Winter Carnival Hat – Free Colorwork Knitting Pattern for Beginners

One of my most popular designs, the Winter Carnival Hat features sizes for the entire family and a beginner friendly colorwork knitting chart. It is both fun to knit and wear and is a free colorwork knitting pattern for beginners right here on the blog. It is certain to bring a smile to the face of whoever knits or wears it! Scroll down for the full free knitting pattern or purchase the ad-free PDF here.

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Colorwork Knitting for Beginners

The key to beginner colorwork knitting is only using two colors per round. This hat pattern may look intimidating because it has four different colors in total. However, I specifically designed the colorwork chart so that you only knit with two colors per row. This means that you are only ever working with two colors at one time. The finished hat not only looks impressive but is knit with less yarn tangles and frustration.

Is Colorwork Knitting Hard?

Colorwork knitting (also called stranded knitting or fair isle knitting) may look difficult due to all of the colors used but it’s actually very easy. One thing that intimates new colorwork knitters is reading a colorwork chart. I’ll walk you through how to do that below. Another question beginner colorwork knitters have is how do I hold my yarn? I’ll cover that one as well.

How to read a colorwork knitting chart

When looking at the chart example below, the numbers on the bottom of the chart indicate the stitch number across and the numbers on the right hand side indicate the round. Colorwork is typically knit in the round so you will only read the chart from right to left for each round. To begin knitting start at the bottom right hand corner where stitch 1 and round 1 meet. (dark pink). Then knit across the first round reading the chart from right to left. Once you get to stitch 4 you will knit the stitch with your corresponding light pink color.

Repeat these 6 stitches all the way around. I like to seperate chart repeats with stitch markers to help keep me on track.

I have included a downloadable blank chart for you to color in your own colors. You can download that blank chart here. Winter Carnival Hat Chart Coloring Page.

How do you hold yarn when knitting colorwork?

There are many different ways to hold your yarn when knitting colorwork. I personally like to hold one color in my right hand and the other in my left hand. You can also use just one hand and drop the color you are not using then pick it up when you need it.

If you chose to use two hands like me, note that the color in your left hand will be more dominant. This means it will stand out more in the design. For this hat pattern having a dominant color isn’t as important since there are 4 different colors throughout. With two color patterns you will want to make sure you hold the same color in each hand to help the pattern look more uniform.

Should I go up a needle size when knitting colorwork?

Most people knit colorwork a little tighter than standard stockinette or garter stitch. This is due to the yarn “floats” that are carried along on the inside of the work. I always recommend knitting a swatch of the pattern first to make sure you select the correct needle. Many find going up one or two needle sizes works well for colorwork.

Find a printer-friendly PDF version of the Winter Carnival Hat here in my Etsy shop. The PDF version includes the full ad-free pattern great for printing and putting in your project bag.

Keep scrolling for the FREE version of the Winter Carnival Hat Knitting Pattern.

How to choose yarn colors and why it’s important in colorwork knitting.

Selecting yarn colors for this free colorwork knitting pattern for beginners is very important to make sure the design shows up properly. I have a helpful video on my YouTube channel walking you through how I select yarn colors for my projects.

VIDEO: Choosing Yarn for Colorwork Knitting

Yarn kits that do the work for you!

If you want someone else to select yarn colors for you then Summer Camp Fibers has just the thing you are looking for. They have put together yarn kits with 4 fun colors that all work together to really make the pattern stand out. You can receive 10% off your order of $25 or more simply by using my special link here: Summer Camp Fibers Winter Carnival Hat Kits. The discount works on their entire site.

Check out other FREE Hat Knitting Patterns

Winter Carnival Pattern Series

Along with the Winter Carnival Hat I also recently released a matching cowl in both DK and Bulky weight yarn! The cowl patterns will be coming soon to the blog. Sign up for my newsletter here to be notified once they up!

