Sunday, April 26, 2015

Spinnaker Baby Hat - a Free Crochet Pattern

Are your crochet projects mostly girly ones? Mine are. But I never bothered to ask myself why, until Taci's Hats for Brazil came along. That's when I noticed: the sweet little lacy hats seemed to fly off my hook, but when it came to crocheting hats for boys, nothing looked quite right. Why should this be?

After thinking it over, I realised that to me, crochet just looks feminine. Even the individual stitches have a kind of willowy grace that suggests femininity.

So designing this little hat was in the nature of a challenge to myself. I wanted to see if I could come up with a boy-appropriate (but not boy-exclusive) crochet baby hat. And here it is:

Simplicity and texture were the keywords for this project. Spinnaker is made entirely of half-double crochets - what could be simpler than a one-stitch hat? But one-stitch doesn't have to mean one-dimensional. Spinnaker has plenty of interesting (and gender-neutral) texture, which comes from combining traditional hdcs with hdcs worked in the back horizontal bar.

A counter-clockwise swirl gives movement to the textured stripes and a satisfying symmetry to the crown.

Spinnaker features 2 band options: a striped band and a textured band. (Pattern for the textured band will be given in the next Spinnaker post.) The stripey band makes a great colour playground, and looks pretty darn cute with button embellishments:

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Some Technical Details

Spinnaker can be made in any size, from any yarn weight. But (for baby hats at least) I think it looks best in a sock or sport-weight yarn, especially the luscious Z-twist DesigningVashti Lotus yarn* used in the crown of Yellow Spinnaker.

Here are the stats for my sample hats:

Yellow Spinnaker, 14" x 5½ tall"
Gauge: About 5 sts and 5 rows per inch in back-bar hdc
Body: about 80 yards (1 Snack-size ball) of DesigningVashti Lotus (sport weight) colour Lala Yellow
Trim: about 18 yards each of DesigningVashti Lotus, colour White Blaze, and Elegant Yarns Angelic (sock weight), colour Sea Blue
Hook used: US G6/4mm, optional F5/3.75mm for final row of band

Blue Spinnaker, 14¾" x 6 tall"
Gauge: 5 sts and 5 rows per inch in back-bar hdc
Body: about 95 yards Elegant Yarns Angelic (sock weight), colour Sea Blue
Trim: About 20 yards each of DesigningVashti Lotus in White Blaze, and Cascade Yarns Heritage Sock, color Red
Hook used: US H8/5mm, optional G6/4mm for final row of band

*Yes, this is a Shameless Product Endorsement, but I'm not receiving any compensation for it. Last summer at the CGOA conference, Vashti kindly gave me two Snack-size balls of her lovely Lotus, a Z-twist yarn created especially for crocheters. Lotus is a cotton-rayon yarn that gives beautiful drape and amazing stitch definition to crocheted projects. I've been saving my Lotus samples, waiting for the perfect design to come along - and Spinnaker was that perfect project. Thanks, Vashti!

And now, on to the pattern.

Spinnaker Hat

All pattern terminology is American.

Stitch used: Half-double crochet (hdc)

Other techniques used: Working in the back horizontal bar, invisible join, optional mock invisible join.

Mrs. M's Special Spinnaker Abbreviations:
F = normal hdc
B = hdc in the back horizontal bar
(F,B) = work a normal hdc, then, inserting hook into back bar of same stitch, work another hdc (increase formed).

Pattern Notes:
  • Hat is worked Right Side facing at all times.
  • Crown is worked in a spiral; band is worked in joined rounds.
  • The swirl is formed naturally by the increase placement. To keep the "swirl" going all the way down the crown, be sure to omit the last increase on the final increase round.
  • Make sure you can recognize the back horizontal bar of the hdc.
  • To enlarge or shrink the pattern slightly, try going up or down a hook size, or using a heavier or finer yarn.
  • Use a stitch marker (a simple scrap of yarn works well) to mark the beginning of each round.
  • For an adult-sized hat, see the next post.

