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Shaping The Crown of a Hat--Part 4

Theses are some general rules for shaping the crown of a hat. The formulas presented here, work in most cases, but they are not perfect, just general rules.  First, realise there are several different styles and shapes for hats--And remember that not all hats are knit the same way.  These formulas work best with top down (or cuff up) basic hats, of the style called Watch caps, Beanies, Toques, Slouch, and various other names. Directions are also available for creating flat hats, like a beret or flat pill box hat, and for peaked hats.    Knowing the basic formula for shaping hats provide you with tools to design your own hat is one of theses styles.  In each case, there will be first directions for working from brim UP to crown, followed by directions for working top DOWN to brim.
3 Basic Shapes: 
Round (Dome) 
Flat (Beret) 
Peaked (Pointed)

The simplest formula for shaping the crown (top) of a hat is the round (dome) shape crown: 
Decrease 8 times, every other round, with the decreases are evenly spaced.  At the same time, this decrease pattern will  create 8 spiral arms at the top of the  hat, that are attractive.  If your hat has a stitch pattern (seed, ribbing, etc) one style is to continue to work in the stitch pattern as long as possible--but this is just a style element.  Switching to stocking knit at the crown (when the crown shaping starts)  is also common.  


Tools: 8 stitch markers, 7 of one style/color/size, 1 of a different style/color/size

If working in the round:

Divide the work into 8 equal groups, using the stitch markers.  The single differen marker should be used to for the Beginning of Round.

If your stitch count is not a multiple of 8,  first work 1 round of decreases, to reach a multiple of 8- Space out the decreases in  this first round, as evenly as possible.

Place 1 marker  every X stitches, (where X is a multiple of 8.)  Each group of stitches  (8 groups in all) should have the same number of stitches,

If you stitch count is 56, 7 stitches in each group 
If you stitch count is 64, 8 stitches in each group 
If you stitch count is 72, 9 stitches in each group 
If you stitch count is 80, 10 stitches in each group 
If you stitch count is 88, 11 stitches in each group 
If you stitch count is 96, 12 stitches in each group

and so on... These counts are some of the common numbers (of stitches)in Knit hats.

Round 1 (decreases round): * K2 tog, work remaining stitches,  to marker. slip marker, repeat from * 7 more times (1 round completed)  

Round 2: Knit every stitch 
Repeat these 2  rounds, as many times as needed until 8 stitches remain. Cut yarn leaving 12 tail or so, thread onto a tapestry needle and thread through all stitches, (twice) pulling snug. (drawstring bind off)
Thread yarn to inside of hat, and make small knot. weave in tail, and trim.
Working Flat
If working Flat. the process is very similar, but requires a stitch count that is a multiple of 8 +2, and will need 9 markers.   Divide the work into 10 groups.  There should be a marker just after 1st stitch,and just before last stitch. These single stitches are the selvage stitches, and are used for the seam. The remaining stitches, are divided into 8 groups, each with the same number of stitches.

R1: (right side of the work) K1, slip marker, (K2tog and work all stitches , until next marker. slip marker) repeat 7 more times, K1

R2: K1, slip marker, work all stitches until last marker, K the last stitch.

Repeat rows 1 and 2 until 10 stitches remain; remove markers.  Cut yarn, leaving a 15 to 18 inch tail.  Thread a tapestry needle onto the tail.

PINCH work just below the last stitches, and slide stitches off the needle. Put the stitches onto the tapestry needle starting at back end of the work

Thread end/last stitch knit (X)-X x x x x x x x x x <--start threading here. 

This FORMULA,  for a dome or round top hat, works well with most yarns. With fine yarns, you will have more stitches to start, and will work more rows to complete, but the stitches and rows (the gauge) will be small.   You might start 120 stitches, and a marker every 15 stitches (15 X 8=120)when working with fingering or baby yarn, OR you might start with   64 stitches, and a marker every 8 stitches, with thicker Aran weight yarn.   In the first case, the stitches and rows will be small (a fine gauge), in the second case, the stitches and rows are larger.  
BUT--What every yarn and starting stitch count is used, it takes about 3 inches to 3.5 inches to work all the decreases, and the results will be a rounded top to your hat.  

OPTIONAL : A  common option, is to work the last few rounds, without working the no decrease round: —Work 2/3 to 3/4th of the  decreases with the 2 round pattern,  and last third (or quarter) of decreases with no plain/no decrease rounds---This will make the top of the hat flatter, (less peaked/pointed at the very top)   

In a 64 (66) stitch hat, work as the formula suggests until there are just 3 stitches in each group, then change to working ONLY Round 1, (for 2 rounds) until there are just 8 stitches remaining.  In a 120 stitch hat, the change to working only Round 1 of the formula might come when there are 4 stitches in each group (32 total) or 5 stitches in each group (40 total).

