The anatomy of a knitted beret for baby

Yesterday, we looked at several free patterns to knit with Uptown DK Magix. Today, I’d like to share a recipe to knit a beret or a beret-like beanie (it depends on the width of the band) for a baby, or for that matter, for any wearer. We’ll use short rows to make a flat circular top, and then jump right in.

Uptown DK Magix, makes a colorful, warm and soft, and fun-to-wear hat with a beret-style shape.

For beginning knitters, short rows worked in garter stitch knitting are the easiest to learn, as you don’t need to worry about gaping holes or wrapped stitches because the ridges of the garter stitch tends to keep everything neat and tidy.

Short rows are worked by knitting partially across the stitches on the needle at which point you stop, turn the work around and knit back in the opposite direction. This can cause a gap which can be avoided by wrapping a stitch at the point where the work is turned. Please watch the following video for two easy ways to do this.

I’ll be honest with you. I didn’t swatch for this pattern. I just cast on stitches, stretched them as far apart as I could on the needle and measured across to get what I thought would be the radius of the top circle of the hat. I wanted an infant-size hat, and, according to this chart, I needed a 19″ [43cm] circumference, which meant I needed about 3″ [7.5cm] worth of stitches because 3 x π, aka 3.14 comes very close to a radius of 10, which gets me very close to a diameter of 19. Then I added 3 more stitches to create a turning ridge at the outer edge of the circle.

Well, as I’ve preached for many years, I should have swatched, because my gauge in garter stitch turned out to be 20 sts per 4″ [10cm] using size 5 US [3.75mm] needles and 22 stitches.

What came off my needles was a “pie” with a 3¼″ radius and a hat that is 20¼″ around –perfect for a toddler. Now, if you can find a toddler who cooperates with wearing hats, you may be in luck. I remember playing hat-pick-up with my two sons for a few winters – it’s not a fond memory. In my experience, it’s a lot easier to keep hats on infants.

As I mentioned above, you need 3 additional stitches for the turning ridge, then do what I should have done: knit a garter stitch gauge swatch, figure out how many stitches you’ll need for the desired radius for the size/circumference you want (which is the measurement around the head just above the ears), and add 3 more stitches to determine the total number of stitches to cast on.

I used the Old Norwegian cast on because its bottom edge looks similar to garter stitch,  which leaves a nearly invisible seam when you graft together the two short ends of the “pie” you’re about to knit. My editor, who has an annoying penchant for doing Kitchener stitch, has said she would use a waste-yarn provisional cast on and graft all the live stitches at the end.

Next…how to calculate the short rows.
Take the number of stitches you have and find the nearest multiple of 4 that’s lower than the total. For me, with 22 sts, 20 is the nearest multiple of 4. Divide that number by 4 to get the interval for short rows. 20 divided by 4 is 5 for my hat, so my interval is 5.

Proceed as follows:

Row 1 (WS): Slip first st purlwise with yarn in back, knit to last 3 sts, p1, k2.

Row 2: With yarn in front, sl 1 purlwise, return yarn to back of work (selvedge stitch made – begin all even rows like this), knit across.

Row 3 and all following odd rows: Repeat Row 1.

Row 4: Selvedge st, knit to last 2 sts, wrap and turn.

Row 6: Selvedge st, knit to last 7 sts, wrap and turn.

Row 8: Selvedge st, knit to last 12 sts, wrap and turn.

Row 10: Selvedge st, knit to last 17 sts, wrap and turn.

Row 12: Selvedge st, knit across including all wrapped sts to the last 3 sts, wrap and turn.

Row 14: Selvedge st, knit across to last 8 sts, wrap and turn.

Row 16: Selvedge st, knit across to last 13 sts, wrap and turn.

Row 18: Selvedge st, knit across to ast 18 sts, wrap and turn.

Row 20: Selvedge st, knit across including all wrapped sts.

This makes 1 wedge.

Repeat Rows 1-20 until the two short ends of the “pie” shape touch without any puckering or buckling in the circle. Bind off purlwise and sew the ends together to form a circle. Run a tail of yarn in out of the ends of rows in the center of the “pie slices” and cinch the hole closed.

The strategically placed purl stitch makes a nice turning edge and a nice, flat crown for our beret.

If you look closely, you can see the 5-stitch intervals of my short rows. Use your interval number that you calculated above to prescribe where to turn your short rows.

Can you find the seam that joins the two ends? It is barely perceptible because of the ways I cast on and bound off.

The selvedge edge around the outside of the crown is perfect for picking up stitches for the hat band. Rejoin the yarn and pick up and knit one stitch under both strands of “chain” along the selvedge. Join to work in the round.

Purl the first round.

Count the stitches, then, refer to your gauge swatch to determine the number of stitches you need to go around the desired circumference. If you want a comfortable fit, add 2 extra stitches to the result. If you want the hat to fit snugly, decrease 2 stitches. I have 80 sts exactly, which is 20″ [51cm]. That’s ¼” [5mm] tighter than the actual measurement for a toddler. Hopefully, it will stay on without being too tight.

Once you know how many stitches you need, increase or decrease the necessary number of stitches on the next (knit) round.

From this point on, alternate purl and knit rounds until you the brim of the hat is the desired depth. Bind off loosely – I recommend using a needle one or two sizes larger.

The turning st and the selvedge stitches make for a neat join between the crown and the band.

I hope you try this recipe to make several berets with Uptown DK Magix yarn, or even with other yarns in your stash. I topped this one off with a pompom, but a simple crocheted chain would make a traditional “stem.” The top could even be left plain!

If you don’t have tiny heads to wear your work, you can donate them to mitten drives, centers for grieving children, or even to nearby schools to hand out to children who have forgotten theirs, or who don’t have a hat they can call their own.

Tomorrow we’ll look at another pattern that really takes advantage of the stripes created by Uptown DK Magix.

This is part 4 of 5 in this series.
Go back to part 3: Easy patterns to knit with Uptown DK Magix

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