Which Came First, The Button Or The Hat?

I have fallen hard for button-tab hats. Buttons are a great way to embellish knitted hats, and the variety of buttons that are available is astounding. One can spend hours looking through buttons at the local fabric shop, not to mention spending lots of money. Buttons come in myriad designs, sizes, and materials, and the selection seems almost endless. So what comes first, the button or the hat?

Sometimes it’s the button that serves as inspiration. I made a trip to JoAnn Fabrics one day for the sole purpose of buying buttons to use as hat embellishments. I saw this big gold button and thought, Wow! That button would look great on a hat. But the hat would have to be all about the button; the button had to be the star. I had to select just the right yarn to show off this button, and I had to come up with a brim pattern that was proportional to the button.

I used Nature Spun worsted-weight wool in Navy Nite, which is a dark blue that is slightly purplish. This jewel-tone color provides a really nice backdrop for the big gold button, don’t you think?

I cast on 110 stitches on 3.75mm needles and because the button is 1-5/8s inches, I worked a 2-inch band using the garter rib pattern: row 1 (WS) k2, p2; row 2 (RS) k across. Then I bound off the first 10 stitches purl-wise and purled across, joined the knitting and knit the body of the hat in stocking stitch in the round. I did my standard crown decreases starting with k8, k2tog. After weaving in all the ends, I attached the button. I had my sister-in-law in mind when I made this hat, and when I showed it to her, sure enough, she loved it! The winters are cold where she lives, and the Big Gold Button Hat is sure to get a good work-out this winter.

Sometimes button-tab hats are built around a button, but sometimes the inspiration comes from elsewhere.

I joined Facebook a while back at the urging of my younger sister. I’ve reconnected with some childhood friends, and it has been fun catching up. I’ve been posting pictures of my knitting to Facebook and have gotten some very nice comments from my old friends. One of them, who now lives in Florida, rides a motorcycle. A burnt-orange colored motocycle. She admired my hats and jokingly said that I should knit her one in burnt orange to match her bike. I have a lot of good memories of this friend and have thought of her often through the years. I remember how much fun we had dancing in the old gym. Certain songs always bring her to mind. I can picture her so clearly in my mind’s eye dancing to those tunes.

Well, I just happened to have a ball of burnt-orange wool in my stash (Lion Brand Lion Wool in Pumpkin). So I thought about what sort of hat would suit this fun-loving and adventurous old friend who rides a burnt-orange motorcycle. What popped into my head was a button-tab hat, but I had to find the perfect button. I went through my stash of “extra buttons” and found a heart-shaped button that was exactly what this hat was calling for. And that’s how Button-Down Heart Hat was born.

I started with 3.5mm needles and a cast-on of 120 stitches. The rest is the same as the Big Gold Button Hat. After the hat had been washed and had dried thoroughly, I packed it up and sent it on its way to Florida. It arrived safely and now has a happy home with its new owner.

Who’da thunk buttons could do so much?

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4 thoughts on “Which Came First, The Button Or The Hat?

    • As far as I know, there is no pattern written specifically for a child’s size, but it’s pretty simple to downsize a hat simply by figuring out your gauge and subtracting stitches and adjusting the depth accordingly. Or you can take a pattern for a child’s size hat and adapt it to this pattern. Or you can adjust the size of this pattern by using different yarn that knits up to a smaller gauge.

      • Thank you for your suggestions. I am always concerned about the decrease rows working out right when I cast on fewer stitches.

      • Just cast on a number of stitches that is evenly divisible by your decrease rate, or decrease a few stitches in the round before you start the crown decreases to arrive at the proper number.

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