Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Free Pattern: Bike Helmet Earmuffs

People bike year-round in Madison, Wisconsin. And while I refuse to bike in any sort of snow, it is very likely that I will meet with cold weather as I bike to work in October and November. My husband was the first to state that his ears were getting cold while biking, giving me the look that clearly said, “I’m sure that you can fix this by knitting me something.” So I set to work making him a liner for his bike helmet; something that would cover his ears, integrate into the straps, and, most importantly, stay in place. After a couple hours of knitting, I’m delighted to share the result with you!

And if you are interested in knitting your own ear-warmer, I've written up some pithy instructions below:


Gauge: 20 st/28 rows = 4 inches in stockinette
Needles: Set of 5 US#7/4.5mm dpns
Materials: 1 ball Knitpicks Swish Worsted [Superwash Merino Wool, 110 yds per 50 grm ball] in Dark Navy


Cast on 12 st. Join to work in the round, being careful not to twist.

*K1, P1* for a total of 4 rounds.

Divide stitches evenly onto 4 needles.

Round 1:
*K1, M1, K to end of needle. K to last stitch on second needle, M1, K1.* Repeat ** for needles 3 and 4.
Round 2 & 3: K even.

Repeat these three rounds seven more times until you have 44 stitches, ending with round 3.

Work 4 rounds in *K1, P1* ribbing.

Cast off 22 st.

Continue to work *K1, P1* rib back and forth with the other half of stitches for 10.5 inches, or whatever fits your helmet/head.

Cast on 22 st on the same side of your knitting as you cast of the previous stitches. Divide stitches evenly over 4 needles. Join to work in the round, being careful not to twist.

Work 4 rounds in *K1,P1* ribbing.

Round 5 & 6:
K even.
Round 7: *SSK, K to end of needle. K to second to last stitch on second needle, K2tog.* Repeat ** for needles 3 and 4.

Repeat these three rounds seven more times until there are 12 stitches.

*K1, P1* for 4 rounds.

Cast off. Weave in ends.

Questions or errata? Contact me at brineydeepdesigns_at_gmail_dot_com!

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.


Anonymous said...

What a wonderful pattern.

Little NutMeg Productions said...

This is the ultimate gift for my brother who bikes to the river at 4am to go rowing at 5am. Thanks!

anachronist said...

Thanks for this inspiration.My helmet has different strap system though, so I guess I will have to modify the slanting to the back of the straps.

It comes just in time, too.
and saved a lot of thinking.
Such an elegant solution (the caps I used up to now were always making me think they interfere with the safety of the helmet.).

yarnpiggy said...

Brilliant pattern! :-)

Anonymous said...

brilliant idea, i already knitted one and will do a second one for myself next. My husband loves it and he loves madison from his vist there in 2000 so this was a perfect coincidence.
Thank you

Suzy from berlin

Unknown said...
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Anonymous said...

Brilliant, my dad is so getting one of these for xmas - I'll be casting on tomorrow :D

Jeannie said...

Hey there! I love this design, but I am struggling hard core with mastering dpn's. Would there be any chance of getting the dimensions on this so I can replicate it in crochet? I would greatly appreciate it! I know a few cyclists who would really appreciate one of these for the holidays and I just don't think I can get the hang of dpns in time.

Thanks in advance for an info you can give me!

pretywtch on Rav

Cindy said...

I love this most practical pattern. I've made 2 — one for myself (which I've already tried out) and one for a friend for Xmas. I used the magic loop instead of double points and a garter stitch for the bank (I'm lazy). I also made the band narrower because I was afraid of running out of yarn. Thank you so much. fitterknitter.com

Unknown said...

I had never used DPNs before but this pattern was great motivation for trying them out! I have made two so far and I have another one on the needles. I used magic loop also for the second one and found that I liked doing it that way as well. Thank you!
I do have a difficult time casting the 22 stitches back in the right way. I wind up knitting with the wrong side showing :( Any suggestions?

Jackie E-S said...

Thank you so much. Cindy (fitterknitter) just wrote me about the bike helmet earmuffs she had made from your pattern. This is a real find. Biking is one of my favorite ways to exercise and relieve stress. We don't have much cold weather here in south Louisiana, but it does happen now and then, lol. I think this will be a good gift to make for my man friend who likes to ride bike, too!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing this pattern. I used it to teach myself the magic loop method and they turned out great.


Anonymous said...

What a brilliant idea! I can't wait to try it out! (Yes, it DOES get cold enough to wear them in Tucson!)

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Anonymous said...

I love this idea and pattern, can it be converted to crochet as I don't knit?

Kristin said...

I'm not planning to adapt it to a crochet pattern, but you are welcome to try!

DHinSC said...

This will make the perfect stocking stuffer. My husband rides regularly and most hats interfere with the fit of the helmet. Thanks for your ingenious design.

Frozen Flame said...

Fantastic pattern! Ever since I started to teach myself to knit, my husband has been bugging me for a better biking hat. This is perfect! For anyone that is having trouble with casting on stitches at the end of a row, check out TechKnitter's trick: http://techknitting.blogspot.com/2008/12/casting-on-additional-stitches-at-end.html

collector baseball cards said...
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lilbj said...

Hi Kristin, I am trying to knit the Bike Helmet Earmuffs, but I got stuck! I got as far as the "cast off 22 sts. What do I do with the last st on the needle? BTW, I used the magic loop instead of the 4 dpns, I was doing just fine, till I got the this point! Please help!
I am making this for my son, he is a med student at UCSF and rides his motorcycle to school! It gets pretty chilly in San Francisco!

Kristin said...


