Little Fair Isle Hat

Before learning how to knit, I loved and admired Fair Isle knitting but always assumed that it was reserved for an elite few gold medal knitters, the kind who apprenticed on their grandmothers' knees before they could even walk. Now, of course, I know that I should never have been so intimidated!

What looks so intricate is actually just a matter of knitting first with one color and then with a second, switching between the two as the pattern slowly emerges and blossoms into a fascinating and surprising design. Fair Isle is really one of the most fun things you can do in knitting!

If you've never done it, this Little Fair Isle Hat is a great place to start, small and manageable. And if you're a veteran of the craft, then you'll appreciate the speed of this sweet knit. Either way, some baby, toddler or child somewhere is going to be sporting a very pretty hat, made by you!

It's true that an intrinsic economic difficulty of Fair Isle knitting is the necessity for small amounts of many colors. I was so happy to sidestep this problem with Koigu's little 11 yard skeins of KPM Needlepoint Yarn. They're wonderfully soft, beautiful and affordable. And with over 150 hand dyed colors to choose from, the fancy knitting may end up being the easiest part!

P.S. We also have a pattern for the adorable sweater! Just visit our Easy Baby Pullover project journal right here!

The Materials


The Pattern


7 stitches = 1 inch in stockinette stitch

Finished Sizes

Baby (Toddler, Kid): 14 (16, 18) inches in circumference (The hat pictured here is a Toddler size.)


With the circular needles and the Main Color (MC), cast on 98 (112, 126) stitches.

Place a marker and join for working in the round, being careful to not twist the stitches.

Round 1: *P1, k1, repeat from * to end of round.

Repeat Round 1 six more times.

Now follow this chart, starting in the lower right corner and reading from right to left. Repeat each line to the end of the round (7, [8, 9] times), then move up the chart, always starting from the right. Remember to change colors as the chart's colors change!

With the MC, knit until piece measures 4 1/4 (5, 5 3/4) inches from the cast on edge.

The Crown

Kid Size, Start Here:

Round 1: *K7, k2tog, repeat from * to end of round. 112 stitches

Rounds 2 and 3: Knit.

Continue on to Round 1 of the Toddler Size.

Toddler Size, Start Here:

Round 1: *K6, k2tog, repeat from * to end of round. 98 (98) stitches

Rounds 2 and 3: Knit.

Continue on to Round 1 of the Baby Size.

Baby Size, Start Here:

Round 1: *K5, k2tog, repeat from * to end of round. 84 stitches, all sizes

Rounds 2 and 3: Knit.

Round 4: *K4, k2tog, repeat from * to end of round. 70 stitches

Rounds 5: Knit.

Round 6: *K3, k2tog, repeat from * to end of round. 56 stitches

Round 7: Knit.

Round 8: *K2, k2tog, repeat from * to end of round. 42 stitches

Round 9: *K1, k2tog, repeat from * to end of round. 28 stitches

Round 10: *K2tog, repeat from * to end of round. 14 stitches

Round 11: Repeat last round. 7 stitches

Round 12: [K2tog] 3 times, k1. 4 stitches

The Top Loop

Slip all 4 stitches onto one double pointed needle so that the last stitch you knit is at the left end of the needle.

Knit a 2 1/2 inch I-cord. Bind off, cut the yarn, and pull the tail through the remaining stitch.

To form the top loop, bring the tail to the inside of the hat, pulling the very tip of the I-cord along with it. As you weave in the tail, sew the I-cord tip to the inside of the hat.

Weave in all the ends and gently block your pretty new hat!

Click here to add a comment

26 Responses to Little Fair Isle Hat

  1. Abby says:

    Love this hat and can't wait to make it for my niece. And the adorable sweater? Pattern name please???

  2. purl bee says:

    Hi Abby-

    We will be posting the pattern for the sweater later this month so stay tuned.
    Thanks for your question!


  3. merogers says:

    Loooove this pattern. Cant wait to cast on, hope to whip up a few for shower gifts…

  4. Melanie says:

    Abby took the words right out of my mouth. Adorable sweater!! This post was sent to me by a friend who knows my granddaughter because the child in the photo looks just like her.

  5. peg stoecklein says:

    How about an adult size version of this hat and up-coming sweater?!!

  6. janetta says:

    Ditto the need for this darling Koigu sweater in an adult version !! please and thank you

  7. Miriam says:

    Love the hat! Was ordering the materials and you are out of many of the neelepoint yarn colors. Can you order more and let me know when they are back in stock. Would love to make one soon :)

  8. purl bee says:

    Hi Miriam-

    If you'd like to get an email when we get the colors back in stock please drop us a line at with a list of the colors you're looking for.

    Thank you for your question!


