One thing I love about the knitting community is how its members unabashedly embrace pop culture. Ravelry forum groups, designs and challenges revolve around Harry Potter, Star Trek and Totoro. And of course, there are a pleasing number of designs in tribute to my favourite TV show, Doctor Who.

Woman's head in front of a weatherboard house. She wears a handknitted grey hat with Dalek colourwork motifs.
The motifs on this hat were really hard to photograph, especially by myself, so bear with me.

This particular hat had been in my favourites list for a long time, but I’d always felt myself to be too much of a colourwork amateur to attempt it. Now I’ve got my technique sorted and I have a few colourwork patterns under my belt (most yet to be blogged), I felt it time to tackle this fantastic design.

Woman's head in front of a weatherboard house. She wears a handknitted grey hat with Dalek colourwork motifs.
Oh yeh, they’re Daleks.

The pattern is the INSULATE! Hat by Amy van de Laar, who very kindly made it available as a free download. It’s knit up in 8ply yarn (DK), making this a very quick knit. Although I used a light 10ply (worsted weight) yarn my gauge was still a bit tighter than called for, so I took the opportunity to make the hat slightly larger overall. I don’t really like tight hats (they make my perma-headache that much worse), and stranded colourwork makes a knitted fabric with far less give than usual.

Woman's head in front of a weatherboard house. She wears a handknitted grey hat with Dalek colourwork motifs.

This is a really easy fix – I just calculated what each given size would be in my gauge (by multiplying the stitch count for each size x my number of inches per st) with notes on the particular size added in from the pattern and chose what looked like would be the best fit. Here’s my numbers:
S (to fit 16-19″ head): 80 sts / 16″ pattern size / 13.91″ my size
M (to fit 19-22″ head): 96 sts / 19.2″ pattern size / 16.70″ my size
L (to fit 22-25″ head): 112 sts / 22.4″ pattern size / 19.48″ my size

I started the size L (112 sts) and found it was a bit tight on my forehead – so much of knit sizing is based on feel rather than numbers. I estimated from this initial hat that I needed 2″ (or 10-12 sts) extra width. This would be simple if the hat were knit plain, but as it is colourwork, I needed to work from the size of each chart so I didn’t have any half-finished Daleks on my head!

The chart was knit in 16 stitch repeats, which would add approx. 2.78″ width each. That seemed acceptable to me, so I cast on 128 sts and started again, adding a few more rows to the rib band and before the beginning of the colourwork charts for added height. The finished hat has 1″ positive ease width-wise – perfect.


Woman's head in front of a weatherboard house. She wears a handknitted grey hat with Dalek colourwork motifs.
This is where my brother stepped in to help. My arms aren’t *that* long.

This was a simple and relaxing knit, particularly the repeating motifs of the first chart. The second chart (with the Dalek heads) was a bit more challenging as it incorporated long sections in the pattern yarn, and that meant long floats. I planned a system of catching the background yarn about every 2-3 sts without stacking floats, which you can read on my Ravelry notes if you’re interested.

I particularly enjoyed knitting with this yarn, KnitPicks Wool of the Andes Worsted Superwash. After my disaster with an overtwisted batch, I was apprehensive to try this yarn again. I’m glad I did – it was so springy, yielding and just so pleasant to knit with. I’m sure I’ll try it again (particularly as it retails at $4.86AUD/50g, or $2.59 for the non-superwash version!).


I probably don’t need to tell you how much I love this hat, given I adore Doctor Who so much I’ve already made a shirt and skirt out of Dalek fabric.* There is a matching mittens pattern, but I never really got the point of mittens (how do you use your fingers?). I might just have to add a TARDIS yoke jumper or Who motif scarf to my queue instead!

Woman stands in front of a weatherboard house. She wears a handknitted grey hat with Dalek colourwork motifs and a black tee with slogan, the future is accessible.
“The Future Is Accessible” tee available from Bonfire (limited edition) or TeePublic. All sales support intersectional disability activist and creator Annie Segarra.
A handknitted hat lays flat, folded, displaying a Dalek motif.
My best attempt to capture the motif. My hat bulges at the top due to the sharp decreases.


The deets:
Pattern: INSULATE! Hat by Amy van de Laar (my Ravelry notes)
Pattern details: “A tribute to the iconic baddies of Doctor Who! Stylised enough to be mistaken for a geometric design by the uninitiated, stealthy Daleks are stationed right around the hat, to guard your head from the cold. The colourwork design uses a combination of solid-colour rounds with occasional slipped stitches, and stranded-colourwork rounds. Using both techniques avoids the need to deal with long floats for most of the design, and makes this a fairly quick and straightforward knit.” Free pattern download.
Yarn: Leftover KnitPicks Wool of the Andes Worsted Superwash in 26304 Cobblestone Heather, 26302 Dove Heather.
Needles: 4mm.
Mods: Different gauge (23 sts & 28 rounds / 4″ blocked). Cast on 128 sts (using German twisted cast on) for an approx. finished circumference of 22.26” (came out about 23″ blocked).


*Long before I started blogging, I even knitted made my baby cousin a little Dalek outfit.

Author: Siobhan S

20 something, living in country Australia. Spoonie profile: ME/CFS, dysautonomia, anxiety. All about sewing, knitting and food. Unapologetic disability advocate.

13 thoughts on “INSULATE! Hat”

  1. That is tight knitting! You know you can just use bigger needles, right? For curing myself of tight carry threads in colour knitting, I used my finger as a guide and just carried the wool across it until it became a habit- my first efforts looked corrugated!


    1. Haha. It took me a long time to get an acceptable float tension, and I’m still working on it! I actually prefer a tighter gauge for colourwork, as it makes the pattern look more cohesive – I’ve knit this same yarn with 5mm needles for a cardigan that I wanted to be less dense.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I love all your hats! The Dr Who theme is cool! Knitting gives me fits,(I am instruction illiterate) so I mostly freehand (make up my own simple patterns) crochet! :o)


    1. Crochet is definitely a bit easier to free form than knitting! I’ve done a bit of it in the past but can never quite get used to holding the yarn in my non-dominant hand all the time.


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