10 Balaclava Knitting Patterns for Children and Adults

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Find 10 free balaclava knitting patterns for both children and adults. From purely functional to extremely quirky. Great as Christmas knits.

balaclava knitting pattern

A balaclava is described as a hat that exposes only part of the face. For example, only the eyes are exposed. Or both eyes and nose are exposed. Or only the eyes, nose and mouth are exposed.

I think a head-covering is a more accurate name. It serves as both a hat and a scarf, providing warmth and coverage for the head, ears, and neck.

Most balaclava feature an opening in the front. Depending on the size of the opening, the bottom part can be stretched to reveal or cover different parts of the face. The top part can also be pulled behind your head revealing the head.

Why is it called Balaclava?

This head-covering is named after the town of Balaclava during the Crimean War in 1854. It was originally worn by Russian soldiers to keep warm. It is now popular with skiers, climbers and bikers because it is flexible and warm. The design and colours have also developed from there.

The Balaclava lends itself well to knitting since knitting provides the stretch required.

There are 10 balaclava knitting patterns here: 5 for adults, 5 for kids.

1. Bulky Yarn Knit Balaclava Pattern

Image source: https://www.handylittleme.com/bulky-knit-balaclava-pattern/

Designed by Louise of Handy Little Me, this is a cosy head-covering suitable for winter using super bulky yarn. The recommended yarn is Drops Eskimo Print – 27 Rust Print.

Knitting techniques that you need to know would be knit, purl, k2tog and knitting in the round.

The instructions could do with headings to signpost which part of the balaclava you are working on. But I think it is basically cast on for the neck and work all the way to the top of the head.

This free pattern is available at https://www.handylittleme.com/bulky-knit-balaclava-pattern/

2. Travs Balaclava Knitting Pattern

Designed by Sam from The Complete Fabrication.

It is a simple no-frill balaclava knitting pattern suitable for guys. The opening is stretchable enough to pull down over the chin or pull back over the head.

Knitted in the round from the neck up. You need to know how to cast off and cast on in the middle of the work. You can pick one of the techniques from my cast-off and cast on lists on this site.

This free pattern is available at http://thecompletefabrication.blogspot.com/2008/06/travs-balaclava.html

3. Knit Helmet

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Made available by the Seamen’s Church Institute. According to them, seafarers who work on ship decks and gangways love this. I have no idea why they call this a helmet.

It resembles the Travs Balaclava. The pattern offers two ways to knit this balaclava. One way is similar to Travs: knit in the round. The other way is knit flat. For knitters who do not like knitting in the round, this is a good pattern to try.

This free printable PDF pattern is available at https://www.yumpu.com/en/document/view/40087767/knit-helmet-the-seamens-church-institute

4. From Russia With Love Cabled Balaclava

Designed by Nikol Lohr of The Thrifty Knitter.

This pretty balaclava is knitted in the round from neck up to the crown. A branching cable travels up the balaclava from the neck up to the crown. I am always curious how decreasing work with cables and Nikol has a neat way of doing it.

Nikol provides step by step instructions together with pictures on how to knit the branching cables.

The opening is created by leaving live stitches and casting on stitches with the cable cast-on method. Again, Nikol provides detailed instructions on how to make up the opening with a neat edge.

This free pattern is available at https://makezine.com/2009/09/29/from_russia_with_love_cabled_b/

5. Jackyll & Hide

Designed by Saskia de Feijter, this fun pattern can be both a pretty normal cap and a scary Halloween head-covering inspired by Jack Skellington of The Nightmare Before Christmas.

Knitted in the round starting with 8 rows of garter stitch at the neck. This is followed by a 3-inch stockinette stitch, 4-inch 2×2 ribbing, 5-inch stockinette stitch up to eye holes, eye holes, and decreasing stitches to shape the crown.

The closure at the crown of the hat is interesting. Like a cross.

