Introduction: Slouch Beanie Hat Made From Recycled T-Shirts

About: Let's skip the pretentious titles. At present, I am a paper pusher. In the remainder of my life, I am a mother of two handsome grown men, a wife to a very patient man, a nana of two precious grandchildren, c…

Can't knit? Can't crochet? Not a problem. If I can do this, you can do this.

As someone who owns a small library of everything one might need to learn how to crochet, I have to admit, I simply can't get it through my head, or I'm not willing to invest in a learning period. Even "How to Crochet for Dummies" gathers dust in my house. The day this loom arrived in our mail, I made a hat. It is THAT easy. I purchased an inexpensive round loom, opened the package, read the very brief instructions, and made a hat without a hitch in just a few hours. No, I don't work for any of the companies that produce these products, I'm just that hooked on them, and can't help but to emphasize, this is an easy project for the young, not so young, male or female. If you already know how to use a circle loom, perfect! Simply replace the yarn with T-SHIRT YARN, and you are well on your way!

Enter the round, plastic knitting loom.

Though it is easy enough for a child, it is far from childish. There are so many websites and internet groups dedicated to this very craft. Many absolutely gorgeous articles are made with this type of loom in all sizes. There are also rectangular looms available to make scarves, blankets and other items.

In a world that seems to have forgotten a theme of ‘waste not, want not’, this project utilizes materials that might otherwise be thrown into the trash. When you see what you can make with what is often thought of as disposable clothing, you might look at your stretched-out, dirty T-shirts in a whole new light! Though the intended fabric is yarn, I've put a bit of a twist on the project, and have used long cord-like material made from T-shirts.

How long will this take?

Depending on how fast you work, it should take no more than two minutes to wind the yarn around the pegs, and two to three minutes to hook over. While timing my hook overs, a stopwatch timed one round at 2:22:21. It is okay to work a little faster or a little slower than this, it is not a contest. Quality before quantity, I always say.

You can certainly follow the directions using yarn, but for a true T-shirt snood, please visit my Instructable - How to Recycle T-Shirts into Seamless Yarn

A snood, or a slouch, slouchy hat, slouchy beanie, etc. is a head covering that is typically worn by people of any gender, with longer hair, braids, or dreads. Heck, you could even stuff a head full of those old pink hair rollers, and no one would be the wiser! Think Bob Marley! Well, not with rollers in his hair.

If you don't like or need the extra length, or don't like the style, you can easily shorten the hat. Simply reduce the number of colors used, or don't change the colors at all.

See Step #1 for many details about looms. From step one, you should be able to determine which loom you would like to try, though you will likely end up wanting additional looms in other sizes once you see how easy it is to make projects.

Step 1: Supplies Needed

Materials and items necessary for this project:

  • A round loom, often called a circle loom
  • Plastic needle
  • Special hook (should have been included with your loom)
  • Scissors or dressmaker shears
  • T-shirt Yarn - See my HOW-TO Instructable. CLICK HERE

You will need a special round loom that is widely available in many stores, and is quite abundant online. They are typically made of plastic, though I can vouch for the durability of the Knifty Knitter brand by ProvoCraft. The plastic is tough, but the loom should not be exposed to extreme heat, cold or other damaging elements, and of course, should not be dropped. Take care of your loom, and it will last for years to come. Most looms sold include the plastic needle and hook tool. The hook tool is an extremely updated version of what the older generation remembers using to hook the old wooden spool loom - a bent nail.

Some of you may remember using a very similar loom as a child - a mere wooden spool with nails driven into it. I would sit for hours, winding, looping and making long chains. Simply long chains, never amounting to an actual project. Fast forward, and the craft has come back to me!

Be certain to choose a loom size that is a little larger than the head intended to wear the hat, as the knitting / looming process will produce a smaller weave. Whether you add a brim or not will also affect the fit of the hat.

Below are just a few of the many companies selling such a loom. Make sure you do your homework, and not pay too much! I purchased my loom set online for $14.47, and received free shipping.

PROVO CRAFT - Knifty Knitter. Looms are often sold in a kit featuring various looms, a plastic needle, instructions, and a nifty gadget to lift the loops over the plastic pegs. The set I have, and love, is a Knifty Knitter Round Loom Set which specifically states is 'ideal for bulky yarn'. Includes 5-1/2" blue loom, 7-1/2" red loom, 9-1/2" green loom, and 11-1/2" yellow loom, instructions, needle and tool.

