From Toe to Head

I have a HUGE stash of fingering weight yarn that I have earmarked for sock projects. It is an unbelievable number of skeins that I acquired as: souvenir yarn, sock clubs where yarn automagically appears every month, and tantalizing skeins that are just to gorgeous to pass up with the "I will just buy 1 little skein" mentality.   And as stash is wont to do, if you use it occasionally and keep adding to it, it gets large and unruly.  

So while I do knit socks, I am always on the look out for single skein projects that aren't necessarily socks that will do these lovely tonal, variegated, or self-striping yarns justice.  They deserve to be knit and showcased front and center, not just hidden in shoes.

Recently I stumbled upon the idea of knitting one of my sock patterns into a fingering weight hat, and had a !EUREKA! moment.  Not only is this another great type of project for my fingering weight single skein stash, but is also utilizes my 100% merino skeins that I won't use for socks because of the lack of nylon. Fingering weight hats use about 50-70 grams, knit up much about faster than socks, and are a versatile weight for a hat as temperatures dip.  If you are concerned about maximizing warmth in severe cold, you can add length and fold up the brim and get a double layer over your ears.

But don't get me wrong, using fingering weight sock yarn for a hat isn't novel or new.  I love all the Sockhead Hats that I see and have knit a few myself, but the process of knitting all that stockinette in the round was mind numbing. That project is the definition of stockinette zombifying for me.

The part that got me excited about this idea is spicing it up with non-stockinette stitch patterns.  You can easily take some of the stitch patterns from very popular and often FREE sock patterns, and put them on the hat!  The stitch pattern can either be a panel running up the hat, or repeated throughout. This instantly creates a more interesting and engaging knitting process, and wonderfully diverse results.

In progress Monkey hat

How to convert a sock pattern from toe to head

Needle size:  US2.5 (3mm)
Gauge: 7 sts per inch
Finished Head Circumference:  18, 20, 22, 24 inches

The sock patterns
I have included a sampling of some of my favorite sock patterns that are free, and I hope to knit up as hats! 
All details of the stitch patterns are available in the linked patterns

Monkey by Cookie A Pomatomus by Cookie A
Groovy Socks by Caroline HegwerSkyp Rib Socks by Adrienne Ku
Vanilla Latte Socks by Virginia Rose-JeanesHermione's Everyday Socks by Erica Lueder
Zigzagular Socks by Susie WhiteScylla by Fiona Bennett
Business Casual by Tanis LavalleeFroot Loop by Kristi Geraci

Step 1: Cast-on! Figure out the cast-on number

In general, to get a hat with the desired head circumference: you take the gauge in number of stitches per inch times the desired circumference in inches.

Cast-on (sts)Head Circumference (inches)

These cast-on stitch counts work perfectly if the sock pattern has a panel running up the foot, or if you only want a panel of texture running up the hat, with the remaining portion stockinette. If the sock pattern you are converting has a pattern motif that you will repeat across the whole hat, you will need to change the cast-on number to a multiple of the stitch pattern.

Cast-on by Head Circumference
18 inches20 inches22 inches24 inches 
Monkey16128 sts144 sts160 sts176 sts
Pomatomus12132 sts144 sts156 sts168 sts
Groovy Socks8128 sts144 sts160 sts176 sts
Skyp Rib Socks6126 sts144 sts156 sts168 sts
Vanilla Latte Socks8128 sts144 sts156 sts168 sts
Hermione's Everyday Socks4128 sts140 sts156 sts168 sts
Zigzagular Socks9126 sts144 sts153 sts171 sts
Scylla4128 sts140 sts156 sts168 sts
Business Casual16 (small)128 sts144 sts160 sts178 sts
Froot Loop7126 sts140 sts154 sts168 sts

Step 2: Work Brim Ribbing

Work the ribbing suggested for the sock cuff, or a simple K1P1.  Work for 2-3 inches, or for a fold-over brim, work for 4-6 inches.

Step 3: Work Stitch Pattern

For a panel, work the leg stitch pattern once or twice at the beginning of the round and knit all remaining stitches. For the pattern throughout, work stitch pattern across all stitches.  Work until hat measures roughly 10 inches from cast-on for a fitted hat, or 14 inches from cast-on for a slouchier hat.

Step 4: Crown Decreases

This is the part that requires some math and freestyling on your behalf.  If you wish to keep the crown in pattern, you will need to work the decreases into the stitch pattern, or change to stockinette by knitting all stitches. In general:
1) Decrease 1 stitch roughly every  8 stitches (then 7, 6, 5, 4, etc) , or 12-16 for a slower decrease rate.
2) Decrease every other row.
3) Decrease down to 10-12 sts, break yarn and weave yarn through remaining stitches.

Easy peasy, and spices up the standard sock head hat!
Join me in my recent obsession to flip sock yarn and sock patterns from toe to head, and knit some hats with me!