(Reclaimed from Bubblews, where the original photo showed a different hat.)
(Yes, experienced knitters will finish the Basic Hat in time to wear it this winter.)
I used to collect hat patterns and knit them, because hats sell faster than anything else a person can knit. Over time I learned that the hat patterns that worked were all about the same...and here's the basic pattern for a stocking cap that can be made with one skein of the kind of craft-type yarn that's so cheap and abundant in the U.S. Red Heart, Wintuk, Sayelle, Berella, Sugar & Cream...you might want to buy two of the small balls of Sugar & Cream these days...
Use (U.S.) #8 needle(s) or the size that gives you a gauge of 4.25 to 4.5 stitches per inch.
Cast on 72 stitches. If you have a short circular needle or set of double-pointed needles, you may knit around rather than back and forth.
Work 1 to 2 inches of either ribbing, garter stitch, or moss/seed stitch.
Choose a stitch pattern. Stock stitch, garter stitch, any variation on moss/seed stitch, or random stitch will always work up fast. If you want more variety in your knitting, choose a fancier pattern from a book or magazine. If you're using the extra skein you bought to be sure of having enough to make a sweater, poncho, etc., use the pattern (or one of the patterns) from the larger project.
You can knit a hat in a ribbed stitch, which will draw in when the hat's not worn, and it will stretch to fit the average head nicely without any extra stitches being cast on. This is not true for a cable stitch. If you use a cable pattern, be sure to increase enough stitches to keep the straight part of the hat straight.
Work even in pattern for 4 to 6 inches, depending on the wearer's size, taste, and preference about rolling up the edge.
Shape the top: Maintaining the pattern of choice so far as possible, *work 7 stitches, work 2 together* across the next row: 64 stitches remain.
Work at least one row even. If you want a long end, you can work 4 to 8 rows, or more, between each of the following decrease rows. If you want the hat to fit the head evenly, work the decreases on every other row:
*Work 6 stitches, work 2 together.* Work 1 row even, or more, on 56 stitches.
*Work 5 stitches, work 2 together.* Work 1 row even, or more, on 48 stitches.
*Work 4 stitches, work 2 together.* Work 1 row even, or more, on 40 stitches.
*Work 3 stitches, work 2 together.* Work 1 row even, or more, on 32 stitches.
*Work 2 stitches, work 2 together.* Work 1 row even, or more, on 24 stitches
*Work 1 stitch, work 2 together.* Next row, *work 2 together* all across: 8 stitches remain.
You may now draw the yarn through these 8 stitches and knot them all off, or decrease them to 4 and then 2 stitches, as you prefer. You may add a tassel or other decoration of choice.
These hats sell for US$5.