From graphic stripes to more complicated double knitting, hats are the perfect canvas to practice and learn new skills. They're pretty small, so you aren't committing to a lifetime of knitting a technique you may not love, and except for some crown shaping, they're basically just knitting a tube — by keeping the structure simple, you're free to focus on your new skill. So when you're in the market to try something new, check out one of these skill-building hats.
1. Color Blocking
Learning to add a new color can really make your knitting pop. This simple ribbed hat uses colorblocking for dramatic effect. If you've ever added a new ball of yarn to your knitting, then you really already know how to do this. And if adding a new ball of yarn is new to you, this hat is a great place to get started.
Once you learn how to change colors, you may never want to stop. That's why stripes are so addictive. The best part about this hat is that you carry your colors along the inside of the hat — no cutting and weaving in ends each time you switch colors.
3. Slipped Stitches
If you want the look of multiple colors in the same row, but would rather just stick to one color at a time, there's a knitting technique for that. Slip-stitch knitting (also sometimes referred to as mosaic knitting), uses one color at a time, slipping stitches from the previous row instead of knitting them so you can get multiple colors in the same row. Give it a try with this ombré hat!
4. Fair Isle
Classic Fair Isle knitting refers to a type of stranded knitting that uses patterns and motifs from Fair Isle in Shetland, but it's also become ubiquitous with any type of stranded knitting. Managing multiple colors in a single row requires a little coordination, but we'll show you how to get it done.
Lace just makes things look fancy, but the technique itself really isn't that complicated. If you can increase and decrease, you can knit lace. Start with a lace pattern that has a relatively small, easy to memorize repeat (like the spiral lace hat shown here) and you'll be a lace knitting master in no time.
There's something so quintessential about knit cables. Everytime we see those twisting, turning braids, we're compelled to grab our needles. This hat pattern is both fully charted AND has written instructions. So no matter how you like to cable, you can make this hat.
7. Bavarian Twisted Stitches
It's possible you've never heard of Bavarian twisted stitches, but once you try them, we think you'll be hooked. Twisted stitches are sort of like cables — they can travel across the fabric of your project. Unlike traditional cables, though, you don't need a cable needle.
Learning how to knit intarsia basically means you can take any image and knit it. Instead of carrying colors across the back of your work, like you do in stranded knitting, you'll drop one color and pick up the next as you work across the row. Start simple with this hat project, but once you get the hang of it, the sky's the limit.
If there's anything squishier than brioche knitting, we don't want to know! Brioche knitting uses one or two colors to create a reversible fabric that looks a lot like a fisherman's rib pattern. Once you start adding in increases and decreases, you can bend the fabric in all sorts of interesting ways. This hat will get you started with all the techniques you need.
10. Double Knitting
Double knitting looks like straight-up magic — you create a double layer of fabric, knitting both sides at the same time. And if you're really feeling fancy, you can add colorwork into the mix. You'll get a mirror image of your work on the opposite side. You know what that means — a reversible hat!