Bookmark knitting pattern: Victorian Patience

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.

another picture of the knitted lace bookmark on an ancient book

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.

Challenge accepted!

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.

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A very fine knitted bookmark in an acient book

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.

knitting the bookmark pattern on 1.00 mm nneedles

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.

close-up of the bookmark on the 1.00 mm knitting needles
A close-up: As you can see, the texture could be a bit more uniform

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?

the wrong side of the knitted bookmark - close up
Bookmark as seen from the wrong side with a tape for reference

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.

The right side of the knitted bookmark - a very challenging pattern knitted with 1.00 mm needles

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 off the heydays of fine knitting where young women would spend equally long hours to finish super fine socks or shawls for their wedding and dowry.

It takes patience to finish this little pattern. 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)
bookmark knitting pattern - the chart with the repeat and the decreases

Note: Check out my free knitting school, if you need to catch up on certain stitches

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?

bookmark knitting pattern with a cross
Variation of the repeat with a cross

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.

The wrong side of the knitted lace bookmark
The wrong side of the bookmark

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.

the knitted bookmark in a book

Anyways. That’s it. I hope you enjoyed reading through my experience with 1.00 knitting needles and loved my little pattern.

bookmark knitting pattern

8 thoughts on “Bookmark knitting pattern: Victorian Patience”

  1. Thanks so much for the ‘walk through’ on both the pattern and working with such tiny needles! I have worked a number of fine lace patterns on 2mm and up circulars and own several 1.00 circulars. This will give me ‘an excuse’ to get in there and try them out! Lovely work, thanks again!

    Reply
    • Hey Anne,
      thank you for your kind comment. I always love hearing from other knitters who enjoy small needles as much as I do. Glad I was able to provide you with an excuse to start a new project 🙂
      Norman

      Reply
  2. Hi!

    I’m trying to work this pattern and I’m a bit confused with the p2tog decreases since the “No Stitch” marker isn’t being used to mark the stitch that is being decreased along with the p2tog symbol.

    I was hoping you could clarify a few things for me. 🙂

    If we take the first row of the pattern, for the p2tog on column 10: I purled stitch 9 and 10 together to keep the pattern centered. For the p2tog on column 18: I purled stitch 18 and 19 together. I wanted to check if this was what you did as well?

    I’m also a bit confused on the decreases for Row 7. Since I have been using the stitch to the right for p2tog on right side of pattern I noticed that if I follow the same method, the ktbl (B) stitch would be used for the p2tog which would throw the border pattern off. Is that intentional for this row?

    Lovely pattern by the way!

    Reply
    • Hey Drew,

      well, you decrease by 2, but there is a yarn over right next to it, which increases the stitch count again. So, basically, in every row you a decreasing by 2 and increasing by 2. So, in sum, you keep the stitch count, but you brought texture into the fabric. That’s the concept behind most lace-patterns.

      I think you are viewing a knitting chart as an absolute coordinate system, which it is not 🙂

      If, in the 7th row, it says, “k,p ktbl,p2tog”, then you knit stitches in that same order. You are NOT knitting stitches of the row below in that order. You are simply executing the indicated stitches one after another and use the stitches in the row below to accommodate for those stitches.
      So, you are not p2tog into the selvedge/border. You are p2tog two purl stitches after the border and then you yarn over.

      Norman

      Reply
      • Hi Norman!

        Thank you for that explanation as it really got to the core of my confusion. I am viewing the chart as a coordinate system for each stitch and the “action” (stitch 1 gets purled, stitch 2+3 get knitted together) taken upon that stitch.

        It seems my confusion stems from the p2tog mainly as it is indicated in one stitch box but the action of p2tog consumes 2 stitches.

        I went ahead started knitting the pattern. For the first row in the chart I just followed the instructions until the first decrease. I have 9 stitches on my right needle at this point and 18 stitches on my left. I then p2tog and YO. I have 12 stitches on my right needle. My left needle has 15 stitches on it. The number of stitches is correct but my next instruction in the chart is at column 12 and I have 16 instructions left to knit if we count columns 12 to 27. I have 1 stitch unaccounted for so far.

        I continue knitting anyways and reach the next YO and decrease point. I have 10 stitches on my left needle at this point. I YO (9 stitches on left needle), and then p2tog (7 stitches on left needle).

        At this point I realize that I can’t do: 6 purls, ktbl, purl, knit. The border would end up being skipped. I’d only be able to get the 6 purls and ktbl for the pattern.

        This is what has got me stumped. I’m not sure if it’s some serious misunderstanding of the pattern or chart on my end but some clarification works be greatly appreciated!

        Thanks

        Reply
        • Hey drew, I really don’t know what you are doing there, but it’s actually a really simple pattern. Just knit the stitches in the order they appear and stop thinking. It doesn’t matter if it consumes two stitches of the below row or creates two stitches. A chart makes no reference to these future or past stitches. If you have stitches unaccounted for, you didn’t follow the chart. p2tog does NOT count as two stitches. It is one stitch. And a YO is one stitch as well. And a purl is one stitch as well. etc 😉
          And don’T forget to knit between the rows!

          Really not sure what you are doing there. If you have 9 stitches on your right needle and then p2tog and you should have 11 stitches on your right needle not 12.

          Reply
          • I think I figured out what the issue is. For the YOs: I was “bringing the yarn to the front of the needle, and knitting into the next stitch” instead of only “bringing the yarn to the front of the needle”.

            For some reason my lizard brain immediately went into autopilot for the YOs and kept thinking that the YO included creating a knit stitch instead of only bringing yarn to front!

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