Beginners Guide to Knitting in Miniature

miniature knitting
© F H Powell 2010

This article assumes you are able to knit in full size. If you are new to miniature knitting, it can be very daunting when first faced with the size of the knitting needles and the very thin yarn. Even if you are a very experienced knitter the thought of using such small needles may be off-putting.

The first thing to do is to get used to the size and feel of the small needles. To do this we would recommend you take some wool of any thickness and cast on a few stitches using the small needles, then knit a few rows to get used to the weight and feel of the small needles. As there is generally an optimum size for the small needles these may be shorter than knitting needles you have used in the past. If the knitting needles are too long they tend to become ‘whippy’ and unwieldy to work with. In some cases this may mean you have to change your whole style of knitting from one you have previously been comfortable with. From personal experience over many years we have found the optimum length for each size of knitting needle for miniature knitting to be between 5-inches/12.5cm and 6-inches/15cm long.

Once you are happy with the weight and feel of the knitting needles then it is time to experiment with the very fine yarn. Cast on a few stitches and knit a few rows of garter stitch (every row knit) until you are happy with your tension and are comfortable working with the fine yarn. Even if you have perfect vision, you may find a magnifier will help with very fine work.

When you first start miniature knitting you will need to concentrate very hard and may find distractions cause you to drop stitches or make mistakes. Bearing this in mind always start with a very simple pattern (even if you are a very experienced knitter).

It is best to work in daylight at first (you will find you need a good light or a daylight bulb if you knit into the evening or you will develop eyestrain). It often helps to put a cloth of a contrasting colour under your work so the stitches show up more clearly, for example if you are knitting in a light colour put a solid dark colour on your lap under your work.

If you drop a stitch and it becomes unravelled to the row beneath, don’t even try to pick it up, unfortunately there is no alternative but to start again, as every picked up stitch will show up in the finished item.

If you are unable to work out how a pattern such as lace should appear, then practice doing the pattern in full size first until you feel confident as to how the pattern works.

Most of all you will need patience, as knitting in miniature is often very slow compared to full size knitting. Often in full size knitting you can get the feel of the work and work the stitches without looking at them, in miniature work you are not able to feel the individual stitches very easily, so you can’t often do this.