The Boyfriend Hat

In Levis, flannel button downs, canvas sneakers, and grandpa cardigans, a friend of mine and I used to laugh that rather than dressing for the boys we wished we were dating, we dressed like the boys we wished we were dating. And the funniest part was that despite our different taste in men, somehow our fantasies of their wardrobes were identical. Some things are for the everyman and, as it turns out, for the everywoman too.

I designed the Boyfriend Hat with the versatility of any timeless article of clothing. Man or woman, wear it slouchy or cuffed. Pull it down taut or let it hover above the ears. Cuff it twice for a Wes Anderson style watchman cap.

Knit up with two different colored strands of Purl Soho’s Line Weight merino, the effect is gently marled and toasty warm. In a tight 1 x 1 rib, this hat is also exceptionally elastic and durable, hugging the head and feeling decadently soft, even through winter’s wear and tear.

The Boyfriend Hat is the hat you wish he had so you could steal it from him. Or is it the hat you have that he wants to steal from you? I don’t know… Just make two. -Laura


  • Yarn A: 1 skein of Purl Soho's Line Weight, 100% merino. I used the color Heirloom White.
  • Yarn B: 1 skein of Purl Soho's Line Weight, 100% merino. I used the color Toasted Charcoal for the Women's Small and Oyster Gray for the Women's Medium/Men's Small.
  • A US #3, 16-inch circular needle
  • A set of US #3 double pointed needles
  • 4 stitch markers, 1 of which is a different color or type to indicate beginning of round


9 3/4 stitches and 8 1/2 rows = 1 inch in 1 x 1 rib, unstretched


Women's Small (Women's Medium/Men's Small, Women's Large/Men's Medium, Men's Large)
  • Finished Circumference: 14 3/4 (16 1/2, 18, 19 3/4) inches, un-stretched, comfortably stretching to approximately 19 3/4 (21 1/2, 23, 24 3/4) inches
  • Finished Height: 9 1/2 (9 3/4, 10, 10 1/4) inches



With one strand of Yarn A and one strand of Yarn B, cast 144 (160, 176, 192) stitches onto the circular needle. Place marker and join for working in the round, being careful not to twist stitches.

Round 1: *K1, p1, repeat from * to end of round.

Repeat Round 1 until piece measures 8 inches from cast on edge.

Shape Top of Hat

NOTE: Switch to double pointed needles when necessary.

Set-Up Round: [Work 36 (40, 44, 48) stitches in established 1 x 1 rib pattern, place marker] three times, work in established pattern to end of round.

Round 1: *[K1, p1] four times, k1, k2tog, work in established pattern to 2 stitches before next marker, ssk, repeat from * to end of round. [8 stitches decreased]

Round 2: *[K1, p1] four times, k1, p2tog, work in established pattern to 2 stitches before next marker, p2tog tbl, repeat from * to end of round. [8 stitches decreased]

Repeat Rounds 1 and 2 five (six, seven, eight) more times. [48 stitches]

Next Round: *Ssk, [k1, p1] two times, k1, k2tog, p1, k1, p1, repeat from * to end of round. [40 stitches]

Next Round: *Ssk, p1, k1, p1, k2tog, p1, k1, p1, repeat from * to end of round. [32 stitches]

Next Round: *Ssk, k1, k2tog, p1, k1, p1, repeat from * to end of round. [24 stitches]

Finish Hat

Cut yarns and thread them onto a tapestry needle. Draw the needle through the remaining stitches. Pull tight and bring tails to inside of hat to weave in.

Weave in remaining tails and block as desired.

45 Responses to The Boyfriend Hat

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  1. Kris Van Allen says:

    What cast on did you choose for these samples, giving them such a nice edge?

  2. santaananana says:

    Thanks for the great pattern. One question.. where instructions say to knit till piece measures 8 inches from cast on edge. Is this the same for all sizes? or is that just for the smallest size?

  3. iris says:

    These are lovely, simple hats. 'Would definitely work great for both genders!
    I've found that Stephen West's Botanic Hat is also very popular with the dudes, if you want something with a bit more intricacy (color work, pattern, etc):

  4. Hello, I am new to your blog, but looking forward to reading more. I cannot knit, but I crochet, so I am in awe of your hats, they look great and nice and cosy for this time of year. xx

  5. Lizy Tish says:

    A great ribbed hat! I love the simplicity and clean look of this hat and the two colors are great.

  6. Colleen says:

    I love this simple, adorable, classic looking hat!!! My only thought is does the pattern use all 2 skeins? Or can you get 2 hats out of the 2 skeins?

