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Autumn Fair Isle Knit Hat (with free chart!)

It's the most wonderful time of the year...AUTUMN!

Well, I guess not technically until the 23rd, but I count all of September as autumn. In fact, I'm one of those obnoxious people who starts baking pumpkin bread and prepping for Halloween in August, LOL. It's just my favorite time of year.

Planning My Hat

Last winter, I knit some hats for myself and my kids, seen below. I loved how they turned out, especially the fair isle leaf pattern on mine. I love to use color work and fair isle in my knitting. It's probably my favorite knitting method. These hats were also nice in that they were a relatively quick project. (I have a short attention span when it comes to crafting. I also started a sweater last fall. It's only halfway done.) This year, in my excitement for the coming autumn months, I started a plan for a new fall-themed hat.

My winter hats from last year. The two on the left were for my kids. The one on the right is one I knit for myself.

I started with a little sketch, just to get a little idea and some inspiration. You'll see that these aren't the patterns that ended up in my final design necessarily, but I still got an overall look and color palette from this sketch.
My initial sketches and ideas

Choosing My Yarn

Now that I had a color palette in mind, I found my yarn. I came across an Etsy shop called Black Sheep Dye Works that sold mini skeins of hand-dyed wool yarn in beautiful colors. I opted for the Create Your Own set, which included 5 colors. FYI, the colors I used were marigold, lettuce tonal, bark tonal, copper, and moss tonal. The yarns were sock-weight, which would be good for color work without making the hat too heavy and bulky—it is meant for autumn weather after all, not freezing cold winters. (Note: For the main color in my hat found at the top and brim—the dark brown, or bark tonal—I needed to supplement with another similar yarn as the mini skein was not enough, so if you use this yarn, plan better than I did and buy an extra skein.)

Charting My Design

My method for this hat was a combination of my own designs with bits and pieces from other sources, such as the base pattern and part of the fair isle chart.

Before I created my fair isle chart, I found a base pattern. (I probably should have done this BEFORE buying yarn, but it all worked out!) The one I chose was this free pattern for a fair isle slouchy beanie from CraftPassion. It had a similar look and gauge to what I was looking for. Obviously, though, I changed the color scheme, and inserted my own design in the fair isle section of the pattern.

Next, I created my fair isle chart. I have a graph paper notebook where I plan my designs. I used colored pencils to fill in the squares to get a good idea of how the colors and designs would come together in the final piece. Since the fair isle section was worked over 144 stitches in the pattern, I made sure to make my repeats fit evenly. The smaller sections were repeats of 3, 6, or 12 stitches. The large leaf pattern is a 36-stitch repeat. I also made sure the whole chart was close to the number of rows as the chart in my base pattern, which was worked over 48 rows. Mine ended up at 49.

Now, I can't take ownership for the large leaf portion of the design—and I like to give credit where it is due. I found it on Pinterest, which only linked back to another repin site. I did some searching, and as best I can tell, the original source is this French blog post. It was originally a cross stitch pattern. I did modify it slightly to fit into a 36 stitch repeat. I will say that it does not make the easiest fair isle pattern to knit since it contains pretty large gaps between colors, but I just made sure to carry my second yarn behind my work every five or six stitches.

The Fun Part—Knitting

Finally, I could begin knitting. As it was a long holiday weekend, I had some free time to kill, and it knit up pretty quickly. I do usually like to knit hats on a circular needle, but I only had double pointed ones in the size I needed. I find that double pointed needles make things more confusing on top of all the strands of yarn to keep track of, so I just had to make sure I was VERY organized and methodical. There were one or two dropped stitches along the way, but nothing I wasn't able to fix. I actually knit part of it backwards (the green branches) because I got confused with which way to read my chart, haha. Since I was working top down, you just have to go from left to right. When I work bottom up, like I usually do, it would be right to left. But no matter, the design looked fine either way! 

Like I mentioned before, some portions of the chart weren't ideal for fair isle and required carrying the secondary yarn behind the work across large gaps. I'll probably work on a better chart design if I ever make another—and get myself a circular needle!

After all this planning, charting, knitting, finishing, and blocking, here is the end result!

Free Chart!

As a gift to my fellow knitters, I've cleaned up the fair isle chart that I sketched in my notebook and have created a free printable. You can download it by clicking on the image below. Remember, you can find the full hat pattern at the original source (linked in the article and below). Just substitute their fair isle chart with this one, and use the appropriate colors.

Click to download this free printable chart.



Black Sheep Dye Works on Etsy

Fair Isle Beanie pattern via CraftPassion


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