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Free Pattern: How to design a custom fitting knit hat

Obermeyer - Circumference-Custom-Fit-Hat

I often receive requests for my hat patterns to be redesigned for another size head. I am happy to do this from time to time, but I would rather you dear reader gain the skill for yourself, so you may have total control over your knitting.  So let's get started.

Say the hat pattern you want to follow is this one.  The pattern is written to an 18 inch head, but you want to make it for your two year old.  Measure the circumference of their head with a tape measure.  You hold the tape measure all the way around their head and over  their ears. Don't pull tight unless you want a  very snug fit.  Let's say you get a measurement of 16.5.  Okay, now what?  Multuply that number by the guage for the stitch pattern.  Let's say it is stockinette and you are getting 4 stitches to the inch. Multiply 16.5 times 4 which equals 66 stitches.  You cast on 66 stitches rather than 72 in the pattern.

Now let's make that crown fit.


Take the tape measure and measure the distance from one ear to the other ear up and over the top of the head, sort of like a headband.  Let's say the measurement you get is 15, divide that by 4 which equals 3.75 inches.  So you follow the stripe pattern as set in the directions which was basically one inch of a color before switching.  When you get to 3.75 inches from the brim edge, you begin your decreases.  This should give you a nice form fitting beanie.  

For a firm band, knit on a needle size 2 sizes smaller than the pattern calls for, when the brim is complete, switch to the larger needles.

Basic formula

head circumference x number of stitches to the inch from gauge swatch = number of stitches to cast on

crown is measurement from ear to ear divided by 4, knit hat to this number before beginning decreases.


I hope this helps.  Please let me know if any part of my instructions are not clear. 



Hi Carol
Please may I have your permission to print
Free Pattern: How to design a custom fitting knit hat -
in our knitting guild newsletter? Our theme this year is Hats, so this information on how to adapt a hat pattern is perfect timing. I would of course credit you.
I'd much appreciate it.


Hello Veronica,
Thank you for your note. I just sent you an email response.


Franca Sperling-Jacox

this is such good advice. i wish i knew this a long time ago before i knitted all those hats that were too big.



I am sorry your other hats weren't the right size. This should help with all future knitted hats. Happy knitting!


Thank you for sharing your talents with us. Great useful info!

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