Wednesday, 15 January 2014

Hip Hip Beret!

Last year I made lots of hats. It started out with beanies but by July (as noted in “Loose Ends”) “berets were getting in on the act”.

In this post I will share my berets from 2013 and the lessons learned including a basic formula for creating berets.

In 2012 I consolidated my understanding of basic beanie construction and I was ready to extend that with a new challenge. Slouch hats have been ever popular in 2013 and when someone requested a slouchy beret, it was a welcome change. 
Red Heart (Coats & Clark) had released a new free pattern “Bridgette Beret” which met all of the requirements: efficient use of yarn, quick and easy to make and modify for size.
Bridgette Beret: "Basic Black"
Panda Magnum Soft 8 ply / 4.5 mm hook

Stashbusting at own risk

The Bridgette Beret seemed a perfect way to use up the stash left over from the Fab Four ProjectModa Vera Marvel Plain 8 ply (Col #1002 black). Black had endured as a popular neutral this season so the first beret was…black!
The results disappointed. The Marvel stitches were stiff–great to hold a shape, an attribute which benefitted the Fab Four amigurumi but gave the beret an upright, formal beret shape.
I wanted a slouchier look.
3 July2013:  I was about to weave in the ends, when I changed my mind and ripped it out!  I changed yarn from Moda Vera Marvel to Panda Magnum Soft 8 ply (col #4614 black) in the search for better drape. The Magnum Soft is 100% acrylic, but with a softer hand, as suggested by its name; it has a smooth sheen and greater stitch definition.
My red-plastic-handled 4.5 metal hook achieved correct tension but the finished black beret’s circumference was 1 inch smaller than specified in the pattern. I figured it would stretch the extra inch when worn although the band looked tight and suitable for a large child or small woman. In hindsight, after friends had tried it on, I would recommend this particular "Basic Black" beret for a child/teen.

I familiarised myself with the pattern by trialling different hook sizes to see how it would affect the finished beret size. The official hook size was 5.5 mm.

Bridgette Beret: "In the Pink"
Panda Magnum Soft 8 ply / 5.5 mm hook

Does size really matter?

I expected this beret to increase in size when I substituted the 4.5 mm hook for a 5.5 metal hook using the same yarn–Panda Magnum Soft 8 ply (col #6768 pink). Surprisingly the beret was exactly the same size in diameter and band height. The band circumferences were almost the same, varying by only half an inch (1 cm). 
The only difference between the 5.5 mm and 4.5 mm hooks is that the 5.5 mm hook created more volume and floppiness by ruffling the circle. Although it wasn’t the result I was aiming for, it taught me how to add volume without necessarily adding extra rounds. 
18 June 2013: Another black beret, same size as “In the Pink”, made to order for Ms N.
Again, it used the Panda Magnum Soft 8 ply (col #4614 black) with a 5.5 mm metal hook.
Ms N loved her beret but in the excitement I forgot to take a picture!  If you can imagine a black beret in the same size as the pink one above, you will get the idea.

Bridgette Berets (L-R): "In the Pink" & "Basic Black"


If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it! 

"In the Pink" beret kindly modelled by Ms C
16 June 2013
When Ms C kindly modelled my “In the Pink” Bridgette Beret, it suited her so much, we decided to make one for her. She doesn’t wear a lot of pink and her preferred colour was a light neutral. She especially liked the light grey in the Hybrid Beanie (see Hats Don’t Grow on Trees) but I didn’t have enough in my stash.

Not to worry; light-mid grey has been a staple neutral for a long time and is always in stock at my local yarn supplier…until now!  I was dismayed to discover that the cool pastel grey had been discontinued! 

Not only that, but the yarn that superceded it was not a true replacement for the new season. As long as I can remember there has always been a light, mid and dark grey in each season’s colour range. I was dismayed and aghast.
I was also frustrated that the Panda Magnum Soft 8 ply web page shows a photo of a skein in the correct grey (col #1022) but it was not included in the list of available colours. The palette had a “Mid Grey” (col #1002) but that looked too dark.

Bridgette Beret: "Norwood Live"
Carnival Soft 8 ply / 5.5 mm hook
In 2013 the light grey was a silver grey–so light to be almost white and too light for Ms C. 

The dark grey was the other extreme–a deep, charcoal grey, almost black.  If you didn’t have a black next to it, it could easily be mistaken for black.

