Meribel Boarding Hat

My son took a picture of a hat he’d seen in a shop window. We’ve been struggling a bit to get the right yarn for a sweater he wants so the hat idea is a really good interim, and of course makes an excellent seasonal gift. This is the hat he saw..

Aand this is him getting up to the kind of thing he gets up to. Maybe it would be an idea to line it with kevlar.

The picture at the top is my finished hat, unblocked. It is currently wet blocking with a small roll of towels inside the crown. Fairisle always looks better for wet blocking, it evens out the stitches beautifully.

My snowflake is different, yes! I wanted to chart something to make it unique. You could knit the same chart as mine, or chart your own, it’s not difficult. All you need is a pencil, some squared paper, and essentially a nice soft eraser. The snowflake pattern needs to fit in equal divisions around the crown, so if you were to say cast on 100 stitches, you could make a chart 20 squares wide, and knit that  5 times.

We at Artemis Adornments are big fans of Kemps yarn shops, and both yarns used here are heavily discounted. The blue is Wendy Merino DK and the creamy white is Stylecraft’s Ethical Twist, an alpaca mix dk. Your own bricks and mortar yarn shop will be able to advise you of substitutes: please do support them if you can.

To make the blue hat, this is what you need:

Two balls, approx 100g of blue (or red, or black, or grey) merino dk yarn.

One ball, or a small amount of white dk yarn. About 10g will be enough, less if you omit the bobble.

DPNs or a circular needle size 4.5mm.

A large round-ended needle for sewing in the ends.

Some scrap card or thin plastic for making the bobble template.

Tension and sizing:

Bearing in mind the recipient of my hat has a 24″ head, measure your own or your recipient’s head and if you’re lots smaller, go down a needle if you need to! I am no Woolly Wormhead, so I can’t provide lots of sizes or technical advice about gauge, but as we always say, do a test swatch in the rib, to see how your needle and yarn combination is working.

NB: It is important with hats that you knit the brim at least 2″ smaller all around than the head size. This is called negative ease. It’s what will keep the hat on the head in all Alpine, Nordic or even Arctic gales.

This is what you do:

Cast on 96 sts and join to start working in the round. Place marker to show the beginning.

(96 is a multiple of 6 x 16sts for each snowflake pattern)

Use your favourite cast-on. I used a cable cast-on, but long tail knitted is fine too. Just remember that whatever cast on you use, it will appear in a prominent place on the hat, so it needs to be neat.

The Brim:

Continue in twisted rib: K1tbl (knit one through the back loop), P1 to end for a lot of rounds, maybe 6” to give good turned-up brim.

This is the meditative part. Twisted rib is laborious, especially if you’re  thrower. If you’re in a big hurry, you can just do ordinary K1 P1 but it won’t be nearly so stretchy. The twisted stitch makes for lots of bounce in this section.

If you’re knitting for a smaller head, do fewer rounds of ribbing. 4″ or 5″ might be enough.

The blue hat has a 6″ brim which is 32 rounds of twisted rib.

The Pattern:

Knit 4 rounds in stocking stitch. When knitting in the round, stocking stitch is all knit stitches.

If you want to make your own fairisle snowflake pattern, here’s the time to get out the graph paper. Or you can use mine:

Click and you’ll get a large version that you can download and/or print. If you like, you can use that basic design to recreate your own.

The chart comprises two elements: a ric-rac pattern which is simply knit one stitch in each colour in round one, and alternate the colours in round two, and the snowflake pattern itself.

The blue line through the chart marks the repeat. Most charts start at the bottom and work from right to left. Upper and lower halves of this chart are the same, and the repeat is also symmetrical, so you can work from the top or from the bottom, but start either from the blue line and work left, or from the right hand edge. I know it’s not the way traditional charts are written, but it’s more intuitive to me to work from left  to right and from top to bottom.

If you prefer to start at the bottom right, please do so.

When following the chart, it might help to use a highlighter pen or a sticky-note, or simply fold your paper along a pattern line as you go. I tend to follow patterns online. I use a new browser window and shrink it laterally to fit to my place in the pattern. We all find our own ways to do these things. Pick the one most comfortable to your own unique knitting style.

There are several places in the pattern where you can make the hat bigger or smaller. After the ribbing and before the chart starts is one place. After the first ric-rac part of the chart and before the snowflake is another, and after the snowflake and before the final ric rac is the third. If you want a closer fitting hat, knit fewer rows, if you want more slouch, knit more rows.

My blue hat has 5 rounds before the ric-rac, 3 rounds after, and 4 rounds between the snowflake and the last ric-rac chart at the top. You could do 4-4-4 or 3-3-3 or 2-2-2 or 4-2-2 or any other combination you like.

There are two places in the chart where you have to carry the blue yarn across the back of 9 white stitches in each pattern repeat. It is a good idea to twist the blue yarn around the white at least once here, so you don’t get a long thread in the back, which could potentially snag in a ski pole when it’s put out to dry in the Alpine breeze after a tough day on the slopes.

If you’ve knit this far, be happy. Especially if it’s your first fairisle pattern, and be even more happy if you charted your own snowflake. Here – take a big hurrah from us, and get yourself at least one glass or bar or slice of a favourite treat. You’re talented.

The Crown:

Most women’s hats, and many beanies have nicely graduated decreases across the crown. You could do that if you wish, but this one has a gathered look, where lots of fabric is left in the upper part to add extra warmth.

This is another place where you can add or subtract length.

Knit 10 (or more or fewer) rounds in blue.

Start the decreases:

Round 1: knit 2 together, repeat to end.

Round 2: knit all stitches.

Round 3: knit 2 together, repeat to end.

Round 4: knit all stitches.

Round 5: knit 2 together, repeat to end.

Leaving a longish tail, cut yarn, thread through remaining stitches and draw together, then fasten off on the inside. Fasten off firmly.

The PomPom:

This is an essential part of the hat. The decreases just lend themselves to a pompom. If you don’t like pompoms, you will probably want to make a more tailored crown. But I’m sure you’ll agree that the pompom really makes this hat come alive. There are lots of instructions out there for making pompoms, but this is one of the best:

Use two strands of the blue and white yarn to make the dual-coloured pompom, or of course you can make a solid colour blue or white as you prefer. You can save time by cutting a slit in your circular templates from side to middle, so you don’t have to poke it through that small hole, and you can leave your yarn on the balls. Obviously you might not need a CD as your template. A small cup, maybe expresso cup or yoghurt pot size, will be fine. My pompom is 3.5″ across.

Good trimming is the key to a great pompom.

Thread your sewing needle with the long yarn from tying the centre of the pompom, and sew through your hat at the top of the crown, several times. Make sure it’s firmly attached. There may well be plenty of occasions when this hat is pulled off by its pompom. Try it on and see if you can take it off without pulling at the pompom. It’s like donuts and sugar, you can’t resist licking your lips!


Sew in all ends. Give your pompom a final trim.

Soak the body of the hat (you can leave the pompom out of the water) in a bowl of warm water with a little splosh of hair conditioner added. Drain out the water and squeeze gently all over, then pull gently into shape and roll in a towel with the bobble sticking it. Squeeze the towl hard to wick the water out of the hat and into the towel.

Dry flat away from a heat source, with a small rolled up hand towel inside. Be careful not to stretch the brim, instead, squeeze it gently together. Turn several times, until it’s dry. Might take overnight in this weather.


If you are making hats for people who have to live outdoors, this one would be absolutely perfect. May I suggest that for every hat you make for a gift for someone who has a snuggly warm bed, you make another one for the lovely people at Big Issue in the North: it would make a great hat for their seasonal gifts project.


January 2011 variation published with added reindeer and trees: HERE!



31 thoughts on “Meribel Boarding Hat

  1. I’m actually horrified that you have made your actions public. This is blatent copyright, and is actually theft.

    Designers work hard to design their garments and get shops to accept them, and you come along and copy it. That’s not really the bad bit, because you could have just copied it and given it to your son and kept it quite. But then you wrote up your pattern and published it.