    Thank you

  7. purl bee says:

    Hi Kris,
    I used a cable cast on. We have a photo tutorial for a cable cast on. It shows a mid-row cable cast one, but the concept is the same.

  8. purl bee says:

    Hi Santaananana,
    Yes, all sizes knit until the piece measures 8 inches tall.

    Because of the difference in the number of cast on stitches, the larger the size, the more decrease rounds, and therefore more height. But everyone does start the Shaping section of the pattern after working for 8 inches.

    Glad you like the pattern. Let us know if you have any more questions.

  9. susan k says:

    this hat is a must!
    just contemplating how other color combos would look?

  10. Ivy says:

    Beautiful pattern! I'm wondering if one could substitute a worsted-weight yarn instead of holding to fingering-weight yarns together?


  11. Jessica says:

    I have been dreaming of a simple, beautiful hat like this. Thank you for the wonderful pattern!

  12. Mary M says:

    Hello…how many yards of yarn are needed for this hat?

    Thanks! Mary

  13. Paula says:

    I'm wondering how many hats you get from the two skeins.
    Thanks! Looks like fun!!

  14. Katyj47 says:

    Who wouldn't love this simple, unisex, hat! Can you suggest some other color combos? I'm thinking of using the two shades of gray, but open to guidance. Thanks

  15. purl bee says:

    Hi Paula + Mary M + Colleen + et al…

    The largest size hat uses approximately 460 yards of Purl Soho's Line Weight, this means that, with Purl Soho's Line Weight, you can get
    - 1 single-color hat from 1 skein (pulling two strands of the same color)
    - 2 multi-color hats from 2 skeins (pulling one strand of each color yarn)

    I will add this note to the pattern as well!
    Thanks for asking and writing in.

  16. purl bee says:

    Hi Ivy,
    Thanks for writing in.
    As for substituting a yarn, if you want to use a single strand of yarn, I think a DK weight yarn would be most similar in gauge. I would test any and all yarns you are considering using by swatching first of course. Worsted weight yarn seems a bit too thick or dense for the desired fabric.
    Let us know how it goes!

  17. purl bee says:

    Hi Katyj47,
    Oh goodness, what a question! There are so many good combinations.
    I love your idea of doing two grays together. For a more heathered look, I think that Oyster Gray + Storm Gray would be beautiful or Storm + Toasted Charcoal. Or, if you wanted higher contrast you could pull Oyster + Toasted Charcoal.
    I of course also love the classic Heirloom White + Timeless Navy, but that's a whole different direction…

  18. Donna Ferrara says:

    Love your projects! this is just a suggestion. I have been making a lot of hats, and I find it very helpful to see a picture of the hat on someones head. Then I can really see the fit and style.
    thank you!

  19. Sarah says:

    Love this hat. I have one skein of anzula squishy in my stash (385 yards) and would make the smallest size for myself. Could I get there in one skein holding two strands? It seems like it…thank you!

  20. purl bee says:

    Hi Sarah,
    Are you pulling one strand of Squishy or two strands of the Squishy. Squishy is actually quite a bit thicker than the Line Weight. If you knit it at the gauge suggested here, it may be too dense of a fabric for a comfortable and flexible hat. I would definitely make a swatch first. I have made hats from Squishy, it's wonderful. For one of my favorite hats I pulled one strand of Squishy and one strand of Jade Sapphire's 2Ply Cashmere. It was actually the prototype for these. Anyway…

    That being said, if you are pulling two strands, my best guess is that you are going to be cutting it close, but I think you'll be fine. I thin your row gauge will be different from mine. Once you start working it up, if it seems to be taking more yarn than you expected, you can always knit it a 1/2 inch less before beginning the decreases, just to be on the safe side.

    Thanks for writing in.
    Let us know how it goes!

  21. Lovely ! Can't wait to start knitting!

  22. Melissa says:

    Hello ladies: I just finished my hat and perhaps my decreasing was off, but on the last three rounds I did the ssk … k2tog decreases and then my sts after that were P1, K1, P1 in order to stay in pattern. Maybe I missed something, but I read my knitting like a good girl and knit P1, K1, P1 and it turned out fine. I'm curious to see if it happens again on my next version.

  23. purl bee says:

    Hi Melissa,
    I love the colors you used! Thanks for sharing the link to your hat. I have looked over the pattern a few times and I strongly believe it is correct. I am wondering if perhaps you began your decrease too soon or too late?

    When decreasing before those last three rounds, you are decreasing along the edges of four sections of 9 stitches; never decreasing within the section of 9 stitches, only decreasing between the sections. In the last three rounds, the decreases are within those sections of 9 stitches. You ssk those first k1 and p1, and you k2tog the last p1, k1 and between the decreases, on the first round, you should have k1, p1, k1, p1, k1. On the second round, between the decreases, you should have between them, p1, k1, p1. On that last round you should have just a k1.

    Please let us know how your second one goes! I'm thrilled you're making another.
    Thanks again for writing in.

  24. Alice says:

    Hi, This hat is really cute! Is there a way to do one more decrease round that would not throw the pattern off. I hope to end up with twelve stitches to lessen the hole at the top of the hat.
    Thanks so much !

  25. Linda, Castlemaine Australia says:

    OMG – you are aware that us knitting folk are endearing not just for our craft skills but also our superstitions? So the "boyfriend" hat is putting it right out there – never knit anything for a boyfriend, only for a husband….

  26. purl bee says:

    Hi Alice,
    If you wanted to do another round of decreases, after the last round of decreasing which leaves you with 24 stitches, then…
    Next Round: *Sskp, k1, p1, k1, repeat from * to end of round. [16 stitches]

    To sskp [slip slip knit pass]: slip two stitches together as if to knit, knit one, pass two slipped stitches over knit stitch and off needle; two stitch decrease
    Let me know if you have any questions!

  27. purl bee says:


    I've heard of withholding sweater knitting until after your nuptials, but not knitting for your boyfriend at all?!?! I hope this is an Australian thing, if not I might be in trouble…


  28. I love the classic look of these hats. I bet my husband would love to have one. I linked to this post on my weekly craft roundup on CraftsCrazy.

  29. Catherine says:

    @katyj47 and @laura — wouldn't Sea Salt be divine mixed with . . . . well, anything? Hard to tell from the website (need to come into the City for my Purl Soho fix, soon), but it looks wonderful. I've got Heirloom White and Toasted Charcoal on the needles now. God love the folks who can whip off a hat on Size 3's in a day or two. I'm not one of them. I would buy a few more colors, though, just because I LOVE the way it feels.

  30. Amy says:

    I what wondering if I could get some tips as to how to pick out an appropriate substitute yarn for this pattern. I love love love this hat and am dying to make it, but I don't have access to your yarn. Thanks so much for posting this great pattern!

  31. purl bee says:

    Hi Amy,
    I'm happy to help you with substituting a yarn. The most important thing to look at is the gauge. It would be ideal if you could find a yarn that you can get 9 3/4 stitches to the inch in a 1 x 1 rib. And again, ideally, on a US3 or similar needle.

    If you'd like to pull two strands I suggest a thin fingering or a lace weight yarn (like I used here). If you are pulling just one strand, I suggest looking at thick Sport Weight or a DK weight yarn.

    I would stick with a sheep's wool rather than cashmere or alpaca. The natural elasticity in wool pairs wonderfully with the ribbing in the hat, providing extra stretch and hug.
    Please write back if you have any questions at all!

  32. Melissa says:

    Hi again Laura,
    Ok. I'm finishing off my second hat and have come upon the same issue with the decreases. And I re-read our convo and I think my explanation was misunderstood. So, here's another try. After completing the sequence of the two repeated rows of decreases, when you are decreasing on either side of the 9 sts, you are left with 12 sts on each of your four dpns. It looks like this: (K, P, K, P, K, P, K, P, K) P, K, P. I'm using the parenthesis to show the 9 sts that are not worked on the initial decrease rows, and the remaining 3 sts are P, K, P because that last Row 2 of decreases is a p2tog and p2tbl decrease. Ok. So when you move on and work the final three rows of decreases, decreasing now inside those 9 previously non-worked sts, the last 3 sts, that now become the "non-worked" sts, are P, K, P. On your pattern they are listed as K, P, K. Sigh. I hope this makes sense. Either way, my final decrease rows worked out this way and, just as before, the hat came out awesome!

  33. purl bee says:

    Thank you so much for writing back in! You are totally absolutely completely correct. Those three stitches should be purl, knit, purl. I have edited the pattern and put a note on our Errata page too.

    Thank you again for taking the time to share this with us/me! We really appreciate it. Plus, I love hearing you've worked the pattern multiple times.

    Thanks Again,

  34. I love your designs!!

    wondering if you might have a suggestion for making this into a beanie instead of a slouchy hat. making it for a friend who prefers it that way and given how SLOW I am, I really don't want to mess it up!

    thinking maybe to knit to 6 inches from edge and then just follow directions to decrease and finish?

    thanks for your input!!

