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Really Warm Barn Hat

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Holly Shaltz, Fiberist
PO Box 136
Boyne City MI
49712 USA
(231) 582 3206
(231) 582 0426

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I live in northern lower Michigan, zone 4, with windchills often -10 F and lower for several months in the depths of winter. We raise Shetland sheep, and have chickens and goats as well, to take care of year round. I do the afternoon chores, and facing the winter winds is one of the most challenging part of this for me. After all, I was born and raised in Texas! :)

So my quest for the last several years has been to find a hat of some sort that would cover as much of my face as possible, as well as ears and neck. I tried hats with doubled and tripled cuffs, but they don't cover much of my face. I tried a combination of hat and dickey, but that also left my face uncovered. I finally imagined a hat that would have both a generously-sized turtleneck attached that could be pulled up right over my nose if needed and a dickey! Here's the result of the imagination, step by step. You need a little knitting experience to make this, but certainly don't need to be expert.

This hat consists of a garter stitch dickey (brown), an outer, long turtleneck that folds down (blue), an inner, short turtleneck (dark green, just visible behind the blue turtleneck), and a hat (brighter green with white angora/wool blend visible inside). Each part is knit onto the one before, so it's all one piece. It's a bit like a balaclava, but has the extra turtleneck to be pulled right up to the eyes for extra warmth as needed, and a cuff over the ears.

Warm barn hat
Really Warm Barn Hat

I was told by a snowmobile enthusiast that this hat would be ideal for snowmobilers, and I'm sure it would be great for hunters, skiiers, and other winter sports fanatics. It doesn't take all that long to knit, and works very well indeed--it's been tested in blizzard conditions of at -20F windchill a couple times. It would make a great holiday or birthday gift.

Yarn requirements

My hat uses what I call "junk yarn". Our Border Leicester ewe produced a very soft, relatively short (5 inches or so), dark gray wool. I had one year's clip made into roving. It makes for quick and "dirty" spinning--I aimed for a reasonably consistent, fast spun yarn, rather than perfection. The two-ply yarn wraps about 12 to the inch (not quite 5 to the cm), so it knits like a worsted weight. I dyed individual skeins in blue, green, bright green, and a sort of brownish color (I was aiming for olive, but the magenta struck first :). I also used a 50-50 Cormo-angora blend in white for over the ears, actually slightly thicker than the main yarn, but it's not terribly important as long as it knits about the same.

I'm not offering size changes, but you can figure out your own by doing a good gauge swatch and measuring the person for whom the hat is made. This pattern will fit an average adult as given.

Total yarn weight of my finished hat is exactly 6 ounces / 170 grams. It's best to have extra on hand, just to be on the safe side. My yarn is fairly low twist, and therefore rather light for its size. If your yarn is denser (as virtually all commercial yarn would be), you'll need more weight. I would think 8 ounces / 225 grams would be enough for anything not made from pure alpaca or llama.

rainbow stripe

rainbow stripe

Overall process

  1. The process starts by knitting a dickey first, in garter stitch, with a pattern similar to one of Elizabeth Zimmerman's.
  2. Then pick up stitches along the neck edge and knit up a short turtleneck in ribbing--this is called 'inner ribbing' below. Bind off about 1/3 of the stitches at the center front, leaving the rest on the needle. This is the inner ribbing, which joins the hat portion to the dickey and outer turtleneck.
  3. Next, on a separate needle, cast on stitches and knit the cuff of the hat portion. When it's done to the depth you want (I did a doubled cuff), knit together one stitch from the turtleneck with one stitch of the cuff, leaving the 1/3 stitches of the center front single and unjoined.
  4. The next step is to finish knitting the hat, switching to the angora blend, if desired, for the section immediately over the ears, then continuing with plain wool.
  5. The final part of the project is to pick up stitches in front of the picked-up stitches of the inner ribbing, all the way around, and knit a turtleneck, quite a bit longer than the inner ribbing--make it long enough to cover your nose plus a goodish bit. Bind off, finish ends, and the hat is ready to wear.

Overall, the knitting skills you need are: Casting on and binding off, knitting in garter stitch and ribbing, working on circular and double-pointed needles, doing a gauge swatch, slipping the first stitch of a row, knitting short rows, and picking up stitches.


Gauge: 18 sts = 4 inches / 10 cm in garter stitch.

Materials: Approximately 6-8 ounces / 170-225 grams lofty worsted weight yarn. Optional, about 1.5 ounces / 40 grams wool-angora blend yarn in a similar weight.

Equipment: Whatever size circular needles you need to get that gauge, in 16 inch / 40 cm length, plus another 16" needle in the next larger size, and a 4 or 5 needle set of double pointed needles in the larger size.


Cast on 20 stitches, using smaller needles. Working back and forth in garter stitch, knit 30 rows/15 ridges, slipping the first stitch of each row for a nicer finish if desired (it also makes the turtleneck stitches much easier to pick up).

Turn first corner using short rows: With right side facing, knit until next to last stitch. Turn work, leaving that last stitch unknit. Slip the first stich, knit back to end.

Next row, right side facing: Work until there are two stitches left unknit--the one from the previous row and the one next to it (previously slipped). Turn work, slip first stitch, knit to end of row.