Spinnaker Chart
  • Chart shows 1 of the 8 segments that make up Spinnaker's crown.
  • To work increase, first make a normal hdc in the indicated stitch, then insert hook into back bar of same stitch and hdc in the back bar.
  • Don't forget to omit the final increase on the final segment of Round 9!

Spinnaker Pattern

Remember - "F" is a normal hdc, "B" is an hdc in the back horizontal bar, and "(F,B)" means you should work an F and a B into the same stitch.
Start with a magic ring, OR Knotless Chain 2.
Round 1: Working in ring, 8 hdc. Do not turn your work, but keep working in a spiral.
Round 2: (F,B) in each hdc around = 16 stitches.
Round 3: [B in next hdc, (F,B) in next hdc] 8 times around = 24 stitches.
Round 4: [F in next hdc, B in next hdc, (F,B) in next hdc] 8 times around = 32 stitches.
Round 5: [B in next hdc, F in next hdc, B in next hdc, (F,B) in next hdc] 8 times around =  40 stitches.
Round 6: [F in next hdc, B in next hdc, F in next hdc, B in next hdc, (F,B) in next hdc] 8 times around = 48 stitches.
Round 7: [B in next hdc, F in next hdc, B in next hdc, F in next hdc, B in next hdc, (F,B) in next hdc] 8 times around = 56 stitches.
Round 8: [B in each of next 2 hdc, F in next hdc, B in next hdc, F in next hdc, B in next hdc, (F,B) in next hdc] 8 times around = 64 stitches.
Round 9: [B in each of next 3 hdc, F in next hdc, B in next hdc, F in next hdc, B in next hdc, (F,B) in next hdc] 7 times around, THEN [B in next 3 hdc, F in next hdc, B in next hdc, F in next hdc, B in next hdc, F in next hdc] = 71 stitches.
Rounds 10 and following: [B in next 4 hdc, F, B, F, B, F] around, working in a spiral.

Repeat Round 10 to desired length of crown, stopping about 1" short of total desired finished length. For striped band, finish as follows. (For same-colour textured band, see next Spinnaker post.)

Striped Band

When crown rounds have been worked to desired length: B in next 4 hdc, skip next (F) hdc, invisible join to next (B) hdc. (Click here for an invisible join tutorial.)
Attach new colour as follows: Inserting hook in BOTH back horizontal bars of any F (protruding) stitch, draw up a loop with new colour. (See photos below for suggested attachment method).
Striped Band Round 1: Ch 1 with new colour OR follow suggested method below (suggested method below counts as the ch-1). Starting in next stitch, hdc in each back horizontal bar around. Join final hdc to 1st hdc of round (skipping over the starting chain-1). Use any join you like; invisible join or mock invisible join (click here for a mock invisible join tutorial) will give the best appearance. Remember that the join counts as a stitch. Attach next colour as before.
Striped Band Rounds 2 - 5: Repeat Round 1, alternating colours as desired on each round.
Striped Band Round 6: With optional smaller hook, repeat Round 1, using the desired colour. (Or you can use the same size hook with a firmer tension.) Join with invisible join.
Weave in ends. Block hat, and embellish as desired.

Some Photo Tips for the Spinnaker Hat:

1. Make sure you can recognize the difference between the top two strands and the back bar of each hdc. Remember that "F" stitches will be made in the top strands, and "B" stitches will be made in the back bar.

2. When making "B" stitches, tilt the work towards you so you can look over the top of the stitch and see the back bar:

Note: On increase stitches, the back bar will tighten up. You may have to wiggle the hook a little to get it through when making the "B" portion of the increase.

3. After the first few rounds, the "F" stitches will be very easy to spot:

Remember that the top of each stitch is above and to the right of the stitch "legs". When working "B" stitches, be sure to insert hook into the proper stitch (it's very easy to accidentally insert the hook one stitch ahead or one stitch behind).

