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How Do You Knit a Nightcap?

Knit your own nightcap with this free, simple pattern.

Knit your own nightcap with this free, simple pattern.

How to Make a Knitted Nightcap

How do you knit a nightcap? While the idea of a nightcap may seem outdated, you can actually tailor the basic pattern by incorporating stripes, different types of yarn, bead, pompons, and other embellishments.

The basic design of the nightcap makes it a fairly easy project. For this particular project, the finished circumference fits most adults; it's approximately 23 inches. In order to complete it, you should be able to cast on, do knit stitch, purl stitch, knit in the round, and decrease.


  • Worsted weight yarn (3 skeins). NOTE: Feel free to substitute another type of yarn if you wish, you may need to adjust your needle size and gauge. Use more than one color if you wish.
  • Set of 5 double point needles (dpns) – size 7. NOTE: If you wish to use circular needles, you may begin with them and switch to dpns during the decrease. Start on size 7, 16-inch circular.
  • Yarn needle. I always use one to draw up loose ends at the end of the project.
  • Stitch markers
  • Heavy cardboard (for tassel or pompon).
  • Scissors
This project is knit in the round, using double point needles.

This project is knit in the round, using double point needles.

The Pattern

  1. Cast on 84 stitches either onto circular needles or distribute the stitches evenly over 4 dpns.
  2. Place a stitch marker to mark the beginning of the first round.
  3. This pattern has a ribbed edge to help your nightcap stay put. Work the first 1 and ¾ inches of the hat in a 2x2 ribbed pattern: Knit 2, purl 2.
  4. After working the band of the nightcap, switch to stockinette stitch for the next 4 inches.
  5. Place stitch markers after every 12th stitch. These will mark your decreases as you begin the next portion of the cap.
  6. Continue to work in stockinette stitch. Knit 2 together before each stitch marker.
  7. Repeat the decrease round every third round until you have 49 stitches. (NOTE: As you continue to work decreases, you will eventually need to switch to dpns if you haven’t started with them already.)
  8. Continue to work in stockinette, repeating the decrease every other row until you have 7 stitches remaining. Break the yarn, leaving a long tail, and thread it through the remaining stitches. Pull it firmly, draw it through to the inside of the cap, and secure it to the inside of the hat.

How to Finish the Nightcap

Finishing the nightcap is fairly straightforward. You can create a simple pompon or tassel to complete the cap. Either is a cute way to top off the cap. Here’s how to create them.

Creating a Tassel

  1. Cut a piece of heavy cardboard into a rectangle shape a little longer than the tassel you want to create.
  2. Wrap yarn around the cardboard until it’s about ¼ inch all the way around, and cut the yarn at one end.
  3. Cut another piece of yarn about 6-8 inches long and thread it under the edge of the rectangle, under the wrapped yarn. Then tightly tie the yarn around the wrapped yarn, leaving a long tail.
  4. Cut the loops of wrapped yarn on the side of the rectangle opposite of your knot.
  5. Tightly wrap the long tail of the yarn around the folded top of the tassel about ½ inch from the fold. Using a needle, thread the yarn through the head of the tassel, forming the piece you will use to attach the tassel to your cap. Simply stitch it into place.

Creating a Pompon

  1. Cut two pieces of heavy cardboard into a circle a little larger than you’d like your pompon to be. Cut a hole in the center of both cardboard pieces, about half the size of the circle. This will allow you to create a full pompon.
  2. Wrap yarn around the two stacked circles until the center of the hole is filled with yarn.
  3. Using scissors, cut through the loops all the way around the circle.
  4. Cut a 6-8 inch piece of yarn and pull it between the 2 halves of cardboard. Tie the yarn tightly around the two halves. Pull or cut the cardboard rings out. Fluff your pompon and use the tail from the yarn you used to tie it together to secure it to the nightcap.


Annabelle Tyler (author) on September 08, 2012:

Thanks. This my first attempt at writing a pattern. If you try it out, please let me know if you have any suggestions for improving it. I tend to knit tightly.

Pauline Davenport from Isle of Man on September 08, 2012:

I love the fact that you can try this cap for size before it's finished and so get it just right for the head that it's intended for, and the fact that the pattern is so versatile.Voted up and across - it's wonderful. Thanks a lot Annabelle for this