Sunday, September 18, 2011
Miniatures Make Sense
I had to give it some thought. I started knitting minis because I thought they were adorable, and I gave them as gifts. As I knit more of them, I realized that they include all the same skills as their full-sized counterparts. In some cases, they even have the same number of stitches! The blue hat on the left of the photo has about 2/3 as many stitches as a full sized hat, and it's made of a sportweight yarn on US 2s. The red hat on the right has the same number as its "big brother", and was made from a full sized pattern with sport weight cashmere on US 1s. Casting on 64 stitches for hat too small for Barbie made me think twice, but I love the finished project.
Then came the interesting part. I realized that with DK and worsted yarns and needles in US 4-6, there would be far fewer stitches than the big projects, but all the same skills. The brown mitten with the vertical stripes has the original full-sized stitch count, and took about the same amount of time. The blueish mitten with the horizontal stripes was knit in a heavy worsted, and took about 90 minutes. It has 1/3 as many stitches as the full-sized, but still uses the same decreases and striping skills as the big one would. Aha! I was on to something.
Now I teach folks to make socks by making minis first, with worsted yarns and size US 5 needles. All the skills are there, but with far fewer stitches. Knitting a mini won't use up much yarn, and turning the heel only takes a few rounds. Ditto with teaching mittens, and many other techniques. As you can see above, even stranded colorwork can be done in minis, and more quickly than a regular project. Every knitting skill can be practiced or refreshed by making a mini.
Last night, I knit up a mini sock (the one in the center bottom of the photo) to refresh a particular kind of decrease I like to use after the heel turn. Now with my skill refreshed, I'll launch into my socks. I have one more miniature to tie to a gift or use as holiday decor.
Why do I knit minis? To refresh and teach skills, to make cute little finished projects, to get a sense of how certain yarns behave in certain techniques, and to trade with other knitters at conferences and festivals. I knit them to enjoy the last scraps of a favorite yarn after the main project is through. I knit them because they delight me!