Provocraft also sells a purple loom that is 10 1/4" (or 26 cm) said to be more the size for an average adult head, 'ideal for medium yarn'. My husband has a 7 1/8" head. A t-shirt hat made on the green Knifty Knitter loom is too tight, while the yellow was just right.

Also available from Provocraft, Knifty Knitter 210314 Loom Series w/ Slim Jim (a rectangular shape for scarves)

BOYE - Round Loom Set. Also sold in kit form. Contains needle, instructions, hook tool and instructions.

CRA-Z-ART - Cra-Z-Knit Hat Kit. Web details state it includes a loom, yarn and more. 11.3", 10.7", 2.9"

DARICE - Set of 4 round knitting looms. 11”, 9”, 7”, 5-1/2”

KURTZY - Set of 4 round knitting looms. 14cm (5.5"), 19cm (7.5"), 24cm (9.5"), 29cm (11.5")

BOYE – Set of 4 round knitting looms. 5-1/2”, 7-1/2”; 9-1/2”, 11-1/2”

QUICK KNIT LOOM - Creativity for Kids

TRIBALSENSATION - 4 Set Circular Knitting Loom - 14cm (5.5") 19cm (7.5") 24cm (9.5") 29cm (11.5")

Step 2: Pick Your Colors, Sizes, and Thickness

For this slouch, I wanted to use the colors of a rainbow. The colors of a rainbow are as follows:






INDIGO (okay, so it isn't perfectly indigo)

VIOLET (same here, but we'll survive)

Though my colors are not precise to a rainbow, they were the available colors in the T-shirt piles I had on hand, so I made them work.

Use whatever colors float your boat. You can make the color bands any thickness you desire, simply stop, or keep on knitting. You can change colors as many times as you wish, but keep in mind that you will have a knot each time you switch. Knots won't really matter much, as they should be tied inside the hat, which will not be seen.

I've tried loom knitting several hats in various T-shirt yarn sizes, though the 1/2" seems to work best, otherwise it is a bit of a thick struggle, and the last thing I want to do with a craft project is fight. Make it easy on yourself, and go with a thinner width. If you choose thin width, try to avoid the very lightweight T-shirts, or cut them just a little wider.

Play around with your pile of T-shirts to see which color combinations you like best. If you have already made your T-shirt yarn, it is a good idea to measure the yarn prior to balling it up, and mark the ball with the length. Simply pin or tag a label on the ball, or use a bread tie. That way, when you make a hat, you can see at a glance how many yards you have. I experimented and found that less than 25 yards was cutting it very close for eight rounds on an 11.5" loom. This is why T-shirts in larger sizes are great for this project.

Step 3: Start at the Beginning...

This truly is a remarkably easy project.You can actually make a hat the same day you learn how to do it.

If you purchased a loom, it should have come with instructions. You may wish to consult them as you read along with my Instructable, and make notes as you proceed. If you happened to purchase a loom without instructions, there are many PDF files available online if you prefer printed matter. There are different styles for lacing the loom, though I prefer to work clockwise. It really won't matter, as long as the loom is laced properly.

Image #1.) This is the outer peg. In front of it is the first peg on which you will start the project. With a permanent writing instrument such as a Sharpie, mark the very first peg that is closest to the right of the loom. Place the loom on your lap, or a flat working surface before you, with the outside peg at the top area of the loom. I tend to work as though the loom was a clock, starting at what would be 1:00 on the clock face.

Image # 2.) Pull several inches of yarn from a ball or skein. Tie or loop the yarn around the outside peg of the loom to secure it. It doesn't have to be fancy, but it should be secure enough not to come loose, not super tight. You will later remove this tie.

Image #3 & 4.) Holding the yarn somewhat loose in your right hand, guide the yarn between the first and last peg on the loom, in the direction of the middle of the loom. Use the index finger of your left hand to hook the yarn. Move the yarn back towards the pegs with your right hand, winding the yarn around peg #1, allowing the slack to be taken up as you glide your left finger out of the yarn, pulling on the yarn with your right hand. Don't loop it so loosely that it sags, but it should not be tight. Remember, this project is instructed using T-shirt yarn, which behaves differently than standard yarn.

