No more hat fails!

I've knitted a few items that have turned out pretty good but I'm embarrassed to say that I haven't mastered the basic beanie. Since my formal instruction consisted of "measure head, cast on, knit, decrease at the crown" I think I may have missed a trick or two. I've searched through patterns too, but still wasn't trusting them to give me what I want.
Yesterday I came across woollywormhead, a British site dedicated to knit hats. Love the patterns (some are free), and they give some advice that I'm hoping will solve my dilemma. It never occurred to me that part of the problem might be the cast-on. I think I'll try their Chunkeanie first but I want to do it in worsted weight -- so I'm expecting a struggle to adapt the measurements.
I spent some time last night trying to master the tubular long-tail cast-on but I'm just not getting it somehow. The cable cast-on, however, was easy. It may do the trick if I can keep it from getting too tight.
The project is a hat for my partner's oldest boy. He's a German football fan so I'm incorporating stripes in the colors of the flag on a grey field.
When I started knitting last year, the main thing I wanted to do was knit beanies... so here I go again.


Casting on is always a bitch----cable cast on is good and I always cast on to a needle 2 or 3 sizes larger than I want to use, then knit the first row onto the size needle you want----seems to make a very elastic edge that works for me---keep experimenting and you will find the best way for YOU to do it-----try everything--at least once.

TinkerJones's picture

Thanks.. I'm sure that's good advice. I learned to cast-on by using a crochet hook and I'm most comfortable doing that but it's time to break out of my comfort zone. I'm mostly self taught and it would probably make the experts on this site cringe to watch me knit..

MMario's picture

Heh-heh! I think not; almost everyone here seems to be pretty accepting of different ways of doing things...

MMario - I'm not divorced from reality - we're having a trial separation

Joe-in Wyoming's picture

How very true. It never hurts to experiment and try something new when knitting.

Books, knitting, cats, fountain pens...Life is Good.

ronhuber's picture

Truer words were never spoken.

superi's picture

I doubt it as well. There's no wrong way to knit. Whatever works for you, and as long as you're getting the desired results.


chipsir's picture

We all have our own way of doing things and I say work with what you are most comfortable with, that is not saying not to venture out and try something new, good luck

Bill Basler's picture

Try You Tube for hat instruction I have found some help there.

Tor's picture

I was suggested to learn the long tail cast-on, as it is supposed to be one of the most versatile cast-on methods. Perhaps it's not always suitable, but I've still not knitted anything where my long tail cast-on was not adequate :-) Even to start with a rib, I usually only cast on knit stitches and have not had any problems with that.

To get enough slack in the cast-on stitches, you should however either use a larger needle or as I usually do, cast onto two needles of the size I'm planning to knit with. If the needles are straight, you can also cast onto a circular needle directly, using an additional "normal" needle of the same size as support. For hats, I usually use 16" circulars with angled needles, in which case I have to cast on to two different needles and then transfer the stitches to the circular needle.

21stcenturyDamocles's picture

the most elastic cast on is the knitted cast on but i hate to do them takes for ever it tends to be a bit hard that first couple of rows i never thought of casting on over two needles that sounds great im going to try that my self next time

ronhuber's picture

I believe it is the distance between the knots and not the size of the loop that creates an elastic cast on. If you google elastic cast on you will find videos of various ones that are easy to do. I use "The Bavarian Twisted" - some people call it the German Twisted. However, in knitting, there are a multitude of ways to achieve an end, and each person has to find his way out of the maze. If you are unsatisfied with what you are doing, experiment with small swatches. I cast on for a sock using various means and came to the conclusion that the Baviarn Twisted was the one for me after I measured the results. I blogged about it on this site. However, you should do the same and come to your own conclusions because each of us knit differently, hold the yarn differently, and use different types of yarn. It also depends on what you are doing. You are the expert of your knitting. I was waiting for friends at the airport here in Morelia and knitting a sock when a Mexican lady told me I didn't know how to knit (I was knitting English style). I told her that I had knit a sweater and 2 pairs of socks that month and asked her what she had knitted. Her husband said she hadn't knitted anything since she knit him an ugly sweater 10 years ago. He and I laughed and she was a little put out. Point is: do what you want and even if the knitting police confront you, there is a way out.

TinkerJones's picture

Well it's evident that there's more to casting on then meets the eye. Thanks all for your ideas and suggestions. I'm gonna try a few things and see what works for me. Last night I got started with a cable cast-on and knit a couple rows but I think my gauge is wrong so I'll have to figure that out and try again. I'll keep you apprised. My employer is really harshing my knitting gig.

scottly's picture

The very first hat I knit was top down. Although I do both top down and bottom up, top down is still my favorite method for knitting hats mostly because I hate to cast on and keep count of that many stitches. Anyway, a bound off edge in rib will probably always be more elastic then any cast on edge.

michaelpthompson's picture

Weird, I've screwed up a lot of things, but never a hat. I've made them on circular needles and on dpns, but my favorite is on a round knitting loom. I can make a nice hat in an evening on the loom, where it would take me three or four times as long on needles. That's basic hat, no pattern except for maybe some stripes, but I've made some decent hats that way. Couple of days ago I even figured out how to make earflaps with the loom.

The other advantage of the loom is in the cast on you mentioned. Loom makes a nice brim if you double it over like the directions say. Stretchy and comfy.

I still wanna make those cool hats like Frank does, but my simple hats are pretty cool. I'm wearing a loom hat with a brim right now.

"All knitting is just one stitch at a time."