The Sideways Radial Hat construction method

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In the Sideways Linear Construction article, I introduced the concept of knitting a Hat sideways, compared to how different it might be to knitting a Hat from the bottom up or top down, and why it’s such a fun and different way to approach Hat knitting.

Today I’d like to talk about another sideways method – the Sideways Radial Construction method. If you’re not familiar with sideways knitting, I’d suggest popping back and reading that first article, and you may find the Hat Construction Guide article helpful, too. In fact, I’d suggest reading these even if you are familiar with sideways Hat knitting, as there’s quite a bit of ground covered and some useful bits of info that I’m going to build on and reference today!

A sideways knit Hat is one where our stitches are turned through 90 degrees. Instead of our stitches following the vertical length of a Hat, from brim to crown, with the rounds we knit being parallel to the cast-on edge as they would in a bottom-up or top-down Hat, the direction of the stitches runs horizontally around the Hat when we knit sideways; the direction of the stitches is parallel to, and the rows we knit perpendicular to, the brim.

One important distinction I make in the Hat Construction Guide article is that it’s the direction of the stitches once the Hat is finished that determines its construction method, not necessarily the direction that we knit in. It’s a subtle but important distinction, because the direction of the stitches helps create the different properties of each method – it’s not just how it’s knit then put together. Today’s construction method will highlight that distinction, and may even challenge what we know about sideways knitting.

Those be big words, Woolly!

Just like the familiar method of sideways Hat knitting, which I’ve named the Sideways Linear method, this method is made up of consecutive panels, one worked after the other. You work one complete panel before starting the next, working the panels consecutively until you’ve reached the intended size. And you still work a little bit of the brim, the body and the crown in each and every row.

The difference with today’s method is that the rows aren’t linear. Let’s have a look at a previous schematic for comparison.

Diagram 1: in this schematic we see the direction of the rows we knit within a Sideways Linear panel. The rows travel back and forth in a straight line.

Diagram 1 shows the typical journey your knitting takes within a single panel of a Sideways Linear Hat, with short rows shaping the crown. Not all styles would look like this; a beret would have short rows at the brim for instance, but this is our starting point. The rows are worked back and forth, in straight lines.

Diagram 2: in this schematic the rows we knit within the panel don’t travel in a straight line, but instead follow a ‘U’ or ‘V’ shape. The direction of our stitches will still be parallel to the brim once finished, but the direction of our knitting has changed.

Diagram 2 shows the journey your rows would take within a Sideways Radial panel. Notice how it starts in the centre, working towards the crown, then comes back on itself before turning at the brim and following the same path back. The rows follows a ‘U’ or ‘V’ shape throughout the panel. The panel doesn’t have to start in the centre; it can start at the outer edge and work inwards, yet the path would be the same.

This is why I’ve named this method the Sideways Radial Construction method. The direction of our stitches is exactly as they would for any sideways knit Hat, that is, they’re horizontal around the head, running parallel to the brim. But the direction we knit in radiates out from the centre of the panel, or vice versa.

A deconstructed Hat made this way would look exactly the same as one using the Sideways Linear method, except the triangles that make up the crown would be a little different. Once we develop our understanding and skills with these methods, we’ll see that the crown shaping doesn’t have to be a particular shape within a panel, or rather – the shaping doesn’t have to follow a set pattern – as long as the overall crown shape is achieved. The panel gets repeated over and over, which makes a pattern of the crown shaping, even if there isn’t a pattern within the crown shaping as we work the panel. Much like how the crown decreases are incorporated into the stitch pattern in my Everglade or Aeonium patterns, or how the short rows in the crown shaping of my Toph pattern are completely hidden. Or how the crown shaping can be a spiral on a simple bottom-up beanie or be a balanced cross.

the ‘Chiral’ Hat

the ‘Mirallat’ Hat

the ‘Duality’ Hat

And the Techniques…

This is where this method gets interesting, again!

If you’ve got to this point and assumed that because it’s sideways then short rows are used to shape the crown, then I’m afraid you wouldn’t be right. This is a sideways method that uses increases or decreases for the crown shaping! If the panel is started centre out, then we use increases, and if it’s worked outside in, then we use decreases.

A sideways knit Hat without any short rows – cool, huh?

Except… not entirely.

If you want to add shaping anywhere else, such as the brim to add a bit of slouch or make a beret, then you absolutely will need short rows for that. It’s only the crown shaping that doesn’t need them, and that’s because the path the knitting takes isn’t linear at the crown end – whereas at the brim end, the path is linear as it meets the selvedge.

Like any other sideways knit Hat, we’d want to aim for a completely seamless finish, which means grafting will be involved. However, with the Hats I’ve designed this way, I’ve not used a standard provisional cast-on, although you could. Instead, I used the winding cast-on – it creates 2 sets of live stitches, which makes starting at the centre of the panel much easier; this cast-on is the opposite of a graft, which I find fascinating. For patterns that start at the outside of the panel then, I’ve used the winding cast-on to start with, worked the panel and grafted it at the centre, then used the second set of live stitches created by the winding cast-on to continue the next panel. Using the winding cast-on essentially reduces the amount of grafting, but it also helps keep the number of rows balanced through the Hat, which is key to making sure the graft works correctly and the pattern stays continuous.

Like the Sideways Linear method, the benefits to making a Hat this way are many. If the panels are narrow, the size is easily adjusted – just work more or fewer to achieve the desired fit. It’s also easy to adjust the size of a panel if it’s started centre-out, especially if the shaping formula is the same throughout. Hand-dyed yarns love these Hats as much, if not more, than the linear method, as they really highlight the construction and have folks asking “how did you make that Hat?!”

Stitch patterns will behave differently because they’re turned on their side, and you could also achieve some really interesting effects by seeing how that crown shaping works with different stitch patterns. Stitch gauge determines depth, row gauge circumference – just the same as the linear method.

If you’re interested in seeing this method in action, the Mirallat pattern and the Lateralis Hats are all made this way. Granted, each of these only uses 2 panels, yet at the time of writing, I’ve a series of designs in progress that use exactly the same method, only with 6 or more panels. It’s a method I want to explore much more; it has a lot of potential. It takes sideways Hat knitting to a whole new level!

Woolly Wormhead

Woolly Wormhead is an internationally reknowned knit designer, specialising in Hats, technique and construction. Their patterns and techniques have been used by thousands of knitters worldwide. Join The Woolly Hat Society to be the first to learn of their latest projects and special offers!


  1. yarmando

    This is the construction that fascinates me the most. I can’t wait to see the new, 6-panel designs. And I hope someday there will be a post about the crown-shaping math.

    • Woolly Wormhead

      It’s a really interesting construction! There are different limitations to it compared to the linear method and they’ve been challenging in the design process. The crown maths varies, depending on the number of panels – for instance a 6 panel Hat will have similar crown maths to a linear sideways panel, the only real difference being the way the crown triangle is created within the panel. For the 2 panel versions the placement of the increases or decreases is quite different. I’m not sure I’ve got to the bottom of this one yet but I’d certainly like to write more about it!


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