Kid hat

How many stitches to cast on using 4 ply yarn and using circular needles to get a 18” knitted hat circumference?
Thank you.

Ply isn’t really useful nowadays. Gauge is a better way to judge weight.

So… what yarn are you using? How many to cast on depends on the yarn, your gauge and the size you need. Keep in mind that knitting stretches so there’s a lot of leeway in a hat.

Here’s a basic hat formula.

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Hi Jan,

I have seen all the basic hat patterns and using the swatch, etc.

The yard I am using is the Red Heart 4 Med yarn and I want to make a 18" circumference beanie hat with circular needles.
I am hoping someone knows how many stitches to cast on.


Okay, #4 is worsted weight yarn. If you look at the paper on it says what the gauge is with what needle. This is only an example because peoples gauges can vary. For instance I knit loose so in order to get gauge I usually have to go down a needle size or two. So I’m saying that any number we give you may or may not be right and give you the size you want. On your personal gauge (swatch) can tell you what you knit like.

Red Heart makes appx a million types of yarn in that weight (#4) so I’m going to guess here… For Red Heart Super Saver it’s 17 stitches over 4 inches with a US 8 needle. So you’d probably need 70-72 stitches for 18 inches. Depending on your gauge you may need more or less and a different needle size.

Hi Jan,

Thanks for bearing with me here. I truly do not understand the swatch thing. I could make a 4" swatch, but truthfully I have no idea what this tells me at all. Sorry.

I think I knit between loose and tight, if that makes sense.

For this hat it is a Red Heart Super Saver #4 med. Good guess!! :slight_smile:

Thank you for your response. Much appreciated.


So if I was to use circular needles to knit in the round it would still be a US 8 circular needle??

When you knit a swatch you count the stitches you have in 4 inches. That tells you your personal gauge and can tell you how many to cast on. They aren’t perfect, but they are the best estimate for cast on. Swatches are usually done in stockinette, but not always. If you’re doing a basic hat with rolled or ribbed edge and stockinette top then go with stockinette.

A few YouTube swatch videos. The first one is longer and gives more detail, but the second is good, too.

Yes, you’d usually use the same size needles for circular as you’d use for straight. There are three methods for knitting in the round. If you use DPN, magic loop, or 2 circulars you can do the whole hat. If you use a 16" circular you’ll need another method to close the top when you start decreasing. I use magic loop start to finish to avoid this.

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I really don’t understand much of what you are saying. The yarn weights you refer to are meaningless to me. They are just names, and numbers. I need to have an actual measurement!

But no matter if I know what you mean or not, that is still not going to help at all. YOU need to knit a swatch and see what it does for you. There is no other way. What I say may work for me (not always even for me!) and it is NOT going to be the same gauge as yours. It can’t.

So knit up a sample – usually more than 10 cm – and take an accurate reading of that. But the best thing might be to just cast on what you think would work – if you have any experience, you already know what a yarn of similar weight will knit up at – and knit the first 3 or 7 cm, and take a look. Do you like it? Does it seem to work? Does it have enough stretch? Will it block the wind?

If you are happy with it, continue. If you need to change to larger or smaller needles, or change the stitch count, rip out and start over. Keep accurate notes!! These will prove helpful the next time you ask “Is this the right yarn for this project?” Eventually, you will gain experience and know what to expect.

Your questions are all great questions, Kat52. Gauge is a tricky business, and knitting a hat to a very specific measurement is hard to do. Another approach is to just take your best guess as to the needle size and knit it, and give it to whomever it fits! Hats are small enough to serve as their own swatch, in a way! If you want to make the next one bigger, go up or down one needle size per 2 sts./10cm(4") gauge difference you would like to achieve. (In the US we say one needle size change will change your gauge half a stitch per inch of measurement. I suppose in mm it might be helpful to say 0.2 sts/cm gauge change for every needle size.) Anyway, that’s one way to look at it.

And, not to confuse matters, but if you’re going to knit a gauge swatch for a hat, you’d want to knit it in the round, anyway, not flat, because we purl at a different gauge than we knit at. So a hat is really its own best gauge swatch.