  2. Vanessa, thank you for your comment. I’m glad of the opportunity to respond, and want to assure you that I take your general position extremely seriously. Copyright theft is of course wrong, and depending on the law in various countries, is actionable.

    Please feel free to write to me using my email address if the hat in the shop is your own design, or if you are the shop’s supplier. Otherwise, this is my reply.

    A bobble hat is a generic garment, like gloves or skirts or scarves. It is impossible to copyright the basic design of a generic garment, since it is within a tradition which encompasses and includes within its method of dissemination the ability to recreate garments by hand. My bobble hat pattern joins what must by now be many thousands of close knitted hat patterns handed down by generations from mother to daughter and throughout the towns and villages of the wintry north.

    My hat deliberately and with forethought is not a copy of the hat in the shop window, it is like the hat in the shop window, and furthermore, it is like every other bobble hat I have ever seen, or worn as a young adult or as a child. That is an important distinction.

    The brim is an elastic twisted rib, the crown is slouchy and full, and in particular, my snowflake was charted for this one particular hat, and although there are hundreds of snowflake/star/poinsettia designs out in the public domain that are available to use, I made sure to chart my own, and thus it is unique.

    Putting all the elements together produces a similar outcome to many, many hats, including the hat in the shop window, but I have made deliberate efforts to ensure that my hat is not an exact copy. To have a difficulty with that would be to have a difficulty with a whole fashion industry, which can for example, have a thousand dark blue slinky ‘engagement’ dresses in the shops hours after William and Kate Middleton have announced their forthcoming marriage on TV.

    The hand knitting world is a part of, but is quite different to the commercial fashion industry in that we seek to produce garments that are unique, one off, custom fitted to the individual and made usually with far higher quality yarns. It is an intrinsic part of the activity that the feel of the yarn running through the fingers will be pleasant, since we will be feeling it for many hours.

    My hat is alpaca and merino. I have no idea what the hat in the shop is made of, but I do know that alpaca generates very high prices in commercial garments, so I doubt it would make economic sense to produce hats in volume in alpaca. It would make them prohibitively expensive. It is always my intent to produce garments in the best of all possible materials.

    You will see from what I’ve written above that I am actively encouraging anyone who knits a hat from my instructions, to make their own version. There are lots of different ways of knitting rib, for instance, and there are snowflake patterns pertinent to specific parts of Scandinavia and Scotland that people might prefer to use to indicate perhaps the area they come from.

    There is much more on this in Terri Shea’s research into the traditions of Selbu knitting. Her book Selbuvotter gives a short history and explains how the snowflake pattern has evolved. I recommend it to anyone interesting in the fascinating craft.

    Vanessa, I am intrigued that you think it would be okay to exactly copy the hat in secret. I think to exactly copy the hat would be wrong, secret or not. I am more than happy to publish my pattern, and I hope lots of people make their own unique versions.

    One final point – hand knitters (and handknitters’ family members) don’t buy hats, they buy yarn. There is a whole other discussion to be had, perhaps over a cup of coffee, about the near-terminal demise of the wool industry in this country in the face of petrochemical machine spun by products of the oil industry, turned into cheap garments in the sweatshops of the far east.

    By creating our own garments using handspun 100% sheep or goat or alpaca wool, shorn by hand, and/or spun by one of the last remaining indigenous spinning companies, we are helping in a very small way, to return the knitted garment to the realm of the artisan.

    That’s what this site is all about.

    • Yeah! What you said, Brenda!

      By the way, I am loving the polar bear motif, if the author of that chart wishes to share it.

  3. I agree with you on this one, Brenda. It’s such an ordinary hat, one can’t really speak of a design here. And since you charted it yourself, I think inspiration rather than theft is the word here….

