4 posts tagged tips
Hey everyone! Guess where our travels are taking us next? To JAPAN, the Land of the Rising Sun and where amigurumi originated! We are incredibly excited as we will be leaving soon! We will spend most of our time in Tokyo :) Does anyone have recommendations on good places to eat and visit? I would LOVE to get some tips from you and hear about some of your favourite places! I would greatly appreciate it if you left a comment here, tweeted me or sent me an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org! Thank you so much :)
I have been receiving some e-mails recently from people asking how to read amigurumi patterns. I always assumed it was straight forward enough, but I often forget what it was like when I first started crocheting. Trying to interpret patterns can seem like trying to understand a foreign language with all the symbols and abbreviations! And so, I thought I would take the time to explicitly and clearly describe how to read amigurumi crochet patterns as I find it very exciting that people are getting inspired to learn how to crochet after seeing my amigurumi. I want to make the learning process as easy as possible so everyone can make their own stuffies!
Please reference my “Amigurumi for Beginners" blog post to see videos on how to do the basic stitches as well as materials you will need to make your own amigurumi. Here is a chart showing common abbreviations that you will find in some of my crochet patterns (see more extensive list here):
Next, I will go through one of my patterns (e.g. Teddy Ornaments) and explain what the instructions mean, row by row.
Translation: Work six single crochets in a magic ring. The “R” stands for “Round” because we are crocheting in the round in a continuous spiral (could also be denoted by “Rnd”). The “R” could also stand for “Row” (when working in rows, you usually turn your work at the end of each row and work back across the top of the previous row for a square or rectangle). The number in brackets at the end shows you how many stitches you should have completed during that round. I always count how many stitches I’ve completed to double-check my work compared to the pattern to ensure I haven’t skipped a stitch or accidentally done one too many. [Note: in my earlier patterns, Round 1 often looked like this: “R1: Ch 2, 6 sc in second ch from hook. (6 sts)”- this is interchangeable with the R1 above as I was not using the Magic Circle back then.] See how to do the Magic Circle here.
[Note: Please IGNORE the number of stitches in each round and the number of rounds in these photos as they are not accurate. I will be using the pictures for reference to show how many single crochets should be worked into each stitch.]
Translation: Work two single crochets in each single crochet around. Since you are crocheting two stitches in each stitch around, you are doubling the stitch count (from 6 to 12) so that your circle expands outwards. Patterns that say “inc in next st all round" mean the same thing.
Translation: Work one single crochet in the next stitch. Then work two single crochets in the following stitch. Repeat the pattern in asterisks 6 times.
Translation: Work two single crochets in the next two stitches (one in each). Then work two single crochets in the following stitch. Repeat the pattern in asterisks 6 times.
Translation: Work three single crochets in the next three stitches (one in each). Then work two single crochets in the following stitch. Repeat the pattern in asterisks 6 times.
You keep following this general pattern for the rest of the rows as your ball expands outwards (e.g. Rows 6-8 in the Teddy Ornaments pattern), doing one single crochet in each stitch and then doing two single crochets in the next stitch every once in a while. Eventually, the ball will need to keep its shape for the middle part without expanding or decreasing, and it will look like this in the pattern:
Translation: Work one single crochet in each stitch all around. As you can see, there is no increasing or decreasing and no asterisks.
You keep doing one single crochet in each stitch all around for a number of rows (R9-20 in the Teddy Ornaments pattern), maintaining the same number of stitches in each row until it is time to decrease and close up our ball (in this case, 48 stitches).
Translation: Work six single crochets in the next six stitches (one in each). Then decrease over the next two stitches. Repeat the pattern in asterisks 6 times. I highly recommend doing the “Invisible Decrease" to ensure that there are no holes or bumps in your amigurumi. Check out my blog post here to see how to do “The Invisible Decrease”.
Translation: Work five single crochets in the next five stitches (one in each). Then decrease over the next two stitches. Repeat the pattern in asterisks 6 times.
