Thursday, November 12, 2009

Rudolph Hat

This pattern is the fifth in a series of cutesy holiday hats that I make for my nephew and cousins' kids each winter. I'm afraid this tradition will end soon though. The only uncertainty is whether it will be caused by the refusal of said children to participate in the cuteness as they age or by my inevitable drought of ideas. Only time will tell.

Caron Simply Soft [100% acrylic; 330yds/302m per 6oz/170g skein); 1 skein in #9934 Chocolate, small amount in #2682 Red, small amount in #9703 Bone
US #8/5mm double-pointed needles, or 40-in/100-cm circular needle for magic loop
US #6/4mm double-pointed needles
Tapestry needle
Two 1-in/2.5-cm black buttons
Small amount of polyfil or scrap yarn
One wooden bead, about 7/8in or 2-1/4cm in diameter (can substitute more polyfil or scrap yarn)
Sewing needle and black thread

16.5sts x 22rows = 4in (10cm) in stst on larger needles

Finished Size:
0-3 months (3-6 months, 6-12 months, 1-3 years, 3-10 years) = 13 (14.5, 16, 17.5, 19)in [33 (37, 40.5, 44.5, 48)cm] head circumference, relaxed

Click here for Abbreviations

With brown and larger needles, CO 54 (60, 66, 72, 78) sts. I used Ysolda's tubular cast-on for 1x1 rib (video here) because it gives a stretchy and professional-looking edge. If you choose this cast-on method, be sure to work both foundation rows before joining to work in the round.
Join and work in k1, p1 ribbing for 4 rnds, or about 1in/2.5cm.
Work stst for 11 (13, 15, 17, 18) rnds.
Crown Shaping:
Rnd 1: [k7 (8, 9, 10, 11), k2tog] 6 times.
Rnd 2 and all even rnds: knit.
Rnd 3: [k6 (7, 8, 9, 10), k2tog] 6 times.
Rnd 5: [k5 (6, 7, 8, 9), k2tog] 6 times.
Continue in this manner, decreasing 6 sts every other rnd until 24 sts remain.
Next rnd: k2tog around - 12 sts. Knit 1 rnd. k2tog around - 6 sts.
Cut yarn and thread tail through remaining sts. Pull tight and tie off. Weave in ends.

Antler Nubs: (make 2)
With tan and smaller needles, CO 12 sts, leaving a long tail for sewing onto hat later.
Join and knit 8 rnds in stst. k2tog around - 6 sts.
Cut yarn and thread tail through remaining sts. Pull tight and tie off. Hide BO tail inside antler.

Ears: (make 2)
With brown and smaller needles, CO 8 sts, leaving a long tail for sewing onto hat later.
Row 1: sl1, p1, k1, p2, k1, p1, k1.
Row 2: sl1, k1, p1, k2, p1, k2.
Row 3: sl1, p1, kfb, p1, pfb, k1, p1, k1.
Row 4: sl1, k1, p1, k4, p1, k2.
Row 5: sl1, p1, kfb, p3, pfb, k1, p1, k1.
Row 6: sl1, k1, p1, k6, p1, k2.
Row 7: sl1, p1, k1, p6, k1, p1, k1.
Row 8: sl1, k1, p1, k6, p1, k2.
Row 9: sl1, p1, ssk, p4, k2tog, p1, k1.
Row 10: sl1, k1, p1, k4, p1, k2.
Row 11: sl1, p1, k1, p4, k1, p1, k1.
Row 12: sl1, k1, p1, k4, p1, k2.
Row 13: sl1, p1, ssk, p2, k2tog, p1, k1.
Row 14: sl1, k1, p1, k2, p1, k2.
Row 15: sl1, p1, k1, p2, k1, p1, k1.
Row 16: sl1, k1, p1, k2, p1, k2.
Row 17: sl1, p1, ssk, k2tog, p1, k1.
Row 18: sl1, k1, p2, k2.
Row 19: sl1, k2tog, ssk, k1, do not turn. Slide sts to other end of dpn, as if to knit i-cord.
Row 20: k4, do not turn. Slide sts to other end of dpn.
Row 21: k2tog, twice, slip first st over second and off needle to BO.
Cut yarn and tie off. Weave in BO end.

With red and smaller needles, CO 3 sts, leaving a long tail for sewing onto hat later.
Slide sts to other end of dpn to begin working in the round.
Rnd 1: kfb 3 times - 6 sts. Distribute sts to three dpns.
Rnd 2: kfb 6 times - 12 sts.
Rnd 3: knit.
Rnd 4: [kfb, k1] around -18 sts.
Rnds 5-7: knit.
Rnd 8: [k1, k2tog] around - 12 sts.
Rnd 9: knit.
Insert wooden bead or stuff with polyfil.
Rnd 10: k2tog around - 6 sts.
Cut yarn and thread tail through remaining sts. Pull tight and tie off. Hide BO tail inside nose.

