Zissou Hat — A Free Knit Cap Pattern

Some people feel strongly about Wes Anderson films. I happen to love his styles, colors, sets and costumes. When I saw an old friend post his halloween costume on his Facebook page this week, I knew I had to give it a hand-knit boost.

My buddy, Wes, is dressing up as Steve Zissou from “The Life Aquatic.” Each Cousteau-like character in the film wears a different style of bright red beanie, some with their first initials stitched in yellow.

I’ve made these hats before for my husband and son, but I didn’t bother to write a pattern.

Zissou Hat | A free knitting pattern from Alaska Knit Nat

If you’d like to make a baby version of this hat, follow this pattern, but just use red yarn (and no ears)

After making this fine cap with a small pompom, I figured it was time to share it with the world.

Zissou Hat | A free knitting pattern from Alaska Knit Nat

Zissou Hat

Fits an average-sized adult head


1 skein of Lion Brand Vanna’s Choice worsted in Scarlet

size US 9 circular and double pointed needles

darning needle

large fork

yellow embroidery thread

Zissou Hat | A free knitting pattern from Alaska Knit Nat


k1, p1 = knit 1, purl 1

k2tog = knit 2 together

Zissou Hat | A free knitting pattern from Alaska Knit Nat

With the circular needle, cast on 80 stitches. K1, p1 for seven rounds.

Knit for 34 more rounds, or until work measures about 5.5 inches from the edge.

Begin decreasing as follows:

Round 1: K2tog knit 6. Repeat for one round.
Round 2 (and all even rounds): Knit
Round 3: K2tog, K 5 for one round
Round 5:K2tog, K 4 for one round (this is where you should probably switch to the double points).
Round 7: K2tog, K 3 
Round 9:K2tog, K 2
Round 11:K2tog, K 1
Round 13: K2tog

Cut yarn leaving a 12-inch tail. With a darning needle, run the yarn through the remaining stitches and cinch close. Weave in all tails.

For the pompom:

Zissou Hat | A free knitting pattern from Alaska Knit Nat

Zissou Hat | A free knitting pattern from Alaska Knit Nat

Wrap yarn around a large fork several times until you have enough bulk for a pom. Cut yarn. Cut two pieces of yarn about 12 inches long and run through the center tine under the wound-up yarn. Tie these two pieces around the bulk of yarn and secure with a double knot. Remove from fork and trim the loops. Form pompom to your liking. Use the long strings you tied around the pom pom to secure it to the hat. Run the four strands from the top of the hat down into the inside using a darning needle. Tie the four pieces together and trim ends.

For the initial: Free hand embroider the initial into the front of the hat above the ribbing. I typed the letter “W” into microsoft word and set it to Futura font to get an idea of how to shape it.

Zissou Hat | A free knitting pattern from Alaska Knit NatZissou Hat | A free knitting pattern from Alaska Knit Nat

26 thoughts on “Zissou Hat — A Free Knit Cap Pattern”

  1. Love this simple pattern, and so will my husband when he’s shoveling snow all winter. Should make one for myself, just in case I get the HELP call. Thanks!

  2. A Really easy and quick patter but not quite how I knitted it … I know I am from the UK and may read knitting patterns differently, but shouldn’t the 2nd and all even rounds be purl to make the stocking stitch finish?

  3. I started the 2nd row with a pearl stitch, because I thought that was how to get the ribbing. So is it I k1, p1 for the ribbing? Anne

      1. I’m having difficulty with the circular needles. Is it possible to make it on the straight 9 needles.

      2. Hi Anne,
        This hat could easily be knit flat using straight needles and sewn up at the end, but I find it more inconvenient this way. The reason is you have to purl every other row when it’s knit flat to achieve the stockinette stitch. The magic of knitting in the round is you never have to purl after the ribbing because it automatically knits in stockinette. I suggest looking up on YouTube how to knit in the round and see if you can figure it out visually. It really is the only way to knit a hat!
        Best of luck,

    1. Sorry to hear this pattern didn’t work for you. This is the number of stitches I use for all my hats. I must knit more tightly. I know how disappointing it can be when something doesn’t turn out as expected.
      Best regards,

  4. I would like to make this lovely hat using straight needles. Would I do purl row on the even rows for the ribbing and then follow the rest of the pattern as is? Thank you for sharing.

    1. Dear Anna,
      If you chose to knit this hat on straight needles you would need to purl every other row after the ribbing to create the stockinette stitch. If you just knit back and forth the hat would be worked in garter stitch. When you start decreasing be sure it’s on the right side of the hat every other row.
      Best of luck,

  5. Good morning, Natasha. Love the hat–of course–it’s so simple. I’m using bulky (6) yarn at the moment as I’ve set a goal to make a hat for every child in a nearby elementary school for next winter, bu think I’ll give one of these a try for timing reasons. If it’s reasonable–3 hours–I may switch as I like the tighter knit. VA winters are not AK winters, but I still want the little ones to be as warm as possible.
    I’m wondering if you could add some info to your pattern to minimize questions. For instance, a 4×4 swatch using worsted on size 9 needles would equal how many rows/stitches? How loosely/tightly someone knits makes a huge difference in end result (as I’m sure you know).

    I totally agree with you–circular needles are the only way to go on a hat! I LOVE them.

    Have a good winter.


    1. Dear Kate,
      I have never gauged my hats. It’s a fault to my patterns, I know. Many of the hats I make I no longer have in my possession so I’m unable to measure a 4×4 swatch to add a gauge. I haven’t the time to knit these days now that I work more than full time so I’m sorry I’m not able to provide a more accurate pattern. Since this pattern is basic you may be able to find something similar on ravelry that would provide a gauge.

      Best of luck and thanks for your comment,

  6. Hi –
    I’m a loose knitter wanting to make a hat for my very large grandson – at 14 yrs he’s 6’1″ and built solid, so as all the men in our family, has a big head.
    I think this pattern will work great. Do I measure from his crown to his eyebrows and just knit until I’m there?
    Thanks, and best. Knitting in the round is fun, as long as you have the right length. Otherwise, bummer.

    I’d like to see some really funky ways to make pompoms. Got any ideas?
    Betty Joe

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