This option creates a flatter top to the dome. Some examples of 8 arm swirls at the top of hats: Photo

Photo The hats above were creates using this formula and show the 8 armed spiral—which is an attractive finish to a hat  Both hats started with 96 stitches. 

The same basic  formula can be adjust for other designs besides the 8 armed spiral. The KEY to the formula is 8 decreases, every other round. Tweeking  the formula, and working  16 decrease (2 X 8) in R1, then working even (no decreases) for 3 more rounds will give a similar shape (a round/dome shape)- The shaping won't be as smoothly curved, and the 8 armed swirl won't be seen.   Like wise, 4 decreases, EVERY round will also work,  and will create a 4 armed (vs 8) swirl--Similar to a pinwheel. Decreacing 4 stitches ever round creates the same ratio of decreases.

Other options include working  the same numbers (8 decreases, every other round) but changing the positions of the decreases.  This will  change the results.Working a Raised Center decrease, or [ K2tog, SSK, k X,] with 4 repeats per round still result in 8 decreases in a round and  will create a 4 armed, non spiralling  shape  to the crown.  These squarish shapes are NOT perfectly flat, but slightly domed.  These  examples, are both of with Raised centered decreases, have a squarish shape, that can be blocked flat, but naturally want to have a slightly curved top.


All of the formula variations works--but they will not always create the same softly rounded dome shape.   Stitch patterns, stranded color work, novelty yarns can  can effect the gauge.  The results might be a rounder, flatter, or even slightly pointy top to the basic dome shape.  Knitting style (tight knitter vs a loose knitter) can also change the final results.

If you are unhappy with the shape of the crown, change the number of decreases in the round, to fine tool the results. 

For a slightly flatter top (not so round) change to 9 groups (and starting stitch count to  multiples of 9),

For a rounder hat, change to 7 groups,  (and starting stitch count to  multiples of 7).

Other numbers can be used--if you are willing to do the math.  These alternate rates of decrease can be useful  for specific stitch patterns.

A bit more complex is decrease pattern for a Round or Dome Crown is 6 stitches per round

R1: Decrease 6 stitches per round

R2: No decreases

R3: Decrease 6 stitches per round

R3: Decrease 6 stitches per round

R5:No decreases

R6: Decrease 6 stitches per round

This will create 24 stitched decreased over 6 rows or rounds, just as decreasing 8 every other rows or rounds-equals 24 stitches decreased over 6 rows or rounds.

The ratio of decreases remains about the same, but not identical.. the slope (or curve) of the crown is similar, but not identical.

These options are useful for some stitch patterns, or for color work, or just a style element. 

Finally, EVERYTHING Changes if you are working in ribbing!


Round or Dome shape crowns, worked from top down

(not yet available)


Flat topped crowns--Beret or Pill box style Brim up to crown

MOST OFTEN,  changing the formula to 10 decreases per every other round will give you a flat top --The 10 decreases per round formula results in a perfectly flat disk, that is suitable for  a beret, a  or pill box, or a stove pipe style hat. 

The decPhotoreases can be evenly spaced and used to create a 10 armed spiral, or the decreases can be paired to create a 5 armed "star" design on the top of the hat. Or they can be hidden inside a stitch pattern, as in this simple striped color work hat--which also follows a modified decrease pattern (20 decreases every 4th round, 

Just as with the 8 decrease DOME formula, the number of decrease in the round can be changed, so long as the ratio remains the same.

20 decreases over 4 rounds, or 5 decreases every round will work  just as well to create a flat disk. 

 But like the 8 decrease every other round formula, it might not be perfect for your yarn, stitch pattern, or gauge. 

Sometimes you will need 11 stitches, and sometimes 9—But most often 10 decreases ever other round will work. 

When, where and what kind of decreases will also change the appearance of your beret.  In the striped beret, the decreases are hidden in the color changes--and while not invisible they are hard to see.  

Red Star Beret photo redstar.jpg

In the Red Star Beret (an other of my patterns, you can find in the Patterns page of this site)a totally different decrease was used--This hat used  Double Raised Decreases, for a detail.   Making the decrease very visible, and a design element of the hat.  