  9. Alison Duncan says:


    Can this pattern be increased to make an adult sized hat? How would I go about doing that…? Do you just add stitches each row or will that make the hat go out of shape?

    Thanks for your help,

  10. purl bee says:

    Hi Alison,

    For an adult size hat you can cast on either 140 or 154 stitches. One hundred and forty will give you a 20 inch circumference and 154 will end up 22 inches around.

    For both sizes I would knit about 6 or 7 inches before starting the decreases. And for the 20 inch size, you should start the decreases with k8, k2tog, and for the 22 inch size, start with k9, k2tog.

    Please let me know if you'd like further clarification or if you have any questions! And good luck!


  11. KRB says:

    Any word on the sweater yet? I have a 5-month-old niece I'm dying to make that sweater for – the hat is already in the works!

    Please and thank you very much,

  12. purl bee says:

    Hi KRB-

    Yes, the pattern is available here:

    Thank you for your question!


  13. Donna says:

    Thank you so much for all these great patterns on your lovely site, plus your generous help and tips. I just love love love this little hat and since I've been intimidated by Fair Isle, I am going to dive in and attempt this after your intro. I cringe when I see a chart. Do I read it left to right every single time? Every single row? I have no knitters available to help me… Thanks ahead of time for any tips and help. Cheers!

  14. purl bee says:

    Hi Donna,

    Your question asks if you read every row of the chart from “left to right”, but actually you read every row from right to left, just as you knit.

    I'm so glad you've decided to take the plunge into Fair Isle knitting. It is a truly rewarding technique! Please let me know if you encounter any more questions. I'd be happy to help!


  15. Newbie says:

    Hi! I'm new to knitting with patterns but I love this one so much!! Just to clarify, when knitting the fair isle design, do I stockinette stitch?
    Please make more fair isle designs!

  16. purl bee says:

    Hi Newbie,

    Yes! It is in stockinette stitch, but because the hat is knit in the round, stockinette is created by knitting every stitch.

    I admire your bravery! Good luck!


  17. Sharon says:

    Hi Whitney,

    I've been an amateur knitter for several years (and a huge fan of Purl!) and have been DYING to learn the fair isle technique. I've tried it on my own a bit, and I always feel like something's not quite right and I end up giving up. I think this hat will be my next fair isle project and hopefully I'll get it this time, but some tips for a new fair isler especially related to handling the different colors would be really great! Thanks!!

  18. donatella says:


    I love this pattern so I decided to give it a try (first time fair isle for me), but even though I have followed the instructions precisely, and bought exactly the same needle (equivalent euro size) and the same yarn (same brand), the size does not look right.
    The hat looks tiny enough for a newborn, although I followed the instruction for the toddler (126 stiches)… I have undone and done it again three times and it is still not working. Any idea what went wrong ?

    Thank you for your time and lovely ideas.

  19. pooja says:

    many of these colors are out of stock! do you have any other color combination recommendations? the hat is beautiful and i am eager to try and knit it for my baby cousin!

  20. purl bee says:

    Hi Donatella,

    It sounds like you have a gauge problem. Knitting needle sizes are given as a recommendation, but you should always use the size you need to get the proper gauge. You're probably a tight knitter (at least when fair isle gets involved!), and so you might need to use needles one or two (or even three!) sizes bigger that what the pattern recommends.

    Here is a useful introduction to the topic of gauge:

    I hope this helps and that you're not too frustrated to try again. I admire your persistence so far!


  21. purl bee says:

    Hi Pooja,

    Another beautiful color combination, that still stays in the neutral world of the original version would be # 2390.5, 2423, 2424, 1305, and 2360.

    I hope this helps and thank you so much for asking!


  22. Nicole says:

    In row 8 of the pattern, shouldn’t it be the first color instead of the second?

    • Whitney from the Purl Bee says:

      Hi Nicole,

      Are you talking about the eighth round of the fair isle chart? If so, it correctly starts with the contrast color (each “branch” of the “tree” is two stitches high).

      If you’re talking about a different part of the pattern, or if I haven’t answered your question, please let me know and we’ll get straightened out!
      Thanks for your question!


  23. Molly C says:

    This is an absolutely beautiful little hat and I can’t wait to get started!. Only instead of knitting it, I’m going to attempt to crochet it. Wish me luck!

  24. Cassandra says:

    I am planning to knit this for my nephew, but I was wondering, if I used a main color and just one additional color for the fair isle pattern, how many skeins of the needlepoint yarn would I need?

    • Whitney from the Purl Bee says:

      Hi Cassie,

      I’m not honestly sure, but I think you would be safe with three skeins but may only need two. And just so you know, if you wind your skeins into balls as you need them, you can return any unused, unwound skeins for store credit within six months of purchasing them.

      Thanks for asking and please let us know if you have any other questions!


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