Image #5.) Repeat the same looping method on peg number two.

Image #6 & 7.) Repeat the same winding process around the entire circumference of the loom.

Step 4: And Here We Go!

Okay, so that was easy enough, right? It doesn't get much more difficult than that.

Image #1.) After you have pushed the previous row of yarn to the bottom of the pegs, begin winding in the same manner as before, using your left finger as a hook or guide, and your right hand to direct the yarn.

Image #2.) Continue all around the loom until you reach the end peg. Secure the yarn to the outside peg. Do not cut the yarn. Securing the yarn can be done in several different ways, just do what works best for you. You can use a half hitch, wind the yarn around the peg, or you can even tie it to the tail we began with, which is what I do as shown in image #3.

Step 5: Hooking Your Loops

This is the fun part, because you are now on your way to actually beginning the hat.

You will see there are two loops on every peg on the loom - one at the top, and one at the bottom of every peg.

Image #1 & 2.) Using the tool that was (or should have been) included with your loom, lift the bottom loop on the very first peg of the loom, and lift it over the other loop that will remain on the peg. Up and over. Up and over. Up and over. (Hopefully that won't be stuck in your head now each time you perform this act.)

Image #3.) Continue lifting each bottom loop over the top around the circumference of the loom.

When all of the loops have been lifted, untie the secured yarn (not the short one) and push the first loops down, and begin winding around the pegs all over again. Wind, secure, lift. Wind, secure, lift. So easy.

Image #7.) As you work, on occasion, reach inside the loom and give the work a gentle tug. This will not only align your yarn, but will pull the loops to the bottom of the pegs in order to make room for your next round.

Images #8.) Remember when we first began, we tied the beginning of the string to the peg on the outside of the loom? You can untie it now, but keep an eye on it. You can go ahead and knot it now, or later. I prefer to do all of my knotting and weaving in the last step. Always keep an extra tail of yarn that goes beyond the knotted area. You will want to weave this into the inside of the hat so that it doesn't show.

Step 6: Making the Brim

Image #1.) Once you have made a few rounds, determine how thick you would like your brim to be. Remember that it will be half the width of the rounds you have created. I made 16 rows, so the brim would be 8 rows thick.

There is nothing tricky about this next step, you just need to make sure you do it right.

Image #2.) If you are viewing image #2 in thumbnail form, enlarge it so that you can see the hook at the bottom. The hook is positioned in the center of the loop that is closest in the completed line to 'belonging' to the peg up above it.It doesn't really matter which peg you begin with, just try to keep them straight, and in line. Don't grab and loop from various places on the loom. Do it in order.

Image #3.) Grasp this loop, and pull it up towards the first peg, then loop it over the first peg, which will secure it.

Image #4.) Take the loop immediately next to the one you just looped over, and do the same.

Image #5.) Continue this process all the way around the loom.

Image #6.) You will now have two rows on each peg.

Step 7: Securing the Brim

Image #1.) Now that you have folded over the inside of your brim, and have hung it over all of the pegs, you will see that you now have two rows of yarn back on each peg.

Image #2.) Using the nifty tool that came with your loom, begin lifting the bottom loop over the top loop again, and continue to loop over the entire loom ring.

Once you have looped over all of the strands, you should now have but one loop on each peg. Trim the end of your yarn, allowing several inches. Aw, heck, yank a half a foot just to be sure.

Leave the end free. This is the yarn you will tie to your next color.

Step 8: Adding a Layer of Orange

There are a few ways to change colors. You can go ahead and tie the new color to the old color that is still on the loom, just make sure the knot is inside the loom, so it will be hidden inside the hat. I actually allow my strings to hang loose until the very end, then tie them all up and weave the extra tails into the hat.

Continue as before, winding, using the tool to lift loops.

Make the same number of rounds for each color. For example, so far, I made 16 rows of red, which were folded in half to make the brim, then 8 rows of orange. I'll continue making 8 rows of each color until the end.

Step 9: Adding a Layer of Yellow, a Layer of Green

We're going to repeat the same process for the yellow, and the green. I quickly grew tired of tying knots, so I simply used a binder clip to hold loose strands to the outside peg. By this time, you are a master looper and lifter!

Step 10: A Layer of Blue, Indigo and Violet

We're making progress now. We've added blue, and a color I prefer to call turquoise, and finally, the light purple.