As a result the shape isn't perfectly round (is is a pentagon) 


Flat topped crowns--Beret or Pill box style 

Crown to brim 

(not yet availsble)



6 or fewer decreases every other round will give you a peaked (pointed top) --(like a witches hat or a Santa hat) The fewer decreases used (every other round) will make the peak steeper and steeper. The same will happen if you work an extra row with out any decreases (R1: decrease (4) , R2 and R3, no decreases, for example)

This peaked hat has 4 decreases every other round:


Folded this way, it is clearly a peek, but folded to put the decreases on the folded edge, and it resembles the toe of a sock (especially a hand knit sock 

This hat decrease rows ever other row.  but the peek will be longer if the decrease are space out to every 3rd or 4th row.  

The CANDY CORN  hat is also "All Peak"--with just a few plain (no decrease rows) at the cast on edge.  

This style of hat also works with a tube --(from 3 to 8 inches!) to starts the hat. This hat, HARLEQUIN SPRING  with its gaudy purple, green and gold stripes, is worn folded, with the peak reaching down to the hem.  Is an OH, so 1940's style, Katherine Hepburn wears one just like in in Bringing up Babe. 

A single decrease every other round will tend to cause the knitting to spiral—Perfect if you are knitting a Ram's horn—, but something to be considered. A single decrease every round can also be used to create

 a "court Jester" type hat.  (This example is from some 10 years (and 4 cameras ago!)  It eventually got a jingle bell on the point. This is a child hat, and quite whimsical.

Elfin hat in Mode Dea washable wool photo 1whiteelfinhat.jpg

IF you don’t have a multiple of 8 (or 9, or 7, or what ever) to start, do a round with fewer decreases. Lets say you had 60 stitches, (not 56) R1 of decrease would be 4 decrease in one round, then follow by a plain, no decrease round, and future rounds will have 8 decreases every other round.

Peaked top Hats knit from top down

Not yet available


But it changes again with crown down hats, where increases are used.   Some increases like YO's will need fewer per round, (7 is the go to number, vs 8) and some increases like Kfb might need more (9 increases every other round)

These numbers should be considered a starting point, and a formula that works frequently—but it is not a perfect formula that works flawlessly with all yarns, and all stitch patterns---but it does work MOST of the time.


Ribbed hats are special case. They can be decrease in a number of ways.  The common 8 decreases rows or round, will work and will give the crown a spiral shape.

Another option is to decrease in a different pattern--like the hat below.  It starts off as 2 X 2 rib, and then 

First the purls are knit together, (K2, P1 ribbing), 

Next the Knit stitches are worked together (K1, P1 ribbing) 

Then the Ks and Ps are knit together, creating a stocking knit pattern (all knits)

All further reductions are are in stocking knit

In this example, the work continues in the round, till about 7 or 8 stitches remain.  An alternate method decreases til there are about 14 to 16 stitches,  and then these stitches are grafted, to create a small "seamed" area on the top of the crown.  Human heads come in all sorts of sizes and shapes, some (mine) are rounder (bowling ball shaped). Others tend to be long, or wide,  rather than round.  The grafted seam method is ideal   for this shape.  

Crown shaping for For 2 X 2 ribbing, Example 1.
Work the base of the hat till you reach desired length. 

Shape crown as outlined below

R1: K2, P2tog, repeat across row.

Details of Crown photo Blueribbedcrown.jpg

R2 and R3: NO decreases (New pattern is K2, P1)

R4: K2tog, P1, repeat across row

R5 and R6:  No decreases, (New pattern is K1, P1)

R7: K2tog, Repeat across row

R8 and R9: No decreases, (new pattern K all stitches)

If needed,

R10: K2tog, repeat across row

R11 and R12: No decreases, (new pattern K all stitches)

Cut yarn, and thread remaining stitches onto drawstring to shut.

A 1 X 1 ribbing can be decreased by starting at R7, and working till row 12, and then repeating R7 one more time, and finished by threading remaining stitches onto a drawstring.

Other common options are:

A simple drawstring bind off can be done, with out any decreases at all—This will create puffy ruffles at the top center of hat. (This looks better when finished with a pompom.)

Decreases can be placed either side of a rib(s),  to create Y or  Cross(+) shaped ribbed  patterns at the crown.  This one example of 8 decreases , in pairs either side of a single rib that creates a cross pattern.  

the ribsbes work into a neat \'square\' crown. photo 4squareribbedcap.jpg

This hat is made from a free pattern, (see  Home page for a link to my free patterns) Look at the decreases, and note, at some points, there are 6 knit stitches in a group, as a rib gets "eaten up" by the main rib.  This hat was knit from brim to crown, and shaped by decreasing.  but a similar effect could be created by using make one as increases.  One use of this hat is learning how to work decreases and keep in pattern.  In spite of the 6 knits in a row, it always looks like ribbing.

The top of a ribbed hat can also be sewn closed, with the seams, (2 or more) creating the shaping a the top of the hat.