Note: Every "F" stitch should be above and to the left of the "F" stitch below. This is the key to Spinnaker's counterclockwise swirl.

4. Ending the crown: when the crown is long enough, make 4 more "B" stitches, skip a stitch, and invisible join to the next "F" stitch. (The invisible join will sit right on top of the skipped stitch.)

5. Joining new yarn for the Striped Band: insert hook through 2 back bars of any "F" stitch.

This is the method I used:
pull up a loop with new yarn,
with yarn tail, cast on Forward Loop above the loop you pulled up,
pull on yarn tail to tighten loop,
yarn over and draw through both loops on hook.

5. Here is the Striped Band in progress, with first round complete and second round being attached and stitched:

You can end each round with an invisible join, a Mock Invisible join, or use the join of your choice.

(I used the Mock Invisible Join, which allowed me to carry the unused yarn up the back, and left fewer ends to weave in. Not that it matters much on a 6-round band - using the invisible join on every round would leave 6 ends to weave in, while using the Mock Invisible Join left 4. Not much of a time saver when it came to weaving in the ends.)

I do like the way the Mock Invisible joins came out:

Final tip: Using a smaller hook on the last band round will give a tidier edge.


Stay tuned for another Spinnaker post, which will feature instructions for alternative textured band, and copious tips for sizing up the Spinnaker hat pattern.

If you have any questions about this pattern, or find any mistakes in the text, please feel free to ask (or tell) using the comment box below. You can also find me on Ravelry as MrsMicawber.

You may do whatever you like with the items you make from this pattern, but you may not sell the pattern or reproduce its text without permission. (Links to this post are always welcome.)

Thanks for viewing, and happy crocheting!

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  1. Thanks for the pattern.
    Liz @ Shortbread & Ginger

  2. Another brilliant design Sue. I sent five hats off to Taci and now I want to jump in and make some more.

  3. Wow, Sue, thanks a lot for this pattern!
    I will try to make one! xx

  4. It is lovely Sue - a hat that any boy, or girl, would be proud to wear. Well done, you are so clever! Juliex

  5. How cute. I just did a pattern with hdc and when it called for me to crochet into the bar I could never differentiate it from the rest.

  6. They are so cute. Love the nautical feel of them.

  7. What a beautiful design. I'm not a savvy crocheter, but if I were, I would dive right in. The pattern has such a beautiful "rhythm" to it. Well done!
    xo, Ellen.

  8. Sue-- what a beautiful hat and design! Thank you so much for sharing the pattern.

  9. I adore those boy hats! So nautical and classy! It would be a lucky boy to have a hat like that. Having 2 grandsons, maybe I should try one. Thanks for the pattern. ((hugs)), Teresa :-)

  10. That is adorable!

  11. This is so cute! I've been working on a masculine hat, too, and you can probably figure out which yarn I'm using, wink wink, so once again I find it astounding our minds were plowing in the same direction at the same time again!

    Nothing shameful at all about sharing Vashti's gorgeous yarn. How wonderful you had enough of it to work through your project!

  12. What a wonderful hat ! I know Taci appreciates every hat you make, boy or girl. Thank you for the pattern.

  13. Ooh this looks fun! Can't wait for the adult version.
    Rosie xx

  14. Absolutely love this pattern, and thank you so much for sharing it.

  15. How right you are Sue. I've only just noticed that I always crochet for girls and knit for boys. I wonder where this particular prejudice comes from (and what happened to pride).

  16. What a fantastic hat Sue well done you! it is perfect for little boys. When I make a little boys hat it is usually very simple hdc with maybe a motif. Thank you so much for the pattern. :) xx

  17. Thanks for the neat new hat pattern, Sue! I brought your headband pattern along on my 5 day stay at the beach hoping to give it a this pattern tempts me, too. :) Joy to you and yours! xx

  18. I agree that there are much fewer crochet patterns for boys. This pattern is really great.

  19. It's the mystery spiral from before!


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