View Full Version : The Bestest Warm Hat For a Friend I need your help!

10-31-2007, 12:18 PM
Hi Friends and Fellow Knitters,
I have been requested to knit a warm and lovely hat for a friend. I want your help and expertise in choosing a yarn that is inexpensive, not wool, but will keep the ears of the reciever very warm. Maybe you have the yarn I'm looking for in your stash that you want to get rid of? Is there a knitting style that plays a part in keeping the wearer warmest?
I want to cable the roll-brim, or something to break up just a knit hat and make it more artistic. I want to cap of the hat to be more breathable than the ears, I can just knit looser up there, huh? The friend is male, so I see all these cutsey hat patterns that just won't do, you know?
All are welcome! Thanks guys!

Jan in CA
10-31-2007, 01:36 PM
No wool? The warmest yarns are animal fibers, wool, alpaca, etc. Silk can also be quite warm.

This one is kind of cool.

10-31-2007, 01:41 PM
This is a great basic pattern, for all sizes and all yarn weights:
As for yarn-- I can't wear wool, either, so I find that bulkier acrylic yarns work very well for me. Lion Brand, Patons, Bernat, all make them, and all have websites to peruse.

10-31-2007, 02:09 PM
I like Silver's hat (http://www.cometosilver.com/patterns/palindromehat.htm)

10-31-2007, 04:58 PM
Have you tried Knitting Pattern Central? lots of hats...

10-31-2007, 05:39 PM
Good Luck and It doesnt seem quite warm I agree with Jan in CA

of troy
10-31-2007, 05:49 PM
warmth comes from several factors.

fiber (some fibers are actually hollow like a drinking straw!) and trap dead air (air is a good insulator!)

HOw the fiber is spun--other fibers trap air by how they are handled.. fluffy wool (loosely spun) traps more air than worsted spun (a tighter, strong fiber)

How the fiber(yarn) is fabricated--that is: how the stuff is knit or woven.
tightly woven or knit fabrics block air movement.
this BLOCKS air movement

or have multiple layers.. fabric is made from LOOSELY woven or KNIT LAYERS--the LAYERS trap air.

the Final factor is related to breathability.
that is: the ability to block liquid water, but to let water vapor pass

saran wrap traps air (and so do vinyl rain coats..)and block WATER.
but these fabrics also block moisture( water vapor). and very quickly, when wearing them, you get sweaty, then damp, then the damp gets cold (since water is not a good insulator!)

Wool is very breathable (it traps air, but lets moisture out.. so you stay dry and feel warmer!) Wool also is some what WATER PROOF (vs water vapor). so wool is slow to get wet.

Cotton is also pretty good a traping air, and letting moisture out.. but is only about half as good at trapping air, so it doesn't feel as warm! (cotton gets wet in heart beat..and wet (WATER) doesn't insulate, so cotton fails at the first bit of rain (or snow)

Acrylic is Warm,but like saran wrap or vinyl, not so good at letting moisture out.. (and it, too gets wet easily) so synthetic hats are warm, but quicky make you feel sweaty.

the best bet for NON wool fibers is the 'thermal blanket' trick--
LOTS of THIN OPEN LAYERS the openess lets water vapor out (and keeps you dry--and dry means that air can insulate! the many layers trap air, and trapped air is warm!

Some northern native peoples were Furs.. (and fur fibers are often hollow and trap air.)

but some were parka's made from whale intestines (think sausage skins) the 'fabric' is very thin,-it is transparent! (thinner than a sheet of paper) it has almost NO warmth! but they layer and layer and layer (20 or more layers) of the whale intestines..and each layer traps air.

IN addition, each layer, like wool, is WATER PROOF (to some degree) BUT breathable (water vapor readily passes through) so they are DRY and enveloped in layer of trapped air (and once again, air insulates!)
parka's like this can be seen in the Smithsonian's American Indian Musuem (at the Custom's house in lower manhattan)

to make a warm non wool hat, lots of thin, thin layers.. trap the air.. and trapped air will make it warm.

