Crochet A to Z: Zen

I’m doing the A to Z Challenge for the month of April with the theme “Learn to Crochet A to Z.” For more details, and to see previous posts, click on the link at the top of my blog!

Here we are, at the last day of the A to Z Challenge. It’s been a super fun, exhausting month – thank you so so much for joining me on this adventure! Your comments have completely made my day and helped me enjoy blogging again. I can’t thank you enough for all your support and friendship. 😀

I also have to extend thanks to my sister for helping me think of a word for “Z.” If it weren’t for her whipping out the dictionary, we would be talking about zombies or zebras today. For an English major, I really do not have the best command of the English language. 😛

Zen: Japanese, literally ‘meditation,’ from Chinese chán ‘quietude,’ from Sanskrit dhyāna ‘meditation.’

There is certainly a meditative quality to crochet (and knitting, absolutely, but this is “Crochet A to Z” – knitting is way outside my field of ‘expertise.’) I’m no expert on meditation, but I have taken several yoga classes, including one designed specifically for people with anxiety, and have found it to essentially be the clearing of the mind and focusing on one thing in particular. Usually the breath.

So I did a little research to find a better definition than this:

In meditation, the mind is clear, relaxed, and inwardly focused. (yogainternational.com)

Crochet is sort of a form of meditation when you focus on the yarn and stitches and don’t let your thoughts go a hundred miles an hour. It’s also a fantastic de-stressor.

There are some stitch patterns in particular that lend themselves well to relaxation and meditation – usually ones without a lot of counting. Although there is certainly a zen quality to more complicated patterns like mandalas, it’s also nice to have something that doesn’t involve a ton of mental labor so you can really focus on the stitches.

I wanted to share a fantastic post from the Interweave Crochet blog that instantly came to mind when I decided to do a post about “Zen” for today. It’s called “Zen and the Art of Stash Diving.” Definitely worth a read! There’s a beautiful lacy scarf pattern in the post that I think of as “Zen Lace,” although I don’t think that’s the actual name. The post encourages you to pick a random ball of yarn from your stash (eyes closed!) and crochet a scarf with it, just focusing on the stitches. A great exercise in meditation of a sort.

Relaxing is next to impossible for a person with two anxiety disorders…but crochet really is quite calming. 😛 I only mention this because I want you to know that if you experience the same things, you’re not alone. I think a lot of people with mental health issues benefit from things like crochet, and I’d be interested to hear your experiences if you feel comfortable sharing! 🙂

Thank you so much for joining me for the A to Z Challenge – I can’t tell you how much I appreciate it. I hope you’ve had as much fun as I did. I’ll see you soon for another post, although I certainly won’t be posting with as much frequency…the 26 posts almost destroyed me this month, haha, but it was worth it. 😀 Have a fantastic day!

 

Crochet A to Z: Yarn!

I’ve been waiting for this post all month…it’s by far my favorite! I’m super excited to talk about one of the best parts of crocheting – YARN.

It’s no secret that I absolutely love yarn, as I’m sure many of you do as well! I thought maybe I should start off by giving you a tour of my yarn stash…so I made a video. My stash is a little messy, to put it nicely – organization is not my strong suit – but I never said I was one of those super organized crochet designers. 🙂

I’ve acquired a fair amount of yarn in my time crocheting – yarn stores are a dangerous thing. 🙂 I’d love to hear what your yarn stashes are like!

There’s so much to say about yarn, there’s no way I could ever get to it all in one post. So I thought we could just touch on the various categories, and how you can go about choosing yarn when you start crocheting. 🙂

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A Hobby Lobby store from when I visited family in Michigan this summer – they don’t have Hobby Lobbies in my current state, and I was over the moon to find my favorite brand of yarn again!

