It's no secret that some of my favorite hats to knit are those that will adorn the heads of men. I love the way a man will wear a handmade hat FOREVER if you get it right. I love that you don't have to worry about which colors will work best with their wardrobe, whether they'll prefer bobbles or lace or other various patterns, and you can stick with a few tried and true looks, always with success.
Apparently I'm in the hat knitting minority with these thoughts, though. Time and again I run into knitters who aren't quite sure how to go about knitting for guys in general, much less something as visible as a hat. This then are my top five tips to remember when knitting hats for guys.
ONE // Pick a super neutral color. When I knit hats for guys I always ask them what color they'd prefer. Nine times out of ten they say grey or black. That other time? It's navy or olive. Occasionally a dark brown will get tossed out there to surprise me. Men want a hat they can wear every day, with everything. So check out their everyday coat or pay attention to their wardrobe for a few weeks to pick up on what colors they wear most often. When in doubt, a super dark grey (like the color of the hat pictured above) will work perfectly for just about every man you know.
TWO // Stick with the most basic of patterns. Think stockinette or all-over ribbing here. Yes, it can feel a bit tedious to knit, knit, knit every stitch for up to nine inches. Yes, you'll want to throw in a bobble, lace panel or cable motif. Save these urges for the next hat you make for a girlfriend! Every man I've ever knit a hat for has asked for super simple, choosing all-over ribbing or stockinette most times.
THREE // Men's heads are larger than you think! While I may be short, I have a normal sized head, and so I've always sized the hats I make to fit my head. This works great when making hats for women, but when I make hats for men I've learned to add a few inches - both in length and in width! On average, hats knit for a man should easily stretch to 24" without feeling tight, and should top out around 9". When in doubt, add a few stitches and rows to the pattern you're using!
FOUR // Choose super soft yarns! I tend to think this is a good rule for any hat you make, but it's super important when knitting for men. Whether you choose wool or acrylic (or a blend of the two!) be sure the yarn is as soft as you can find. While a woman may wear a hat that's a bit scratchy if she loves the yarn and pattern, a man will toss that hat into his closet, never to be worn again! Thankfully, you can find super soft acrylics and wool blends at most big-box craft stores, and your local yarn shop staff can help you find a 100% wool that will work well.
FIVE // Always Always ask first! Every time I think I know exactly what type of hat the guys in my life will want, one of them surprises me by wanting a striped, patterned, and cabled number!
And some guys just won't want a hat from you, no matter how much you KNOW they'll love a hat if they'd just let you make them one. If you ask first, you may just be surprised at what you're asked to knit!