10-31-2007, 06:29 PM
Thanks guys,
Of Troy that is some great information! How do I make a bunch of thin layers for a hat? I want those layers just by the ears...can't think in my head how to do more than one layer...I was going to do a roll brim and that would get 2 layers in there to trap air.
Thank you again!

of troy
10-31-2007, 08:38 PM
how to make many layers?

use fine yarn (mode dea makes a self striping acyrilc sock yarn..but any fingering weight yarn would be good.)

make a 'sausage hat", (start at top, increase, then make a straight tube about 10 to 11 inches long. (change yarns/or color if desired)
make a second tube 10 to 11 inches long, decrease, Using opposite pattern used for increase (ie if you increased 8 stitches EOR at beginning, decrease 8 stitches EOR for end--second top!))

when done, you have a large sausage shape--fold in half, tucking one side inside the other.. now the shape is half dome.

and there are 2 layers! because the hat is long (11 inches or so) there is enought to fold back a brim (2 or so inches)

now there 4 layer at the brim/over the ears!

the gauge can be loose (remember you want water vaper to be able to escape! so make the hat on size 4 needles (not the ususal size 2.5 or 3.)not lacy, but LOOSE soft gauge.

this will trap air!

if you need more detailed directions google sausage shaped hat or double layered hat.. there are lots of detailed patterns for this sort of hat!

10-31-2007, 11:11 PM
You could always make a double knit hat. Do a google search for them. There are lots of patterns out there. There was even a double hat pattern floating around on here for a while that everyone seemed to be doing. If you did a double knit hat or a "reversible" hat (knit like a long tube and tapered on both ends and then one end stuck in the other to make an opening) with some colorwork so you had floating threads on the back you would get the layers of yarn look.

I'm presuming that your friend is allergic to wool? What about hemp? I don't think it has the nice waterproof ability that wool does, but it might be an option. Also find out if it is all animal hair that he has problems with or if it is just sheep's wool. There are animal wools that don't have the lanolin (which is what most people are allergic to) that you could use instead of sheep's wool. Several goats and of course rabbit. If he isn't allergic, but equates wool to itchy (which most people do) get merino or a wool blend (like bamboo - oh, bamboo would be lovely and soft and natural!) to prove him wrong.

Keep us posted on this venture! Oh and if you are looking for a sort of masculine hat with something other than stockinette, consider a watchman's cap. There's a nice one in the first Viking Knit book by Lavold.

10-31-2007, 11:37 PM
I just have to add -- if he says he equates wool with itchy but that it isn't a true allergy, I personally still wouldn't do anything with any wool in it. I have a friend who isn't allergic, but anything with the tiniest bit of wool in it makes her itch horribly-- once even, she believed it had no wool, and it still had the same effect-- so not just her imagination or expectation! I would just hate for you to go to all of that effort and then have him not be able to wear it! On www.yarnmarket.com they have yarn made of cotton, bamboo and corn! Also from animals other than sheep. You might want to check into some of those.

11-01-2007, 09:11 AM
The very best hat that I made myself was out of alpaca, then the hat was felted. Not only was it warm, but it's waterproof, which is awesome for those sloppy, slushy snowy rains! :happydance: If you can knit with another animal fiber other than wool--maybe even an animal fiber blended with another fiber (cotton, acrylic)--that might be a viable option. I couldn't believe how warm the alpaca is. My felted hat is similar to this (http://www.chicknits.com/catalog/feltedbucket.html) one.
A non-felted alpaca hat would breathe better. I personally didn't care whether mine breathed or not...I am always very cold, so I welcome that heat!:teehee:

11-01-2007, 09:19 AM
I have been making hats and lining the lower portion with microfleece that I hand-stitch in. It keeps wind out, is very soft and non-itchy.

Personally I don't think a roll-brim hat will keep the ears warmer unless you knit the stockinette for the roll brim and then a couple of rows of ribbing to keep the hat snug around the ears.

I made the Slip Stitch hat for a couple of guys last year. It is a fitted hat that is not too cutesy but not boring either. The pattern was in Knit.1 I think the fall 2006 or winter 2007 (the valentine issue). I can check when I get home if you'd like.