The mid grey was much darker than expected; a beautiful, sophisticated gun metal grey; certainly not the lighter variety I was seeking but too dark for Ms C.

There was none of the light grey remaining so I took the gun metal grey home as a standby and got to work on the beret until I could find a source of the grey I needed.
This time I used a different soft acrylic– Carnival Soft 8 ply (col #7936 gun metal) which was in a centre pull ball, quick and easy to work up while out and about.
I completed a lot at Norwood Live
during intermissions.

30 June 2013: I started it during an evening at the Norwood Live venue. By now I had the pattern just about memorised and got most of it done during the intermissions. Thence it has been named the "Norwood Live" Bridgette Beret.
The finished size was a fraction larger than the previous berets because I was working with such speed that my tension must have loosened up.  It had a slightly more slouchy look but was not oversized by any means.

In search of the correct grey: call in the allies

The elusive grey features
in my "Hybrid Beanie"
The local yarn suppliers stocked the following “soft” acrylics:
·         Panda Magnum Soft 8 ply

·         Moda Vera Marvel Soft 8 ply

·         Carnival Soft 8 ply

None of these lines contained the mid-light grey I needed.  

Bridgette Beret: Ms C's Light Grey
Moda Vera Marvel Soft 8 ply / 5.5 mm hook
I have an ally at my local yarn shop, Ms AL. She is ever so obliging and knowledgeable about a range of crafts.

She knows it is difficult for me to get into the shop and that I don’t have a lot of energy for browsing, whether it be online or in person. She will go out of her way to find just what I need and keep it aside until it can be collected.   
She knew about the light grey. 
No one else could find it, but 2 days after I finished the gun metal beret, she had located one remaining skein of Ms C’s chosen grey, and kept it aside in a secret spot just for me! Hooray!

Ms C with her light grey beret 
(gorgeous scarf too!)

Thank you Ms AL.   I wish there were more like you; such a shame that great customer service seems to be so rare these days.
Hooray! With Ms AL's help, I could make Ms C’s light grey beret after all!
5 July 2013: purchased Moda Vera Marvel Soft 8 ply (Col #80250668 Light Grey).
(Before you question, no, it is not a mistaken lot number, but a colour number according to the ball band.  Trust me, I had to double check myself!).
Finished Ms C’s light grey beret in one day exactly as she liked it.
“What about the gun metal grey beret?” I hear you ask. Meanwhile, Ms N had fallen in love with her black Bridgette beret and was receiving compliments wherever she wore it.  So much so that one of her friend’s wanted one the same. In the same colour. This did not please Ms N as her beret was unique and she wanted it to stay that way!
Tactfully Ms N convinced her friend to choose a different colour and the friend’s preference was a dark grey. When Ms N came to me with this request, it was fun to be able to say “I think we can do that!” with a knowing smile.
The gun metal Norwood Live beret found a new loving owner. It was meant to be.

Slouchy and Super Slouchy 

Ms S was looking for a larger, floppier and roomier beret to contain her thick hair. I could only find her preferred colour in the Moda Vera Marvel 8 ply (col #1029 curry). This yarn was slightly chunkier than the Marvel Soft 8 ply and did not have as much drape.  I compensated by modifying the pattern.
Modified Bridgette Berets (L-R): "Slouchy"  (B) & "Super Slouchy" (A)
Moda Vera Marvel 8 ply / 5.5 mm (B),  6 mm & 5.5 mm (A)

Curry Bridgette Beret Version A–Super Slouchy (23 July–4 August 2013)
I used three techniques to modify the size:
1.         Increased hook size: used 6 mm hook instead of 5.5 mm for most of the crown.
Went back to 5.5 mm for the band.
2.        Added an extra increase round before starting the decrease rounds.
3.        Added an extra round working even.
It looked very big and floppy and everyone who saw it made the same observation.  Against their heads and fine hair, it did look very oversized. I thought maybe I had gone too far so I tried to tame it with the next attempt so that, instead of being Super Slouchy, it was just Slouchy.
Curry Bridgette Beret Version B–Slouchy (5–9 August 2013)
This version was worked with a 5.5 mm hook and looser tension than usual, with an extra even round.

When I took both berets to Ms S, it turned out that my first instinct had been correct after all. The "Slouchy" did not have enough volume to contain the hair but the "Super Slouchy" was just right and looked fantastic.  What a relief.

