I found just the right pattern at Annie's Attic. It is from Oat Couture, and you can find the complete Oat Couture pattern collection at www.oatcouture.com.
The pattern calls for either DK or heavy Worsted weight yarn, and since I know my niece well enough to be certain she is not going to think twice about tossing it in the wash and NOT want to be bothered with hand washing, I chose Caron's Simply Soft yarn in Dk Sage and Dk Country Blue, her two favorite colors. The pattern uses size 8 and size 9 needles with worsted weight yarn, but to get guage I had to use size 3 and 4 needles. Personally, I don't think guage was really all that important in this hat, so I could have used what they suggested and been done a lot sooner, but the hat would not be as dense, therefore not as warm either. I am a very loose knitter.
Also, in the pattern, it does not mention the little baubles dangling from the back that you see in the picture, but I really liked the effect, and I know that my niece is going to love that too. So I have added a few baubles that I just happened to have laying around in my sewing box. It just looks more "finished" with the baubles. Don't you agree??
Now that I've finished one of these, and see how easy they are, I am going to have to make a few more of them. I actually like this hat for myself. It is very comfortable and fashionable as well. Of course there has never been anything about me that was fashionable, so that might throw everyone off a bit. But it's a new year starting, and that means a time for some changes.
I want to wish everyone prosperity and good health for 2010.
Take care and keep well.......... Sandie