Sew on ears and nose. I used the snippings from these ends to stuff antlers, or you can use polyfil. Sew on antlers. Weave in any remaining ends. Sew on button eyes with sewing needle and thread.

Feel free to comment here with questions.

This pattern is intended for personal use only. Please do not try to sell it or any product made from it. Thank you.


  1. Thank you for shearing this wonderfull pattern :-D
    There will most definately be some knitting done here above the polar cirkle tonight!!!!

  2. What a cute hat pattern, Thanks so much for sharing it! I am just in the midst of knitting a bunch of your adorable premmie hats for donation, so when I get that finished, I will certainly be doing Rudolph next.

  3. This is so cute! I make my daughter seasonal hats as well, and I am always looking for some way to surprise her. The "Rudolph Hat" is IT!

  4. Oh my. That is beyond cute! Thanks SO much for this, I'll be linking.

  5. This is so adorable! Hopefully have time to make some for early Christmas gifts!! Thanks so much!

  6. This is an adorable pattern!!

  7. Your patterns are always so great. Thank you so much for sharing your creativity with us. Your children's patterns are making so many kids happy! Thanks again!

  8. Love the hat!! Thanks so much for the pattern. Happy New Year!

  9. Just love this pattern....will be making for 2010 holidays not only for my grandchildren but also the adult children. Plan to adjust the size accordingly. Thanks!

  10. I am writing to request permission to reprint this adorable project on We would of course give you full credit and will happily link back to your blog. Please let me know if this is acceptable. Thanks!

    Amanda Formaro
    Chief Editor -

  11. Sure. Please let me know if you have any questions regarding the pattern.

  12. This is so cute. Thank you so much for sharing this. My newest grandson is going to Love this one. I can't wait to get started on this.

  13. I am new to making hats. Does knitting in the round and magic loop create similar results or are they completely different? Are they just a different term for the same thing

  14. Great hat! I have a new great-granddaughter and need some designs like this!!!!

  15. Magic loop is merely a way to knit in the round, an alternative to double pointed needles if you don't like those. Basically, it means using a circular needle that is way too long, say 40 inches, and you just keep a big loop of the cord hanging out of your knitting while you work. I know that doesn't really explain it adequately, so here's a link.

  16. I have a question about the ears... Do I slip the start of every row knitwise or purlwise or alternate? I'm still a newbie and trying to finish this super cute hat for my boys!

  17. In most patterns, a sl1 is always purlwise, unless otherwise stating. You'll slip that first stitch as if to purl it, with the yarn in front of your work, then bring the yarn to the back between the first and second stitches if the next stitch is a knit.

  18. thank you for sharing this pattern. I knit 3 of them for friends babies this Christmas, and they were a HUGE hit.
    Just adorable!

  19. Hi Carissa,

    I can't get over how cute this pattern is! I've just linked to it from my site:

    Please let me know if it's okay to link to your projects like this in the future.

    Rachel @ AllFreeHolidayCrafts

  20. Thanks for the pattern. I'm in the middle of adapting it to make a Gruffalo hat for my son

  21. My Nephew is a big hunter and having his first son. Can't wait to make this for a cute little "Button Buck", minus red nose.

  22. Hi i am at the ears and at the end where its says to slide stitches to end of dpns as if to knit i-cord? I am lost could you help me with this... :(

    1. If you've never worked i-cord before, here's a little video explaining the method. Basically, I when you get to the end of Row 19 of the ears, instead of turning your work around like you normally do when working rows, you'll keep your double-pointed-needle stationary and slide your stitches to the other end. Then you'll pull your working yarn across the back to start knitting the next row, pulling your first stitch pretty tight to pull up the excess yarn strung across the back.

      Please let me know if that doesn't make sense, and I'll see if I can explain it differently.

    2. What a beautiful cap. I'm going to knit a couple for my nephews. Thank you for the free pattern.

  23. I love this! You said this was the fifth in a series that you've done. Where are the patterns for those?

    1. Well, in 2005 I made Christmas tree hats for my nephew and two cousin's kids, but I didn't use/write a pattern. The next year, it was snowman hats, but again, no pattern. In 2007, I made hats with snowflakes on them and actually wrote out the pattern this time. By 2008, there were two more kids in the family, so I made 5 candy cane hats from this pattern with slight modifications. Then 2009 brought the above Rudolph hats. After that, more numerous children and a job change for me meant the hat tradition went the way of the dinosaur unfortunately, though I still make stuff for my two nephews usually.

