A Free Hat Knitting Pattern: The Littoral Hat

Two matching hats knit in fluffy tan yarn are laid flat on top of each other in a staggered fashion. They have seed stitch and columns of coin lace. They're surrounded by peach dahlias, white roses, two seashells, and spiky white coral.
Two matching hats knit in fluffy tan yarn are laid flat on top of each other in a staggered fashion. They have seed stitch and columns of coin lace. They're surrounded by peach dahlias, white roses, two seashells, and spiky white coral.

You all know by now that I take yarn substitution very seriously. That’s because knowing how to substitute yarn opens up a whole new world for knitters. After giving it some thought, I decided the best way to help illustrate this point is to release a free hat knitting pattern for you to experiment with. This hat has been tech edited by my excellent tech editor, Bonnie Davis.

So I pulled out my mohair and suri alpaca, held them double with some fingering-weight wool, and went to town. You can see pictures of the results here. It turned out rather well!

This hat pattern works up quickly but is lightweight and warm. In other words, it’s perfect for holiday gift knitting. I know–I’m in denial that we’ve hit that time of year, too.

But there’s no reason you can’t use your holiday knitting to learn something new, too. This pattern is written for fingering-weight wool held double with lace-weight silk mohair, but you can experiment with other options.

Here’s why I think this is the perfect way to learn about yarn substitution.

Why A Free Hat Knitting Pattern Is A Great Way To Learn About Yarn Substitution

Two matching hats knit in fluffy tan yarn are laid flat on top of each other in a staggered fashion. They have seed stitch and columns of coin lace. They're surrounded by peach dahlias, white roses, and spiky white coral.

Hats are a great way to study yarn substitution. They’re small and comparatively easy, but changes in gauge can make a big difference. If something goes wrong, you haven’t invested months of work into the project. You can rip it back and restart more easily than you can a sweater. You’re also more likely to make major yarn substitutions for a hat than you are for, say, a pair of socks.

If you look at the pictures in this post, you’ll see two versions of this hat. One is knit with silk mohair (the hat sitting on top of the other), while the other is knit with suri alpaca (the hat underneath). If you look closely, you’ll see that the suri alpaca hat is a little bigger. That’s on purpose. I changed the yarn for the second hat but kept everything else exactly the same, including the needle sizes, so I could isolate the effect of just the yarn itself.

As you can see, the suri alpaca is just slightly thicker than the mohair, which leads to a hat that is overall slightly bigger. The stitch definition is also less clear because the suri has a denser halo.

It turns out learning about yarn substitution is a lot like performing scientific experiments. You isolate one variable, test it out, then tweak one more thing, test it, and so on. With a hat, that process moves a lot faster!

If you want to make additional substitutions with this hat, you could try experimenting with a DK or worsted-weight yarn without a lace-weight fluffer held double. You could also test out plant fibers and different yarn constructions (single-ply vs. worsted-spun vs. woolen spun).

Introduction to the Littoral Hat: A Free Hat Knitting Pattern

littoral (adj.) – of, relating to, or situated or growing on or near a shore, especially of the sea

After spending much of my time in littoral zones this past year (my kid and I did a lot of tidepooling during the worst of the pandemic), I knew I wanted to name a pattern in tribute. The texture of this hat reminds me of seashells and sand, while the shape reminds me of sea urchins.

I try my very best to make sure that all of my patterns are error-free and easy to follow. If you have any trouble with this pattern, please let me know! You can reach me by email at abeeinthebonnet@gmail.com, on Ravelry at abeeinthebonnet, on Instagram at @abeeinthebonnet, and on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/abeeinthebonnet.

And of course, if you share photos of your project on social media, I’d love to see them! Please tag your photos with #LittoralHat and #ABITBKnits to share with others.

Pattern Specs

SIZESS, M, L, XL. Finished hat dimensions: 16.25 (18.25, 20, 21.75) in / 41.5 (46.5, 51, 55) cm circumference (Note: most people like their hats snug, so if that’s what you’re looking for, choose a finished hat size that is somewhat smaller than your actual head.)  
MATERIALSFingering-weight yarn, 140 (165, 190, 215) yds / 128 (151, 174, 197) m; held double with lace-weight silk-mohair yarn, 140 (165, 190, 215) yds / 128 (151, 174, 197) m  

Sample shown knit in Cloudborn Highland Fingering, 100% Peruvian Highland Wool, 494 yds (452 m) per 3.5 oz (100g), held double with undyed laceweight silk-mohair yarn, 72% kid mohair, 28% silk, 459 yds (420 m) per 3.5 oz (100g).
GAUGE4” (10 cm) square = 22 stitches x 25 rows in stockinette (note: much of this hat is knit in a variation on seed stitch, so keep that in mind when choosing a size if your gauge loosens up significantly in seed stitch)  
NEEDLESOne set of needles for your preferred style of small-circumference knitting in a size to match gauge listed above, plus one set of needles three sizes smaller (for the brim).  

Suggested needle sizes: US 8 (5 mm), US 5 (3.75 mm)  
TOOLSOne stitch marker for beginning of round; optional additional markers between pattern repeats
Tapestry needle for weaving in ends  
SKILL LEVELIntermediate

Requires decreases, slipping stitches, and knitting in the round  

Abbreviations

k = knitp = purl
ssk = slip two stitches knitwise and knit together through the back loopk2tog = knit two stitches together
cluster 3 sts = insert right needle purlwise into the third stitch on the left needle. Slip that stitch over the first two stitches. K1, yo, k1.

