Beanie Basics 101
Admit it. You’ve purchased a beanie pattern or browsed the internet and found a beanie pattern for free that you liked and ended up with a hat that just didn’t fit. I often come across fellow crocheters who are curious as to why this happens so often. That newborn sized beanie that your friend worked up fits your newborn perfectly, but even after following the same pattern yours seems much larger and won’t fit your newborn for quite some time. You have to remember that everyone crochets differently. I crochet with a fairly tight tension and work at a quick pace, often finishing a hat before I even have to set it down. Someone else might crochet much looser or might come back to their project a few different times before it is finished. Each time you set your work down and pick it back up at a later time you are working with different tensions. The differences might be slight, but any difference in tension makes a difference in your finished product.
So, how can we work towards ending this hat sizing confusion? When I was a beginner crocheter I could not rely on hat patterns. I almost always ended up with a hat that was either too large or too small for my intended target. I quickly learned that the easiest way to crochet a hat in the perfect size was by measuring. Measuring what? Well, measuring the intended target and your hat as your work progresses.
If you are crocheting a hat for, say, your son or your niece or for your self it is easy to use a measuring tape to see exactly how large you need for your hat to be. You can simply measure from forehead around and subtract about 1-1.5” from your measurement. Crochet tends to have a bit of stretch, so taking an inch or so off of your measurement ensures that the hat will fit a bit more snug. You will also need to measure from the center of the top of your head to the bottom of your ear (or as far down as you’d like for your hat to go).
Now, while you work on your hat you will increase with each row until the circumference of your hat matches your measurement. For example, MY head measures approximately 22” around. So in order to crochet a beanie for myself I would need to increase with each beginning row until my work measures about 20.5–21” around. Once I’ve achieved my appropriate circumference, my goal now becomes crocheting the hat until it is long enough to cover my ears. To stop your hat from getting larger and to work on getting it to your desired length you simply crochet rows WITHOUT any type of increase.
Now, let’s say you have listed a beanie on Etsy or you would like to gift a beanie to someone as a surprise and you have NO idea what their head circumference is. How, then, can we crochet using measurements? There are several wonderful crochet and knit artists out there who have already worked on compiling different measurement charts for you to use. A simple Google search for ‘crochet hat measurements’ will turn up page after page of measurement charts. On these charts you will find different ages listed with different head circumferences and their appropriate hat lengths. You can simply follow these measurements according to age to work up a hat in your desired size. Make sure that the measurements you are following have already deducted the 1-1.5” stretch. Here are links to a couple of different charts that I’ve used in the past. Check ’em out!
Now that you understand the basics of beanie and head measurements it is time to learn a very, VERY, simple pattern that you will be able to use to crochet a beanie in ANY size.
Get ready to crochet!
To work up this pattern you will need ANY size hook and ANY size yarn! Whoa! I almost always use a size H hook and worsted weight yarn when crocheting any beanie or other type of hat because that is just what works best for me. You will be working in the round to avoid obvious seams, so it is a good idea to use a stitch marker to mark when you’ve started a new row. You will need to know how to half double crochet (hdc), chain (ch), and slip stitch (ss). Easy!
To begin, ch 2.
Row 1. 9 hdc in second ch from hook. (9)
Row 2. 2 hdc in each stitch around. (18)
Row 3. 1 hdc in first stitch, 2 hdc in next stitch, repeat around. (27)
Row 4. 1 hdc in first 2 stitches, 2 hdc in next stitch, repeat around. (36)
Row 5. 1 hdc in first 3 stitches, 2 hdc in next stitch, repeat around. (45)
Row 6. 1 hdc in first 4 stitches, 2 hdc in next stitch, repeat around. (54)
Do you see the pattern? Each row increases by exactly 9 stitches. The next few rows should leave you with 63 stitches, 72 stitches, 81 stitches, etc. Make sure to stop between rows to measure your hat and stop following the increase rows once your hat is big enough. Once you’ve achieved your desired circumference you can move on to crocheting rows with NO increases (simply 1 hdc around), row after row until your hat reaches your desired length. Once your hat is long enough you can slip stitch into the next stitch and finish off, remembering to sew in your ends.
What happens if I end up in between measurements on my final row?!
You might follow this pattern and find that you end up with in-between measurements. Maybe completing an entire increase row leaves you with a circumference that is a half an inch too large, but stopping at the row prior to that one leaves your hat a whole inch smaller than what you need. You can always break up the increase rows by increasing maybe just a few stitches throughout the row instread of following this exact pattern. For example, let’s say you’ve reached the row where you have 27 stitches and you only need a small increase as opposed to an entire increase row. You can choose to crochet 8, then increase in the next stitch, repeat three times and end up with 30 stitches. OR if you find that this pattern doesn’t work for you or any of your measurements needed, you can also choose to increase at a different rate. For example, you can start with only 7 stitches, or 8 stitches. For 7 stiches you would be increasing enough to achieve an additional 7 stitches with each row. So your row counts would go from 7 to 14 to 21 to 28, etc.
This is my go to method for crocheting beanies. As soon as I started following this method I stopped feeling frustrated with sizing issues and started working up all different kinds of hats with confidence. I hope this quick little lesson on beanie sizing has benefited you in some way. I would love to hear your feedback. Did you find this information helpful? Are you still struggling with sizing?
Enjoy a picture of my little man sporting a camo beanie. Isn’t he darling?!?
Happy crocheting! (: