Tips for Making a Spiral Hat

I made a hat for a friend of mine a while ago as a belated Christmas gift. It was one of my favorite things I’ve made so far: a spiral knit hat. Though it is a project beginners can do, I would recommend not doing this hat as your very first loom knit project (unless you’re someone who does traditional needle knits or crochet and you’re used to following a pattern where the stitches change frequently). It’s too confusing for a beginner who has never done anything on a loom before.

If you’re brand new to loom knitting and looking for something easier to do, start with a knit stitch, a basic rib stitch, or a garter stitch hat pattern. But if you’ve done a few projects already, or you’re a more experienced loom knitter, here are some basic tips to help you with making a spiral hat.

Keep in mind that this isn’t a step-by-step pattern tutorial, but it does cover how I made my hat, what size looms to use, and the process I used to keep track of the pattern.

I’d recommend using a 31-peg, 36-peg or 41-peg loom (basically any loom that is divisible by 5 plus 1). In the pictures below, I used the Loops & Threads 36-peg loom. I found a spiral hat pattern on Pinterest. It was designed for the Knifty Knitter 36-peg loom. While there are multiple ways to do the spiral design, I’ve seen this basic pattern used in a few tutorials.

What you will need to do this project:

  • A round knitting loom (preferably a 31, 36, or 41-peg loom)
  • Two skeins of worsted weight yarn (use a solid color)
  • Your knitting tool / knitting hook and a tapestry needle
  • A crochet hook (optional, for working in the ends when your project is done).
  • Removable stitch markers in 2 different colors or washi tape (make sure you have at least 10-15 stitch markers of each color)  – If you don’t have stitch markers that easily open and close, then you will need to use a different method to track your stitches.

Making the Spiral Hat:

The first step in creating the hat is to make a brim. A lot of times, you’re working with some variation of a rib stitch or a garter stitch. I followed what was in the pattern above. However, you can do knit 1, purl 1 or knit 3, purl 2 if you want the lines of the rib to match the spacing of the spiral pattern.

Here’s a picture of the start of the brim of my hat.

Spiral Hat - Starting the Brim
Photo by Venus – Adventures in Loom Knitting

I’m going to assume that most of you know how to make a brim already and skip that part of the instructions. This post deals with how to work the spiral pattern itself.

Basically to do the spiral, you’re working in a pattern of alternating knit and purl stitches.

A few of the patterns I’ve seen for spiral hats use a combination of knit 3, purl 2 or knit 4, purl 1. This sounds similar to the rib stitch, but the key to the spiral is that the stitches move EVERY round/row.

If you’re like me and you are bad at counting stitches, the best way to make this pattern work is to use peg markers that are removable.

My favorite peg markers for this purpose are the Boye Stitch Markers, which have a clasp that you can open and close. You could also use Clover safety-pin style markers or removable washi tape. It doesn’t matter what kind of stitch marker you choose as long as it is easily removable. The Boye ones are very flexible though, so I tend to prefer them if I’m moving my peg markers a lot. The Clover ones are rigid.

My method of creating the spiral:

If you want to try my method for the spiral pattern, you will need around 10-15 stitch markers in TWO colors if you are making an adult-sized hat (20-30 stitch markers all together).

Essentially, what you will do is mark the start of the knit stitches in one color and the start of purl stitches in another color. You have three knit, and two purl. Repeat.

Stitch Markers for Spiral Hat
Photo by Venus – Adventures in Loom Knitting

In the left side of the picture above, you’ll see that I have put a yellow marker on peg 1 where the knit stitches begin. Peg 4 is the start of the purl stitches and it has a blue stitch marker (see the middle of the photo). Skip one peg to account for the second purl stitch. Then, I’ve put another yellow marker on peg 6, which is where the second set of 3 knit stitches begins. I count three down and put another blue marker on peg 9.

Hopefully this isn’t too confusing. Basically, you just mark every peg where you are switching over from knit to purl or purl to knit.

Continue this k3, p2 pattern as you work your way around. When you get to the end of the row, you will have an extra peg between your last purl and the peg where you started. This is where you are going to start your second row. Now your pattern has moved one peg to the left of where you started (peg 1).

Now move your each of the stitch markers one peg to the left. After you’ve moved all the stitch markers to their new position, you’ll then start doing your knit 3 and purl 2 around the loom.

Every time you start a new row, your starting peg will move to the left.

Note: There are other methods that you can use to make a spiral hat without using a marker at the start of your knit and purl pegs.

And, if you don’t have enough stitch markers or moving that many stitch markers every row is too time consuming, you can just mark where your purls start, if that is easier.

The main reason I use stitch markers is that I know myself and I get easily distracted. If the phone rings or if I’m watching a movie and I get caught up in what is happening, I might not realize I’ve skipped a stitch on the pattern. Having colored markers makes it so that I always know where I am on the pattern—as long as I move the stitch markers after I complete each row.

Once you get the hang of the pattern, you’ll keep going one row/round at a time until you get the hat long enough. To gauge the length, I basically tried the hat on (still attached to the loom) to see if it was long enough. I’m not good at counting an exact number of rows. I either have to eyeball the project or I need measure by inches/cm.  Since I was making a hat for an adult woman, I used my own head to test the hat until it was long enough.

[Here is a guide I found on Goodnight Kisses which gives a length and circumference for loom knitted hats]

I used the basic method for closing a hat – sewing each loop on the pegs with a plastic tapestry/darning needle and then taking it off the loom and pulling it like a drawstring and sewing it closed. You can find tutorials for this Youtube. TIP: I do use a jumbo Clover needle for a lot of my projects as it has a large eye which can accommodate bulky yarns or multiple threads of worsted-weight yarn. You can find these at JoAnn, Amazon, and Michaels.

I made my spiral hat without a pom pom, but you can definitely add one at the top.

Color Choices:

The friend I designed the hat for loves yellow, so I made this with two Red Heart Super Saver yarns in two different shades of yellow (bright yellow and pale yellow). The hat reminds me of popcorn.

For the spiral to show really well, you want to use solid color yarns rather than a multi-color/variegated yarn. You could use two similar colors as I did. But you don’t want to use a rainbow yarn as it might not pick up the spiral as well.

Hopefully this made sense! It’s a little hard to explain without a video, but I hope this was helpful.

What is your favorite method for marking stitch changes in a loom pattern?