Cast off that extra stitch like you did with the previous 21. This means that the first of your remaining stitches will have a 'psso' on it, but it won't be too noticeable.

Another way to put it is that you will do this: K1, (K1, psso) 22 times. So you actually end up knitting 23 stitches, but officially casting off 22 st.

Hope this helps!

lilbj said...

Hi Kristin,
I finished the earmuffs, but one side came out shorter than the other! How can I post a picture of it? Maybe you can tell me what I did wrong. I used the magic loop.


Kristin said...


Flickr allows you to upload photos to the web for free. That's the service I normally use.

Better yet, why don't you e-mail me a photo and I will try to help. Send it to brineydeepdesigns_at_gmail_dot_com.


Cullen said...

Great idea!

I'm going to make one of these for my first knitting experience. I hope it's not too hard of a project to begin with!


Kristin said...


I hope everything goes well for you! If you get stuck, feel free to e-mail me at brineydeepdesigns_at_gmail_dot_com.

Unknown said...

I'd love to try this for my cycling men for Christmas - can you modify to spread(instead of narrowing) atop a shaved head?

Kristin said...

Shelley - It narrows in the middle because that section is done in [K1,P1] rib. If you do that section in, say, stockinette, you might have better coverage of the head.

Anna Lawrence said...

Would you ever sell them already made? I would like to get my mom some, but I don't knit at all!!

Kristin said...


I have no plans to sell pre-made earmuffs. Perhaps you can commission someone to make a pair for you? Personally, I would ask your friends if they know any knitters or check to see if there is anything similar to what you want on Etsy.

Hope this helps!

lilbj said...

Hi Anna, have you found someone to knit the bike helmet earmuffs for you yet?

Michelle said...

These are brilliant! I have a ton of friends who could use some of these. Thanks for sharing your pattern!

JCV said...

Hi - any suggestions how you could make these in sportweight yarn (which is slightly thinner than worsted) - I'd like to make a pair for a friend. thanks.

Kristin said...


I think you could adapt the pattern to sport weight by repeating rounds 1-3 a few extra times (then adding a matching number of repeats to rounds 5-7). I would also cast on a few more stitches, say 16 in stead of 12.

The best advice is to use my written pattern as a guideline and try the earmuffs on a helmet as you knit. That will ensure a good fit.

Good luck!

Michelle said...

This will be what everyone on my list can expect in their stocking this Christmas! :)

I'd like to make a few for my Etsy shop as well, but being that you have offered this pattern for free, would understand if you weren't ok with that. Would it be ok with you?

Thanks again for the creative pattern! :)

Bethany Marcello said...

I'm a beginner knitter and really struggling with the knitting on 4 needles. Do you have a good video to recommend? Also, is the knitting in the round for each earmuff open or closed bottom?

Kristin said...


Working over 4 DPNS just takes some getting used to. They're especially fiddly at the beginning of this pattern but it gets easier as you go along.

If you still find using 4 needles awkward, you can always try 'magic loop'. Here's a video for you and here is a photo tutorial on magic loop.

Some people use DPNs exclusively while others use magic loop exclusively, it just depends on your preference. It might be worth trying magic loop if you're frustrated by DPNs. If you're sticking with DPNs, it does get easier as you get more used to working with them.

As for knitting in the round, this pattern creates a cylindrical tube with holes at top and bottom for the helmet straps to go through. So it will be open bottom.

Good luck with your knitting. A lot of learning is getting used to the awkwardness of dealing with the needles and I'm sure it will go smoothly for you soon!


Felicity said...

Wonderful pattern - thank you so much! I love my new ear warmers, both functional and cute! I love that I could personalize them to match my bike and helmet:). Thanks!

Anonymous said...

brilliant, ideal present for my brother in law

Laura Negus said...

Just finished these and am so pleased! Wonderful pattern. Bonus: great way to use up small balls of yarn. Halfway through a pair for my husband too!

Anonymous said...

What is the M1 stand for on rounds 2 and 3? I'm a pretty novice knitter, so pardon the silly question! Thank you!!

Anonymous said...

Anonymous, M1 stands for make 1.

Unknown said...

Thank you so much for sharing this pattern, it will actually encourage me to get the bike out despite the cold! Brilliant!

Babajeza said...

Very clever! :-)

brow5204 said...

I have made this pattern 4 times now for friends and family (and myself) for our equestrian riding helmets! These are a huge hit! I had some gross semi scratchy acrylic yarn in awesome colors that I wanted to burn up so I also traced the finished project onto some fleece fabric and whip stitched it to make an extra soft lining. I start and end with 16 stitches because it seems to work better with my knitting style which tends to have a little more tension than it should. Thank you so much for sharing!

Unknown said...

On round 7, what does SSK stand for please ?

Unknown said...

Hi Kristin,
This is such a great idea for my brother. I finished one set but had a problem doing so. After casting on the 22 stitches (which works out great) I begin the round 6, 6 and 7 but the flaps area is showing up as the wrong (pearl) side. I even took the earmuffs to my favorite knitting store. The woman with 30 years of experience couldn’t figure out why this happened. She told me I would have to pearl the rest of the pattern to make it turn out with the knitted side showing. I did that and eventually it worked. I have started this project again to gift to my niece but I am running into the same issue again. I’d rather not pearl the rest of the way through this. Do you have any thoughts on where I may have gone wrong?

Anonymous said...

Dpns have always been tricky for me, too, though I've been knitting for a long time. It's a lot to juggle at once! I recommend looking up the magic loop method of knitting in the round. I use that in place of dpns for almost everything. Happy knitting!