New knitter, hat question

Hi everyone. I’m a guy who decided to pick up knitting, and I’ve been having a great time with it so far. Yesterday, I decided to go to the fancy knitting and pick up some decent yarn, now that I’m comfortable with the basic patterns and stuff.

I decided to make a ribbed hat with foldover brim in k2p2 ribbing on #8 circular needles (and double points). I used a 100% merino wool (forget the brand), worsted weight, superwash. Cast-on 88, knitted about two inches of ribbing, finished with straight knits up the circular needles (for stockinette pattern).

As I was knitting (this was only my second time with the circs), I was thinking there’s no way this hat is going to fit my head. However, when it was all finished, it fit fine, albeit perhaps a hair loose. I don’t know if I stretched it out putting it on or what, but it loosened. Now, I wore it earlier today, and it feels like a good couple of inches too loose. From what I’ve read, because it’s superwash wool, there’s not much I can do to shrink it down at this point.

No matter, I’m happy to frog the work and start again, all part of the learning process and all. In the meantime, I have enough left in my ball for another hat. I’m tempted to go down to 72 or 76 stitches and was about to cast on (in fact, I did, only to realize I pulled out the 10 needles, and had to rip out my cast) and started thinking:

Was my problem really that my hat was too loose to begin with? Or did I somehow stretch it out? Will I have the same problem if I start with 72 or 76 stitches instead? Cracking out the stitch counter, it looks like I’m at 3.75 stitches per inch, which seems a good bit looser than when I started. Am I doing something wrong? Should I move down a needle size? Or is the problem the opposite, that I’m knitting a hat too small and stretching it out too much?

Any help would be appreciated, before I invest another 4-5 hours only to rip out the project and start again.

Many thanks.

One tip is to use smaller needles for the ribbing–that will help to keep it stretchier. Another tip is to make the hat 2 inches smaller than the circumference of your head.

BTW–welcome to the forum! You’ll find several other active guys here, as well.

If you’re not happy with the end results, then I recommend you go ahead and frog it and start again. Superwash wool won’t shrink. I think it probably is that you needed to make your hat a bit smaller, because knitted fabric is stretchy by nature, and ribbing is especially stretchy.

But before you do that, I suggest you measure your gauge on the hat again and figure out how many stitches per inch you have. Then measure the circumference of your head to figure out how many stitches you will need to cast on. Measure over the ribbing or the stockinette depending on the area where you measured your head.

When you say your stitches per inch changed, it is possible that you changed the tension on your yarn as you knitted. It’s really easy to do that, and I personally think getting even tension is probably the most difficult thing for a new knitter. It’s something that will get better with practice.

Another trick you can try is going down a needle size on the ribbing. Sweater patterns with ribbed hems and cuffs often call for that because again, the ribbing stretches so much.

Thanks for the suggestions so far. The gauge looks pretty even to me across the whole work. I’m actually quite happy with the look of the hat. It looks very regular throughout, without any noticeable tightening or loosening of the stitches from row to row (at least not to my eye). It just seemed to me like it was tighter when I knit it, and then when I started wearing it, it got looser and looser. I compared it with a cheap Thinsulate winter hat I got from the store and, to tell you the truth, it looks about the same size when laid flat. It’s just that my hat doesn’t really scrunch in at the ears to give you that warm, secure feeling on your head. I’m betting the suggestion to go down a size of needles on the ribbing will do the trick.

I also think maybe I shouldn’t frog this hat, but instead sew in some sort of elastic thermal whateveryacallit stuff lining to get a super thermal winter hat. Is that an option? It’s not that I’m against frogging it, but it actually does seem to sit on my head okay, just that it doesn’t “hug” my head, if that makes any sense. My girlfriend says that it looks fine, just needs some elastic to hold it in place better.

You can weave some elastic thread through a couple rows and that should help it.