"Rules of Thumb" Knit Skullie

This is my non-pattern for a cute knit skullcap.  I find that I am too impatient to make large items, and I'm too unfocused to follow complicated counting patterns.  So, when I decided to make a hat, I just kinda took some "rules of thumb" from other peoples' patterns and I tried winging it!  The first came out good, I tried another, and another, and...  I get bored easily, so I have incorporated little variations here and there so that the hats don't all look alike.  I list those as we get going below....

You'll need experience knitting and purling on a circular needle, and confidence using double points to finish the very last of the crown.

Standard skullie size 10.5 needles

Skullie with checkered k2p2 ribbing size 7 needles

Skullie with a 2-row purl stripe and 1-row purl stripe size 7 needles

Rolled brim skullie size 8 needles

Skullie with two-row crocheted brim and k4p4 ribbing size 8 needles

1. Supplies

One skein or 2 balls yarn
Rule of thumb: for your first hat, try a standard worsted weight yarn. Once you see the approximate size, you can adjust the number of stitches up and down depending on the weight of whatever yarn suits your fancy.

One circular needle, 16"
Rule of thumb: I usually use the needle size recommended on the yarn, and have the most experience with size 8 with "plain old" worsted yarn in that size. I have been known to use a size 7 needle on size 8 yarn, to get a smaller knit (a special request from a satisfied customer :)

4-5 double point needles (in the same size as your circular)
Rule of thumb: If you're comfy with the stitches on 3 needles and working with the 4th, go for that. If you like a "square" of 4 needles and work with a 5th, that works just as well.

One stitch marker (optional)

Yarn needle or small crochet hook to work in ends

2. Gauge

Unknown.  Ha  ha!  Seriously, I don't usually bother with gauge swatches.  I have numerous botched projects because of this, but that's just the way it goes for me.
Rule of thumb: a hat on size 7 needles with standard worsted acrylic (that called for size 8 needles) ended up 10 st per 2", and 12 rows per 2".  One with larger yarn on 10.5 needles was 6.5 st per 2" and 10.5 rows per 2".  I tend to knit a little tiny bit tighter than others. If you nototriously knit larger, you may need to adjust.

3. Cast On

Cast on to the circular needle. 
Rule of thumb: I use 84 stitches for size 7, around 80 for size 8, 72 for size 10.5.  Make sure to remember that if you use k1p1 ribbing, make the stitches divisible by 2.  If using k2p2 ribbing, make the stitches divisible by 4.

4. Join

Join yarn into a circle.
Rule of thumb: You can put a stitch marker at this point and knit in the tail, or you can use my lazier method of not using a marker, not knitting in the tail, and using the tail as my stitch marker. This means you'll have a tail to weave in at the end of the hat.

5. Ribbing

Begin either k1p1 or k2p2 ribbing for at least the first 5 rows.
Rule of thumb:  You can make the ribbing as wide as you'd like by just continuing the pattern beyond 5 rows.  If you want a rolled brim instead of ribbing, use all knit stitches - but measure the 5 inches for step 6 from the bottom of the roll (don't unroll to measure).  If you'd like a checkered ribbing, follow a pattern such as k2p2 for 5 rows and then switch to p2k2 for 5 rows and then switch to all knitting.  After you have finished the hat, you can add a crocheted trim at the edge by basically attaching yarn and crocheting into any available hole around the brim.  That's some serious "winging"!

6. Knitting

After ribbing is complete, change to all knit stitches for the body of the hat.  Knit until hat is 5 inches tall from the bottom edge.
Rule of thumb: You can make textured stripes around the hat by adding a purl row every now and then.  For instance, knit 6 rows and 1 purl row, and repeat.  Also, for bigger heads, knit farther than 5 inches - trial and error or compare to a current hat.

7. Decreasing at crown

Every 4th stitch, knit 2 together.  In other words, k3 then k2tog.  Continue decreasing in this manner until you can't use the circular needle anymore and have to switch to double points.
Rule of thumb: I try to get as much as possible done on the circular so that I don't have to spend a lot of time dealing with the double points.  I usually decrease down to about 30 stitches left on the circular when I use size 7.

8. Finishing on Double points

When you get down to 30 or so stitches, divide them equally onto double point needles, purl-wise.  Continue the k3 k2tog decreasing until there are 4 or less stitches left per needle.  Cut the yarn leaving a medium length tail.  Remove each double point and run the tail through the stitches. Tie a final knot to bring the stitches together.  Using either the yarn needle or crochet hook, pull the center tail to the "wrong" side of the hat and trim.  Using needle or hook, thread the beginning end of the hat yarn into the inside of the hat and trim.
Rule of thumb: When putting stitches onto the double points, divide as equally as you can - for instance, I split 32 stitches onto 3 needles as 11, 11 and 10.  When decreasing on the double points, you may reach a spot where you need to k2tog but you are at the last stitch on a needle. Simply knit that stitch and k2tog on the first two stitches of the next needle and continue the decrease pattern. It's all about winging it for the final few rows!

I hope you like this non-pattern, and I would like to dedicate it to my dear hubby who has to put up with constant knitting, yarn purchases and projects strewn all over the house.  Also to my great friend K who created this monster!

Visit me and my beads at http://www.beadgirl.com.