Thermal Cap Fade

by Kimber Baldwin February 10, 2024

Steve:  "Johnny, What can you make out of this?"

Johnny:  "This?  Why I can make a hat...(or a brooch or a pterodactyl)."

                                                                        -Airplane (1980)



After knitting the Stony Stream Shawl (designed by Stephen West), I found myself left with small amounts of colors left over from the Rhinebeck six pack that I had used for the contrast color.  And so, with the above quote from the movie Airplane rattling around in my brain, I asked myself:  What can you make out of this?

All together, the amount of yarn leftover from the six pack totaled 87 g or about 341 yards.  More than enough to knit one of my all-time favorite beanie style hats, the 'Thermal Cap' designed by Kate Salomon.  It's an easy relatively quick knit with a classic slightly-slouchy style that is a favorite of everyone from my super-picky teenage daughters to my conservative father, making it an ideal last minute gift if you are struggling on what to get that knit-worthy person on your Christmas list.  Winner winner chicken dinner!


The thermal cap pattern calls for roughly 65 g or 255 yards of fingering weight yarn.  I wanted to fade through all the colors, which is fairly straightforward to do but you need to know the individual weights of each color so you can make a simple knitting plan of action (don't be afraid - you totally have this!!!  I have every confidence in you!!).  


To begin with, you will need to know the individual available weights of each of the six colors.  My available weights are:


Color 1 (pale olive gold):  27 grams
Color 2 (Mixed greens):  20 grams
Color 3 (Mixed teals):  12 grams
Color 4 (Blues):  13 grams
Color 5: (Blues & Violets):  9 grams
Color 6: (Mixed Plums):  5 grams


As you can see from the yarn quantities above, I don't have the same amount of each color so I can't simply divide the knitting into six equal portions.   We need to be a little more clever.  I need 65 grams total and the hat narrows up at the top so I am going to use colors 5 and 6 at the top where there won't be as many stitches in each round so I can get more rounds out of these colors since I don't have much of them.   With a bit of trial and error, I came up with the following scheme to use 65 grams total of the yarn but in decreasing amounts starting at 1 and decreasing to 6 and using all of color 6.  There isn't anything magical about this and your yarn starting weights will almost certainly be different than mine so just play around with the numbers until you get something that will both work for the yarn you have and also add to 65 grams.  My knitting weights are the weights of the yarn that I am actually going to use to knit the hat and they are:


Color 1:  14 grams
Color 2:  13 grams
Color 3:  12 grams
Color 4: 10 grams
Color 5:  8 grams
Color 6: 5 grams


My plan has me using the most of color 1 (since I have quite a bit of this color) and progressively fewer amounts of each color until I get to color 6, which is the least of all. Now you could simply start with color 1 and work with it until you have used 14 grams (if you weigh the yarn ball periodically, you will know you have knit 14 grams when it weighs 13 grams because it's starting weight is 27 grams and 27 - 14 = 13 grams) and then move on to color 2 and work through each color in this manner until you have completed your hat. However, I find it more pleasing if the colors blend one into another a little bit instead of looking like wide stripes. Now, everybody has a slightly different plan of action for blending colors into a fade but I like to use about 1/4 of the yarn to blend on each side of the color by alternating rounds of the two colors. This accounts for 1/2 of the color (1/4 before the color and 1/4 after the color). The remaining 1/2 of the color is simply worked by itself without alternating it with another color. You can fudge this a little bit, a gram more here or a gram less there but it should be fairly close to the 1/4 - 1/2 - 1/4 rule. Using this concept my plan is the following:


Step 1: Cast on with color 1 and use only color 1 for 10 grams. (Note that, since color 1 is the first color, there is no color before it. So about 3/4 is used by itself and then about 1/4 is used to blend with color 2 in the next step.)


Step 2: Alternate rounds using 4 grams for color 1 and 4 grams of color 2.


Step 3: Use only color 2 for 5 grams.


Step 4: Alternate rounds using 4 grams of color 2 and 4 grams of color 3.


Step 5: Use only color 3 for 5 grams.


Step 6: Alternate rounds using 3 grams of color 3 and 3 grams of color 4.


Step 7: Use only color 4 for 5 grams.


Step 8: Alternate rounds using 2 grams of color 4 and 2 grams of color 5.


Step 9: Use only color 5 for 4 grams


Step 10: Alternate rounds using 2 grams of color 5 and 2 grams of color 6.


Step 11. Use only color 6 for 3 grams.

Fast forward two days (have I mentioned that this is a super quick knit?) and I am the proud owner of a gift-worthy hat that will soon be on it's way to my brother-in-law to keep his noggin warm.  You can play this sort of fade your leftovers game with all sorts of projects (not just hats), depending on the quantity of leftovers you find yourself blessed with!  Happy Knitting - Kimber

Kimber Baldwin
Kimber Baldwin


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