Knitting a little bookmark with 1.00 mm knitting needles. My experience with these super small needles & the pattern.
Are you an experienced knitter looking for a real challenge? Then you are probably like me. These days, a lot of beginners love knitting with these big 10 mm needles (like my beginner’s scarf). Really fine needlework seems to be a thing of the past. Even buying needles below 2 mm (size 0) can be a challenge.
So, when I saw 1.00 mm needles, I really couldn’t resist ordering them. Would I be able to knit with these? How hard can it be? Wikipedia tells me, that in the tomb of Prince Fernando de La Cerda (who died in 1275) archeologists found a silk cushion cover with 20 stitches per inch.
Before I wanted to start with a real project, I wanted to knit a little swatch. Both to get a feeling for the needles and to practice a bit. As I am always digging through knitting books, I thought an exquisite bookmark would be quite appropriate for my first attempt at knitting with 1,00 mm needles (but kindly check out my easy knitted bookmark for beginners as well)
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Below, you will find a detailed knitting pattern & chart for this bookmark. I basically combined two traditional Bavarian sock patterns for it, as I actually intend(ed) to knit some socks with these fine needles. But first, some observations concerning the knitting experience.
In case you were wondering I bought the 1 mm Karbonz (direct link to Amazon). As these are made from carbon and I love them in size zero. Fine metal needles always end up crooked and these stay the way they are and don’t break either. Unlike the bigger sizes, the size 1.00 mm doesn’t have a metal tip. And they don’t stay completely rigid either. They actually bend quite a lot but bounce back every time. It actually feels a bit like knitting with pencil refills.
At first, I was a bit scared that they might break any second, but they are in fact quite durable (at least for their size). Lacking metal tips, the friction is quite high. Also, they are not really tapered. As a result, knitting is actually quite difficult. Doubly so, because you really have to squint your eyes and knit very close to the face to actually see where the stitches are. (I guess one of these embroidery magnification lenses would have come in handy.)
Before I knit this swatch, I knit a different one trying out a set of different techniques. It turned out, any stitch that goes against the natural tension is very hard. So, k2tog, p2tog tbl are incredibly hard to knit and it takes like 10 attempts to pull the yarn through. I also ended up splitting the yarn quite frequently. I guess lace weight wool wasn’t the best choice and silk would probably be better.
Knitting and purling were surprisingly easy, though, and so were the corresponding back loop variations. Interestingly enough, a simple seed stitch selvedge was tough – especially the first stitch. KFB was impossible as well, while cables were moderately difficult.
As a result, I looked for a pattern with no triple increases or decreases, and very few decreases. Which actually meant that the majority of all lace patterns were off-limits. I also wanted something that is reversible, as a bookmark is something that you may want to turn around, eh?
Still, I am quite satisfied with how things turned out. Interestingly enough, I “only” ended up with ~16-17 stitches per inch – so the difference to 2.00 needles isn’t as big as you would guess. But that’s probably due to the “thick” lace wool. For a bigger project, a very fine cotton or silk thread would probably be better and would probably yield superior results.
Anyways, without further ado, onto the pattern.
Bookmark knitting pattern
If you are on Ravelry, you can use this link to put it into your queue and post your projects.
I called this pattern Victorian patience because it took quite a long time to finish. It’s all in all just 20 cm / 7.8 inches long but that roughly took me 5 hours to finish. The knitting is slow. But that kind of reminded me of the heydays of fine knitting where young women would spend equally long hours finishing super fine socks or shawls for their wedding and dowry.
It takes patience to finish this little pattern and I would say you should be at least an experienced knitter. I knit the repeat 4 times (see chart below) before I decreased towards a tip. Naturally, you are free to create a longer or shorter version. If you don’t like the tip, then you can also bind off straight away and maybe add some fringes?
So, cast on 27 stitches with 1.00 needles and the finest lace thread you can find.
If you want, you can add a little 2-row seed stitch edge at the bottom. Then, proceed with knitting the chart.
A couple of important notes regarding the chart:
- The chart only depicts the right side. So, knit between the rows. You can basically knit across all stitches. Only the ktbl stitches (indicated by a “B” in the chart) need to be purled through back loop on the wrong side (and most of the decreases at the tip; see the legend for further details)
- But be careful, the selvedge is knit in seed stitch. So, the 2 columns at the beginning and the end are the only place where you purl all purl stitches and knit all stitches in the return row. But you may pick a different selvedge as you see fit.
- At the very tip of the chart, I listed three creative decreases. This is due to the fact that I was unable to knit a triple decrease (like a k3tog tbl) with the 1mm needles. Instead, I knit a k2tog tbl, and then slipped it back onto the left needle and knit a k2tog, etc. You may replace these decreases as you see fit.
- For an even appearance on the WS, it would be better to decrease p2tog tbl on the right side of the repeat before the yarn over. As this is probably the most difficult decrease in knitting, I exchanged it with a p2tog. Advanced knitters might want to try it anyway (especially if you know the easy trick to knit this decrease; read my p2tog tbl tutorial for more info)
If, for whatever reason, you are knitting with bigger needles, then consider changing the repeat so it has fewer stitches. You can easily skip columns 12 and 16 and even 11 and 17 too. But make sure to carry along the little geometrical pattern in the middle of the diamond.
You can also come up with your own design for the center of the pattern. I could well imagine knitting letters or Christian themes (like a holy cross or lilies) there. A special bookmark for a devoted person could be perfect for a well-loved prayer book or a bible, don’t you think?
Last, but not least some further notes about the 1.00 needles.
I really want to be honest with you: It certainly was a challenge and I’m certainly satisfied with the result, but I’m equally not sure if I would knit this pattern again with such fine needles. It’s slow, it’s aggravating, and fixing small mistakes is impossible – you have to tink (knit backwards) and that takes quite a long time. Because everything is so tiny, I usually only noticed mistakes 2 or 3 rows later – excruciating, to say the least.
But then again, I’m sure most knitters will be able to appreciate the extra work that went into creating such a fine design. I certainly will and it turns a simple bookmark into a lasting testament of your skills and the amazing possibilities of this hobby.