s some reason to do this, but Alexa and I find it hard to justify!). So knit the folded brim. Just do it.
- It pretty much GUARANTEES that the hat will fit the recipient. Folding it up an inch more or less isn’t a big deal, so you’ve got more wiggle room with sizing.
- It’s extra cozy over chilly ears.
- If you knit the beanie extra long, your cool AF teenagers will wear it sticking way up, giving it that stylish little point at the top.
Cast on and rib your heart out!
This pattern (and the other designs from our Basics Collection) have a lot going on; they each include three or more yarn weights, along with sizes ranging from baby-to-big. With all these numbers, how do you find the right one? First, choose your yarn weight; the coloured backgrounds may help. Second, pick the number by its place in the order. (Check out our tutorial on How to Read a Multi-Size Knitting Pattern if this is new for you.)
If you’ve knit a hat before, you’ll already know your preferred method for knitting a head-sized tube in the round. If you haven’t, you should know there are a few different methods. You can use circular needles or DPNs. If you’re a fan of circular needles, you might use a 16″ circular needle, a long circular for the Magic Loop method, or two circulars for the majority of the hat.
If this is your first time knitting in the round, we suggest casting on with a 16″ circular needle and then using either DPNs or a long circular needle for Magic Loop at the top of the hat.
Important: Make sure your cast-on isn’t toooo tight. It has to stretch over a head, right?
Just keep ribbing, ribbing, ribbing
Once you’ve cast on and knit your ribbed tube for what seems like a small eternity (because you picked the folded brim, right?! and you’re cursing me now?!), you’ll be well ready to do something else. Hopefully it’s time for the crown decreases! Measure and then get started when your tube is sufficiently long.
Get ready to decrease by placing markers that divide the stitches into 4, 5, or 6 equal sections. If you haven’t used markers before, click here to learn all about how to place markers, how to slip markers, and why we use them.
On decrease rounds, you’ll need to work an ssk decrease on one side of each marker and a k2tog decrease on the other side. In between, you’ll continue in pattern, which means that you’ll keep the columns of knits and purls going – always knitting the knits and purling the purls.
Change to DPNs (or Magic Loop) when you must!
If you’re knitting this hat on a fixed circular needle (as I almost always do for hats), there comes a point at which there are simply too few stitches to ‘stretch’ around the needle. What do you do? You need to switch needle types in order to work the small diameter tube, because this design decreases down to 8, 10, or 12 total stitches before the end.
If you’re already knitting on DPNs or using magic loop, no needle switching is required.
Close the top of the hat
There are a couple more techniques you’ll need before you can call this lovely hat DONE. At the crown, the pattern uses a double decrease; in the 2×2 rib hat you’ll work a sl2-k1-p2sso and in the 1×1 or 3×1 ribs you’ll work a sl1-k2tog-psso is a double decrease method that is called for in the final decrease rounds. In the 2×2 ribbed version, you’ll also have to p2tog before the end.
Lastly, once you’ve decreased your hat down to a measly 2 stitches in each of the 4, 5, or 6 sections, you’re ready to ‘close the sphincter’ as I like to think of it. Cut your yarn leaving a 8″ tail. Thread the tail through a darning needle and draw the needle through the remaining live stitches. Pull tight to close and thread the needle through to the wrong side of the work to be secured and woven in.
Finish it up: block, weave in ends, and add a pom pom?
You might think blocking a hat is a major waste of time, but it’s a must for me! We’ve got a tutorial that shows how to block your hand-knit hat, and it’s totally worth it. For my hat I found the right size bowl to block those decreases and folded over the brim.
For a turned brim, I’d weave in on the ‘front side’ because it’ll be turned up to show the ‘inside’.
To Pom or not to pom… that is the question
Give it a whirl!
Like I said before… the Basic Beanie is NOT a pattern to be underestimated! I think I have already knit it six or eight times… and I usually HATE knitting the same thing twice (except, of course, when I love it).
Basic basic basic basic… you get the idea, right?!
The Basic Beanie is one of four patterns that are, like the name says, BASIC. But when we do a basic, we try to REALLY do that basic. That’s why we’ve included multiple yarn weights AND multiple sizes in all the patterns. We believe they’re just what you need: a classic cardigan, a simple sweater, this basic beanie, and some everyday ribbed socks. Each comes with an in-depth tutorial to guide you through any and all sticking points, so you can FINISH THAT KNIT and start enjoying some seriously cozy vibes!
~ Emily & Alexa
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