I’m a big fan of top down hats. You don’t need to measure or make a gauge swatch before you cast on. Here’s the hat I knit for Brian. My basic recipe:
CO 8 sts.
Increase Round: Increase 8 stitches.
Work 1 round plain.
Alternate these two rounds until you reach your desired circumference.
Work in your pattern until your hat is long enough.
Then work some ribbing, or don’t. Or work some other edging.
Bind off all the stitches.
Brian had been wearing a hat I knit him ages ago that was starting to pill and look very sad. So I dove into my stash and pulled out a beautiful skein of Astral Bath Tesseract in Lethe. I used US 2 needles on the body of the hat, and a US 1 needle on the ribbing. And you know what? I actually finished it a few days before Christmas!
The yarn is an incredibly soft combination of merino, silk, and cashmere. It’s really lightweight but still warm, and Brian has been wearing it a ton, so I know he likes it!