Pattern Release: Onward top-down hat recipe

There are days when I need to acknowledge unpleasantness, but keep moving forward. On those days, my motto is onward. I made this hat as a tactile reminder to myself for those days.

I took the letters of onward, encoded them as numbers, and then charted those numbers, using my methods for encoding words as patterns. The marked squares were turned into purl stitches, and thus I made this stitch pattern.

This is a top-down hat. It can be ended when the yarn does if necessary; the pattern has sufficient purls in it that it doesn’t curl. A shorter hat will be a cap; a longer one can cover the ears for warmth; an even longer one can be slouchy. Knit the crown and some ribbing in a contrast color if desired. I have seen this hat worked to good effect in solid yarn, tonal yarn, variegated, and self-striping. Gradient would also be fun!

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  • 12 inch to 24 inch head circumference. (30.5-61cm)

Materials needed:

  • Needles that suit the yarn, both for plain knitting and a smaller size for seed stitch and ribbing.
  • 8 stitch markers.
  • A yarn needle for working in ends.


  • Techniques used in this pattern: casting on for knitting a small number of stitches in the round, knit, purl, increase, and work a stretchy bind-off.
  • Both a written pattern and a chart are provided.

Any yarn should work, especially if it has good stitch definition. Otherwise the effect will be more subtle.

Because this is a recipe, written for a range of sizes at a range of gauges, it is hard to give a precise amount of yarn required. Here are some extremely rough estimates. Most larger skeins of yarn will be enough to make at least one adult hat. (The smaller the size, the more of an overestimate the number is.)

Very rough yardages and meterages (slouchy hats might need more):

baby child adult
fingering 130 yds/120m 160 yds/145m 190 yds/175m
sport 120 yds/110m 150 yds/135m 170 yds/155m
DK 90 yds/85m 110 yds/100m 130 yds/120m
worsted 80 yds/75m 100 yds/90m 110 yds/100m
aran 75 yds/70m 95 yds/85m 100 yds/90m
bulky 70 yds/65m 80 yds/75m 90 yds/85m