Fibers

There are lots of different fibers, like acrylic, cotton, and tons of different kinds of wool. I’m allergic to wool, so I won’t pretend to know anything about it. I’m an acrylic fan, myself, because it’s so easily washable. But I will readily admit it’s not always the nicest yarn – natural fibers can be super soft and amazing! I really wish I could wear wool, but it’s too itchy…if I want to know if something contains wool, I just hold it to my neck or the inside of my wrist and within seconds I can tell, just because my skin is so sensitive. 😛

I really recommend learning to crochet with acrylic yarn. First, it’s the least expensive (in general), so you won’t break the bank and feel guilty about wasting fancy yarn. Second, it’s super easy to find at just about any craft store (like JoAnn’s or Michaels – you probably won’t find acrylic yarn at specialty yarn stores!) Third, it’s smooth and doesn’t split (which means your crochet hook catches on the fibers as you crochet). Once you get the basics, then there’s a whole world of yarn to explore. 😀

I use cotton yarn for dishcloths, but not for much else. Fiber snobs will hate me for cheerfully crocheting with cheap acrylic yarn, but I’m a broke college student who’s allergic to wool. What do you expect? 😛

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Yarn Weights

Some yarns are thinner than others, and you would use different weights for different projects. For example, bulkier yarn is great for blankets, while thin thread-like yarn is good for lacy shawls. The Craft Yarn Council has a standardized way to sort yarn, using little yarn symbols with numbers inside. Click here to visit their website and learn more about that!

Some of the different weights are fingering-weight, sock yarn, DK (double knit), worsted, bulky, super-bulky, and (a new addition as of this year!) jumbo. Some of these weights have more than one name, like worsted/aran weight, and the full list is on their website.

I would recommend learning to crochet with #4 weight yarn, which is worsted. It’s probably the most popular weight, and is a nice medium size for learning. You definitely don’t want to start with too thin of yarn – very frustrating!

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Colors

This is where it gets fun!

I’m not particularly good at putting colors together, so I often bring my sister, who’s a fantastic artist, to the yarn store with me. She has a fantastic eye for color and has helped me with many decisions in the past. But if you don’t have a resident artist at your disposal, you can always scour the Internet for inspiration! I really want to direct you to Lucy of Attic24, if you haven’t already heard of her. Her blog is full of color inspiration. She even sells yarn packs! I received one for my 17th birthday, and you can see a picture of it above. I absolutely love her color arrangements – I would never have thought to put these colors together, but I love the result!

Here’s how they look crocheted into something, if you’re curious. 🙂

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Local Yarn Stores (LYS)

Then the real danger begins… YARN SHOPPING. 😀

Michaels and JoAnn Fabrics are wonderful, but it’s also really fun to explore smaller, specialized yarn shops. The yarn is more expensive, but it’s the kind of stuff you can’t find at chain stores – fancier fibers and the like. Which means I can’t wear it, but I still love visiting my LYS (local yarn store) for inspiration. It’s also really fun to talk with the owners and employees, who are super knowledgeable about yarn-related things…sometimes the stores offer classes, too! I took a knitting class at my LYS and it was super fun.

I mentioned that I went to visit Michigan this summer. (I got to go to my cousin’s wedding, which was super awesome!) When I was there, my grandma took me yarn shopping, and we did some crocheting together – it was a blast! We went to Hobby Lobby, which has my favorite yarn brand ever – “I Love This Yarn.”

Side tangent: this actually led to a hilarious conversation with my aunt, who is a knitter and wanted to know what my favorite brand of yarn is.
Me: I Love This Yarn.
My aunt: I know you do, what kind is it?
Me: It’s I Love This Yarn.
My aunt: (getting frustrated with my lack of help) Yes, but what brand?
Me: (using air quotes to get the point across) The name is “I Love This Yarn.”

