If you are a doll enthusiast, or if you have a child or children that have dolls, you may have heard of or experienced miniature hand knitting. When I was a child, my mother knitted Barbie-sized clothes and I have many vintage patterns for the 11.5 inch fashion doll. There are also hundreds of newer patterns available for this size doll, as well as for the American Girl 18-inch dolls, and to a lesser extent, the Robert Tonner 15-inch Tyler Wentworth and similar dolls. More difficult to find are vintage 18-inch Supersize Barbie patterns for knitting or for sewing.
But, have you ever considered knitting at true "miniature" scale, 1:12 scale? I have recently started knitting at this scale, and have found that it is both fun and intriguing, with some patterns it is a little challenging, and yet, yields precious tiny garments for exquisite collectible dolls. There are several crochet patterns available for miniature work, but I have found I enjoy knitting in miniature more than crocheting in miniature, and so the information shown here will be regarding knitting for the most part.
The reason we knit at different gauges when we knit, is so that the resulting stitches are in proportion to the garment and the person, or in this case, the doll. Knitting at 1:12 scale is knitting on very tiny needles so that the stitches are in scale with the doll. I use small size needles for knitting items for people, as do many of us, especially sock knitting. These needles range from 000 to size 0 or 1 for socks for people. I have seen items that are knit on needles as small as 8/0, and there are smaller sizes available.
If you are a miniature doll house enthusiast, then you know that it often does make a difference in the appearance of a display when the clothing is not the appropriate gauge for the setting. Spending hundreds of dollars on just the right house or display usually means you want the dolls to be in the appropriate scale as well. The adult collector of this size doll, I have found, is generally very eager to have the correct detail in their displays. Often, purchasing clothing items for the high-end collectible dolls is expensive.
For a child's collection, such as with the Melissa and Doug brand of miniatures, the exact gauge or scale of hand-made clothing is not perhaps as important. The Melissa and Doug line of Victorian miniatures, of course may also be used by adults, but they are a basic line of sturdy correctly-sized dolls and a house that children can play with. The family set of dolls is very reasonably priced, and this line of 1:12 scale dolls seems very appropriate for any child or adult to start a tradition. They do not seem to have separate clothing sets available, though, so knitting for your collection is very much an option for these dolls.
If you wish to knit to the appropriate scale for 1:12 dolls, then knitting with at least a size 0 pair of needles is required. This size needle, with lace-weight or fingering-weight (1 ply) yarn will yield an item that is similar to knitting a heavy worsted-weight yarn on size 9 needles. The smaller the needles, and the use of thread or floss as the "yarn", the finer the stitches.
In the photo below, there is a piece of knitting started on size 00000 (5/0) (1.0 mm) needles, with a red size 1 knitting needle for comparison. The doll is a 2-inch Heidi Ott baby doll. There are four rows of knitting started on the size 5/0 needles.
For my own miniature knitting, I am still experimenting with the easiest sizes that meet the correct scale. As with all my knitting, this "experimenting" is really - "hmmm, what if I did this?" which many of us do as we develop new patterns. However, for full-size items, or for miniature items, my focus remains wanting my own patterns to be simple-to-knit, easy to work up, and basic in design.
I will be adding to this page with tips for miniature knitting, as well as some examples of knit items. I am also currently adapting my full-size patterns to miniature size, and those will be available soon.
In the meantime, below is a chart of knitting needle and crochet hook sizes, and further down are links to some retailers.
Miniature Knitting Needle and Crochet Hook Chart
Knitting Needles for Miniature Work
Crochet Hooks for Miniature Work
My own interest in miniatures is based on a long-term project I have, that I am referring to as my "Heritage House" project. I am currently building a representative model of our house, and to some extent, our most special belongings. As the children get older, and things from their childhood are packed away or given to someone else to use, it is, I think, enjoyable to make or purchase a miniature of the same or similar item. My project, when complete, hopefully will be a representative of my son's life and childhood, a family heirloom for him to enjoy one day, and perhaps to eventually pass on to his children. His drums, his special toys, his awards, but also our animals through the years, some of my artwork, treasured and inherited furniture, vintage sewing machines and spinning wheels. I have a bureau that was the first item my grandmother, Elizabeth James Cook, purchased after marrying Sam Cook. I have another bureau that my great-uncle Roy Cook, made by hand. I have a full-sized rocking horse that my brother-in-law made for my son when he was one year old. I hope to have miniature replicas of some of these items and fill them or decorate them with miniature knitted, crocheted, or cross-stitched items that represent my own stitching and knitting, as well as my mother's, who is an expert knitter. Aside, from this specific purpose I have with miniature knitting, it is, very simply, fun to do!
1:12 scale Model Recommendations
There are many 1:12 scale dolls available. I find the most versatile are those that are pose-able. My own dolls are Heidi Ott dolls, designed by Heidi Ott of Switzerland. Famous for her attention to detail in doll design, her miniature dolls are simply something to be cherished through generations. They are fairly expensive, yet are hand-painted with beautiful features, are handle-able and the poly-vinyl material seems durable.
I have found that adding to a display with animals adds greatly to the authenticity of the display. For years I have collected Breyer Horses, feeling they are the "best" in model horses. Their Classic-sized line is at the appropriate 1:12 scale.
Other animals are more difficult to find in the correct scale. Of course, many miniature doll house suppliers carry resin animals, but I have not yet found one complete line of durable, authentically detailed models at the correct scale. For dogs, Schleich models are my favorites. Schleich pays great attention to detail, yet at this time, only their dog models are in accurate 1:12 scale size.
Please check back again as I add to this page.
Miniature knitting needles are available at these retailers: (all three are outside the United States)
and by checking the links at
For some miniature items from my upcoming Simply Art (c) Simply Basic (c) Miniature Knitting patterns, you will also be able to use Boye double-point needles in size 0 (2.0 mm) or Susan Bates "Sock Set" needles which are sizes 000 through 1
Also, please stroll by the auction listings at Miniatures Only Auctions - Many very nice items!
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