You keep decreasing the number of stitches row by row by doing a number of single crochets, and then doing an invisible decrease every so often. Eventually, your ball will close up. Along the way, you will add safety eyes, perhaps embroider a nose or a mouth, and add stuffing.
I hope you found this blog post helpful! Please feel free to add any suggestions and tips, and do pass this post along to your friends who are just learning how to crochet or wanting to make amigurumi! I’ve linked this post to my “Amigurumi for Beginners" post here, and I’ve also updated it by adding some resources that can help you learn how to attach and sew your amigurumi parts together since I’ve received some questions about it. Don’t hesitate to e-mail me or leave a comment if you have any further questions. I’m so happy that people have been inspired to try my patterns after seeing my designs, and I hope that this will be a helpful resource for you all! Happy crocheting :)
Ever since I started my blog, it’s been great connecting with people from a wide variety of backgrounds in crochet. Some have been crocheting for years but have never tried crocheting stuffed animals. Some used to crochet but gave it up as life got too busy. Some have never picked up a crochet hook before in their life but are interested in learning!
Crocheting is easy to learn and now there are so many resources out there on-line. I learned how to crochet from a book when I was younger, but now with the existence of YouTube, I think it’s easier to learn from videos as you can see it all in action! I’ve received e-mails from people who’ve been inspired to learn how to crochet after seeing how cute amigurumi are, and they’ve written to me about their successes.
I would encourage any of you who have thought about picking up a new hobby to try crocheting. It’s inexpensive, therapeutic and portable (you can work on projects while waiting for the bus or on road trips!). With today’s mass consumerism, there’s just something special about making a unique stuffed animal with your own two hands from scratch that feels organic.
Here are some resources that I find helpful and that I recommend to people who want to learn how to make amigurumi but don’t know where to begin. In this post, I also talk about important crochet abbreviations you need to know to read a pattern, and what materials you should go out and buy when starting this hobby.
Almost all parts of an amigurumi (e.g. head, arms, legs, body) are formed by crocheting around a circle. I recommend using the “Magic Circle" technique when beginning amigurumi (see my tutorial here or watch the video below).
[Please note that these are NOT my own videos as I currently have not filmed any of my own- I simply link to helpful videos that I found on YouTube!]
Once you’ve got your basic circle, it’s now time to increase around the circle with single crochets. The video below shows you how to a single crochet. Increasing the stitches around a circle involves doing more than one single crochet into one stitch (e.g. going from 6 stitches in the Magic Circle to 12 stitches in the next row, or two single crochets in each stitch). Increasing the stitches allows the crocheted piece to expand outwards into a ball. Amigurumi is pretty forgiving, so it is alright if you lose count of your stitches and you’re off by a stitch of two. Once you’ve mastered the single crochet, you’re pretty much set as almost all amigurumi uses this basic stitch!
Once you’ve crocheted many rows to form part of a sphere, it will soon be time to decrease your stitches. You can follow my tutorial here to use the "Invisible Decrease" technique, or watch the video below.
It is important to note that there is technically a “right” and a “wrong” side to amigurumi. Initially, I made my amigurumi all inside-out until a few readers informed me of the difference. Check out my full blog post here to see pictures and a more detailed description of the “right side” vs. the “wrong side”.
Once you have crocheted all the body parts of your amigurumi, you will need to attach and sew them together. You can read Planet June’s tutorial on “Joining Amigurumi" here. You can also check out the following helpful videos, the first by Roxycraft showing you how to attach limbs and the second by Planet June showing you how to do the amigurumi seamless join:
In order to crochet amigurumi, you’ll need to learn how to follow and read crochet patterns (check out some of mine here to see what they can look like). I’ve written a “How to Read Amigurumi Patterns" post in which I break down what each line means, row by row. Be sure to check it out here. Some important abbreviations that you might encounter are explained in the table below:
Of course, there are many other crochet stitches and abbreviations out there, so if you would like to see a more extensive list, click here (there is a printable version you can download too).