  4. Nicely put. I doubt a lawyer would have a problem with what you have done (unless their client insisted they probably wouldn’t take the case, even then I wouldn’t) – what you describe above is what people have been doing for years, taking inspiration and creating a variation on a theme. A big distinction can be drawn between your post and what I saw at the Birmingham Christmas market this afternoon namely the Knitty Fish Hat for sale and not even for charity – I haven’t checked but I don’t think that pattern was published for selling the finished product

  5. Nicely put. I doubt a lawyer would have a problem with what you have done (unless their client insisted they probably wouldn’t take the case, even then I wouldn’t) – what you describe above is what people have been doing for years, taking inspiration and creating a variation on a theme. A big distinction can be drawn between your post and what I saw at the Birmingham Christmas market this afternoon namely the Knitty Fish Hat for sale and not even for charity – I haven’t checked but I don’t think that pattern was published for selling the finished product

  6. Hello Brenda. I was just wondering if you definitely found that it was 32 rounds for a 6″ brim? I have started knitting and I have 2″ for 16 rounds so far, therefore I think it will be more than 32 rounds for 6″. Just worried I’ve done something wrong! Thanks.

  7. Hello Hannah, it will all depend on your tension, or row gauge as it’s sometimes called. The thing to do is make it fit your own or the recipient’s head. If you need more rows, do more. My son eventually had another one (see Couple of Meribel Extras) that had fewer rows of ribbing, so he didn’t have to turn it back. Entirely up to you.

    I’m out all day now, but if you need any more help, I’ll be back this eve. Good luck!

  8. правила питания прием животных белков возможен непозднеекак похудеть быстро и без проблемсемя льна можно при кремлевской диетенано пластыри для похудения отзывызолотая серьга для похудения отзывыправильное питание для желающих похудетьбилл каулитц очень сильно похуделкефирная диета можно ли пить кефир ночьюодежда для похудения производитель япониясколько можно скинуть на японской диетекодирование на снижение весапохудеть в месяц на 5 кгпохудеть с помощью самовнушения легкообязанности диет. врачасредне заморская диетадиетические рецепты для мультиваркиэкстрасенсы помогите похудетькулинарные рецепты и кулинария диетысерьга для похудения в учомне удалось похудеть на 10 кг за неделю

  9. I don’t know whether it’s just me or if everyone else encountering problems with your site.
    It appears as if some of the written text within your content are running off the screen.
    Can someone else please provide feedback and let me know
    if this is happening to them as well? This could be a issue with my browser
    because I’ve had this happen before. Thank you

    • Am very sorry to hear that, but there’s not much I can do except to say it’s not happening on the various computers I’ve tried. Good luck, I hope you manage to get it sorted.

  10. Love this hat…. remember the early days of the internet when most patterns were happily put up for people to copy freely. Thankyou for sharing your pattern. That’s what knitting is all about. When I was young, two of my talented knitting aunties, both knitted me a wonderful wool cardigan in a weekend. I wore it for two winters. It was so warm.

    Have a great day:)

  11. Hello,
    I understand if the answer is no, but I was curious, do you allow people to sell products knitted using your patterns? Thanks for your time, I love this pattern!

    • In this case yes, it’s absolutely fine, although if you sell hundreds, please think about making me a donation. But in any case do please let me know how you get on! And thank you for asking. :)

  12. is there any way this pattern can be made into a toronto maple leaf logo for me to knit plz or if someone has a pattern for one plz

    • Hi Carolanne – yes of course! If you have a look around the web for a maple leaf chart, even in cross stitch, you can easily insert it into the pattern instead of the snowflakes or reindeer. Let me know what you find and I’ll help if I can. Good luck. :)

  13. Hi Mrs Blue i cant find any patterns for it i tryed a logo and couldnt get it to work so would love it if u would have a patten with it in

    • Hello Carolanne, I’m sorry, I don’t have a pattern or a chart for a maple leaf. I’m sure there’s one out there if you search though. Or try one or two of the Canadian or ice hockey groups on Ravelry – they may be able to find you something. Good luck!

  14. I’m a new hat knitter and not good with checking against charts. I would love to try this hat (it’s beautiful), but it would be so much easier for me to knit this using a written out pattern. Is there any way at all oy can provide this? I hate asking but it would mean so much to me to make this hat for my daughter for Christmas! :)Please let me know and thank you!

    • Hello, apologies for taking so much time to respond and thanks for asking!

      No there’s no way to write out a fair isle chart, it’s just one colour per block so you knit one in your background colour and another in your second colour according to the picture.

      Good luck!

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