10 Free Balaclava Knitting Patterns

Although balaclavas have gained quite a bit of popularity in the fashion world in recent years, they are more than just a fashion statement. These are also practical accessories that protect you from the wind and cold, whether you’re going skiing or just on a quick stroll. Whether you’d like to knit a balaclava because they look interesting, or you need one for the upcoming winter, you’ll need a good pattern for it. To make the search easier, we’ve put together ten free balaclava knitting patterns you can try out. But first, let’s find out more about balaclavas.

Why Is It Called Balaclava?

Balaclava got its name after the town of Balaclava in Crimea. More specifically, it was named after the Battle of Balaclava in 1854, when British soldiers wore them to protect their heads and faces from the severe cold weather. These were handmade garments that civilians provided, as the troops’ winter supplies didn’t arrive on time. However, the British military didn’t invent this piece. Similar headpieces were worn by many other groups, such as Templars and Uhlans.

Today, you might come across balaclavas under an array of different names, such as ski masks, hoods, balaclava helmets, knit helmets, and so on.

How to Knit a Balaclava?

Since balaclavas maintain prolonged contact with the face, it is important to choose a type of yarn that isn’t too rough and won’t irritate the skin. Additionally, balaclavas that are meant to be worn under helmets should be made out of thinner materials, so that the helmet can fit. However, since the purpose is to protect from the cold weather, the yarn should also be thick enough to provide warmth. Balaclavas made out of thicker materials, such as bulky or super bulky yarn, are meant to be worn without a helmet.

If you’re not sure which yarn to use, we recommend trying Lion Brand Wool Ease Yarn. If you find wool too hard on the skin, you can also try natural alpaca yarn, such as Mary Maxim Natural Alpaca Tweed. However, the exact type of yarn to use will depend on the kind of headpiece you are making, as well as personal preference.

You will also need to choose which type of balaclava you want to knit. Some of them have only openings for the eyes, while others also reveal the mouth or even the entire face. Some can be pulled back like a hood, others can be pulled down to expose the chin and jaw.

Of course, you should also make sure you have all the necessary supplies — needles of the right type and size (depending on the yarn weight), scissors, stitch markers, and optionally, blocking equipment (blocking mat and some rust-proof pins). Of course, you will also need a pattern of your choice. If you still haven’t found one, check out the free knitted balaclava patterns we provided below.

10 Balaclava Patterns to Knit

Following are our top 10 favourite balaclava patterns for knitting. Keep in mind that these aren’t Mary Maxim patterns, but rather designs provided by others who were generous enough to share their work for free.

1. BB Balaclava Knitting Pattern
Source: Ravelry

This BB Balaclava pattern will help you knit a balaclava with a single opening for the entire face. The information and measurements are provided for two sizes. The yarn recommended in the pattern is Cascade 220 Superwash, but you can use any worsted-weight superwash wool yarn, such as Premier Spun Colours Merino Superwash Wool Yarn. You will also need needles in sizes 6 and 7.

2. Jackyll & Hide Balaclava Pattern
Source: Knitty

This fun design is a two-in-one hat and balaclava with a theme. The Jackyll & Hide Balaclava can double as a regular beanie, but when pulled down, it reveals a Jack Skellington face (although you can skip the Nightmare Before Christmas theme and just make a plain two-in-one headpiece). You will need around 4 balls of merino wool, one set of double-point and circular needles, stitch markers, stitch holders, a tapestry needle, and pins.

3. Bulky Yarn Knit Balaclava Pattern

With the Bulky Yarn Knit Balaclava Pattern, you can make a balaclava that is meant to be worn as a standalone piece, rather than under a helmet. This is an intermediate-level pattern, so it does require some skill and experience. It also requires around three skeins of bulky-weight yarn and circular needles.

4. Dice Check Balaclava Pattern

If you’re an intermediate knitter and want a project that will challenge you, this Dice Check Balaclava pattern is perfect for you. You will need three different colours of superwash wool yarn (one ball each), circular needles, a tapestry needle, stitch markers, and a stitch holder. And, of course, a little bit of patience.

5. Toddler Dinosaur Hood Pattern
Source: Ravelry

Dinosaurs are traditionally many children’s favourite animals. If you know a kid who likes dinos, this Toddler Dinosaur Hood will make for a perfect gift for them! The pattern uses Reynolds Ole-Ole yarn. However, this yarn has since been discontinued. so you can also use any other bulky yarn. We recommend Lion Brand Hue + Me acrylic and wool blend. You will need two colours, one for the base, and another one for the back spikes. You should also get size-7 circular needles, some markers and a button.

6. Knit Helmet
Source: Yumpu

This simple Knit Helmet pattern calls for worsted-weight yarn and size-8 knitting circular and double-point needles (or whichever size needle will get the 4/4.5 stitches per inch gauge. This is one of the simpler patterns on this list, so if you’re a beginner, it might be a good place to start.

7. Ronja Skiing Balaclava
Source: Knit Rowan

This Ronja Skiing Balaclava is similar to the previous entry in our list, but it features some fun colour work, too. Of course, this also makes it somewhat more difficult to knit. You will need five balls of wool yarn in total in four different colours (two balls for the basic colour and one ball each for the colour work). 

8. Chunky Balaclava

If you find it easier to follow video instructions rather than read the pattern, this Chunky Balaclava tutorial is perfect for you. Follow along to make an open-face, hoodie-style thick and warm balaclava. This is a beginner-friendly project, so don’t be afraid to give it a shot even if you don’t have a lot of knitting experience.

9. Seamless Kitty Cat Balaclava Knitting Pattern for Kids
Source: Ravelry

Balaclavas for kids are some of the most creative, fun headpieces you can create. This Seamless Kitty Cat Balaclava pattern is a prime example of that! Any toddler will be ecstatic to sport cat ears, and what’s more, the pattern comes in three different sizes for kids of different ages. You will need worsted-weight yarn (we recommend Lily Sugar’n Cream Cotton Yarn), some stitch markers, and a darning needle.

10. Bernat Little Garter Gnome Hat Knitting Pattern

The Bernat Little Garter Gnome Hat is an easy-level knitting project that comes in three different sizes. You will need one ball of Bernat Softee Baby Yarn (or several, if you want to play around with colours and patterns), and a size-6 knitting needle. If you go for a different type of yarn, use a needle that will allow you to maintain the defined gauge.

How Do You Knit a Balaclava With Straight Needles?

Straight needles, also known as single-point needles, have a stopper at the hind end. This makes it somewhat harder to work with, although it is not impossible to knit a balaclava with them. However, you will likely find it easier to knit in parts and then join them together to make the whole piece later. If you’re not sure whether to use straight needles, it’s best to stick to what the pattern prescribes.

Can You Knit a Balaclava on a Double-Point Needle?

Yes! While circular needles might be the most common tool of choice for knitting balaclavas, you can also do it using double-point needles. However, unless you’re a seasoned knitter, it’s best to stick to the type of needles listed in the pattern you choose to make. That way, you can be sure the piece will come out exactly how you want it. 

Can I Use Straight Knitting Needles Instead of Circular?

Yes, you can use straight knitting needles instead of circular to knit a balaclava. However, as we mentioned above, straight needles might make the job a little more difficult, as they are generally a better choice for flat items, such as dishcloths or scarfs. It’s always best to stick to the instructions defined by the pattern of the project you’re working on.