  24. Hello, this will be my first attempt at knitting a hat. I have a question for the Crown Shaping: Rnd 1: [k7 (8, 9, 10, 11), k2tog] 6 times. Rnd 2 and all even rnds: knit. Question is: so does this mean I'm stitching round one, then round two then back to round one, etc.? If so, does this mean I'm switching back and forth from round 1 to round 2 three times or 6 times?

    1. The 6 times only applies to the stuff inside the brackets. So you say you're knitting the smallest size, you'll have 54 stitches for the main part of the hat, then the crown shaping will be...

      Rnd 1: [k7, k2tog], [k7, k2tog], [k7, k2tog], [k7, k2tog], [k7, k2tog], [k7, k2tog]. - You're down to 48 stitches now.
      Rnd 2: knit all the way around.
      Rnd 3: [k6, k2tog], [k6, k2tog], [k6, k2tog], [k6, k2tog], [k6, k2tog], [k6, k2tog]. - Now there are 42 stitches.
      Rnd 4: knit all the way around.
      Rnd 5: [k5, k2tog], [k5, k2tog], [k5, k2tog], [k5, k2tog], [k5, k2tog], [k5, k2tog]. - Now there are 36 stitches.
      Rnd 6: knit all the way around.
      Rnd 7: [k4, k2tog], [k4, k2tog], [k4, k2tog], [k4, k2tog], [k4, k2tog], [k4, k2tog]. - Now there are 30 stitches.
      Rnd 8: knit all the way around.
      Rnd 9: [k3, k2tog], [k3, k2tog], [k3, k2tog], [k3, k2tog], [k3, k2tog], [k3, k2tog]. - Now there are 24 stitches.
      Rnd 10: knit all the way around.

      The pattern says to keep decreasing 6 stitches every other round until there are 24 stitches, so this is where we would stop for the smallest size. If you're not making the smallest size, then you'll start your crown shaping with [k8, k2tog] or [k9, k2tog] or [k10, k2tog] or [k11, k2tog], depending on the size you're making. Then every odd-numbered round, you'll knit one fewer stitch between the k2tog's until you have 24 stitches left.

      Regardless of which size you're making, you'll eventually get down to only 24 stitches. Then you'll k2tog 12 times as you're next round. Knit 1 round plain. Then k2tog 6 times as your final round.

      I hope that makes more sense now, but if not, let me know. Happy knitting!

  25. I want you to know that I made your Rudolph hats for my grandsons and they absolutely loved them! Thank you from the bottom of my heart for sharing your pattern!

    1. You're very welcome! I'm so glad they liked their hats!

  26. I made your Rudolph hats for my Grandson's last year and what a hit they were! Everyone absolutely loved them. Even Santa commented on them when they went to see him! Do you have any other hat patterns for the children?

    1. Glad to hear it, Carol! Yes, I do have a few other hat patterns. If you click on the "Knitting" button at the top, you'll find links to all my knitting patterns.

  27. Carissa:
    As you know, I have knitted your Rudolph hat many times and it is always so well received. I made two for my friend's grandchildren and their parents loved them so much that they want me to make one for each of them so the whole family can have them! They also want them before Christmas!! My question is, can you give me any guidance with this. They are very large adults with very large heads. I am not sure if your largest size will fit them. Is there any way I can make this happen for them? Thank you so much for this pattern! Everyone loves it! Any help you can offer will be greatly appreciated!


    1. Carol,
      I'm so sorry for the delayed response. I had to step away from the blog for a little while. Perhaps you can still use this information next Christmas.
      For a 24" head, I would recommend casting on 96 sts, work an inch of two ribbing, and then work even in stockinette stitch until it measures about 6 inches from the cast on. The crown shaping would then start with [k14, k2tog] around, then a knit round, then [k13, k2tog], then a knit round, etc.
      I'd probably work the antlers, ears, and nose the same as for the kids' sizes.

  28. I need to be able to knit the hat for a 24 inch head.

  29. I would like to print this for myself to read on paper! Don't see where I can do this?!!

    1. Copy it (highlight and click CTRL + C) and then paste it into a Word document or Wordpad (CTRL + V)

  30. Hi
    I just love this pattern. Haven't knitted it yet, but there are some words, as a beginner, that I do not understand in the pattern, do you have somewhere to go where I can understand these.

    Examples are:- BO, dpns etc

    1. Of course! There's a link near the top of this post where you can find all my frequently used abbreviations.

  31. I love the snowman hat- what are the directions to add the stripped hat on the snowman?

  32. Nice articles and your information valuable and good articles thank for the sharing information large size Cap End