Pattern Instructions

Using your preferred cast-on method and your smaller needles, cast on 90 (100, 110, 120) stitches. Join for knitting in the round, being careful not to twist. Place a marker at the join to mark the end of the round.

Work 12 rounds of ribbing in the following pattern: *p1, ktbl; repeat from * to end of round.

Switch to larger needles. Begin working the hat pattern as follows, or see Chart A below:

Round 1: *P2, cluster 3 sts, p3, (k1, p1) x 5 (6, 7, 8); repeat from * to end of round.

Round 2: *P2, k3, p2, k11 (13, 15, 17); repeat from * to end of round.

Round 3: *P2, k3, p2, k1, (p1, k1) x 5 (6, 7, 8); repeat from * to end of round.

Round 4: Repeat round 2.

Repeat this section 7 (7, 8, 9) more times for a total of 8 (8, 9, 10) repeats. If you like your hats deeper, feel free to work additional repeats, but keep in mind that doing so will require more yarn. After completing these repeats, work the following:

For Size S, work Rounds 1 and 2 one more time.

For Size M, work no additional rounds.

For Size L, work Rounds 1 and 2 one more time.

For Size XL, work no additional rounds.

Crown

Now you will begin closing the crown of your hat. At some point, you may need to change to double-pointed needles, depending on the small-circumference knitting technique you prefer. Make that change at any point during the following instructions when your stitches begin to feel too stretched on your circular needles.

For a charted version of this section, skip to Chart B below.

Each size starts on a different round. Size XL starts on Round 1, Size L on Round 3, Size M on Round 5, and Size S on Round 7.

Round 1: *P2, cluster 3 sts, p3, (k1, p1) x 3, sl1, k2tog, psso, (p1, k1) x 3, p1; repeat from * to end of round.

Round 2: *P2, k3, p2, k15; repeat from * to end of round.

Round 3: *P2, k3, p2, (k1, p1) x 3, sl1, k2tog, psso, (p1, k1) x 3; repeat from * to end of round.

Round 4: *P2, k3, p2, k13; repeat from * to end of round.

Round 5: *P2, cluster 3 sts, p3, (k1, p1) x 2, sl1, k2tog, psso, (p1, k1) x 2, p1; repeat from * to end of round.

Round 6: *P2, k3, p2, k11; repeat from * to end of round.

Round 7: *P2, k3, p2, (k1, p1) x 2, sl1, k2tog, psso, (p1, k1) x 2; repeat from * to end of round.

Round 8: *P2, k3, p2, k9; repeat from * to end of round.

Round 9: *P2, cluster 3 sts, p3, k1, p1, sl1, k2tog, psso, p1, k1, p1; repeat from * to end of round.

Round 10: *P2, k3, p2, k7; repeat from * to end of round.

Round 11: *P2, k3, p2, k1, p1, sl1, k2tog, psso, p1, k1; repeat from * to end of round.

Round 12: *P2, k3, p2, k5; repeat from * to end of round.

Round 13: *P2, cluster 3 sts, p3, sl1, k2tog, psso, p1; repeat from * to end of round.

Round 14: *(P2, k3) x 2; repeat from * to end of round.

Round 15: *P2, k3, p2, sl1, k2tog, psso; repeat from * to end of round.

Round 16: *P2, k3, p2, k1; repeat from * to end of round.

Round 17: *Ssk, cluster 3 sts, k2tog, k1; repeat from * to end of round.

Round 18: *P1, k3, p1, k1; repeat from * to end of round.

Round 19: *Ssk, k1, k2tog, k1; repeat from * to end of round.

Round 20: Knit to end of round.

Round 21: *Sl1, k2tog, psso, k1; repeat from * to end of round.

Round 22: *K2tog; repeat from * to end of round.

Break yarn, weave through remaining stitches, and close.

Weave in all ends, block, and wear. Enjoy!

Chart A

For size S, work the repeat section five times. For size M, work it six times. For size L, work it seven times. For size XL, work it eight times. Then start back at stitch one, and repeat the whole series until you reach the end of the round.

A knitting chart showing how to work the crown of the Littoral Hat. The stitches are conveyed via dots and lines. These instructions are fully written in out in the pattern, so the chart is not needed to make the hat.

Chart B

Each size starts on a different round. Size XL starts on Round 1, Size L on Round 3, Size M on Round 5, and Size S on Round 7.

A knitting chart showing how to work the crown of the Littoral Hat. The stitches are conveyed via dots, lines, and arrows. These instructions are fully written in out in the pattern, so the chart is not needed to make the hat.

Thank you for choosing one of my patterns! If you have any questions or comments, or if you notice an error in this pattern, please let me know. You can reach me by email at abeeinthebonnet@gmail.com, on Ravelry at abeeinthebonnet, on Instagram at @abeeinthebonnet, and on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/abeeinthebonnet.

Want an exclusive 30% discount on all new pattern releases, sneak peeks, occasional freebies, and more? Subscribe to my newsletter at abeeinthebonnet.com/newsletter. I promise not to spam you–friends don’t do that.

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