The beauty of using magic loop for hats is that one needle does the job of both a 16" needle and a set of double-pointed needles. That means one less set of needles to fiddle with!
This tutorial is based on my Basic Ribbed Brim Hat , which is knit from the brim up. Download the free pattern and follow along, or use this tutorial for tips that you can apply to almost any hat you're knitting with magic loop.
Magic loop hat knitting tutorial
With the needles called for in your pattern or the needles you need to get gauge , cast on however many stitches your pattern calls for.
Divide the stitches in half. Pinch the cable of the circular needle...
...then pull on the cable of the needle. You should have half of the sts you cast on on each side of the needle.
Hold the needles parallel with the cast-on stitches near the needle tips, making sure the cast-on stitches are not twisted. Since we're only working with two sets of stitches, we'll use the cast-on yarn tail as our stitch marker. (If you're more comfortable using a stitch marker, you can use a locking one and move it up each round.)
Grab the back needle (that's the needle that's farthest away from you). Pull the needle out so that the stitches on the back rest on the cable instead of on the needle itself.
Grab the working yarn tail and pull it taut so that the stitches on the back needle are close enough to the front needle that you can work the front stitches.
Bring the back needle around to the front and insert it into the first stitch on the needle closest to you.
Now we'll start Round 1. Follow the instructions for your hat pattern, or if you're knitting from my pattern, start K1, P1 ribbing.
You might find that there's a big gap between the last cast-on stitch and your first stitch of the round. That's ok! We'll fix that later.
When you get to the end of the stitches on the needle closest to you (after the final purl stitch on that side, if you're using my pattern), work the other side. Here's how:
Flip the work around so that the needles tips are on the right. The side you just worked will now be the back needle, and the working yarn will be coming from the back needle on the right.
Slide the stitches on the front needle from the cable to the front needle's point.
Grab the back needle and pull it until you have enough cable to bring it to the front needle stitches. Keep an eye on the other side of the work, too, and make sure you don't pull too much, otherwise you'll lose your loop on the other side!
Bring that back needle to the front, inserting it into the next stitch. Grab the working yarn and pick up Round 1 where you left off.
Tip: When you bring the working yarn forward to start the new stitches, make sure the working yarn is coming straight from the last stitch and not wrapping around the cable. We don't want an extra stitch!
Once you finish working the stitches on that needle, you will have one complete round. Woohoo!
Bring the back needle around to the front stitches, then repeat these steps to continue knitting in rounds.
Keep in mind that you'll always have that cable loop on the opposite side of your needles. If you accidentally lose it, don't panic! Just count your stitches again and repeat step 2 again to pull out a loop.
Tip: When you start knitting a new round or a new side, that's a great time to tighten up that join between needles to avoid ladders . Be sure to pull snugly on the working yarn after the first two stitches of the new round to close the gap.
If you're working from my pattern, continue working in the round until you have 5" of k1, p1 ribbing.
On my pattern, change to larger needles. Here I used interchangeable needles, so the switch was really simple.
If you need to change to a new needle, though, just knit across the front needle with your new larger needle. When you get to the end, let the old smaller front needle dangle as you flip the work and knit the other side of the stitches with the new larger needle. Just be sure to leave a length of cable on the larger needle when you start the second side so that you maintain your loop.
Using the same technique as you did for the brim, work in stockinette stitch (knit every round) until piece measures about 9" from cast on.
As you work the decreases of my pattern, you'll find that as long as you still have those 50 stitches on each side, you'll always end with a k2tog decrease so that you don't have to shuffle any stitches around.
However, if you're using a different pattern or if you accidentally have, say, 51 stitches on one side and 49 on the other, you'll just need to move one stitch from the back needle to the front to make your decrease. Here's how:
Knit to 1 stitch before the last stitch on the needle. Pull the tip of the front needle until it closes up the gap left by the long cable near the working yarn.
Here you have two choices: a) Use your finger to slide one stitch around the small loop in the cable and up to the front needle. Then you can create your decrease on the front needle.
b) Use your finger to slide one stitch around the small loop in the cable needle and to the back needle. Then you can create your decrease on the back needle.
Once you've worked through all the decrease rounds, cut the yarn, leaving a long yarn tail.
Using a yarn needle, thread the tail through stitches of the last round, removing the needle as you go. Pull the yarn tail to gather and fasten off the top of the hat.
Top that hat with a pompom , if you'd like, and then weave in all the ends. You're finished!
Need more guidance?
Join popular knitting instructor Lorilee Beltman for hours of high-def, close-up instruction on knitting the magic loop.Check It Out