Tutorial: How to make a “Hat that doesn’t fit” a “Hat that fits”

I had this plan for a big finished knit bonanza this week where I laid all of my FOs (of which there are many) out on the floor in perfect light and took a aerial photo then talked about each one.

And the more I thought about it the more excited I got. And I wanted *all* of the FOs, including the ones that are currently works in progress, to feature in this photo. So basically I got too excited and I didn’t do it.

That’s story number one. I’m getting to the tutorial part, but it requires story number two.

Last year (although I didn’t blog about it; blame finals!) I made a hat for my favourite professor, Dr. Josh Neufeld. He was so fantastic and inspiring, that when I saw the Bacteriophage socks by Fillyjonk’s progress, I knew I had to make a hat for him with that pattern in it. For those who are not microbiologists, a bacteriophage is a virus that attacks bacteria. As a budding microbiologist, it seemed right to give my microbiology professor this type of hat. He was, true to form, super enthusiastic.

So this year, I was considering continuing the hat gifting with my newest micro prof, Dr. Barb Butler, who took very well to me barging into her office and having a breakdown quite recently. (University is a stressful place).

She cemented herself as an ideal candidate for knitted gift giving my asking me after class one day what I was making (yes I knit in class, it helps me focus) and being really interested.

So I right away set out to make her a phage hat. I needed a basic pattern to get started with, so I chose the Football Hat by Cascade yarns as my base pattern. I got so exited that I saw size 6 needles and 120 stitches and just cast on right away.

Turns out the ribbing is supposed to be done on size 4 needles and 120 is the number to cast on for a men’s hat. But by the time I figured this out I was already too far in, and by God I was going to finish it before the final exam (on Tuesday, so I had plenty of time really, but I was just lazy). So I powered on full steam ahead and lol and behold, the finished object was too big and floppy to stay in a head very well.

This is where the tutorial starts, because when that exact issue has happened to be before (I need to learn to read patterns and/or do swatches), I developed a method of dealing with it, even after the hat has been cast off.

I have no idea if this is an accepted technique, or if it’s just a thing I do, but it kind of works.

So, before I start. This is what the hat looked like before. And let me assure you, that ribbing was even less tight than it looked.


And a detail of the phage design, just because I’m proud of it 🙂


My first step was to cut a length of yarn in the main colour (in this case grey) that was significantly larger than the perimeter of the hat, so in my case it was maybe a metre long. I just sort of estimated it.

Then, using a tapestry needle, I ran a running stitch through the cast on edge all the way around the hat.


Sewing is not my forte, so it wasn’t neat, but in the end it blends into the hat, so it was fine to be messy.

(For those who are not familiar with a running stitch, it’s literally stick your needle in and out in somewhat consistent intervals. I’m not a seamstress, so I’m sorry if I’ve offended anyone saying that :P)

Once I had yarn going all around the hat, I could experiment with the tightness that I wanted. I personally just stuck it on my head and adjusted, on the assumption my professor has approximately the same head size as me.


Excuse the awkward selfies.

I also made sure the pull the cuff out a little bit to make sure it wasn’t too tight; it has to be able to come on and off!


Once I was satisfied with the tightness, I tied the two ends off


And then wove them in.

Because I had a whole lot of the main colour yarn left I did another row of this tightening at the top of the ribbing, just for extra grip. I didn’t do this for my last hat, and it was fine, so this is an optional step.


You absolutely can’t see the running stitch, which is just great!


Ta-da! A fabulous hat that fits quite a bit better than it used to!

Though you should note that this is not a perfect solution, to me it was a lot better than ripping the whole thing out, because I’ve got to actually study for her exam now….

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