Sunday, November 09, 2008

#1 Question

Hi Knitters,
I should have done this a long time ago. Last week I received several emails from knitters asking how to make the patterns from Itty-Bitty Hats fit larger size heads. That is pretty typical. Sizing up these hat patterns has been a pretty constant request since Itty-Bitty Hats came out in 2006. 

On ravelry you can look here to see 2,150 hats posted as of today from Itty-Bitty Hats. It is fun to see the hats on babies and toddlers and it is even more fun to see the creativity of all of the great knitters out there. 

Today I am going to write out the steps to make the patterns in Itty-Bitty Hats larger and I will link this post on my sidebar under "tutorials" for future reference.
First, I want to share average head sizes. I reviewed and compared various sources and combined that along with my many years of hat making and fitting to come up with my own chart. I think the following suggestions are pretty accurate. With this being said, head sizes vary a lot in every age category so just be aware.

Please check out this link for a head sizing chart in inches and centimeters from the Standards and Guidelines for Crochet and Knitting. In my opinion these measurements may be slightly on the small side. YarnStandards has any body measurement you could ever hope to find so check it out as a good resource.

Susan Anderson's suggested head circumference measurements in inches:
Preemie:  12 inches
Newborn (at the hospital to 8 weeks): 14 inches
0-6 months: 15 inches
6-12 months: 16 inches
12-24 months: 18 inches
2-5 years: 20 inches
5 years to teen years: 21 inches

General Adult Sizes for men and women:
Adult extra-small: 20 inches
Adult small: 21 inches
Adult medium: 22 inches
Adult large: 23 inches
Adult extra-large: 24 inches

The Itty-Bitty Hats patterns all make stretchy hats. I prefer a snug-fitting hat so I always subtract about 2 inches, give or take, from the head measurement to figure out the number of stitches to cast on. If you don't prefer a snug-fitting hat you may not want to subtract any inches or maybe only 1 inch from the head measurement to get the cast on number of stitches.
My 9-year-old daughter comfortably wears the largest size (cast on 72 sts) of the Stripey Stocking Hat in Itty-Bitty Hats made in Manos Del Uruguay wool.

Steps to make a hat from Itty-Bitty Hats larger:

1. If possible take the actual head measurement in inches of the person you are knitting for. If not, use the chart above to estimate the head circumference. Place the tape measure just above the eyebrows and right above the ear to measure.

2. Mutliply the number of inches from the head measurement by the number of stitches per inch (gauge). For example, let’s say my head is 22 inches and the gauge is 5 stitches per inch. Multiply those two numbers together to get the number of stitches to cast on. 
5 x 22 = 110. 

3. Now, I usually subtract at least one inch and sometimes two inches worth of stitches off of the number from step 2, depending how snug you would like your hat to fit. Remember that the example gauge is 5 stitches per inch. I like a snug hat so I would minus 2 inches worth of stitches or 10 stitches leaving 100 stitches. I would begin by casting on 100 stitches to make an adult medium size hat.

Another route is to minus the inches before you multiply the head circumference by the number of stitches per inch. If my head is 22 inches I would subtract 2 inches getting 20 inches. 
5 x 20 = 100.

4. The next thing is that most hats for older children and adults are about 7 inches long, measuring from the cast on edge, before the decrease rounds begin. If you want the hat to cover the ears measure from the bottom of the ear to the beginning of the crown of your head. If you lay your hand on the top of your head with your fingers extended, measure from the bottom of your ear to your fingers. 

When I do this I get exactly 7 inches. You can make the hat shorter or longer to suit your preference before you start the decrease rounds.

5. The decrease rounds in Itty-Bitty Hats are based on numbers divisible by 8. You need to have a number of stitches on the needles that is divisible by 8 stitches for the decrease rounds in Itty-Bitty Hats to work. So on the round before you start the decrease rounds, decrease the number of stitches needed to get to the nearest multiple of 8. 

For example, if I cast on 100 stitches on the round before the first decrease round I would decrease 4 stitches. I would do this by knitting two stitches together 4 times evenly across the round to get to 96 stitches. Now I am all set to start the decrease rounds.

6. To finish the hat I usually like to have not any more than 9 stitches remaining to close up the hole at the top of the hat. If you end up with more than 9 stitches on the last round you can knit one more round to decrease the number of stitches. It can also work with a few more or less stitches so don't worry too much about this ending number.

There it is. I hope this helps anyone wanting to size up a pattern from Itty-Bitty Hats.

My hope is that in the future I will have the chance to write a hat book for older children and larger size heads. That would be really fun.

best, susie