Anyway, confusion aside, I really do love this yarn because it’s SUPER SOFT. You know how Red Heart Super Saver has a bad reputation for being kind of scratchy? Well, I Love This Yarn is about the same price, has the same yardage, a HUGE variety of colors, and it is the softest yarn on the face of the earth. It’s ridiculous. And it gets SOFTER when you put it through the washer and dryer. By far my favorite yarn brand! Unfortunately, there are no Hobby Lobbies where I live now, and I don’t like buying yarn online. So it was a huge treat to see a WALL of this yarn. (I realize I seem overly excited in this paragraph. It’s because I am. 😉 )

After we went to Hobby Lobby, my grandma took me to another yarn store, but this was a LYS. I really wish I could remember the name! I was a little unsure about taking pictures inside the store, but I wanted to share it with you all. Just look at this glorious yarn.

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The organization in this picture pleases me greatly ❤

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Side note here: The fiber world seems to be obsessed with “Noro” yarn. It’s absolutely gorgeous, isn’t it? But it feels super scratchy, and I don’t think it’s just because of my wool sensitivity. Sad, because the colors are so pretty!

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My grandma picked out this gorgeous red yarn and commissioned me to make a pair of fingerless gloves for her. Which I was of course delighted to do! 🙂 I don’t get a chance to crochet with this quality of yarn very much (Red Heart Super Saver being my go-to), so this was a treat. (Also, my fingernails look nice for a change in this picture…sigh. :P)

All right, I could keep going on about yarn for ages and ages, but I think I’ll stop here. I would absolutely LOVE to discuss yarn with y’all – what are your favorite brands? Are you a fan of wool? Do you frequent your LYS? Do tell! And I’ll see you tomorrow for the last post in Crochet A to Z – it’s been a fun month! 🙂

Crochet A to Z: X = Single Crochet {How to Read Crochet Charts}

I’m doing the A to Z Challenge for the month of April with the theme “Learn to Crochet A to Z.” For more details, and to see previous posts, click on the link at the top of my blog!

Hello friends! I am super excited to present something for the letter “X” today. I know it’s kind of a long title, and not the greatest, but really how many words starting with X relate to crochet? I’m extremely fortunate that the symbol for single crochet is “X,” so I thought it would be good to talk about crochet charts today!

Crochet charts are something I’m definitely not an expert on. For a while I didn’t even know they existed (I think I’ve said that about a dozen times this month, actually). But they’re just another way to communicate crochet patterns – and the great thing about charts is they’re universal. You know that frustrating moment when you find that PERFECT crochet pattern on Pinterest, but the pattern is in a language you don’t speak? If there’s a chart, there’s no need for that frustration. (Of course, half the time I can’t even track down the original source on Pinterest, but that’s a topic for another day. =) )

I got really bored in French class today and, instead of doodling (because I can’t draw), did a chart for a granny square:

And here’s a crochet chart I drew up for a doll dress pattern (back from when my blog name was Cogaroo Crafts!):

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Excuse the bad iPhone pictures. I don’t have chart-making software. 🙂

It’s basically a bunch of symbols that represent stitches – like a really technical picture, I suppose. The first step is figuring out which symbol is which. There are tons of crochet stitches, therefore tons of symbols too – however, I’ve drawn a really short list of the basic stitch symbols. (US terms)

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Notice the symbol for single crochet can be either a lowercase “T” or, of course, an “X.” 😉 Obviously this is nowhere near an exhaustive list…

Click here to see the complete list of Crochet Chart Symbols on the Craft Yarn Council’s page! 

So then it’s just a matter of looking at the chart and translating the terms. It really just takes practice and a little trial and error – I thought it might be helpful if we went through a couple charts for examples, and I’ll give you the written pattern as well as the chart so you can compare. One tip is to look for the triangle, where you fasten off or start crocheting.

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(Start in the lower left-hand corner for this one!)

The written pattern would read like this (US terms as always):

Row 1: Ch 8. Sc in 2nd ch from hk and in each ch across.

Row 2: Ch 1, turn. Sc in each st across.

Row 3: Ch 2, turn. Hdc in each st across.

Row 4: Ch 3, turn. Dc in each st across.

Row 5: Ch 4, turn. Tr in each st across. Fasten off.

