Knitters looking for a hat knitting machine may actually discover such a machine is difficult to find. These machines are generally for industrial use and out of reach for everyday knitters. It is possible, however, to use a standard flat bed knitting machine to make hats and other small items.
Finding Hat Patterns Suitable for Machine Knitting
To knit a hat using a knitting machine, it is possible to convert any hand knitting pattern as long as it is knitted flat and not 'in the round'. Typically this means designs which use two long needles, not circular or double pointed needles. The hats which are knitted using this method will be finished by sewing the pieces together and therefore will have seams.
Free Hat Patterns for Machine Knitting
If you're looking for free hat knitting patterns, check out the following links:
Using Hand Knitting Patterns
To convert a hand knitting pattern, it is necessary to make a sample square on the knitting machine, wash and block the work, and then calculate the number of rows and stitches over a set area. This is generally calculated over a 4 inch (10cm) square. Using this as a guide, either utilize the patterns which have a similar knitting gauge or recalculate the knitting pattern using your gauge. Machine Knitting Advice has instructions for converting hand knitting patterns for machine knitting use on her website.
For a wide range of free hat hand knitting patterns take a look at KnittingPatternCentral. This site is famous for the wealth of free patterns which can be found there, many of which are suitable to convert for use with a knitting machine. When you have found a pattern for a hat, knitting machine enthusiasts can quickly create lovely hats and accessories.
Designing Hat Patterns
It is also possible to design hat patterns specifically for knitting machines. Any hat, which comprises flat components, can be knitted on a knitting machine. This works particularly well with unshaped hats with just the top gathered, perhaps finished with a pompom. Since these hats are quick to make, they are great presents. They are also easy to sell at markets or online at places like Etsy.
Machine knitted hats can be finished as simply or flamboyantly as you require. Many knitters use the time they have saved by machine knitting to finish the hat in style, perhaps with knitted flowers or other adornments such as pompoms.
Being small projects, hats can also be a useful way to use up odds and ends of yarn, or to practice new techniques or stitches.
A great feature of knitting a hat on a knitting machine is that it is quick and easy to do, and therefore it is possible to experiment with different stitches and techniques. There are a range of techniques which can be employed and these can be developed further to produce your own unique style.
What could be simpler than knitting up a few hats and felting them in the washing machine? It is important to remember that the felting process will shrink the knitting, so items need to be knitted much larger than the required size. The felting process gives a strong and durable fabric that is water-resistant and ideal for winter wear. The felting process only works with wool and not other fibers. Also, note whether the wool is 'superwash' which means that it is already preshrunk and as such will not felt.
Cut and Sew
Another method suitable for machine knitters is 'cut and sew'. Using this method, a length of fabric is knitted on the knitting machine. When this is completed and blocked flat, the pattern is outlined, stitched around, and then cut from the cloth. The pieces are sewn together as normal.
There are other options available for someone looking to machine knit hats. Some knitting looms are specifically designed for making tubes ideal for hats. Take a look at this free loom knitting hat project for inspiration.
The Sew Easy knitting machine, although for children, also produces tubes of knitting.