Do you want a hand-knit hat that fits your head perfectly? Perhaps you’re knitting for someone else and don’t have their head to measure or want your hat to be a surprise for them, so you cannot ask them to measure. Working from standard head sizes is a great jump-off point to getting the right fit. With standard head sizes, you can calculate the amount of negative ease you need to achieve the perfect fit for your hand-knit hat. In this blog post, we’ll discuss standard head sizes, how to calculate negative ease for a hand-knit hat, and how that turns into the number of stitches you’ll need in your hat.
If you have the head on hand to measure, check out this guide to measuring your head!
|Average Head Size|
|To Fit||Head Circumference||Crown Length|
|Preemie||12″ / 30.5 cm||4.25″ / 11 cm|
|Newborn||14″ / 35.5 cm||5″ / 12.5 cm|
|6 Months||16″ / 40.5 cm||5.75″ / 14.5 cm|
|12 months||18″ / 45.5 cm||6.5″ / 16.5 cm|
|Child/Teen||20″ / 50.5 cm||7.25″ / 18.5 cm|
|Adult||22″ / 56 cm||8.25″ / 21 cm|
|Large Adult||24″ / 61 cm||9.25″ / 23.5 cm|
Babies and Toddlers
When it comes to hand-knit hats for babies and toddlers, you want to make sure you get the fit just right. It can be difficult to measure a toddler’s head (they’re so full of energy and seldom sit still!), so working from standard head sizes is usually quite helpful. When making a hand-knit hat for a baby or toddler, you should leave 10% of negative ease. This will help keep the hat snug on their head without being too tight.
When hand-knitting a hat for a child, it’s important to get the right size. It should fit snugly but not be so tight that it’s uncomfortable. The average head size of a child is 18-20 inches / 45.5-50.5 cm, although sizes can vary significantly based on the age and growth rate of the child. You should leave 10-15% of negative ease. If the pattern measurements fall have you falling between this range, it’s better to err on the smaller side.
When hand-knitting a hat for teens and tweens, it’s important to get the sizing right. The standard head circumference for teens and tweens ranges from 21-22.5 inches / 53-57 cm. To make sure that your hand-knit hat fits properly, you will want to opt for negative ease when knitting the hat. You should leave 10-15% of negative ease.
Generally, an adult’s head circumference ranges between 22-24” / 56-61 cm. When selecting a pattern, look for a hat that calls for a circumference of 21-22 inches for a tight fit, 22-23 inches for a medium fit, or 23-24 inches for a loose fit.
If you’re looking to get the perfect fit for your hand-knit hat, negative ease is the key. Negative ease simply means that the finished hat is slightly smaller than the head it’s intended for. This allows the fabric to stretch, providing a snug and comfortable fit. To determine how much negative ease you should subtract 10-15% from the standard head measurements.
For example, if the head size measures 22” / 56 cm, you would want to subtract 10-15% from that number to get 19.8-20.7” / 50-52.5 cm as your final hat measurements.
How to determine your stitch count
Math can help determine how many stitches you need in your hat! Working a gauge swatch with the stitch motif you are planning to use in your hat will help give you all the information you need to figure out how many stitches you need in your hat. If you’re planning to knit your hat in the round, be sure to swatch in the round. If you’re going to knit your hat flat and seam it afterward, swatch flat and add 2 stitches to account for the edges you’ll need to seam.
Step 1: Determine your stitch ratio. You’ll divide the swatch by the number of stitches you worked.
Imperial Example; 4″ swatch divided by 20 stitches = 0.2
Metric Example; 10 cm swatch divided by 20 stitches = 0.5
Step 2: Divide your head circumference (that includes negative ease) by your ratio.
Imperial Example; If I had a head circumference of 20” and I was working a hat with a target of 18” head circumference, 18 divided by 0.2 = 90. This would mean I would need to have 90 stitches for my hat.
Metric Example; If I had a head circumference of 50 and I was working a hat with a target of 45 head circumference, 45 divided by 0.5 = 90. This would mean I would need to have 90 stitches for my hat.