Definitely not an exciting pattern, just basic stitches, but I hope you can see how they’re methodically stacked on each other – once you find out where to start (in the lower left hand corner of the picture in this one), just follow the symbols.

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Here’s a chart that would produce a sort of leaf-shape (as you can tell from the title). This is just a one-row pattern, see how the triangles are on the same side? One is for the slipknot and one is for fastening off.

Row 1: Ch 8. Starting in second ch from hk, hdc, dc, 2 tr, hdc, sl st in last st. Fasten off.

It’s also cool how the chart forms a leaf-shape. You can usually tell what the finished crochet will look like just from the chart.

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Here’s a chart for the first round of a granny square! I forgot to draw the triangles on this one, though. But not all charts have triangles to show you where to start and finish off.

Ch 4, sl st into first ch to form a ring.

Rnd 1: Ch 3, 2 dc into ring, ch 3. *3 dc into ring, ch 3* 3x, sl st into top of first ch to join.

I was too lazy to continue this chart, but that’s the first round of a traditional granny square.

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One of my wonderful followers showed me how to make crochet charts in Microsoft Word, and I wanted to share it with you briefly! Thank you so much, Kristen, if you’re reading this. 🙂

Here are two examples. You just use Courier for a font, because every letter is the same width, and find letters that match the symbols. “X,” of course, is easy, and O works for a chain. The chart with T is a half-double crochet example, and I used the number 8 for a chain 2. You can also look under ‘special characters’ to find some that work – there’s actually a symbol for double crochet, believe it or not. So this is a great way to make some charts, especially ones in rows!

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Obviously this just scratches the surface of crochet charts – there’s still so much I want to learn about them! I just wanted to offer a brief explanation in case you’d never encountered them, because they’re so useful. What are your thoughts on crochet charts? Do you like using them? Any tips for reading them/decoding them? 😀

 

 

Crochet A to Z: Weaving in Ends

I’m doing the A to Z Challenge for the month of April with the theme “Learn to Crochet A to Z.” For more details, and to see previous posts, click on the link at the top of my blog!

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Hello friends! Fun times today as we talk about weaving in ends. 😉

Like gauge, weaving in ends is one of those things likely to make most crocheters (and knitters) groan. For projects with a lot of color changes, weaving in ends can be really time-consuming and monotonous, especially if you save it all for the last minute. But unfortunately, it’s a necessary evil – if you don’t properly weave in ends, your hard work is likely to unravel, and that would be a tragedy!

Quick explanation that weaving in ends is how you hide the tails left from the beginning and end of your project. Sometimes you’ll have yarn tails from the middle, too, if you changed colors or ran out of yarn and had to join a new ball. I can’t stress this enough: DON’T cut off the yarn! If you do that, there’s nothing to stop your work from unraveling.

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In the picture above, I’m weaving in the end from a granny square. The basic concept of weaving in ends is that you want to hide the yarn end in the crochet, and then you can trim it off. It can get trickier if you have open-work patterns, such as lace or mesh, because it’s harder to hide the end invisibly. But for solid crochet it’s fairly simple.

Thread the yarn end onto a yarn needle, or tapestry needle (these are needles with a bigger eye so the yarn tail can fit through them). You can get them in metal or plastic, but I prefer metal because they don’t bend, and therefore frustrate me less. I have also never managed to break a metal yarn needle.

Then bury the yarn end in the stitches as shown in the picture. Contrary to the name, you don’t actually have to “weave” back and forth – that makes the stitches more visible.

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Here’s another closeup that I hope will help. When you’ve woven in one direction for awhile, weave back in the other direction to help lock the tail into place.

Here are some tips I’ve picked up for weaving in ends…even if I don’t use them as much as I should!

