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Onward knitted hat recipe

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This is a pattern for knitting a hat.
There are days when I need to acknowledge unpleasantness, but keep moving forward. On those days, my motto is onward. I made this hat as a tactile reminder to myself for those days.

I took the letters of onward, encoded them as numbers, and then charted those numbers, using my methods for encoding words as patterns. The marked squares were turned into purl stitches, and thus I made this stitch pattern.

This is a top-down hat. It can be ended when the yarn does if necessary; the pattern has sufficient purls in it that it doesn’t curl. A shorter hat will be a cap; a longer one can cover the ears for warmth; an even longer one can be slouchy. Knit the crown and ribbing in a contrast color if desired.


  • 12 inch to 24 inch head circumference. (30.5-61cm)

Materials needed:

  • Needles that suit the yarn, both for plain knitting and a smaller size for seed stitch and ribbing.
  • 8 stitch markers.
  • A yarn needle for working in ends.


  • Techniques used in this pattern: casting on for knitting a small number of stitches in the round, knit, purl, increase, and work a stretchy bind-off.
  • Both a written pattern and a chart are provided.


  • Samples were knit in Malabrigo Yarn Chunky and Schoppel-Wolle Reggae Ombré.
  • Any yarn should work, especially if it has good stitch definition. Otherwise the effect will be more subtle.
  • Because this is a recipe, written for a range of sizes at a range of gauges, it is hard to give a precise amount of yarn required. Here are some extremely rough estimates. Most larger skeins of yarn will be enough to make at least one adult hat. (The smaller the size, the more of an overestimate the number is.)

Very rough yardages and meterages for baby (child, adult):

  • fingering: 130 yds/120m (160 yds/145m, 190 yds/175m)
  • sport: 120 yds/110m (150 yds/135m, 170 yds/155m)
  • DK: 90 yds/85m (110 yds/100m, 130 yds/120m)
  • worsted: 80 yds/75m ( 100 yds/90m, 110 yds/100m)
  • aran: 75 yds/70m (95 yds/85m, 100 yds/90m)
  • bulky: 70 yds/65m (80 yds/75m, 90 yds/85m)
Thanks to my technical editor and test knitters for all their help!

photos copyright Kathryn Wall.
You will get the following files:
  • PDF (4MB)
  • PDF (1MB)

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