Knitty�: little purls of wisdomKnitty�: little purls of wisdom

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Pink Needles
Red Bird Knits
spacer models:Alexandra Tinsley, Travis Schuster, Aaron Smith
spacer photos: Travis Schuster, Aaron Smith
Thanks to Abundant Yarn and Dyeworks in Portland, OR, for letting us take photos in their store.


The colors of this yarn reminded me of a set of beautiful topographical maps that used to hang in my house. I set out to recreate the feel of those maps by covering this hat with a random, color-dictated relief.

The beauty of this technique is that, besides being ridiculously easy, it works with any two-colored yarn in virtually any sort of project to add simple, interesting texture. The yarn itself and the way it was dyed dictate what your finished project will look like: whether or not the pattern will be regular or very random, stripe-y or blotchy, sparsely textured or lumpy all over. It's exciting to give up control and let the yarn lead the way...and for once you can welcome pooling!

The hat itself features box-like decreases to avoid interrupting the pattern too much, and is just a touch slouchy (which is perfect for me, but you can make it longer or shorter to accentuate or eliminate that look.) Tailor your colors to your audience and you've got a great unisex hat that works at any age.


Hat: S[L]
Will comfortably stretch to fit head circumference of 22[24] inches

Neckwarmer: One size


Hat Circumference (unstretched): 17[19] inches
Hat Height: 8[9] inches

Neckwarmer Width: 5 inches
Neckwarmer Length (unstretched): 17 inches

spacer Green Version (Size S): Colinette Cadenza [100% Merino Wool; 128yd/117m per 50g skein]; color: #75 Moss; 1 skein for hat, 2 skeins for neckwarmer
spacer Charcoal Version (Size L): Malabrigo Silky Merino [51% Silk, 49% Merino Wool; 150yd/137m per 50 g skein]; color: #470 Bosques; 1 skein each for hat and neckwarmer

Note: To make a scarf instead of a neckwarmer, buy 1-2 additional skeins.

Recommended needle size:
spacer 1 set US #7/4.5mm double-point needles
spacer 1 16-inch US #7/4.5mm circular needle
[always use a needle size that gives you the gauge listed below -- every knitter's gauge is unique]

spacer 4 stitch markers; be sure one is different from the others
spacer Yarn needle
spacer Large button (for neckwarmer)

22 sts/30 rows = 4 inches in stockinette st

[Knitty's list of standard abbreviations and techniques can be found here.]

You can easily substitute any two-color worsted weight yarn (handpainted is ideal), and simply designate one color as the Main Color and the other as the Contrasting Color. The CC should be the less prevalent color, and be aware that different color spacing and proportions may leave you with a very different looking hat. The yarn in the smaller hat is almost entirely green, with just tiny spatters of reddish brown.  The larger hat was worked in a yarn that is mostly blackish-gray, with small white patches. The white patches in the charcoal yarn are bigger than the brown ones in the green yarn, and you can see how the texture of the end product differs. 

Topographie Pattern:
Work in stockinette st, except: When the next st on the left needle is a CC st, purl it instead of knitting it. (Be careful at color changes - sometimes a stitch looks like it will be one color, but ends up looking like the other color once it's worked. Be prepared to undo a stitch occasionally and rework it.)

ssp: Slip next 2 sts knitwise, one at a time, to right needle. Slip them both, purlwise, back to left needle. Purl them together through their back loops.

2x2 Rib (Worked in the round over a multiple of 4 sts):
All Rounds: [K2, p2] to end.

Using a double-point needle, pick up and k required number of sts.
Next Row: Instead of turning work around to work back on the WS, slide all sts to other end of needle, switch needle back to your left hand, bring yarn around back of work, and start knitting the sts again. I-Cord is worked with the RS facing at all times.
Repeat this row to form I-cord. After a few rows, work will begin to form a tube.

Using circular needle, CO 96[108] sts. Place unique marker to indicate beginning of round and join to begin working in the round, being careful not to twist.
Work 2[6] rounds in 2x2 Rib.

Work in Topographie Pattern until piece measures 6[6.5] inches.

Next Round: [K24(27), place marker] 3 times, k24[27].

Continuing in pattern, shape crown as follows. When working decreases, if the sts to be decreased are CC sts, work p2tog instead of k2tog, or ssp instead ssk. If the two sts are not the same color, experiment with decreases to see which one yields the desired result. Switch to double-point needles when necessary.

Decrease Round: [Work 1 st in pattern, k2tog, work in pattern to 3 sts before marker, ssk, work 1 st in pattern] four times. 8 sts decreased.
Work 1 round in pattern.
Repeat these 2 rounds 5[6] times more. 48[52] sts.

Work Decrease Round 4 times more. 16[20] sts.

Next Round: [K2tog] 8[10] times.

Break yarn, draw through remaining 8[10] sts and pull tight.

Using double-point needles, CO 60 sts. Divide sts between needles and join to work in the round, being careful not to twist.

Work in Topographie Pattern until piece measures 17 inches, or desired length.

BO all sts.



Weave in ends and block lightly, taking care not to flatten pattern.

Sew tube closed at both CO and BO ends, forming a flat piece. Ends of neckwarmer shown were sewn using a small running stitch.

Button Loop:
Approx. one third of the way across one short end of the piece, pick up and k 4 sts. Work I-Cord until loop is long enough t fit tightly around button. BO all sts, and sew BO end of cord to edge of neckwarmer, close to picked-up sts.

Weave in ends. Try on neckwarmer to determine desired location of button, and sew in place.

designernameBlankAlex is a 20-something, college-hopping psych/art student with not-so-secret yarn related ambitions that make her dear mother nervous. She enjoys knitting, spinning, and picture-taking, all three of which can be seen at



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