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!
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.
(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. 🙂
BB-8 from Star Wars: The Force Awakens
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.
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. 😀
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. 🙂
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!