I'm a firm believer that every project has the capability to teach a lesson, and this one sure did! I chose the beret pattern ages ago for my Aunt, because she said she liked berets for working in, and if it was a nice one, she would even wear it out on walks, etc. So I made her one for working in, and then planned on making this one for other occasions.
The pattern instructed to do the four-round pattern repeat eight times, and then start the decrease row. Others who had done the pattern recommended doing a couple more pattern repeats than necessary. However, I got through five repeats, and felt that it was big enough.
Usually, I would ignore my gut instincts and follow the pattern to the T. I've never felt very comfortable with messing with instructions, and generally feel that if it's written down, it's probably right.
However, I went with my gut and started decreasing after the sixth repeat. And, as you can see, the beret is perfect. Obviously it wouldn't have been the end of the world if I had to rip out a few repeats and finish off earlier if I had gone ahead and done the full number of repeats-- but it's nice to know that I have a sense of sizing and shape!