My go-to handmade baby gift is to knit up a hat. They are cute and little, which usually means they are a quick and easy knitting project. And my go-to baby hat book is Itty Bitty Hats by Susan B. Anderson. My knitting group could probably start a fan club for the Itty Bitty Knitting books. I think we all own at least one copy from her book collection, if not more.
I decided to go for a classic Ear Flap Hat (Inca Snowflake in Itty Bitty Hats) for my friend B’s impending arrival. There’s nothing like some good ol’ road- trip-knitting to get me started (reason #357 why I love to knit: it’s mobile!).
Sometime’s I choose to skip the extra finishes in patterns, but I decided to go for the crocheted edge this time – as you can see below, it really helps the hat hold it’s shape (see the left earflap with edging vs. the messy curly right earflap) – and was also a good excuse to get reacquainted with my crochet hook (we’re long lost friends).
I also decided to line this hat with fleece to make it extra warm for Minnesota winter. Did you know that fleece stretches only one way? I learned this the hard way after cluelessly lining my nephew’s hat with fleece and then couldn’t get it on his sweet little head. It’s important to plan your lining to accommodate some around-the-head stretch and room to grow.
To line the hat, I fold the fleece in half, and pin my hat to the fabric with one edge of the hat lined up with the fold. Then I simply cut around the hat, leaving a small allowance (1/4″ or so) around the edge, and leaving the fold untouched. The folded edge allows you to only have one seam in the fleece lining, which I put in the back of the hat.
I then cut straight across the top of the lining, about an inch down from the top of the hat – this just keeps it simple. Nobody sees the inside, right?
Once I have my lining cut out, I flip the hat inside out, and pin the lining in, trimming any excess fleece where my allowance was too much (better to have to much to trim, than to be short!). Using a regular sewing needle and thread, I whip stitched my way around the outside, whip stitched the back seam of the fleece, and then did some pretty loose stitches across the straight top of the lining to allow for some wiggle room up there.
The lining not only gives a good dose of coziness, but it also adds some solid structure and color contrast to the finished piece. For any yarn connoisseurs, this was my first time using Malibrigo (Rios Superwash Merino), and it lives up to it’s high user ratings. Soft texture and a smooth knit!
Even if you’re not a knitter, crocheter, or general hat-maker, it’s easy to make any hat warmer by adding some fleece – a simple band that goes around the lower ear-covering portion of the hat would be an easy fix for those day long snow fort adventures!