Why Not Make Amigurumi Your New Hobby? – It’s Fun and Easy to Learn!
I should know, I began practicing amigurumi as a beginner crocheter. What I love about it is that most of the projects are much quicker to bring to completion than say – an afghan – at least, once you get how it’s done. Let me walk you through it…
What is it?
Amigurumi is the Japanese art of creating small stuffed animals, people, or other objects from yarn, specifically through the crafting techniques of knitting or crocheting.
The word itself is a blend of sounds from related conceptual terms, called a portmanteau word. It morphs the Japanese word ‘ami” – which means crocheted or knitted – with the Japanese word “nuigurumi” – which refers to a stuffed doll.
If you love Kawaii, which is another Japanese term that refers to the dazzling or adorable qualities of lovable and cute things, then Amigurumi may be the craft for you.
What makes it easy?
I don’t consider Amigurumi to be a terribly difficult crafting skill to learn. Even if you’ve never crocheted before, it’s possible to jump right in to Amigurumi because it tends to focus on single crochet, increase and decrease. Even if you mess up, the act of learning Amigurumi will help you to understand very quickly why mistakes are made and how to avoid them. Also, an Amigurumi project can be completed much quicker than others – like say, an afghan – which is what a lot of beginners start with.
Although some Amigurumi projects can get quite detailed and lengthy and even require some knowledge of higher level techniques, many of them are actually really basic in their design. That makes this particular skill somewhat easier to get the hang of than many other crochet projects. However, even the simplest of designs will look like they were very difficult to make – which is great for so many reasons, not the least of which is that this can help build the confidence of a beginner crocheter. Also, using simple stitches to make shaped, three dimensional objects, is the perfect way to help teach a beginner how these shaping details are achieved in many other crochet works.
As a side note, any type of crochet or hand work can be difficult for a person with arthritis or similar issue in their hands. I experience stiff, achy and sometimes swollen joints in my hands, so I do understand. My left thumb joint doesn’t even bend correctly and is constantly in pain. In order for me to re-learn crochet as an adult I had to first find a way that was comfortable for me to hold a needle and my work too. For this reason, I don’t hold the needle like most crocheters do (like a pen). Instead, I hold the needle like a toddler would hold their spoon to feed themselves (with a sort of closed fist, using my thumb and forefinger to push and turn the needle. Also, this is why I only use needles with an attached grip.
Holding the work with my left hand took some practice – learning to provide support while not gripping too tightly. Whenever I work a project that needs to be tightly stitched, I have to work more consciously so as not to create more stiffness and pain in those joints. However, I’m proof that it can be done. So, if you’re interested in trying this as a hobby, don’t let your hands stop you. You’ll just need to find the best way for you to comfortably hold and work with needle and thread. It’s perfectly okay to put the piece down after so many rows to give your hands a rest.
My mother absolutely loved crochet, she practiced this skill since childhood and was expert. In her thirties she developed Rheumatoid Arthritis, which only worsened with age. She never completely stopped crocheting – not until the very end when she mostly kept to her bed. What she did to be able to continue her hobby – she would do as many rows as was comfortable, then take a break from it to do something else… perhaps for a few minutes or an hour or so – then she’d go back to it.
What makes it fun?
There are a lot of Amigurumi patterns that are really quick and easy to put together. This means you can do more projects in a shorter amount of time than some other types of crochet projects – and this will keep you interested and moving along. Also, Amigurumi designs are just so adorable! 💙 They make great gifts and can be easily personalized in various ways.
And well, any type of crochet is like an active meditation. It’s a very chill sort of activity that gives the mind a rest from other daily concerns. Really, once you get going, crochet becomes rather addictive. There’s so much about it that can be really satisfying and enjoyable. The yarns, the colors and textures, the various stitching patterns, and all the things you can create! Soon, you’ll be collecting yarns because you want to create something with them – instead of finding a project to start and going to get the yarn. Believe me, it’s a lot of fun. My youngest daughter, who just turned eight, is even learning some of the basics right now and she loves it!
What’s needed to get started?
I’m not a knitter, so I can’t speak to what a person must know to begin Amigurumi with that particular skill. But what I can do is break the Amigurumi hobby down for crochet by listing for you the necessary ingredients for practicing this beautiful craft.
The following provides all you really need to know in order to do Amigurumi style crochet:
First, you need to know how to begin a project. This is usually done by creating either a slipknot or a magic circle. Then, you will most likely begin with a short chain or by working directly in to your circle.
(You may run in to a chainless foundation in some patterns, which is just a way of skipping the chain and moving directly into your first row of stitches… but I have yet to run into this doing an Amigurumi pattern – but that doesn’t mean you or I won’t at some point, so I mention it here.)
Actually, most of your Amigurumi pieces will begin with a short chain of something like two, which you then work stitches into, or it will start with a magic circle/ring that your first stitches are worked into. This is because the idea is to have a beginning that spirals out to form a stuffable piece like a head, body, or appendage.