Winter Carnival Hat – FREE Colorwork Knitting Pattern for Beginners


The Winter Carnival hat is knit in the round from the bottom up and features an easy color work chart. Pick from 5 sizes and make it slouchy or fitted. Then top it with a pom pom or don’t, it’s up to you!

Helpful videos for knitting this hat

FREE PRINTABLE Blank Coloring Page

I created a FREE printable blank chart coloring page for you to fill in your own color selections. This will not only help you to see how your colors work together but also is easier to then follow along when knitting.

Download the free printable coloring page here or click the image below.

Notes: Floats

The distance between colors is such that you don’t need to pay too much attention to catching floats throughout the hat. I simply made sure to stretch my knitting across my needles before using the next color in order to make sure my floats weren’t too tight.

Notes: Slouchy or Fitted

This hat is designed to be slightly slouchy. You can make it more of a fitted beanie by knitting 1 – 1.5″ less at the top.


Baby (Child, Small Adult, Medium Adult, Adult Large)



DK weight yarn in the following yardages…

CC1: 45 (60, 65, 70, 80) yds / 41 (55, 59, 64, 92) m

CC2: 35 (45, 55, 65, 65) yds / 32 (41, 50, 59, 59) m

CC3: 20 (25, 30, 35, 35) yds / 18 (23, 27, 32, 32) m

CC4: 30 (30, 35, 40, 40) yds / 27 (27, 32, 37, 37) m



Finished Measurements:

FINISHED MEASUREMENTS: Approx 16 (18.25, 19.5, 20.5, 21.75)” / 40.5 (46.5, 49.5, 52, 55) cm circumference x 7.75 (9, 10, 10, 10.5)” / 18.5 (23, 25.5, 25.5, 26.5) cm tall

[Samples shown in sizes Child and Adult Medium.]


21 sts and 28 rnds = 4″ / 10 cm in chart, blocked


CC – Contrasting Color

CO – Cast on

DPNs – Double Pointed Needles

k – Knit

k2tog – Knit the next two stitches together (1 st decrease)

p – Purl

PM– Place Marker

Rep – Repeat

st/s – Stitch/es

Winter Carnival Hat Knitting Pattern Directions

With smaller needles and CC1, CO 84 (96, 102, 108, 114) sts, PM and join in-the-round being careful not to twist your sts.


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

Rep Round 1 until work measures 1″ from CO edge.


Change to Gauge Needle and k one round.

Next, work rounds 1-39 of Chart below. (See notes section for a blank chart that you can use to fill in your own color choices!)

With CC2, continue to k all sts until hat measures 6.5 (8, 9, 9, 9.5)” from CO edge, or until desired length.

(Note: For a more fitted beanie, knit 1-1.5” less than the above listed length.)


(Note: Switch to DPNs when necessary for ease of knitting.)

Round 1: *K4, k2tog; rep from * to end of round. [70 (80, 85, 90, 95) sts]

Round 2: & all Even Rounds: K to end of round.

Round 3: *K3, k2tog; rep from * to end of round. [56 (64, 68, 72, 76) sts]

Round 5: *K2, k2tog; rep from * to end of round. [42 (48, 51, 54, 57) sts]

Round 7: *K1, k2tog; rep from * to end of round. [28 (32, 34, 36, 38) sts]

Round 9: *K2tog; rep from * to end of round. [14 (16, 17, 18, 19) sts]


Cut yarn, leaving an 8”/ 20cm tail. Thread the tail through the remaining stitches and pull tightly to close the top of the hat. Weave in all ends and  block.

Now you have a fun and colorful free colorwork knitting pattern for beginners! Check out more of my FREE knitting patterns on the blog HERE.

I would love it if you took a moment to upload your projects to Ravelry or Pin this pattern to Pinterest so you can share it with friends! Also, don’t forget to share your knit hat on Instagram so I can see what you make! Us the hashtag #wintercarnivalhat and tag @whimsynorth

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