Continue in this way until there is only one stitch left. Then, begin knitting one stitch extra each right side row, picking back up again those left behind before. Continue to slip the first stitch on the wrong side rows. Keep working the rows one stitch longer each right side row until you're back to 20 stitches. The corner is finished.

Knit 20 stitches for 20 rows/10 ridges. Turn the next corner as before except this time increase one stitch at the beginning of each right side row. When the corner is turned, stop increasing.

Work 60 rows/30 ridges even. Turn corner, decreasing one stitch at the beginning of each right side row until you're back down to 20 stitches and have finished the first half of turning the corner.

After turning, work 20 rows/10 ridges even. Turn the last corner, work 30 rows/15 ridges, and bind off. Sew up the back seam, and the dickey portion is finished.

Inner Turtleneck

The neck edge of the dickey, if the stitches were slipped, will have a nice chain-stitch look to it. With the right side of the dickey facing you (and it doesn't really matter, in garter stitch, which side is right, just be consistent), pick up a total of 80 stitches from the back of each of the loops forming the "chain", using the smaller needle again. It's important to do this right, as the outer turtleneck will use the outside loops.

Having picked up your 80 stitches, arrange them on your circular needle and begin knitting knit 2, purl 2 ribbing in rounds. Continue to a depth of about 4 inches / 10 cm, or whatever it takes to reach to the bottom of your ears from the base of your neck at the shoulder. In my hat, it's 30 rows.

A possible variation would be to work short rows to lengthen the front and sides of this turtle neck while keeping the back to half the length. My hat has a bit of unnecessary bulk at the back because the hat portion pulls down in back. If I were doing it again, I'd skip knitting a total of 30 stitches at the back for that purpose.

When the inner ribbing is finished, find the center front of the dickey, locate the center front stitch for the ribbing, bind off the ribbing centered on that stitch, either 30 stitches for a very snug face opening, or 40 stitches for a bit more generous opening. I like the snug fit, as it keeps the wind from blowing inside my hat. Leave the remaining stitches on the needle (though you could transfer them to double pointed needles if you need your circular for the next step).


On a separate needle of the next larger size, cast on 80 stitches and work k2, p2 ribbing for 4 inches / 10 cm, or about 30 rows. You will be making a hat like my simple knit hat pattern, but connecting it to the inner turtleneck after you've knit the cuff. So you can make a longer cuff, in multiples of 4 inches / 10 cm, in order to give more turnbacks over the ears, if desired. My hat has a double cuff, for a total of about 8 inches / 20 cm.

Join the hat to the turtleneck: Knit around to the center front of your hat, then knit on your hat half the number of bound-off stitches of the turtleneck (15 if using a 30-stitch opening, 20 for a 40-stitch opening). Holding both pieces of knitting together, inner ribbing inside the hat's cuff, start knitting together the remaining stitches of the inner ribbing with the matching stitches of the hat (simply knit both stitches at the same time, as if you're knitting two together for a decrease, but make sure one stitch is from the hat, one from the turtleneck). I found it easiest to match up the ribs, then knit them all in stockinette stitch, but you could keep the ribbing pattern if you like. You should have 80 stitches total on your needle when you're done knitting the two pieces together. Then continue knitting on the stitches around to the center back, back in ribbing pattern.

Angora over ears: Join in the angora-wool blend yarn now if desired, dropping the wool temporarily, and continue in k2, p2 ribbing. Work 3 inches / 8 cm cm (24 rows on mine). Cut angora blend, and rejoin wool yarn. This blend of angora and wool places the softest, warmest fiber over your ears and forehead for incredible warmth and comfort. If you decide to not use a different yarn here, be sure the knit the same length in wool.

Back to wool for the crown of the hat: Continue in k2, p2 ribbing to 7 inches / 17 cm from where the cuff joined the inner turtleneck.

Decrease round 1: Knit 2, purl 2 together for one round. You will have 60 stitches left and you will probably need to change over to your double pointed needles at this point. Continue with k2, p1 ribbing around for 6 rows.

Decrease round 2: Knit 2 together, purl 1 for one round. There will be 40 stitches left. Continue with k1, p1 ribbing around for 6 rows.

Final decrease: Knit 2 stitches together around two times; 10 stitches left. Cut yarn leaving a long tail, use a blunt needle to thread yarn through remaining stitches. Pull up tightly and poke through to inside of hat. Take several stitches across the hole inside, and finish off the yarn so it won't come undone.

Outer turtleneck

Pick up 80 stitches, using the smaller needle size again, around the outside of the base of the inner turtleneck, using the outer loops of the dickey's slip stitch edge. Knit in k2, p2 ribbing for about 9 inches / 23 cm. You can knit it longer if desired. This portion is to be long enough to pull over your mouth and nose, and possibly also fold down a cuff that doubles over your face. Try it on as you work and see what length you like.

Bind off the stitches very loosely--I like to use a needle a couple sizes larger than I've been using for this--and finish all your yarn ends. The hat is done and ready to wear! It may not be terribly elegant, but you can laugh at the winter winds wearing it!

rainbow stripe

rainbow stripe