When you are just beginning to make amigurumi, these are some basic materials that you need to go out and purchase, pictured and explained below:
1. Crochet hook: I like to use aluminum crochet hooks. I bought some sets that have crochet hooks of multiple sizes just in case a pattern calls for different sizes. It is recommended that you use a hook 2-3 times smaller than that recommended for your yarn. I almost always use my 2.00 mm crochet hook as using a smaller crochet hook allows me to have a tighter gauge (not as loose, fewer holes).
2. Yarn: There are so many different types of yarn out there in a wide range of beautiful colours. Most people like to use worsted weight or acrylic yarn so that the stuffies are more durable and don’t get too fuzzy. Of course, there are times when you might want to fuzz up your amigurumi (see my Valentine Teddy), so yarn with some natural fibres (like wool) are useful. I also really enjoy using mercerized cotton as it is strong and lustrous (see my Bunny and Penguin made using mercerized cotton). Sooner than you know it, you’ll be building up your yarn collection as so many different colours are required for different patterns!
3. Scissors: Invest in a good, sharp pair of scissors to make clean cuts in the yarn. It’s annoying when the ends of yarn begin to fray.
4. Safety eyes: When I first started making amigurumi, I used beads instead of safety eyes (see example here). However, using safety eyes is so much easier and much more visually appealing as well. You attach the safety eyes when you’re almost finished crocheting the head with plastic washer backings (see close-up picture here). I buy my safety eyes from 6060 on Etsy (I tend to buy/use 6, 9, and 12 mm eyes the most)
5. Yarn needles: These needles are used to attach the body parts of your amigurumi together. We use yarn to stitch them together, not thread, which is why bigger needles are required.
6. Needle Threader: A threader helps you put the yarn or embroidery floss through the eye of a needle. Trying to thread a needle without one is just plain difficult!
7. Embroidery floss: I used to use embroidery floss when I made friendship bracelets a long time ago. We use embroidery floss in amigurumi to stitch the noses and mouths (see my nose tutorial) and sometimes as accents or decorative pieces too (e.g. bear paws, tassel).
8. Felt: Felt is often used for the noses (cut oval shapes) and for the lining of ears, hands and feet. I buy my felt at the dollar store, and one sheet goes a long way. I tend to use my white, brown, beige and black felt the most.
9. Polyester Fiberfill stuffing: This is what you use to stuff your amigurumi. They come in big bags and once again, one bag goes a long way. Be sure to stuff your amigurumi appropriately: too little results in a limp amigurumi, but too much might result in the stuffing bursting through! Wolfdreamer has an in-depth post where she provides a lot of great tips on how to stuff your amigurumi here.
10. Dog slicker brush: This is an optional item which I purchased later on. If you would like to make fuzzy amigurumi (see this post), then you can buy one of these to brush your amigurumi.
If you are interested in using some of my patterns for your first amigurumi projects, I recommend checking out my “Teddy Ornaments" or my "Spring Bunnies" as they are constructed of basic amigurumi shapes that are not too tricky! Be sure to reference the step-by-step blog posts as well as the free patterns for extra help and plenty of pictures!
I hope this post is helpful to those who are interested in learning how to make amigurumi or who are just starting out. I wanted to have one place where I could direct people when they asked me where to start. Thanks again for all your support and for your lovely comments. I love hearing about your crochet experiences and seeing your work. Don’t forget to send along any photos of amigurumi or pieces you’ve made using my patterns and tutorials. And never hesitate to ask me any questions or to send a quick hello! Comment below if you have any tips that you think people beginning to make amigurumi should know :)
I’ve added a “Tips" section to my blog where I list some of my favourite crochet and amigurumi resources. I’ll also be adding more tutorials that will hopefully be helpful in the amigurumi-making process! Check it out here.