  • Don’t save them all for the end of a project – weave at the end of each color change! I really should do this. Every time, I promise I’ll weave as I go, but I never do. Learn from my mistakes! 🙂
  • Find a pincushion or bag or something for your yarn needles. I stick mine in a crochet cupcake I made a while back in an effort to keep track of them. Still, I’ve lost dozens of yarn needles – I think there’s a gremlin or goblin or something that exists solely to steal yarn needles and hooks from unsuspecting crocheters.
  • If you’re working in the round, weave in that center tail very securely.
  • When cutting your yarn, or starting a project, leave at least 6 inches of yarn – more is better – to weave in later. It’s very frustrating to try and weave in a too-short tail.
  • Save your yarn scraps to use as stuffing for amigurumi!

Any tips you’ve picked up to make weaving in ends less painful? 🙂 It’s not my favorite part of crochet, but it’s not the worst thing ever – I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Crochet A to Z: V-Stitch

I’m doing the A to Z Challenge for the month of April with the theme “Learn to Crochet A to Z.” For more details, and to see previous posts, click on the link at the top of my blog!

Hello my friends! Only a few days left in the A to Z Challenge… it feels like it’s gone by fast! Of course that’s thanks in part to your wonderful, supportive comments. You always make me smile and give me encouragement to keep going. This is why I like blogging so much – because of you guys! I really appreciate your kind words. ❤

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Today we’re doing the V-stitch, which is perfectly suited for an alphabet challenge, don’t you think? It’s a very simple stitch – all you need to know is the chain and double crochet.  It’s named thusly because it looks like the letter “V.”

I’d love to make a scarf with this stitch. I’ve used it for a lot of doll dresses – it makes a wonderful drapey fabric for a skirt, and the holes aren’t a problem if you use a smaller hook. Well, maybe it would be a problem for a human garment, but we are talking about dolls here. You can just stick a pair of doll leggings underneath. 🙂

In the example above I used a J (6.00 MM) hook and some Lily Sugar ‘n’ Cream worsted-weight cotton yarn…simply because it was closest. In this mini photo tutorial, I’ll be using worsted-weight acrylic yarn and a D (3.25 MM) hook. That’s smaller than I would recommend, but I really like the polka-dot handle on this hook and wanted to include it in the photo tutorial. #overlyhonest

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Here’s what the V-stitch looks like when worked more tightly. Sorry about this photo not wanting to rotate – I don’t know what’s up. (Well, yes I do. The wrong end of the picture.)

So, I like to start by making a chain that’s a multiple of three. If you’re new to this concept, that just means your starting chain has to be divisible by three. If you hate math, just count to three over and over again until the chain is the desired length. 😛

 

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Then go into the fifth chain from your hook and dc, ch 1, dc all into the same stitch.

*Sk 2, (dc, ch 1, dc) all into the same st.* Repeat until the end of the row, then make 1 dc into the last stitch.

The V-stitch is basically a double crochet, one chain, and another double crochet all into the same stitch.

At the end of the row, chain 3 and turn. This counts as your first double crochet.

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Then make a V-stitch into each of the previous V-stitches. Insert your hook like this, into the chain space, and make (dc, ch 1, dc).

At the end of the row, make 1 dc into the turning chain.

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That’s all there is to it – just keep repeating this row until your project is the desired size!

You can also modify the V-stitch with 2 chains, taller stitches, stuff like that. This is the most commonly used version.

Have you tried the V-stitch before? What do you think of it? I’d love to hear your favorite crochet stitches, basic or advanced – I’m always looking for new crochet things to try!

Crochet A to Z: US vs. UK Terms

I’m doing the A to Z Challenge for the month of April with the theme “Learn to Crochet A to Z.” For more details, and to see previous posts, click on the link at the top of my blog!

Hello friends! Today we’re going to talk about crochet terminology, more specifically, the difference between crochet terms on different sides of the pond.

For a while I didn’t even know there was more than one set of crochet terms, which is definitely leads to some interesting mistakes! I think it’s quite silly that we can’t all use the same crochet system, but I guess it’s just one of those things that differs from country to country. Like having extra letters in “color” and “favorite.” (I much prefer the British spelling of words, to be honest!)

