Hats are a finite project, making them a terrific project for a beginning knitter. I had great success as a learner when my knitting teacher cast on my stitches for me then showed me only the knit stitch to practice. Often, I will cast on the stitches and knit a few rounds of ribbing before handing the needles over to a new(ish) knitter to begin working just on knitting. Unlike a scarf, there is a measured length to a hat. Depending on the comfort level of the student, I can introduce decreases or merely opt for a cinched closure.
One Skein Wonders
Regardless of the yarn weight, these are almost always a single-skein project (if you are working a pattern that calls for more than one colorway, you will find you can make as many hats as the colors demand, if possibly used in different parts of the hat), making them great stash busting projects or good ways to create a wearable project out of what you might have considered "souvenir" yarn. (The hat above was knit up in a Malabrigo Yarn dyed in the Howell Melon colorway for Stitch In Time to celebrate the annual Howell Melon Festival.)
Technique Learning Options
Hats are a great "canvas" for practicing new techniques. Perhaps you want to work on cables, lace, or a colorwork pattern...here is a project with a relatively small number of stitches (compared to a sweater) and an opportunity to practice. If it isn't going well, frogging a hat is a lot easier to conceive of than ripping out stitches for a sweater knit in the round. (The Perky Little Hat, above, uses a combination of stitches to create that diagonal effect.)
Many hat patterns are "gender neutral" and so can give you the opportunity to work up the same pattern for a group of friends or family members. For the most part, I am drawn by the shiny new object in the room and therefore like to work up new patterns. But finding a pattern that showcases stunning yarn and seems to get faster with each hat that I knit is a true benefit.
Here in Michigan, there are days that even people who don't generally like wearing hats NEED to wear a hat. Having a hand knit hat makes the idea of wearing a hat (in bitter cold, or while having to do a task like shoveling snow) much more bearable. For recipients, putting on a gifted hat may remind them of the thoughtful friend or family member who took care to select just the right colorway and then spent time knitting it up. For the giver, it can be a way to convey love from five miles or 500 (or more)! Knit hats (with or without pompoms) are on-trend even with adolescents. There are beanies or slouchy hats, different ways to customize hats to make an intended gift, and they are also terrific to knit up and have on hand, even if you don't yet know who the recipient is! (Above are some of the hats I knit up without a specific recipient in mind, but somehow I found just the right person to receive each!)
Because hats are often knit from one skein and can easily be worked on a short circular needle, they are ideal portable projects. Get a small project bag that can even loop over your wrist, and it is even possible (with a "vanilla" hat, an all-over ribbed hat, or simply a familiar pattern) to knit while you walk! If this seems too ambitious, just be certain that you take this little project with you wherever you go. Socially distanced shopping trips can mean extra waiting (inside a store or inside your vehicle, awaiting curbside delivery), and if you have a little project to work, it won't feel like wasted time!
My friends and I recently made our own KAL, and each of us knit up fingering weight sweaters with top-down, in-the-round construction. We knit thousands of stitches around and around, periodically measuring to see if we were close to the length to work the waist ribbing and bind off. There was a point when it seemed "boring" and if we measured too soon, it could even be a bit disheartening. Each of us "cleansed our palate" after finishing our beautiful (and worth the tens of thousands of knit stitches) sweaters by knitting up a hat (or two). It takes shape so quickly! It feels so rewarding! It really did bust the boredom - even if it were a plain vanilla hat pattern, it could be paired with a wildly colorful yarn and bring a lot of visual interest just in that!
Charlene at Stitch in Time has an extraordinary eye for beautiful yarns and has several reliable patterns she can recommend to showcase the yarn, help you increase your skill level, and create fantastic hats. If you are in the shop, you can ask her to purchase the pattern to have uploaded into your Ravelry library on the spot (and it costs no extra for this service than searching for the pattern name and buying it on your own).
If my words haven't convinced you of the great value in knitted hats, I challenge you to knit one and see whether you agree with me!
TAGS: knitted hats, yarn for hats, gift knitting, pompoms, project bags