  35. purl bee says:

    Hi MJ,
    Great question. 6-inches sounds like a good amount to work before beginning the decreases. The average adult head measures approximately 8.25 inches from the crown to the bottom of the earlobe. The average large adult head measures approximately 9.25 inches. You can use this and your row gauge and the number of rows of decreasing to figure out exactly how much ribbing to work…
    Man's Medium
    20 rows of decreasing / 8.5 rows to the inch (my row gauge) = 2.35 inches
    8.25 (adult head height) – 2.35 inches (for decreasing) = approx 6 inches
    Man's Large
    22 rows of decreasing / 8.25 rows to the inch = 2.66 inches
    9.25 (large adult head height) – 2.66 inches (for decreasing) = approx. 6.5 inches
    I hope this helps!

  36. Cher says:

    Just finished the Purl Soho pullover and was thinking it'd be nice to knit this hat to match. Would you give me some guidance on how the Worsted Twist yarn compares to the Line Weight? Also, what size needle would you suggest?


  37. Barbara says:

    I just finished this in Storm and Toasted Charcoal and it turned out great! I love the pattern! Do you think the Cascade 220 Superwash Sport would work if I wanted to use one strand? I want to make some more of these hats and maybe try one strand, but I need a yarn that is more teenager friendly. Otherwise, do you carry anything else that is washable that could substitute for the two strands of recommended yarn?

  38. purl bee says:

    Hi Cher.
    Wow! You've been busy!
    The Worsted Twist is quite a bit thicker than two strands of the Line Weight. I usually knit it on a US7 or US8. Unfortunately, right now, we do not currently have this pattern written in the gauge of Worsted Twist. The pattern would need some heavy modifications to work with Worsted Twist.

    Line Weight and Worsted Twist do come in the same colors thought. Have you thought of just using two stands of the same color of Line Weight to match the sweater?
    Sorry to not be of more help. I like your idea and will definitely put your request on our team's to-do list.
    Thanks for writing in!

  39. purl bee says:

    Hi Barbara.
    The Cascade 220 Sport sounds like a perfect substitution for 2 strands of Line Weight. You'll have to let us know how it goes!

  40. Stacey says:

    I ended up making this hat with worsted weight yarn and even thought I had to heavily adjust the numbers of stitches, etc, it really turned out great…even when using two strands. I’ve already gotten loads of compliments on it!

  41. Amelia says:

    Hello! This is my first hat. My first time following a pattern and my first time decreasing. I’m not sure what the setting up the round is supposed to look like. Do you have any tutorials for this ? I’m getting nervous!


    • Molly from the Purl Bee says:

      Hi Amelia-

      The stitches on the set up round should look exactly the same as the previous rounds except that there will be stitch markers at regular intervals. These stitch markers will indicate you where to decrease as you shape the top of the hat. To place a stitch marker simply slip it onto the right hand needle.

      I hope this helps! Please let us know if you have any other questions and good luck with the hat!


  42. Amelia says:

    Molly! That helped. Except….. So i’m using a wool substitute pulling one strand. My first go it didn’t look big enough and I thought I was being smart but unfortunately after undoing two rows of decreasing and counting multiple times. I know I have 155 stitches. Do you have any suggestions for how to proceed with the decrease? The pattern seems like you need to have multiples of 4? HELP!

    • Laura from the Purl Bee says:

      Hi Amelia.
      Laura here. I’d love to help you figure this out. I’m not totally sure what you’re asking though.

      Each size hat goes up by 16 stitches.

      If you casted on 155 stitches… you won’t be able to use the decrease instructions provided here. The math involved with the decreases is all based on the cast on number.

      You could start over and cast on 152 stitches… that would be like making the middle size and having already worked one round of decreases.

      Please let me know if you have any questions!

    • Molly from the Purl Bee says:

      Hi Amelia-

      When you are substituting yarns it’s important that you make sure you are getting the correct gauge called for in the pattern which in this case is: 9 3/4 stitches and 8 1/2 rows = 1 inch in 1 x 1 rib, unstretched. You do this by knitting a gauge swatch before you cast of for the project. If you aren’t getting the correct amount of stitches per inch you can move up or down a needle size or try a different yarn. It sounds like you skipped this step but, I mention it just to make things easier in the future.

      Unfortunately we won’t be able to rewrite the decreasing section with a different amount of stitches, however you could try placing 4 equidistant markers and decreasing in the same manner as described at each marker and see how that works.

      Hope this helps!


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