If you are a newbie to the world of Amigurumi like me, there are a few tricks you will need to add to your crochet arsenal before you embark on this little adventure. It’s a little different to working a blanket but once you get the hang of a few simple techniques it’s a lot of fun.
TENSION The first thing to remember when crocheting toys is to always keep your tension tight. This will give a much neater overall finish; sloppy tension will leave holes when stuffing the piece at the end. The tighter your work, the less chance you have of stuffing peeping through. It is important to keep your tension even throughout your project. If you are struggling to get your stitches nice and tight, you can also drop down a hook size.
STITCHES Amigurumi is generally worked using a single crochet, these small tight stitches give a nice neat finish and prevent stuffing from peeping through on finished projects. With dolls the clothing will often use different stitches, but the pattern will instruct you what stitches to use.
WORKING IN A SPIRAL Most crocheted toys are worked in a spiral rather than in the round (always check your pattern, it should specify this). This means that when you have finished working your stitches, you do not slip stitch to join. The slip stitch join creates a visible seam; working in a spiral eradicates the seam.
To work in a spiral, complete the stitches as per the pattern instructions, continue crocheting without using a slip stitch join, do not ch1 as you would normally do. Simply work the first sc of the next round into the first sc of the round you have just completed.
STITCH MARKERS Working in a spiral presents you with the problem of keeping track of your stitch count. You can use standard stitch markers, but these can become a little bit of a pain when you’re working pieces with a small count and need to keep moving that marker. Well, didn’t some clever soul come up with the idea of a running stitch marker! So, cut yourself a length of yarn in a different colour to what you are working with. Make sure that the piece is long enough to get a good grip when you need to pull it out at the end. Complete the first round of your work, begin marking your stitches at the beginning of the 2nd round.
- Drape the stitch marker directly after the stitch you have just worked; it should fall over the 1st stitch from the previous round.
- Work the next round as normal.
- When you get to the end of the next round, drape it back, it’s as easy as that! ? Another thing I found quite handy with a running stitch marker is it’s a great way to help you find the centre of your body part, like a head for eye placement! Keep a good stock of regular stitch markers handy also, I used them often.
INCREASES These are super simple, just work 2sc into the same st as the pattern instructs. Yay, easy peasy lemon squeezy.
DECREASES – INVISIBLE DECREASE This is where the toy makers get a little tricksy again. A standard decrease would be a sc2tog, but these make ugly holes when you stuff your piece, so the invisible decrease does the trick.
To work an invisible decrease, you will work through the front loops only.
- You will insert your hook from the bottom of the loop and work up:
- Insert your hook through the front loop only (FLO) of the 1st indicated stitch.
- Insert your hook into the FLO only of the 2nd indicated st – 3 loops on the hook.
- Yo, pull through 1st 2 loops on the hook – 2 loops on the hook.
- Yarn over, pull through both loops.
BACK LOOPS AND FRONT LOOPS Often with Amigurumi you will work either only the front loops or the back loops of a stitch. Often this is to attach clothing or another part to the piece you are working. To work back loops, work only through the back loop of the indicated stitch, rather than through both loops as you would normally do. For front loops, work only through the front loop. Your pattern should indicate whether you should work from the top down or the bottom up.
NEEDLE JOINS These can be a little tricky on the smaller pieces but squish it, fold it, do what you must; needle joins are the way to go with Amigurumi.
- Work your last stitch as normal, cut your yarn and pull it though the top of your stitch. Thread your tail onto the needle.
- Insert the needle under both loops of the second stitch of the round. If you work into the first stitch of the round you will be adding a stitch so be careful to avoid that stitch.
- Thread your tail back through the top of your last stitch. Gently close the loop so it forms a false loop over the first stitch.
- Secure your tail. In most cases you can leave a long end for joining. Because Ami is worked in a spiral, a needle join also prevents jogging (or a little step) when changing colours in your work.
FINISHING OFF A SIX STITCH HOLE Often with Amigurumi a piece will decrease to six stitches and you are then instructed to end off. Ending off after six stitches leaves an ugly little hole so of course the clever toy makers found a way to remedy that:
- Thread your tail end onto a needle.
- Insert the needle under the FLO of the 1st stitch and pull your yarn taught.
- Insert the needle under the FLO of the 2nd stitch and pull your yarn taught.
- Work in this manner until you have completed all six stitches.
- Fasten off and secure ends. Working through the front loops of the remaining stitches gathers the outside of the stitches together, this should cause the small remaining hole from the last six stitches to close.
STITCHING ALL THE BITS TOGETHER A nice neat stitching finish is really easy to accomplish with Amigurumi. Always use a nice small and neat whip stitch to stitch your Ami together, use your stitches as a guide:
- On the piece that is being joined, you will stitch only through the front loops of the stitch.
- On the piece you are joining onto, you will stitch through the corresponding single crochet.
- Work through the corresponding single crochet.
- Work through each stitch so your pieces are securely attached and you have a seamless finish.
There are some other magical tricks that you will pick up along the way, but this will definitely get you headed off in the right direction. I can’t wait to see what you all create and hope you will have so much fun on this adventure.