Hats are about my favourite thing to make from hand-spun. They are versatile and practical and your beautiful yarn is right there for everyone to see, not hidden under shoes or coats. They also receive very little wear, which is great for delicate fibres which in other garments may quickly felt or pill.
This beret pattern is more of a recipe really: no matter what gauge your yarn is, all you need to do is knit a swatch and then slot your calculations into the formula. Any size, any yarn, the whole family will be sporting beautiful head-gear in no time!
Requirements Yarn: As a rule of thumb, 100g/4oz of yarn will be plenty for an adult beret (mine took 65g of DK weight yarn). A very chunky yarn may use more, and you will probably manage a baby’s or small child’s beret from 50g/2oz. Needles: Set of double-pointed needles in a size appropriate to your yarn or one 80cm/32” circular needle if you prefer the magic loop method. Set of needles one size smaller for ribbing. Notions: Stitch markers, yarn needle
- Start with a swatch. The table below provides a rough guide to gauge and needle size, however, I do recommend you swatch your yarn to be sure. Otherwise, you may find your beret becomes a gift for someone with a slightly larger or smaller head! Cast on about three inches of stitches, knit in stockinet stitch for two to three inches. Measure and count the centre two inches of the swatch to find your stitches-per-inch figure (SPI).
- Measure your head (or the head the beret is destined for!), subtract 10% from this for negative ease and you have your base measurement (BM). Divide your BM by 5 to find your length measurement (LM)
- Mutliply your SPI by your BM, round off to the nearest multiple of four and cast on this many stitches using smaller needles. Mark the beginning of the round, work about 1 inch of k2, p2 ribbing.
- Change to larger needles and knit one round. Next round: increase rapidly by 1.5 by working [k1, increase in next stitch] around.
- Knit straight in stocking stitch for your LM.
- Halve your number of stitches by working k2tog around.
- You are now working the top of the beret, and the distance from this point to the centre is the same as your length measurement (LM). As you get closer to the centre you need to decrease the number of stitches in the beret several times, until you have almost no stitches left. Work in stocking stitch halfway to the centre, that is, half of LM, then reduce the number of stitches again by working k2tog around.
- Again, work halfway to the centre, that is, one quarter of LM, then reduce the number of stitches by working k2tog around again. Continue in this manner until you have less than 12 stitches remaining.
- Break the yarn and, using a blunt needle, thread it through the remaining stitches and pull tight.
- Darn in ends and lightly block to even out the decrease rounds if necessary.
In case you’re finding all the mathematics a little brain-frying, let’s put the formula to work with my Blue-Faced Leicester hand-spun. SPI measurement: 5 stitches per inch; Base measurement: 20 inches (my head is 22 inches); Length Measurement: 4 inches (20 divided by 5)
- Cast on SPI x BM = 100 stitches using 3.5mm needles. No rounding is necessary as this is a multiple of four.
- Work 1 inch of ribbing.Switch to 4mm needles and knit one round.
- Work [k1, inc in next stitch] for one round (150sts)
- Work in st st for LM = 4 inches, halve stitches (75sts)
- Work in st st for 2 inches, halve stitches (38sts)
- Work in st st for 1 inch, halve stitches (19sts)
- Work in st st for 1/2 inch, halve stitches (10sts)
- Break yarn and draw through remaining sts, pull tight.
I left my beret plain as I decided the variegated yarn was fancy enough. However, you could finish off the top with an unusual button, or knit the last 8-10 sts as i-cord for a traditional beret stem.
Of course, the basic stocking stitch look can be improved upon as well if you like. Try reverse stocking stitch or occasional rounds of purl to create garter stitch rings. Incorporating a lacy or textured pattern is simply a matter of knitting a swatch in your chosen stitch to determine the SPI. The opportunities are endless!
Gauge table and recommended needle sizes
|Wraps per inch||15-17||12-14||9-11||7-8|
|Gauge (sts per inch)||7||5.5||4.5||3.5|
Note: These figures are only a guide – a much more accurate result will be achieved by knitting a gauge swatch first and measuring stitches per inch.
More of Diane's writing and designs can be found at www.dianemulholland.com