Tips for Tiny Crochet
Welcome back for our second weekly tutorial for the Mini Mania Crochet-a-Long! All month long I am going to be posting tips to help us along as we make our minis together. Be sure to check out the CAL announcement for more information and head on over to the Monster's Toy Box Ravelry group to join in on the mini-making fun.
Tips for Tiny Crochet
There are many different ways to make mini-sized amigurumi, from decreasing the number of stitches and rounds used in the pattern itself (similar to how I make my mini-sized Monster’s Toy Box patterns) to decreasing the size of the yarn and hook that you use to make the amigurumi.
This week, we will be taking a look at the latter. Using thinner yarn and a smaller hook than the pattern calls for can be a lot of fun, because you never know how small the finished amigurumi will turn out. But it can also be a little bit tricky, especially if you are used to working with “normal”-sized yarn and hooks. So this week, I have put together a couple of tips that I have found helpful when working with tiny crochet.
And speaking of “how small will it end up?”, the project I am working on in the photos below is the newly-released Mini Monster in the Toy Box in size 5 crochet thread and a 1.40mm steel crochet hook, the sort usually used to make fine, lacy doilies! Talk about tiny!
Tip #1: Try a Hook with a Handle
Tiny crochet can be a little rough on the hands if you aren’t careful… because smaller crochet hooks are so thin, there is not a lot to hold onto and it can be a little tricky to get a good grip on it—I, for one, often find myself hanging onto it using a “death grip” on it! Unfortunately, this can cause a lot of stress on the joints in the hands, which does not make for very happy crocheting in the long run.
A hook with a handle on it can help alleviate some of that stress by creating larger, more “natural” grip. It doesn’t even need to be one of those fancy, ergonomic handles… the hook I am using to make my Tiny-Mini Monster has a very simple wooden handle that works wonderfully! There are many grips available commercially (and many hooks include them as part of their design) and I have seen many tutorials online on how to make your own using polymer clay. So if you are having a hard time holding onto your tiny hook, it might be worth looking into a crochet hook with a handle on it.
Tip #2: Mind that Tension!
On the other hand (literally!), a death grip on your crochet hook isn’t the only thing you might have to watch out for. It’s pretty easy to choke up on the tension of your yarn when it is so thin, but it is important to try to remember to stay loose and relaxed and not hold on too tightly.
Your hands will thank you!
Tip #3: Count Your Stitches
Naturally, if you are making a toy with tiny yarn and a tiny hook, you are going to end up with some very tiny stitches! As I have learned the hard way while making my Tiny-Mini Monster, those tiny stiches are very easy to skip over… I missed at least three or four stitches while crocheting my monster’s body and had to rip it all out!
It saves a lot of time and frustration to stop and check your stitch count every so often just to make sure you are still on track and haven’t skipped anything.
Tip #4: A Stuffing Tool is Your Best Friend!
Sometimes, tiny crochet pieces are simply too tiny to be able to stuff properly just using your hands and fingers. In this case, a stuffing tool can be invaluable.
A stuffing tool is more or less a glorified wooden stick. Some brands of stuffing include one in every bag of stuffing (I think I have about 20 of them lying around), but a wooden dowel slightly tapered end would make a good substitute. The slightly rough wood grain of a stuffing tool grips the stuffing and makes it easy to poke it down into hard to reach places.
Similarly, it is better to stuff sooner rather than later when making tiny amigurumi. By the time the pattern instructions call for you to start stuffing a piece, the hole may be too small on a tiny amigurumi to be able to stuff it properly. As good example would be the Mini Monster’s arms, which are not supposed to be stuffed until right before they are sewn on. However, for my Super-Mini Monster, I will probably want to stuff the arms before I start the decreases in Round 12.
These are just a couple of little things that I have found helpful when working with amigurumi on a very small scale. If you have any more good ideas, be sure to share them down in the comments or over at the Monster’s Toy Box Ravelry group.
I will be back next week with a look at how different yarn thickness and hook combinations can affect the size of finished amigurumi.