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"Sweet 16" Knit & Felt Hat

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Knit and felted pork pie hat Boiled wool felt pork pie hat

Knit and fulled pork pie hat

This hat is knit on large needles, then shrunk in the washing machine for a felted look.

Size

Since this hat is shrunk after knitting, the same instructions can be used to make a hat to fit 45.5cm to 55cm head circumference.

Materials

Yarn: The sample hats were made with 2.75 x 50gm balls of Holiday brand 8 ply, 100% wool at 95m per 50gm ball, in unbleached white. The multicoloured yarn was dyed using the Ashford rainbow dyeing method. You can use any 8 ply wool that will felt, but if you want to use a bleached white or extremely dark colour test a swatch first, even if you know that your brand of wool will felt. Bleaching and very dark dyes can affect some wool's ability to felt.

Needles: Size 5mm 40-60cm long circular needle and a set of 5mm double pointed needles.

Pie dish on a jar of nappy soak

You will also need:

  • a couple of tablespoons of laundry detergent
  • access to a washing machine (preferably top loading)
  • something to block your hat on that is the same circumference as you want your finished hat to be.

You don't need to invest in an expensive hat block. You can use many different things, a round plastic vase, an upside round measuring jug, a cake tin, anything that is the right size, fairly firm, and can be left damp.

You can see my hat block on the left, which is an 18cm diameter soufflé dish rested on top of a pot of Nappy San laundry detergent.

Tension

19.5sts to 10cm on 5mm needles

Abbreviations

m1 = make one stitch by putting your needle under the bar that lies between stitches, twist it (to avoid making a hole), and knit it.

K2tog = knit 2 together

Pattern

Using the circular needle, cast on 152 stitches. Join for knitting in the round and knit 1 round.

2nd round: (K19, m1) 8 times (160sts)

K 4 rounds

7th round: (K8, k2tog) 16 times (144sts)

K 4 rounds

12th round: (K7, k2tog) 16 times (128sts)

Knit 44 rounds

(K6, k2tog) 16 times (112sts)

K 4 rounds

(K5, k2tog) 16 times (96sts)

K 4 rounds

(K4, k2tog) 16 times (80sts)

K 4 rounds

(K3, k2tog) 16 times (64sts)

K 4 rounds

(K2, k2tog) 16 times (48sts)

K 4 rounds

(K1, k2tog) 16 times (32sts)

K 4 rounds

(K2tog) 16 times (16sts)

(K2tog) 8 times (8sts)

Cut your yarn, thread it through the remaining stitches and pull tight.

You'll now have a big, floppy, vaguely hat shaped object that looks like the white piece of knitting on the left.

Knitted hat before and after felting

Finishing and Felting

Darning in the loose ends loosely

Darn in your loose ends on the wrong side by loosely threading them under the back of every second st for 5 or 6 stitches.

Felting Your Hat

There are three things that you need for successful felting of knitted items. Heat, agitation and an alkaline environment. That might sound very complicated, but it isn't really! What it means is this: hot water, a washing machine with a low water setting or an old pair of jeans (or other non-fluffy item that won't bleed dye in the wash), and laundry soap or detergent (the kind without fancy softeners). If you've used a single ply or fluffy yarn you'll also need an old pillowcase or lingerie bag to stop loose fuzz getting into the workings of your washing machine.

Take your hat and put it inside the pillow case or lingerie bag (if needed).

Fill your washing machine with just enough hot water to cover your hat. If you can't change the level of water in your washing machine, add an old pair of jeans for extra agitation.

Put your hat in and let it soak for 10 - 30 minutes. This will give time for all the fibres to soak up plenty of water. Now start the machine. Stop the machine and check your hat after 10 minutes. If it hasn't shrunk enough, keep checking every 5 - 10 minutes until it's the desired size (measure it or try it on!).

Rinse out the soap in water the same temperature as your wash water, or if it's still a little bit too big, rinse it under cold water. The shock of the change in temperature will shrink it a bit more.

Empty your washing machine, spin the excess water out of your hat (don't leave it spinning for too long or you'll make creases that you won't be able to get out).

You'll now have something that looks like this

Shape of the felted hat before blocking

Blocked hat drying on the block

Blocking

While it's still wet, pull your bell-shaped piece of knitting down over your block until the top of the hat is stretched flat. Turn up the brim and adjust it until it's even all the way round.

Leave your hat on the block to dry.

When you block your hat quite a magical transformation takes place. The felting process shrinks all the stitches in size, and blocking pushes them back into the shape that you knit.


Copyright Sarah Bradberry. All rights reserved.