I’m American, and I therefore use US crochet terms in all of my patterns. It’s important to know that the stitches are the same, it’s just the names that are different. So here’s a quick cheat sheet with the US and UK terms.

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(This picture has nothing to do with this post, but I don’t like posting without a picture. Wait, actually I can connect it – this is part of a sock made with US double crochet!)

US TERMS – UK TERMS

Chain (ch) = same for both

Slip stitch (sl st) = same for both

US single crochet (sc) = UK double crochet (dc)

US half-double crochet (hdc) = UK half-treble crochet (htr)

US double crochet (dc) = UK treble crochet (tr)

US triple crochet (tr) = UK double-treble crochet (dtr)

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Other than the crochet terms, things are the same – phrasing might be a little different depending on what pattern you’re using, but that doesn’t have anything to do with where you live. I’ve noticed that British patterns sometimes say “3 ch” where American ones will say “ch 3,” but I don’t know if that’s just a coincidence – in any case, it’s easy enough to decipher.

Before you start a pattern, make sure you know what set of terms to use! Sometimes it’s fairly evident if you go wrong – for example, if an amigurumi pattern tells you to use double crochet, you can be pretty certain it’s a UK pattern (because you don’t use tall stitches in amigurumi, usually). Other times you might not notice until you’re a couple rounds in. Luckily, it’s always easy to frog. 🙂

What set of crochet terms do you use? 😀

Crochet A to Z: Tunisian Crochet (and an attempt at a vlog)

Hello lovely followers! Today I thought I would try something a little bit different. I didn’t feel like doing another photo tutorial, so I made a video tutorial/vlog instead!

Now, you may remember from my first vlog that I’m definitely better at writing than I am at speaking coherently. But I have managed to successfully teach a bunch of people to crochet…so I thought this might be fun! This is more of an introduction to Tunisian crochet than an actual tutorial – I talk about different crochet hooks, stitches, and do a small tutorial, but it’s on my laptop computer so the actual tutorial isn’t that helpful. Still, I hope you enjoy it. 🙂

Also, I’d love it if you subscribed to my YouTube channel, because I’ve been making more videos lately. You’ll see another one later in the month. 🙂

Thanks so much for watching! Have you tried Tunisian crochet before? What do you think of it? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Crochet A to Z: Stuffed Plush Things (aka Amigurumi!)

I’m doing the A to Z Challenge for the month of April with the theme “Learn to Crochet A to Z.” For more details, and to see previous posts, click on the page at the top of my blog!

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Today’s title should really be “Amigurumi,” but that didn’t work with the alphabet theme. :} Amigurumi is Japanese for “knitted stuffed toy,” so I thought “stuffed plush things” got the point across. I’m not positive on the pronunciation – I’m that person who always mispronounces things, which leads to some pretty hilarious (and embarrassing) moments. Seriously, why should “colonel” be pronounced “kernel?” But I believe it’s pronounced “am-ih-guh-roo-mee,” or “ah-meh-guh-roo-mee.” People also call them “amis” for short, which I like because it means “friend” in French. 🙂

Well, that was a really long linguistic introduction. I’m writing this post in between my literature and creative writing classes, so I guess it makes sense. 😛

Anyway, even though the name means “knitted stuffed toys,” they tend to be crocheted – because crochet fabric is stiff, it lends itself perfectly for shaping and making the stuffing not show through. You can really amigurumify anything (because that’s totally a word) – from animals to food to people. Just stick a face on it! 🙂

In case you’re new to amis, I wanted to give you a brief overview of the craft – there’s way too much to cover in just one blog post, but we can cover the highlights! I thought I’d give you some examples of amigurumi, then some basic guidelines for making them/materials you’ll need, and finally some of my favorite amigurumi books. I am certainly not the expert here; there are so many talented designers out there, and it’s totally worth exploring the Internet to see them. 🙂 Amigurumi are the most popular things I make, and they’re actually the reason I learned to crochet when I was fourteen, so I could learn to make dolls.

