Every year our office dresses up for Halloween with a group theme, and this year they chose the Seven Dwarfs (ala Snow White). I made the foolish offer to make the hats, and the race to knit them in time was on. Actually, it didn’t become a race until the last ten days before we needed them, which was a Halloween benefit on October 22nd.
I found several felted dwarf hats on-line, and let my coworkers choose the pattern they liked best. The vote went for the Gnome Hat and Beard designed by Sally Pointer. I highly recommend her pattern; it is inexpensive and easy to understand. I modified it somewhat, because we wanted an edge we could fold or not, and we wanted the top tip to be rounded rather than pointed. In fact, I modified it enough that I feel okay about sharing my hat pattern with you here.
I used Lion Wool, because it was inexpensive, I could order it on-line, and there were a variety of colors so we could each have a different color. However, you could use any medium weight 100% wool, as I did for the eighth hat when we needed a substitute dwarf for the event. (Then I used Plymouth Yarn Galway worsted, which was actually more pleasant to knit with.) The amount of yarn varies depending on the size of your subject’s head. For those with smaller heads, who didn’t want a particularly long hat, 300 yards was plenty. For those with larger heads and/or longer hats I used 420 to 450 yards. I knitted in the round with 16″ Addi Turbo, and then switched to double-pointed needles at the end.
- For heads about 22″ to 23″, I cast on 112 stitches. For larger heads I cast on 130-135 stitches.
- Do seed stitch for the first five rows, with a marker to let you know where each row begins (this helps later).
- Do 25-50 rows of plain knitting, to give the hat height before it begins to decrease to the point. The more the plain knitting, the taller the hat.
- When you are ready to decrease, do it once per row. You want to do the decrease in different places, so there isn’t an obvious line. I put a second marker immediately after the decrease (a simple knit 2 together or K2tog), and on the next row counted nine after that to do the decrease, and so on.
- Keep knitting and decreasing until you have 40 stitches left; as you advance the decrease marker, there will be some rows that don’t actually have a decrease (strictly speaking).
- This is where I switched to the double-pointed needles (and that begin row marker helps.)
- (Knit 3, K2tog) across round; end with 32 stitches. (My sincere thanks to Crazy Aunt Purl for this finishing bit!)
- (Knit 2, K2tog) across round; end with 24 stitches.
- (Knit 1, K2tog) across round; end with 16 stitches.
- Cut the yarn, leaving about 10″ of tail. Use a yarn needle to pull the thread through the remaining 16 stitches (maybe twice), and tie it off.
- Weave in all the ends. The nice thing about felting is that these don’t have to be perfect; you can even knot the yard together when you start a new skein, and the knots won’t show!
Felt the hat by throwing it in the washing machine with hot water. I found one cycle (no rinse) was enough, but if you have one of those super-charged agitators, you might want to check it sooner. Check it for size on the intended wearer, and remember it will shrink about another 1/2″ as it dries. Now is the time for the wearer to decide how they want to personalize the hat; some folded up the bottom edge, some folded the tip one way or the other. We blocked the hats with towels and plastic bags as they dried, checking fit again every few hours at first to do some stretching if the hats were getting a bit tight. It takes 24-48 hours for the hats to dry (depending on the heat in the room).
If you also want a dwarf beard, you will need to order the pattern from Sally Pointer (referenced above). Don’t under-estimate the time it takes to make them! But they really do add a nice finishing touch to the whole dwarf look. 🙂