If you’re not familiar with the stitches or techniques mentioned, please see the links I have provided for your convenience or do your own search online to learn more about them.
Magic Circle / Ring or Adjustable Loop
Double Magic Circle / Ring
Hey! You can find Free Crochet Lessons on YouTube! Here's a list of a few of my favorites! All of the basic crochet techniques and stitches are covered by many of these free channels. I recommend Following These Channels: Crochet Guru The Crochet Crowd All Free Crochet Free Crochet Patterns
Once your project is under way you will find that your most typical stitches will be very basic. Although, this will only be true for some patterns since plenty of Amigurumi patterns will include additional stitch work. Just remember to Always be sure to check the pattern details to see what stitches will be used before you begin.
Even if you only know the very basic stitches, don’t be put off by this. Either save the more complicated patterns for another day after you’ve practiced some more basic patterns – or, simply look up the additional stitches somewhere and use the project to improve your skill. The best way to do this if you are new to reading patterns is to participate in a crochet along on Youtube for Amigurumi. Go ahead – You got this!
Invisible Decrease (same as decrease stitch, but as a FLO stitch)
FLO (front loop only)
BLO (back loop only)
Amigurumi is about working with thread by hand… so crochet stitching isn’t all you may need to know. For instance, working with a sewing needle, a darning needle, and other types of thread may be necessary. Especially where facial details and other embellishments are concerned, working with embroidery techniques becomes a very useful skill. The more skilled you are with this, the more professional and beautiful finish you will be able to achieve. However, just knowing the basics of hand stitching will get you by and you’ll be able to create some fantastic finishes.
Hand sewing techniques
Materials you will need to practice Amigurumi:
Crochet thread, various types
Crochet needles, various sizes
Stitch markers, or just use thread
Darning Needles (these are blunted needles with larger thread holes)
Various size and types sewing needles
Embroidery Thread, various colors
Safety Eyes, various sizes and colors
Sew on Buttons
If you prefer to have supplies on hand, the above list will put you in the right place for that. This is how I work. It makes it easier for me to just begin a project and not have to make an event of it with needing to make an immediate trip to the store or purchase online.
If you prefer to work by pattern or project, simply buy supplies as needed and as specified within each pattern.
It’s also a good idea to have some sort of organization for your supplies. While you could just use drawers or totes or even suitcases, I find it’s preferable to have a few portable containers of various sizes for carrying individual projects supplies.
Some useful tricks for Amigurumi include:
Use nylon stockings to fill with stuffing before placing into the doll being made. This keeps stuffing from coming through the stitches.
Use a smaller hook than what is suggested on yarn label. This will help keep your stitches tighter to prevent gaps.
Always leave a long tail at the end of each finished piece. Then use a darning needle with each tail to sew the stuffed pieces together.
If you need to hold pieces in place for sewing, use sewing pins to hold them together.
Always weave in your tails rather than tying knots and cutting since that can create an unsightly finish that has the potential for coming undone.
When weaving, go in opposite directions with every weave to make it where it stays in place. Also, try to weave in areas where it cannot be seen and don’t skip numerous stitches when weaving because that will make the yarn visible.
Don’t join rounds as this will create a visible seam. Just keep crocheting in rounds to make the piece seamless.
Unless you really understand how to keep track of and count your rows, marking your stitches is crucial in Amigurumi.
*I won’t say it’s impossible to do right without using a stitch marker because I actually do it all the time and don’t find it difficult to do so. However, it is very helpful and can save you a lot of time if you just include this into your ordinary practice. The main time that I do utilize a stitch marker is whenever I am about to begin from a spot of increase or decrease and will be doing multiple rounds of the same stitch count. I place the marker at the first repeated round so that if I lose track I can just count my finished rows to see where I left off.
I find a piece of alternate colored thread is easier to use as a marker than any other type of plastic or metal marker, but there are many kinds available on the market. Alternatively, some people like to use paperclips or bobby pins. This just comes down to preference and availability.
When a row calls for increase, try spacing the increases out evenly for a more professional appearance.
When a row calls for decrease, try using the invisible decrease for a more even appearance.
Count rows on each side to ensure even placement of symmetrical details, like eyes or ears. Use sewing pins to mark placement before placing such elements to make sure they’re where you want them.
More of Interest:
I recommend that you check out the following websites for some excellent help, advice, and free patterns for Amigurumi.
Visit Amigurumi Today – they offer a lot of useful information about this topic, such as stitch tutorials, tips and tricks, and some great Free Patterns!
Visit Craftsy for a variety of beautiful Amigurumi patterns, available for Free download!
Visit Love Crochet for more Adorable and Free Downloadable Amigurumi Patterns!
Yarnspirations also has some downloadable Amigurumi style patterns available for Free – check it out!
I hope you found this short guide to amigurumi helpful. If you did, I hope you’ll share it on Pinterest or with others who may be interested! Also, I’d love to hear what you think about amigurumi – have you tried it yet? Are you an old pro who’d like to share another tip for beginners? Comment below!