11-01-2007, 10:19 AM
I like Silver's hat too... I finished one already and I am almost done with the second. I made mine in wool but I think it would turn out great no matter what you used to make it. It seems very warm and it was weasy and fun to make.

11-01-2007, 10:24 AM
How about Malabrigo?It's wool but soooooooo soft.I knit my grandson Silvers hat out of Malabrigo and he LOVES it

of troy
11-01-2007, 10:56 AM
cooknworm, alpaca is a very warm fiber.. It, like some fur's has hollow strands (microscopic drinking straws!) the air inside the fiber strand is part of what makes the fiber warm.

(polar bear fur is hollow too.)

MOST hair(and technically, all mammals have hair) is a solid strand.

some animals have air pockets, some are totally hollow (drinking straws) some have scales (microscopic) and some have scales and swirls (think of coiled telephone cord) these coils and kinks trap air too!

the scales help fibers interlock (and make them hold together when spun) and the scales can interlock (felt)

there are many processes for provideing air traping/ and moisture wicking..

thrums.. (peices of fluffy unspun (roving) caught in Tightly knit mittens or hats (tight knitting block air movement/fluffy roving does too, and roving helps wick moisure (sweat) away (with out letting water (liquid) in)

Natural animal fibers are superior at WICKING (absorbing water vaper, and letting evaporte) and tend at the same time to be some what water proof (resist liquid water)

Quilting is an other process (you can have cotton OUTside, and WOOL inside) (and to some degree, double knitting is very like quilting!)
all these 'details' add warmth.

some synthetic fibers do this too. (gore-tec--a synethic fiber that is hollow (like a drinking straw) and allows water vaper to pass, but repells water as a liquid) but gore-tex doesn't felt..(and its not available to home market as a "Yarn"

but all warmth is based on balancing AIR stays IN, Vapor (water) Gets OUT.

Fiber, how its processed, and how it is made into a fabric (knit, woven, felted, quilted--what ever)

the more you know about fibers in general.. the more you appriciate wool! there are several animals that have wool like 'hair'.. Sheep wool, goat wool, camel, (including alpaca's and other new world members of camel family) some oxen, ....
but good old fashioned sheeps wool is remarkable!

11-02-2007, 03:03 AM
I posted a pattern for the double knit hat I designed and have made many many of, a couple weeks ago. Double knitting allows you to use two different fibers and have one inside and one outside. (and its reversible!) http://www.knittinghelp.com/forum/showthread.php?t=67996&page=2
The warmest hat I've made to date was alpaca inside and llama outside. Both of these fibers are VERY soft and VERY warm. I can get one double knit hat out of one skein of each yarn. Alpaca and llama tend to be more expensive than most wool and acrylic, but I find it is very worth the extra cost. For me, one hat can cost $16 to $20 to make.
You might check if merino wool is itchy to your friend, because I find it to be pretty soft.

One thing more: either use superwash yarn, or plan to felt, or plan to handwash only. Animal fibers felt and you don't want to end up with a half-sized hat!

11-05-2007, 11:29 AM
Oh my goodness! The wealth of information in here is incredible! Thank you each! Goodness, I am taking notes on all the advice.
My friend is not allergic, but does find wool itchy. Perhaps my best bet is to take him to a yarn shop so he can feel the yarn. I agree with you, brittyknits, that it would be sad to knit the hat and then have it be itchy. No good! One thing my friend is worried about also, is the cost. A hat can be bought for $8 so it's hard to spend 3x's the amount on yarn, which I understand, especially since some of the knit shops can be too expensive for their own good. With that said, I'm going to do some research on all these yarns: malabrigo, corn, bamboo blends. You have given me some great adivce on double knitting, and I am interested in possibly stitching some fleece around the ears too like candicane mentioned. If any of you have some extra yarn in your stash you think would do well for this project, let me know, I might be interested in buying it off you.
Thank you so much! I'm going to give you each a thank you!