The free pattern is available at https://knitty.com/ISSUEfall07/PATTjh.html

Additional knitting notes regarding the eye-holes at http://sasknitsitagain.blogspot.com/2008/12/jackll-hide-go-wonkers.html


People who have experienced dressing young children for cold weather can appreciate and understand the charm of the balaclava. It acts as a hat and scarf or cowl in a single piece. Pull it over the head of the child and it stays there securely. No anxious fumbling with the scarf or picking up beanies for active fussy children who like pulling their hats off.

5 balaclava knitting patterns for kids here. All of them feature a single opening for the face.

6. Seamless Kitty Cat Balaclava

Image source: Valerie Johnson at Ravelry.com

The seamless kitty cat balaclava is designed by Valerie Johnson of Wandering Cat Studio. The pattern has instructions for children from age 2, 4 and 6. Gauge is 5 stitches and 6.5 rows to 1 inch in stockinette stitch.

Start at the face opening with ribbing, followed by flat knitting for the head. Shaping for ears and back of the head is achieved by increasing and decreasing stitches and short rows.

Valerie included helpful notes and abbreviations in the pattern. I like how she created clear sections for each part of the balaclava: face opening, head, first ear, second ear, back of the head, and neck.

Her pattern also included pictures of the balaclava which helps knitters check whether they are on track.

The free pattern available at https://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/seamless-kitty-cat-hat

7. Little Gnome Balaclava Knitting Pattern

Baby Balaclava
Image source: knittedpatterns.com

Little Gnome is offered free by Yarnspiration. The pattern is professionally written with instructions and measurements for 3 sizes.

You will need 3.75mm and 4mm knitting needles.

The cast on row is at the face opening. Do take care to read the instructions a couple of times to get a general idea of how the piece is to be knitted up.

I like the inclusion of the number of stitches that you should have on your working needles at the end of each row of instructions.

You must know how to pick up stitches from a garter stitch edge. I find Knit Purl Hunter‘s tips helpful.

The pattern is available at https://www.yarnspirations.com/row-en/bernat-little-gnome-hat/BRK0216-003916M.html

8. Bunnyclava Knitting Pattern

We have a cat and gnome-inspired balaclavas, how can we leave the bunny out?

Designed by Wendy Poush. It is free until further notice. 🙂

Bunnyclava is worked in the round starting from the neck up to the top of the head. The opening is shaped using short rows with increases and decreases over the forehead. The opening is big enough to tuck under the chin.

The ears are not knitted separately and then sewn into the hat. It is firmly attached to the hat because it is picked up and knitted directly onto the hat.

You will need to have 5mm circular needles about 16 inch or 40cm long. Instructions are only for a single size. The finished product measures about 17.75 inches in circumference but we all know this depends on our knitting tension, and yarns used.

The pattern is available at https://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/bunnyclava-toddler-balaclava

9. Winter Jolly Balaclava Knitting Pattern

Designed by Drops with sizes for children age 3 to 12.

You will need 2.5mm circular knitting needles that are about 40cm long.

This balaclava is worked from the neck up. There are distinct sections for the bottom, upper piece, tail and pom-pom.

The language and terms used are not standard pattern terms. I think it is because the pattern is translated into English. Do spend some time to read the instructions.

The free pattern is available at https://www.garnstudio.com/pattern.php?id=5397&cid=17

Dice Check Balaclava Knitting Pattern

Designed by Gretchen Tracey of http://www.ballstothewallsknits.com/.

I am intrigued by the colourwork. I find myself staring at it in wonder.

This three-colour balaclava has an unusual construction. Fortunately, Gretchen gave an overview first. There is a knitted strip where stitches are picked up from both sides to create the sides of the head. After the head is knitted flat, the work is joined in the round to knit the neck. The opening for the face has a ribbed edging. It cannot be adjusted.

In my opinion, this pattern is for a seasoned knitter. You have to take care of the colourwork and the shaping work at the same time.

This free web-based pattern is available at http://www.ballstothewallsknits.com/2014/02/kids-dice-check-balaclava.html

I hope you find this list useful. If you try any of the patterns listed here, do let me know.

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