Winter Carnival Hat: Easy Fair Isle Knit Hat

The Winter Carnival Hat is the perfect beginner easy fair isle knit hat to brighten up your winter days. It’s knit using a DK weight yarn for a lightweight feel and the floats of stranded colorwork inside keep your head warm and toasty. It also comes in sizes for the whole family!

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The Winter Carnival Hat

Back in July of last year, I came across this beautiful DK weight, alpaca/acrylic blend of hand-dyed yarn by Hello Stella. I fell in love with the vibrancy of the colors, as well as, the soft halo effect that the alpaca gave it. I knew right away that it would become a stranded colorwork hat.

Flash forward 6 months and it was still sitting in my stash waiting to be knit. January ended up being snowy and cold here in Wisconsin and I was ready for something to cheer me up. I pulled out my Hello Stella yarn and went about designing a light-weight and cozy hat that would brighten up these dreary days.

You can find this pattern on my Ravelry Page or my Etsy Shop. The PDF includes instructions for 5 sizes, from Baby to Adult Large, and a colorwork chart for knitting the fair isle. There’s also a complete list of abbreviations, stitch definitions, and pattern notes with additional instructions and resources. Click on the links below to purchase the pattern or add it to your Ravelry queue for later!

Beginner Friendly Colorwork.

Last year when I designed my Glimmer Crop (currently my most popular design on Ravelry) I created the stranded colorwork chart to include certain motifs that I liked. What I didn’t do was look at how many colors of yarn were being used in each row and thus some of the rows you end up using 3 colors at one time.

While this is completely doable, it’s not as beginner-friendly and does take a little more time and concentration so you don’t end up with a tangled mess! For my Winter Carnival Hat, I wanted to make sure that only 2 colors were used in each row making it easier for beginners and faster to knit. Yeah! Less tangled yarn!!

I even went as far as making sure the chart was only 6 stitches wide thus making it an easy repeat to memorize. If you have never knit stranded colorwork before this pattern is a great place to start.

The Yarn.

First, the Cozy Stella yarn from Hello Stella really makes this hat so soft and, might I say cozy! Hello Stella isn’t currently carrying this exact yarn base but they do have some other DK options to check out.

To offer you some other soft and beautiful dk weight yarn options I went to my favorite online retailer, Knit Picks. The first one I came across is their Alpaca Cloud Dk yarn. It’s 100% alpaca and thus has a loftiness to it and that soft halo look. The colors available are more neutral and muted if that’s your style.

For a brighter pink palette, I found Knit Picks Daydream. This is a very interesting-looking yarn as it’s not a plied yarn but more of a spun construction. It has 69% alpaca and so would have the same loft and halo effect but also includes nylon which would give it more structure.

Lastly, there’s Knit Picks Capra DK. This yarn is made of merino wool and cashmere. Let’s say that again, cashmere. I can’t imagine how soft and luxurious this hat would be knit up in gorgeous merino wool and cashmere. This yarn also has some beautiful rich colors that would work perfectly for stranded colorwork.

The main thing to pay attention to when knitting fair isle is to choose 4 colors that are different in value from each other. This will help the pattern to stand out. One trick to test this is to take a photo of your options with the black and white filter on your phone to see if they all end up looking a similar shade or if the 4 tones are different.

Other Materials.

Along with the dk-weight yarn, you’ll need a US 5 (3.75 mm) 16″ circular needle. (Plus preferred method for small circumference knitting such as DPNs or magic loop in that size). As well as, a small Needle: Size US 3 (3.25 mm) 16″ circular needle.

I like using interchangeable circular knitting needles because swatching for gauge is very important to getting a good fitting hat. Having different needle sizes available in a set allows you to go up or down easily without having to purchase another set of needles. I’m a loose knitter and so typically have to go down a needle size or 2 in order to meet gauge. For example, I actually knit my Winter Carnival samples on a US 4!

My favorite set of interchangeable circular needles for knitting hats is the Knit Picks Caspian Options Short Interchangeable Circular Set. I recommend the short tip needles for hats because they work best on the 16″ cord. The regular size tips are too long for the short cords.

The Knit Picks Interchangeable Needles only go down to a size US 4 (3.75 mm) in the set so for the smaller needle I use the Addi Turbo Rocket Lace US 3 size 16″ needle. I love how quick I knit with these needles!

Sizes for the whole family.

When my two-year-old saw me knitting the Adult Medium sample (shown in photos), she pointed at it and said “you make one for me next, ok?” Of course, who can say no to such a sweet face? So I just had to make her a matching Winter Carnival Hat. (Just like our matching Candlewood Cardis).

Instead of matching I love to coordinate with the same design but different colors so I chose to switch up Color 1 and Color 2 for her hat. This resulted in a darker pink main color with the light pink at the top. I chose to knit her the child size so she could grow into it so it’s a little more slouchy on her.

The pattern includes instructions on how you can customize the fit to your style. The samples were knit with a little bit of slouch or you can make yours more fitted like a beanie.

Now that you have your materials ready, what colors will you choose to knit your easy fair isle hat with? Let me know in the comments!

Make sure to check out some of my other knitting patterns and tutorials!