Miniature crochet projects range from micro and mini micro crochet animals and bears, to delicate filet crochet curtains and bedspreads for the dolls house, as well as tiny items like dollhouse tea cosies and doilies and fashionable clothing for ball joint dolls. Success with miniature crochet requires careful matching of the project and the size required, to thread and hook sizes.
Hooks for Miniature Crochet
The most common crochet hook sizes used for miniature crochet are the metric sizes .40, .60, .75 , 1, 1.25, 1.5 mm. For US crochet hook equivalents, .40 is a US size 16, .60 is a US size 14, .75 is a US size 13, 1 is a US size 12, 1.25 is roughly a US size 10, and 1.5mm is a US size 8 in steel crochet hooks. There is no standard sizing across countries, so different numbers may be used for different metric sizes. In general, 1.25 or a US size 10 is the most commonly used for dollhouse doll clothing, while 1.0 or US size 12 is a common size for miniature thread bears.
Threads for Miniature Crochet
Crochet threads are chosen for their drape or stiffness as well as their thickness. A few are chosen for other characteristics (like the ability to brush out the fibers to make 'plush' thread bears). The crochet site on about.com has a useful chart of crochet hooks used for various thread sizes. In general, fine silk sewing threads (such as Gutterman silk) or embroidery threads can be used with the finest (.40mm and .60mm) crochet hooks for filet crochet for doilies and tiny dollhouse curtains and bedspreads with detailed patterns. The silk thread has a much better drape than cotton of a similar size, and works well for items which must mold to a doll's body (or a tea pot) or which have 'ruffles' such as curtains. The downside of silk thread is that it has a noticeable sheen. Other threads suitable for very fine hooks include DMC 100 to 80, tatting cotton, and fine single strand embroidery thread.
Threads are sold by weight, with a 40 wt cotton being twice as thick as an 80 wt cotton. For European threads, such as Venne Colcotten which comes in a range of colors suitable for miniature knitting and crochet, the first number associated with the thread is the thickness, the second number indicates the number of threads used in the twist. Venne Colcotten 34/2 is twice the thickness of Venne Colcotten 70/2. The thickness of the thread makes the 70/2 Colcotten roughly the equivalent to a 80 wt crochet or tatting thread.
For bears and other items # 20 crochet cotton is roughly the equivalent to a #8 perle cotton, and a # 5 perle cotton can be used for most #10 cotton (bedspread weight crochet cotton) patterns. Perle cotton is softer and shinier than crochet cotton, but has a wider range of colors and an interesting texture. "Plush" thread bears and other animals are made from fine wool (shetland lace weight) or punch needle wool which is brushed out with a fine brass brush if desired to make a furry coat effect.
For beginners to miniature crochet, there is an excellent book by Roz Walters - Miniature Crochet in 1:12 Scale which has a range of miniature projects for beginners through experienced needleworkers.
Tips for Crochet in Miniature - When working with fine crochet hooks and threads for miniature projects, make sure to wash your hands frequently to avoid oils from your hands discoloring your threads, and work over a plain piece of fabric which contrasts with your thread color so you can view your stitches easily when contrasted against the fabric.
Sources of Materials and Hooks for Miniature Crochet - The following companies specialize in dollhouse or miniature thread bear crochet and offer threads and crochet hooks online: