Micro-crocheting is a growing trend in the crochet community. Those teeny-tiny crochet crafts have about the size of a fingertip and are commonly crocheted using sewing thread and a crochet hook of 0.4 and 0.6 mm. The efforts to create such mini-minis are considerable which is reflected in their sales price: a micro-crochet can cost up to 90€ on the market (considering current prices taken from etsy.com). That hurts if you lose it. As someone who believes you have to try [nearly] everything at least once in your life, I decided to dare this trend and try my own micro-crochet amigurumi (a snowy owl). Here are my experiences, tips and output. Beforehand, I can say that it was totally manageable, even if you consider yourself an intermediate crocheter.
First, let me give you some tips for starting out:
In micro-crocheting you typically work with sewing thread. There are different kinds of sewing threads that include cotton and synthetic (most commonly polyester) thread. I have read that you can use embroidery thread as well, but I wouldn’t recommend it because of its high sheen and fineness (doesn’t have the strength of a sewing thread). I found cotton sewing thread to be easier to work with. It’s slightly thicker, though less resistant than synthetic thread (it tends to rip), and doesn’t have the sheen that is typical in synthetic sewing threads. Cotton sewing threads are commonly used for sewing machines and in spools for overlocks.
Similar to the yarn weights, threads have different sizes. A general rule of thumb: the lower the number on the label, the thicker the thread. E.g. a thread size 40 is thicker than size 100. Be careful though, the label indication of the thread size differs among yarn types. That means that a cotton thread of size 40 is not the same like a core-spun thread of size 40!
As you work with sewing threads, you require a crochet hook that is close to needle size which typically lies below 1.0 mm; that is, 0.4 (the smallest hook available), 0.6 and 0.75 mm. Working with a hook size of less than 1.0 mm requires some practice, but the biggest pain in the butt in micro-crocheting is the crazy-thin thread. If you want to get into micro-crocheting slowly, I recommend you to practice with a hook size of 0.75 mm and a yarn size 20.
Light, light, light… seriously, for micro-crocheting you need enough light to see the tiny stitches; I consider a cold-light lamp to be most comfortable to work with. No magnifying glass required, but you should make regular breaks with some body and eye stretching sessions, otherwise you might lose the fun (and health) with it quite fast.
Also, wash your hands before starting and keep them dry and clean during the crochet process. You don’t have much space to make dirty, but if you do I guarantee you that it will be seen in the output, and getting a micro-crochet clean again can be more straining than the actual crocheting.
Always use a pattern that you have tried out with a “normal sized” yarn, unless you are a micro-crochet-expert or take an already known, straightforward pattern, because unstitching is critical in micro-crocheting and you can easily lose sight of your stitches or the thread. For the beginning, take an easy, repeating pattern with a low number of colour shifts. For extreme micro-crochets (mini-micro, so to speak) use a pattern for which the row stitch count is below 24.
Some patterns tell you to slip stitch between the rounds (e.g. when changing colours or when going from the first round (stitching into the magic ring) to the second round). Honestly, I cannot imagine finding, let alone stitching into a micro slip stitch. For starters, at least, I advise against slip stitching in between rounds.
Working with a thread slows you down. My micro-owl took me probably 3-times longer than usual. Don’t give up if you have troubles catching the thread with the hook tip, go slower and tense the thread you yarn over using the other hand or lean the thread against a finger to avoid that it slips through the hook tip again. In the beginning, you might lose a loop more frequently; make sure that the forefinger that holds the thread is always calm to avoid uncontrolled unstitching.
As for the finish, I have found that, differently to ‘normal’-crochet, weaving in the ends is not a stable solution. Additionally, knot the thread at the end once and hide it inside the body.
My little pain-in-the-butt-owl try:
The pattern that I applied for the owl (taken from Kristi Tullus’ blog) is very straightforward with few simple increase and decrease rounds. According to the blogger, the owl reaches a size of 6 cm if it is crocheted with a DK-weight linen and cotton blend yarn using a crochet hook size of 2.5 mm. For my first micro-try, I used cotton sewing thread and a hook size of 0.6 mm, reaching a micro-owl size of slightly less than 1.5 cm. You can further decrease the size if you use a 0.4 mm crochet hook. It took me about 2.5 hours to complete the crochet owl, while the original would perhaps take less than 1 hour. As for the colours, I decided to keep it simple and avoided colour shifts between rounds. My output is a snowy owl. At that, kind of sad looking…
I started the pattern with a magic ring. Some crocheters prefer to start with 2 chain stitches crocheting the start round in the 2nd chain from the hook, but in my micro-start I found this method considerably more difficult than the classical magic ring. Be patient if it doesn’t look proper in your first try; I had to repeat the magic ring with the first round at least twice until I got it right.
Throughout the continuous rounds, I stitched slightly loosely which allowed me to clearly see the pattern made and eased the overall stitching. On the chain stitches of the wings, however, I had to work tighter in order to not create a holey look. Hence, stitching looser altogether doesn’t necessarily work well in micro-crocheting.
My progress in pictures:
As a downright micro-crochet-beginner I wouldn’t say that I had “totally fun with it”; you work comparatively slow and pierce yourself regularly in the finger with the tiny crochet hook in case you make the stitches too tightly. However, the output is something to be proud of and it’s definitely a ‘wow’-gift for any handmade-enthusiast. Despite all, I will absolutely keep on with it. Haven’t micro-crocheted yet? Go on, give it a try!