Some randomgurumis

(because I’m really tired and am just randomly mashing words together haha)

If you’re a longtime follower, no doubt you’ll recognize a lot of these. 🙂

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BB-8 from Star Wars: The Force Awakens

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Safety cones I made for my Driver’s Ed classmates last year (if this makes you curious about my age, I got my license later than most.) 🙂 Pattern from Alicia Kachmar.

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Lunar Chronicles amigurumi dolls made from a pattern by “By Hook, By Hand.” This is probably my favorite project I’ve ever done. 🙂

Amigurumi Rapunzel, Elsa, and Rey, all made from patterns in “AmiguruME” by Allison Hoffman. Elsa was a commission; Rey and Rapunzel were just for fun. 🙂

Those are just a few of the amis I’ve made – like I said, they’re my favorite thing to make, so I crochet a lot of them. 😀

Amigurumi 101

Although every pattern is different, there are some things that are generally the same for most amigurumi. These are just guidelines. 🙂

What do you need to make an amigurumi?

  • Amis are made with a smaller hook than you would usually use for your yarn. So if the yarn label recommends a 5.5 MM hook, you would use something like a 4 MM, or even smaller. I use G (4.00 MM) hooks for 95% of my amis, but I crochet pretty tightly. If you crocheted looser, you may want to use an E or F hook. The point of using a smaller hook is to make sure the stuffing doesn’t show through the stitches.
  • As for yarn, in my experience, the cheaper stuff works better! (How often does that happen?) I use Red Heart Super Saver for most of my amis, and it holds its shape really well. The more expensive yarns are usually softer and drapier/more flexible, which is great for scarves and the like, but not when you’re making a toy that you want to be a certain shape. Most amigurumi patterns use worsted weight acrylic yarn (category 4).
  • You’ll need stuffing to, well, stuff your ami. I use polyester fiberfill, but in the past I’ve used anything from cotton balls to, in a pinch, Kleenex. (That did not work well.) Fiberfill is great because you can buy a huge bag of it for twenty bucks or so and it will last you months. I teach crochet, and all my students use the communal bag of stuffing, and we haven’t run out in the last six months. You can also experiment with using beans to stuff your amis, to make them squishy like a Beanie Baby and sometimes even able to stand up. However, if you do this, you’ll need to put the beans/rice in a nylon or sock or something to keep them from poking through the crochet. (I learned this one from experience!)
  • You’ll need a stitch marker to mark your stitch (although I bet you figured that one out from the name). You can buy legit “stitch markers,” or you can do what I do and use the nearest yarn scrap. Lately I’ve been using the starting tail from the amigurumi itself – I am really, truly lazy. Or try a bobby pin or safety pin.
  • It helps to have a way to keep track of your rounds – you can use an online row counter such as this (there are also apps), a clickable row counter like this, or write them down on paper.
  • You’ll need a yarn needle to sew pieces together – I like the slightly smaller and sharper ones for ease of sewing.
  • For your amigurumi’s face, supplies can vary – the simplest are just eyes and a mouth. I like using safety eyes for my amigurumi because it makes them look super cute. These are two-piece eyes that snap into place; one of my students compared them to earrings, which is a great way of putting it. You stick the front through the crochet and snap the back on. Once they go on, they’re not moving ever again, so make sure you like the placement! For some reason, Michaels doesn’t seem to sell them, but I’ve found them at Joann Fabrics or online. You can use felt and embroidery floss to add details to your amis, but I’m terrible at sewing, so I try to keep it simple. 🙂 They also come in a wide variety of sizes, for different sizes of plush, and you can get colored and cat eyes as well. I’m going to link you to Suncatcher Eyes so you can be inspired – I’ve never tried any of their products, but it’s a great example of the wide variety of possibilities out there!

Okay, now how do you actually make an amigurumi?

