Knitted Fish Scale Hat

In keeping with my fishy arts and crafts theme for the winter, and my current hat knitting binge, I decided to create a fish themed hat. First I looked for fish images, charted on graph paper, and almost completed one whole hat when I decided:

  • It wasn’t quite right
  • It wasn’t my style
 Sashiko "waves" 

 Sashiko "waves" 

I ripped it all out and started searching for fish scale textures. I found a knitter who was making a pattern reminiscent of the traditional sashiko “waves” pattern (which always looks like fish scales to me), but I couldn’t figure out how she was achieving this and opted to puzzle out rather than pay for the hat pattern. 

focus on the blue stitches...

focus on the blue stitches...

I happened upon the “broken Seed Stitch” texture almost by accident, and there they were, simple neat rows of alternating "scales". A similar, smaller  version of the "wave" idea. Topped off with a Nordic style of decrease and a pom pom (people seem to smile a lot when they see pom poms…) It turned out to be a great fishy hat!

I have received so many compliments in the short time since it’s creation that I thought it was a pattern worthy of sharing.


This hat is knitted with two colors, but only one at a time, alternating every other row. It’s an easy textured pattern and is very neat on both the inside and outside without any fuss.

I have always leaned toward natural fibers when making handmade items, then buy inexpensive acrylic hats to wear for my fishy jobs. It’s important for me to be able to wash my work hats easily and on a weekly basis. I’m so happy to have found this acrylic and wool, machine washable yarn that has so far proven to hold up to my top loader washer. It’s available locally at Navarro River Knits, located in the Boatyard shopping center, and comes in many colors.

Of course, if you don't expect to wear your hat in slimy or dirty situations on a regular basis, you can go with any natural, and therefore superior in my opinion, wool worsted weight yarn. Always make sure to test your yarn and pattern with a sample swatch!

Printable Pattern

Fish Scale Hat


2 (100 gram) balls Plymouth Encore worsted weight, contrasting colors, will make at least 2 hats (my hat weighs 47 grams with the pom pom). 5 sts = 1" on US 8 needles. I used colors #678 Light Green Frost, and #555 Bristol Wedgwood 

16” circular needles, size 8

set of 8” double pointed needles, size 8

yarn needle to weave in ends

Small piece of yarn to use as a marker

To make the hat:

  • Cast on 80 sts (s/m) or 84 sts (m/l). 
  • Join into a round.
  • K1, P1 all the way around, adding your marker at the end of the first round, for 4 rows (s/m) or 6 rows (m/l) to make the ribbed border in your chosen base color (I used the Light Green Frost).
  • The rest of the hat is knitted in a textured pattern called “Broken Seed Stitch”. Work as follows, starting with your alternate color (I used the Bristol Wedgwood) for about 4”, ending with an "R1" or “R3” alternate color row.

R1: (alternate color yarn): knit

R2: (base color yarn): k1, p1

R3: (alternate color yarn): knit

R4: (base color yarn): p1, k1

  • To Decrease, continuing with the broken seed stitch pattern, starting with base color  "R2" or “R4” row:

*work 8 (9) sts, K2tog, Ssk, work 8, repeat from * all the way around. 

Knit 1 row. 

*work 7 (8) sts, K2tog, Ssk, work 7, repeat from * all the way around.

Knit 1 row.

*work 6 (7) sts, K2tog, Ssk, work 6, repeat from * all the way around.

Knit 1 row.

*work 5 (6) sts, K2tog, Ssk, work 5, repeat from * all the way around.

Knit 1 row, changing to your double pointed needles, evenly distributing your stitches.

*work 4 (5) sts, K2tog, Ssk, work 4, repeat from * all the way around.

Knit 1 row.

*work 3 (4) sts, K2tog, Ssk, work 3, repeat from * all the way around.

Knit 1 row.

*work 2 (3) sts, K2tog, Ssk, work 2, repeat from * all the way around.

Knit 1 row.

*work 1 (2) sts, K2tog, Ssk, work 1, repeat from * all the way around.

Knit 1 row.

*work (1) sts, K2tog, Ssk, repeat from * all the way around.

  • Break yarn, leaving a long tail, and use your yarn needle to run through all remaining stitches. Weave in all of your loose ends. 

I decided to top mine off with a small pom pom made with the base color. 

Now you can have your very own Fishy hat!

Variation: You can choose to use your alternate color for the ribbing, just skip “R1” on your first “broken seed stitch” pattern set, starting with “R2” and your base color. 

For example: Here's a hat with dark green ribbing and dark green "scales" with a light green base color.