Notes for basic caps to crochet

Today I’m wrapping up some caps for foster kids.  A woman visited the charity knitting group last week with a bag of yarn she was donating, along with a request for caps for foster kids in a camp where she helps out.  She was particularly interested in guy-colors for the caps, to end up with caps the kids would actually want to have and wear.  I like lighter-weight yarns, so I was happy to see the two balls of KnitPicks sport weight in a very sensible brown.  So I took those.  One was a full ball; the other, almost full.  Which got me thinking about cap patterns.

There are a lot of cap patterns out there, and many of us have our favorite go-to patterns, depending on the yarn and how much yarn there is.

When I know there is plenty of yarn for a cap, my favorite pattern is a side-to-side design:

Foundation sc about 1.5-2 inches, then foundation half double crochet (hdc) enough for a first row that measures 10 inches (for an adult size).  The pattern stitch is to stitch in rows of single crochet into the back loop only of the 1.5-2 inches of stitches on the one edge, and then hdc all the other stitches, until the piece measures 20 inches on the long edge.  The side with the single crochets will be shorter, so it makes almost a rectangle that is 10” wide, 20” long on the long edge, and shorter on the other edge.

Make a seam joining the last row to the first row (you can see the dip of the seam on the cap on the left of the picture, where the seam is).  Thread a yarn needle with about 12” of yarn, and use it to gather the single crochet edge and fasten it snugly.  I use a double strand and run the yarn through the edge twice, knot tightly, and tuck in the loose ends.  In this photo the ends haven’t been tucked in yet, but I’ll get there.

The average adult head seems to be about 22-24 inches around.  The 20” size for this hat means there is negative ease of 10-20% – which just means that the cap has to stretch a bit to fit, which is fine and as it ought to be.

There was enough yarn left over to start a second cap, using a top-down pattern I like when I’m not sure if there’s enough yarn:

Starting and round 1:  Ch3, slip stitch to make a ring.  Hdc 7 into the ring.
Round 2:  Continuing in a coil, hdc 2 into each of the 7 stitches.

If you can see your stitches, continue in a coil, making 2 hdc into the 2nd stitch of the increase in the previous round, until the piece measures 7 inches across.

If you don’t know how to see your stitches:  Mark the last stitch of each round, if needed to keep track.
Round 3:  (hdc1, hdc2 in next st) 7 times – one time around.
Round 4:  (hdc2, hdc2 in next st) 7 times – one time around.
Round 5:  (hdc 3, hdc2 in nest st) 7 times – one time around.
Round 6:  (hdc 4, hdc2 in nest st) 7 times – one time around.
Continue in this progression until the piece measures 7 inches across.

Depending on your gauge and yarn, the piece may lie flat, or it may cup a bit – either way is fine.  If you want it to lie flat, increase 9 times per round instead of 7.  Since I don’t know if I will have enough yarn, I figure this is one place I can skimp and still have the cap fit just fine.  Since the cap is for someone who isn’t a full adult size (early teens), having it a bit on the smaller size should still work well.

Once the crown is 7 inches across, stop increasing.  Continue stitching in hdc in a coil until the cap measures at least 8 inches from the center.  If I have more yarn, I will make it longer so it can fold up.

Top down cap, with ears and flaps added
I didn’t specify yarn or hook or gauge for any of this because these are basic concepts that work with just about any yarn.  The kitten hat in this picture is the top-down pattern done with a super bulky yarn and a size N or so hook.  The thicker the yarn, the thicker the fabric.

About sizes:  for the adult size given here, 7” across for the crown should be good.  For a child size, 6” works.  For a baby, 5”.  Anything bigger can work for a tea cozy.

Half double crochet is great for caps:  It makes a thicker, cushier fabric than single crochet, and it doesn’t have the bigger gaps between stitches of double crochet.  It also works well with textured yarns, where you can’t always see your stitches, but my fingers can feel where the hook goes more easily than with single crochet.  It’s a handy stitch that way.

A third cap I like is the tam-style:  Make a flat round that measures 12 inches across.  Then decrease as needed for a band to fit around the head.  It occurred to me recently that if the decreases are space evenly around, you end up with a tam or beret, depending on the country of choice and how wide you make the band.  However, if the decreases are all on one half of the circle, with the other half stitched even (without decreases), the shape is the golf cap.