Stress Ball Hat Pattern

Stress Ball hat

Looks great on the fellas
Looks great on the fellas, too.

The Stress Ball Hat

The story of the name is here. I have some notes on sizing at the end of the pattern that you may want to read first, but I wanted to keep the pattern/recipe simple.

Yarn: Rowan Big Wool, 1 ball (shown in Gingersnap)
You may also want some scraps of contrast yarn for the ties

Needles: 16″ circular US15 & DPNs (I used US11 DPNs b/c that is what I had)
Stitch Gauge: 9st to 4in on US15 needles
Row Gauge: doesn’t matter
Finished size: 20″[22"]

CO 45[50] stitches
Place marker (this will indicate the back of the hat) and join in the round
Work 8 rounds in garter stitch (p 1 round, k 1 round) starting with a purl round.
Then knit only until hat measures 6″ from cast on edge.
On next round, place a marker every 9[10] sts. (You will have placed 5 markers, including the marker at the beginning of the round.)
Decrease round: [K until 2 sts before marker, k2tog] repeat until end of round
K one round
Work Decrease round
K one round
Work Decrease round only, until there are 5 sts left. (Switch to DPNs when necessary)
Break yarn and draw through remaining sts.


Starting with the 4th[5th] stitch out from the middle of the back of the hat, pick up 9 stitches.
K1 row (wrong side)
K1, ssk, k3 , k2tog, k1
K all across
K1, ssk, k1, k2tog, k1
K all across
BO all sitches.

Repeat on other side of hat for second earflap.


Draw a length of the main yarn at least 30″ long through one of the middle edge stitches of the earflap. This will form two of the strings of the braid.
Draw a length of the constrast yarn (same length) through the neighboring edge stitch. I used a brown worsted weight yarn that I then held together as the third string when I was braiding.
Braid the yarns together until they are the desired length, knot, and cut.

Make Pom-pom and attach.

On size:
I realize that most people will not make a gauge swatch for this small project. I mean, it’s a no stress project. I didn’t swatch either.
I made the 50stitch/22inch circumference size for myself. I was originally aiming for a 20″circumference, but I ended up liking the comfy, no ease fit of the hat anyway.

I am a fairly loose knitter that usually has to go down at least one needle size from what most patterns recommend. If you are an average to tight knitter, you will probably get a smaller hat by following the 50st directions, since your gauge will be closer to 10st/4in, making it a 20″ hat.
However, if you like a really snug hat, you may want to make the 45 st hat.

On yarn:
I liked the Rowan Big Wool for this hat. I’m fairly sensitive to wool, but I can wear this merino next to my skin with no problem. It also comes in beautiful colors. If you can snag a ball on sale, it is totally worth it.
That being said, I don’t think the yarn is anything incredibly special for the price, besides being nice and big. The price point is a bit much for making anything besides a hat or scarf, in my opinion. Although, once again, if you can snag it on sale, it could be fun.

If you want a machine washable hat, the Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Superchunky says that it can be put in the gentle cycle. The DB is a bit smaller, so to sub it you will need to add stiches. At a gauge of 12st/4in on US11, CO 60 stitches and adjust the recipe from there. You may also want to make the earflaps with 11 sts instead of 9.

*Please let me know if anything is confusing or wrong.

Edited to add:

Ravelry users can now queue it here.


  1. Kirsten said,

    September 16, 2007 at 1:40 pm

    Thanks for sharing Christy! I’ve got an old sweater that I never wear. I think I’ll reclaim the yarn and make this hat.

  2. Julia said,

    September 16, 2007 at 2:16 pm

    Cute!! Good for you for writing up a pattern!

  3. Kristy said,

    September 16, 2007 at 2:35 pm

    Thanks! You know, I have a ball of Debbie Bliss Superchunky… this would be a great use for it.

  4. Alice said,

    September 16, 2007 at 6:23 pm

    You’re right, it does look good on the fellas! I wonder if my husband would go for something like this? Thanks for sharing the pattern :)

  5. minnie said,

    September 16, 2007 at 6:46 pm

    this pattern is fantastic! in fact, it’s so cool that i decided to put it up on the daily chum. hope it’s ok i used a picture from your post to illustrate. I love it, thanks!

  6. Karen B. said,

    September 16, 2007 at 11:43 pm

    Appreciate the fast response to the squeals of Stress Ball Hat devotees! Will rock this hat as soon as the Aracunia arrives.

  7. JulieFrick said,

    September 17, 2007 at 7:01 am

    Hmmm. Brother in law? Christmas?

  8. Arianne said,

    September 17, 2007 at 8:58 am

    Thank you thank you thank you! :)

  9. Adam said,

    September 17, 2007 at 11:30 am

    Loving the pattern, I think this might be a quick Christmas knit for a few people.

    Oh, and I like that this Stress Ball isn’t filled with paint either. Once at a job I had, I always had this stress ball with me that changed colors from blue to red when you squeezed it. Little did I know that it was actually filled with red paintball paint. Well, let’s just say I was in a big meeting, and squeezed it a bit hard, and SPLAT! It erupted all over me. Everyone stopped and stared in horror, and then just burst out laughing. It was pretty darn funny. ;)

  10. Ronni said,

    September 17, 2007 at 4:06 pm

    Thanks for putting this pattern up. I love quick to knit hats. Ones that resemble Jayne hats are even better. Now to do some math to figure out the size yarn to use to make a kinder-sized one.

  11. sara said,

    March 8, 2009 at 10:58 pm

    Hi i was wondering how you go about making that ball on top of the hat and how you put it on the hat. I am making a baby hat and wanted to add one but do not know how.

  12. Beau said,

    April 22, 2009 at 12:38 pm

    Interesting. i had not thought about reclaiming yarn from old sweaters.

  13. CRM online said,

    March 16, 2011 at 10:55 pm

    Well, It looks awesome and superb. It looks wonderful also it is stylish. This pattern is very nice.

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    February 11, 2013 at 4:27 pm

    this is the best looking hat pattern i’ve seen! thank you!

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