You can see in image #2 how the hat is building up. You may find it easier to keep the hat rolled up to avoid the excess bulk getting in your way, especially when it comes time to loop.

Image #4. When you have completed the last round of the last color, pull a good length of yarn from the ball, and cut the ends.

Wow, you are almost done with your hat!

Step 11: Finishing the End of the Hat

Okay, so we finished our last round, and we now have a tail hanging off the loom. Tie the tail around the outer peg, or keep an eye on it to tie in with the closing yarn. Or, you can tie a secure knot, and weave the loose ends into the hat.

The bulk of the hat is complete, and is inside the middle of the loom.

Cut a piece of yarn from the ball about a yard long. Thread the plastic needle with this yarn.

Image #3.) Beginning with the first peg (the one with the Sharpie dot), push the needle up, from the bottom, through the loop that is on the peg. Once the yarn is through the loop, you may pull that loop off the peg. Move to the next peg to the left, repeating the same step. Thread through, lift off. Move to peg #3 and repeat. You can see the closure beginning to form in image #4. Repeat the thread and lift process all the way around the loom. When you have reached the end, carefully pull the loose yarn strings together to form what will look like a doughnut hole. Tie the ends together and weave the yarn ends through the hat.

At this point, it would be easier to turn the hat inside out as shown in image #7. If you have not already tied and woven your loose yarn, now is the time to do so. Tie the knots in line with the stitches so they do not show on what will be the outside of the hat. If you see a stitch leaning upwards, you can tie downward to keep the stitches in line.

Tie all of the knots, hide or secure them, and turn the hat inside out once more.

Step 12: To Pom, or Not to Pom?

After removing your hat from the loom, if you tied knots as you went along, you should be done now. Not bad for a first timer, eh? Give yourself a pat on the back, put on your hat, and head for town. Be prepared for the compliments and questions. Where DID you get that fabulous hat?

Otherwise, make certain all the loose threads are tied, and woven through the inside of the hat, or if you are confident about your knots, you can simply knot a few times and snip the extra thread length with scissors. We're basically covering the steps we took in the last page, just to be sure.

Image #1.) Now then. Are you a pom kind of person, or a plain person? I prefer my hat without a pom, but you can certainly add one to it.I am not a pompom master, and I'm certain there are prettier ways to create one. I simply used my fingers to eliminate the need for a pompom tool.

Image #2 & 3.) Using the colors from the yarn balls you chose for your hat, gather the ends together, and give the ends a nice straight snip if they are not already tidy.

Image #4, 5.) Pull enough of the yarn grouping to provide plenty of yarn to tie knots later on. Spread your fingers out just a bit for a larger pom, or put your fingers closer together for a smaller pom. If it ends up too large, you can always trim the pom, so it is best to start with extra.

Imge #6.) Begin to wrap the group around your fingers. Wrap as many times as you would like the pom to be plushy. More wraps will make a poofier pom.

Images 7, 8, 9, 10.) Cut the ends, leaving a tail of equal length to the one with which you started wrapping. Remove the wound-up yarn from your hands, making sure the tails are free. Using both tails, tie at least two knots in the middle of the yarn wad, which we will now call a doughnut. Using scissors, cut the middle of the doughnut on the opposite side of the knots you just tied.

Image #11.) The pom should now look like the picture as shown.

Images #12 & 13.) Gather and squeeze the yarn group, pinching all of the ends together. Using scissors, trim the ends nice and neat, so they are all about the same length.

Step 13: The End Is Nigh!

We are getting closer!

Image #1.) With the hat turned right side out, at the end of the hat, use your fingers to separate the ending loops we created in step #11. Find a loop that is closest to the end of the hat. Into this hole, insert all of the ends of one side of the yarn that you just tied into a knot. Find a hole on the opposite side and do the same with the other tail. Reach into the hat and pull both groupings through to what is the inside of the hat, turning the hat inside out as you do. Tie it tightly, at least twice. Trim the ends of the knots, and turn the hat back the way it should be.

Fluff the pom pom and decide if you wish to trim it further. If so, group all of the yarn together and give it a trim, then another fluff job.

Image #8.) You are now finished with your hat!

Step 14: Closing Words...

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Many thanks! I wish you and yours a wonderful Winter season full of joy and happiness!

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