Knit Balaclava Pattern – Wild Winter

Protect your face from wild winter winds with this knit balaclava pattern. Short rows at the opening and decreases under the chin create a smooth, comfortable fit that stays in place. It’s like a hug for your face!

Wild Winter Balaclava - knit pattern on Stitches n Scraps

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King Cole Safari Chunky Yarn

King Cole yarns provided the Safari Chunky Yarn for this design. This unique yarn is warm, lightweight and squishy, perfect for a face-hugging pattern like this one! It works up into stripes that resemble animal prints. For this knit balaclava pattern, I chose the Lagoon colorway.

Safari Chunky - Lagoon colorway

See all the colors on the King Cole website. Then, find it in a shop near you with the “Find a Stockist” tool!

Wrap and Turn Short Rows

Short rows can be intimidating if you haven’t done them before, but don’t let that stop you from making the Wild Winter Balaclava! Short rows are simply rows where you don’t work all the stitches. These partial rows create the triangle shaped gussets at each side of the opening.

Short rows at opening

To avoid creating a gap, you wrap the working yarn around the first unworked stitch, then turn around and go back the way you came. This is called the wrap & turn method, and complete instructions are included in the pattern.

In garter stitch, there’s no need to pick up the wraps later like you would in stockinette. If you ignore the wraps completely, they will blend in with the surrounding purl bumps. This way they are actually less visible than if you had picked them up! Check out this Wrap and Turn Short Rows in Garter Stitch tutorial for a closer look.

How to knit garter stitch wrap and turn short rows

A Note About Needles

When it comes to knitting in the round, there are so many options! Double-pointed, circular, magic loop, or 2 pairs of needles, all are fine for this project. Choose whichever works best for you!

I used the magic loop method for the top of the hat, then switched back and forth between short and long circular needles. Needles that are just slightly smaller than the circumference of your work make for fast, continuous knitting. But extra long cords with the magic loop method allow you to try on your balaclava as you go.

With interchangeable needles, you could even switch out your cords whenever you want. But I found it easier just to knit the stitches onto a longer needle set when I wanted to try it on.

Wild Winter Knit Balaclava Pattern

Project level Intermediate

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  • Yarn: 150 yds King Cole Safari Chunky – 100% acrylic, bulky weight yarn (311 yds / 150g per ball) – sample shown in #5006 Lagoon
  • Needles: Your choice of needle type for knitting in the round (see note below).
    • US size 10 1/2 (6.5 mm) needles, or size needed to match gauge
    • US size 10 (6 mm) needles, or one size smaller than larger needles
  • Notions:
    • Scissors
    • Yarn needle

Use your favorite method of knitting in the round, as you would for a hat. Double-pointed, circular, magic loop, or 2 sets of circulars are all fine. If using circular needles, you may need a shorter set for the top portion of the hat, or may need to use one of the other methods for that part.

Project Level

Intermediate: Increases, decreases, and wrap & turn garter stitch short rows.


Child [Adult]

To fit head circumference: 17-20 inches [20-23 inches]


13 sts x 22 rnds = 4 inches in stockinette

Abbreviations used

BO = bind off

CO = cast on

k = knit

k2tog = knit 2 together

kfb = knit front and back

p = purl

rnd = round

RS = right side(s)

ssk = slip slip knit

st(s) = stitch(es)

w&t = wrap and turn (see Special Technique)

WS = wrong side(s)

Special Technique

Wrap and Turn (w&t): With yarn in back, slip next st purlwise. Bring the yarn to the front to “wrap” the stitch you just slipped.

Slip with yarn in back, then move yarn forward

Slip the wrapped stitch back onto the other needle without twisting it.

Slip back onto left needle, yarn is in front.

Turn to start the next row. The wrapped stitch does not count as a stitch in the stitch counts.

Turn after wrapping from behind, the yarn is in the back

When working back into a wrapped stitch, ignore the wrap (this would be different if we were working in stockinette). See this wrap and turn garter stitch short rows tutorial for a closer look.

Chart Symbol Key

Each section of the written pattern has corresponding charts. These are the symbols used in all the charts.

Chart Symbol Key



With larger needles, CO 8, join to knit in the round.

Rnd 1: Kfb 8 times. (16 sts)

Rnd 2 and every even rnd through rnd 10 [12]: K around.

Rnd 3: (Kfb, k1) 8 times. (24 sts)

Rnd 5: (Kfb, k2) 8 times. (32 sts)

Rnd 7: (Kfb, k3) 8 times. (40 sts)

Rnd 9: (Kfb, k4) 8 times. (48 sts)

Rnd 11: (Kfb, k11 [5]) 4 [8] times. (52 [56] sts)

Adult Size Only – Rnd 13: (Kfb, k6) 8 times. (64 sts)

Rnds 12-33 [14-37]: K around. (52 [64] sts)

Child Size Hat Chart

Child size hat chart
Click image to expand

Adult Size Hat Chart

Adult size hat chart
Click image to expand


This section creates a ribbed opening, and adds garter stitch short row shaping on each side of the opening.

Remember not to pick up your wraps when knitting back into a wrapped stitch.

When binding off in rnd 36, bind off loosely in pattern or use any stretchy bind off of your choice.

When casting on in rnd 37, use the alternating cable / seed stitch cast on or a stretchy cast on of your choice.

Child Size Only

Change to smaller needles.

Row 34 (RS): K2, (p1, k1) 9 times, p1, k2, w&t. (23 sts)

Row 35: K3, (p1, k1) 9 times, k3, w&t. (24 sts)

Row 36: K3, BO 19, k3, w&t. (6 sts, 19 sts bound off)

Row 37: K3, CO 17, k2, w&t. (22 sts)

Row 38: K2, (p1, k1) 8 times, p1, k2, w&t. (21 sts)

Row 39: K2, (p1, k1) 8 times, p1, k1, w&t. (20 sts)

Child Size Opening Chart

Child size opening chart
Click image to expand

Adult Size Only

Change to smaller needles.

Row 38 (RS): K2, (p1, k1) 12 times, p1, k2, w&t. (29 sts)

Row 39: K3, (p1, k1) 12 times, k3, w&t. (30 sts)

Row 40: K3, (p1, k1) 12 times, p1, k3, w&t. (31 sts)

Row 41: K3, BO 25, k4, w&t. (7 sts, 25 sts bound off)

Row 42: K4, CO 23, k4, w&t. (31 sts)

Row 43: K4, (k1, p1) 11 times, k4, w&t. (30 sts)

Row 44: K3, (p1, k1) 11 times, p1, k3, w&t. (29 sts)

Row 45: K3, (k1, p1) 11 times, k3, w&t. (28 sts)

Adult Size Opening Chart

Adult size opening chart
Click image to expand


Change to larger needles.

Rnds 40-64 [46-72]: K around. (50 [62] sts)

Rnd 65 [73]: K1 [6], ssk, k9 [11], k2tog, k36 [42]. (48 [60] sts)

Rnd 66 [74]: K around.

Adult Size Only

Rnd 75: K4, ssk, k11, k2tog, k41. (58 sts)

Rnd 76: K around. (58 sts)


Change to smaller needles.

Rnds 67-74 [77-86]: (K1, p1) around. (48 [58] sts)

Child Size Face & Neck Chart

Child size face and neck chart
Click image to expand

Adult Size Face & Neck Chart

Adult size face and neck chart
Click image to expand


Bind off using a sewn/tubular bind-off or other stretchy bind-off.

Use starting tail to sew the hole closed at top of the hat section.

Weave in all ends.

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