Tag Archives: wool yarn

How to: Felted Winter Cloche

10 Dec
First row

First row cast on

It suddenly turned frigid in Savannah with low temperatures in the 20s at night. I discovered that I didn’t have a good winter hat, and as a knitter, I’m not sure how I got myself into this situation. I initially modeled my design on the Monmouth cap, which was worn in sixteenth and seventeenth century Europe and early colonial America. Why? I don’t know. Maybe because it’s a simple pattern that can be easily “freestyle fashioned” into anything.

To create this winter cloche, I started with Paton’s  Classic Wool, a medium weight, 100% wool yarn. My color was harvest, but the color pictured here is rosewood. This is a great wool for felting because it is good quality, but is very regular not that terribly interesting when knitted. I measured my head and calculated my gauge, casting 84 stitches onto size 6 circular needles to make a 22-inch brim, which fits loosely on my head. It is crucial that none of your stitches are twisted when you start to knit on circular needles. If one stitch is twisted around the needle, you will create a Möbius strip, which is its own interesting knitting project, but will never be a hat.

purl rows

purl two rows

Knit in the round until the circle measure 2.5 inches. Then purl two rows. After purling, continue knitting another 4-5 inches depending on how big your head is. Err on the side of larger, because you will be felting this hat, so it will shrink.

ready for decrease rows

The hat is ready for the decrease rows

At this point, I like to transfer the hat from circular needles to double pointed needles, because it is easier to work. You can leave the hat on circular needles, or even knit the whole hat on double points, it’s entirely a matter of personal preference. Either way, split the stitches into four equal sections, with one section on each needle or add stitch markers to your circular needles.

Decrease by knitting two stitches together at the beginning of each needle or at each stitch marker.

binding off the top

ready to bind off the top

When there are four stitches left, clip the end of the yarn leaving a few inches of slack. Use a thick needle to thread the last four stitches and stick the needle down through the top of the hat. Tie off the end inside of the hat.

the hat so far

the hat so far

Turn your hat inside out and fold the brim at the two purl rows. Use safety pins to hold the brim in place. The brim will really, really want to roll, but is is important to keep it flat and in place so it isn’t twisted when you sew it in place.

brim folded and safety pinned

brim folded and safety pinned



Cut a length of yarn 2-3 times the circumference of the brim. Use a thick needle to sew the brim into place, catching every stitch along the edge. Tie off the end securely.

Sewing the brim in place

Sewing the brim in place

Now the knitting is complete, and the hat is ready for felting.



completely knitted hat

completely knitted hat

I must admit to being rather felting-challenged. I have failed many times, before getting it right this time. The traditional method of felting was hand scrubbing the knitted item with a detergent in very hot water until the wool shrunk and  fused together into fabric. Today’s method is your washing machine and dryer.

I put my hat in my washing machine with a load of towels, and washed in warm water. The “scrubbing” effect of the water and heat caused the hat to felt.What doesn’t work: putting your knitted hat in the machine by itself.  If you want to felt your hat further, throw it in the dryer. The high heat in the dryer will very strongly felt knitted wool.

My finished hat

Modeling my finished hat.




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