I have finally conquered the circle! That’s how I felt when I finally understood the maths of the beret. For some reason, for years I wanted to knit a beret and I had downloaded free patterns that never matched my gauge and after a couple of disastrous tried, I – temporarily gave up.
And then I figured out that the closest shape to a circle I could use was a dodecagon. A dodecagon is one of the types of polygon which has 12 sides. So, as long as I forced any number of stitches (or the circle radius) into a 12sided shape, I could make a circular looking beret.
The beret pattern for straight needles
Gauge: 18st on stockinette stitch (st st)
I used holstgarn supersoft, held double on 3.5 mm needles, but check your gauge.
Cast on 97 st in a stretchy CO (I used long-tail cast on) and then do a 1&1 rib (knit 1, purl 1) for 10 rows for the band of your beret.
Increase row: k1, knit front and back (kfb), k1 to the end of the row. You now have 145 st on your needles.
Work for 10cm in st st
Decrease row 1Now, we will try to force this rectangle into a dodecadon. We divide 145/12=12, so every 12 st we need to decrease one. K11, knit 2 together (k2tog), knit 11, k2tog until the end of row.
On the wrong side we purl. We will only decrease on the right side.
Decrease row 2K10, knit 2 together (k2tog), knit 10, k2tog until the end of row
Decrease row 3K9, knit 2 together (k2tog), knit 10, k2tog until the end of row
Decrease row 4K8, knit 2 together (k2tog), knit 10, k2tog until the end of row
Continue the same way until you only have a few stitches on your needles. Cut a long yarn tail, thread through the last stitches and pull tight, closing the stitches. Then seam close the two sides of your beret. That’s it.
You can use this recipe for any gauge. You just need to cast on the amount of stitches that you need to fit the circumference of your head. You do this by knitting a swatch to get your gauge. Furthermore, you take the measurement of your head at the crown, and then divide it by your gauge, and that’s your cast on number.
When you start decreasing, just divide the total number of stitches by 12 and use that resulting number as the number of knit stitches to knit before the k2tog.
My first try was with alpaca, but that made for a very floppy beret. I frogged it to make this knitted beanie.
And then I got a cone of holstgarn supersoft in Crimson and the more rustic yarn had more structure and the beret was just perfect.
Let me know if you knit this and get stuck, I’d be happy to clarify the cryptic notes above.