  • Every pattern’s different, but here are some of the techniques you’ll likely use.
  • You’ll need to know how to work in the round, in a spiral…which just means you aren’t joining your rounds. Hence the need for a stitch marker, to keep track of where you are.
  • Most amis are made with a single crochet (UK double crochet) – we’ll go into the difference between US and UK terms later, but this is pretty much the first stitch you learn when you start crocheting, so that means amigurumi can be a good project for beginners. 🙂
  • To start off an amigurumi, it’s worth learning how to make a magic ring, when you get more advanced. It makes it so there’s no central hole at the beginning. If there is a hole at the beginning, though, you can use the starting tail to sew it closed.
  • You’ll need to know how to increase and decrease. There is such a thing as an invisible decrease, although I prefer the standard sc2tog – that’s just personal preference, and also because I’m lazy, but it’s a really cool stitch and is definitely worth investigating if you want a more seamless look. 😀

Book Recommendations & Inspiration

Here are some of my favorite amigurumi books!

  • Anything by Ana Paula Rimoli. My mom gave me Amigurumi World, Amigurumi Two, and Amigurumi Toy Box for Christmas one year, and I learned how to make amis from following her patterns. She also has a really cute Amigurumi on the Go book with patterns for bags and such that I love!
  • The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Amigurumi by June Gilbank (from planetjune.com). This is a fantastic reference book that helps you learn to design your own amis, walking you through all the steps.
  • AmiguruME by Allison Hoffman is super fun if you want to make super customizable dolls. This is the book I used to make Rey, Rapunzel, and Elsa.
  • Bonus: Look on Ravelry.com under the ‘amigurumi’ category for tons of inspiration. I usually click the option for ‘free’ because I’m broke, but I will splurge for a crochet pattern sometimes. 🙂 You can sort by tons of different categories or search for a specific kind, like ‘elephant’ or ‘Yoda.’ Or try Pinterest – but sometimes it’s hard to find the pattern. Just don’t blame me for the time sap. 🙂

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Whew, I think that about covers the basics! Obviously there’s a ton more information out there, I barely scratched the surface, but I hope that makes it seem a little less intimidating if you’re just wanting to learn. 🙂

What about you, my lovely followers? Have you crocheted any amigurumi? I’d love to hear your experience! And I’m alway looking for new crochet books and designers!

Crochet A to Z: Ribbing

I’m doing the A to Z Challenge for the month of April with the theme “Learn to Crochet A to Z.” For more details, and to see previous posts, click the link at the top of my blog!

Crochet A to Z-3

Hi lovely followers! Today we’re going to talk about the ribbed stitch, which is a super easy way to add texture to your crochet. There are several different ways to achieve ribbing, but we’re just discussing one today.

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Ribbing is fantastic for adding texture and stretch. Here’s a blanket I made for our puppy using the ribbed stitch – it holds up quite well under her rigorous play! It’s great for cuffs on sweaters and socks, as well as for scarves and blankets. And it looks quite similar to knitted ribbing, which makes me happy as I love the look of knitted fabric. 🙂

To do this stitch, all you have to do is crochet in the back loops of the stitches. (You can also do front loop crochet, which makes a cool pattern, but it isn’t this chunky, squishy kind of ribbing. It’s fun to experiment with, though, so feel free to give that a go!) You’re just working under one loop instead of two, which yields this cool effect.

So basically instead of inserting your hook under two loops like this…

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You’ll be going under just the back loop, the back part of the “V,” like this!

I hope that makes sense – I didn’t get a picture of this in progress, but there are plenty of YouTube tutorials out there if you search ‘back loop crochet’ or ‘crochet ribbing.’ They explain it much better than me. :}

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It creates a really cool look, I think, and I love that it’s so easy to do. You may have gathered by now that I’m a very lazy crocheter, so I love easy stitches that look complicated. 🙂

Have you used crochet ribbing before? What are your thoughts? Your comments are always appreciated – thank you for all your support! 🙂 ❤