The "Slouchy" version  is a nice compromise between the original beret pattern and the "Super Slouchy" version.  It fit another acquaintance, Ms A, perfectly.  She explained that she had been looking for accessories in the very same colour. With that information, a home for the "Slouchy" Bridgette Beret was settled.

Lessons Learned 

·         Experiment with Hook sizes.
·         Sometimes hook sizes alone will not alter the size in the correct way. 
·         Get to know your pattern and don’t be afraid to add or remove rounds to increase, decrease or work even.
·         The row tension seems to have more effect on the size of the beret than the stitch tension.


A Basic Beret Formula

These are some principles that I have ascertained from my beret experiments. If you have different methods or advice about berets, please comment or you are welcome to email

·         Working from crown to band, start with a circle. Add increase rounds until the diameter is as wide as you would like your beret to be.

·         When you reach the correct width of your beret, work evenly one  or two rounds.
·         Begin decreasing. Keep adding decrease rounds until the circle matches the head circumference.  This will be the circumference of the band.
·         Work evenly to create the band until the band is the required height. The type of stitch and yarn used will determine the amount of stretch.
·         Finish with a border row if desired and fasten off. Weave in ends.
·         To make the beret slouchier, insert more even rows in the body of the beret between the increase and decrease steps.

This is the first beret I ever made (November 2011).
It's knitted and called "Emma's Star" by Jennifer Chase-Rappaport.
The pattern features in the book "Sock Yarn One-skein Wonders"
(edited by Judith Durant, Storey Publishing, 2010)

Links & Further Information

Bridgette Beret, crochet pattern LW3158, 2013 (see Red Heart, “Bridgette Beret”)

Carnival Yarns:

Carnival Soft 8 ply:

Coats & Clark:

Durant, Judith (editor), “Sock Yarn One-skein Wonders: 101 patterns that go way beyond socks!”, Storey Publishing, North Adams, MA 01247 USA, ISBN 978-1-60342-579-7, 2010.

Emma’s Star beret, knitting pattern by Jennifer Chase-Rappaport, 2010 (see Durant, Judith)

Fab Four amigurumi project by Monica Rodriguez Fuertes: Crochet Today magazine free patterns:

Hybrid Beanie (see Lupey Loops, “Hats Don’t Grow on Trees”)

Lupey Loops, “Beanie Marathon” blog post:

Lupey Loops, “Hats Don’t Grow on Trees “ blog post:

Lupey Loops, “Loose Ends” blog post:

Moda Vera Marvel Plain 8 ply:

Moda Vera Marvel Soft 8 ply:

Moda Vera Yarns (Spotlight):

Norwood Live web page:

Panda Yarns:

Panda Magnum Soft 8 ply:

Pony crochet hooks:,+Tunisian+Hooks&sname=Crochet+Hooks

Red Heart (Germany):

Red Heart (UK):

Red Heart (USA):

Red Heart, “Bridgette Beret” free crochet pattern:

Red Heart, “Bridgette Beret” free crochet pattern, Ravelry pattern library (with links to USA, UK and German Red Heart pages):



  1. I love making hats too, mainly beanies but I've done a few newsboys and berets as well. My favourite beanie pattern to make up is It is extremely versatile I think I must have made 10 or so of these and I'm sure more will be made. I feel for you with the yarn hunt. Someone recently informed me that it seems to be standard practise at Spotlight to discontinue colour lines exactly at the end of the year and bring in new colours at the start. Terribly frustrating. I found the yarn I was after on ebay, but have to wait to pay day to do anything about it. Yay only one more day to wait.
    xXx Helen

    1. Hi Helen,
      I hope that by the time you read this reply you will have your yarn in your hands (and I dare say, around your hook).
      Thank you for the yarn advice and also for sharing your favourite beanie pattern. I had a look at your link and I can see why it truly is a very versatile pattern and a favourite. I can't wait to have a go at it too.
      Newsboys are increasing in popularity. I hadn't seen them out and about for a long time until last winter (2013). You are on the mark with the newsboys. I reckon they will continue to increase in popularity next autumn/winter.
      The slouchy beanie has been most popular in 2013 - definitely the in thing last winter in my district.
      What pattern will you use for your next beret? I see on your Ravelry page that you have used "Newsboy Cap" by Emma Witten and "Phannie" by Pheobe Gaughan.
      Meanwhile, I am wondering about the yarn you found on eBay. Was it the Moda Vera Noir in blue mix that you were looking for? (refer to Comments in "2013: Success or Failure?" post -
      Wishing you all the best.