My first Amigurumi

Since it is not so long ago that I started crocheting and Amigurumis, I try to address all thoughts and questions that might arise to make it easier to get started. It will be a lot of boring text, but maybe it will help, maybe even take the hesitation to start and in the end there will be the first Amigurumi, I promise! :o)

All you need is wool in different colors (one or two different colors, a little white and a little black - all in the same weight so that the dimensions are right), a crochet hook in suitable size, some stuffing (cushion filling is possible too for the beginning), a tapestry or wool needle (with a big loop where the wool fits through), scissors and possibly a few pins. Some of these things you probably have at home anyway.

First a few tips:

Which wool?

In principle, any wool that is also suitable for knitting is suitable. But only in principle.

At the beginning I would really recommend mercerised cotton (mercerising is a special treatment for wool/fabric). This wool does not split so easily into single threads when crocheting on the one hand, on the other hand (and this also applies to untreated) cotton keeps its shape better. This does not mean that at some point acrylic yarn does not look the same as before and cotton does, but that you can give the shape very nicely even when crocheting with cotton and you can no longer do very much wrong by stuffing. You can't do this with acrylic yarn, because you can (almost) change the shape of figures made of this yarn as you like by stuffing, especially if you crochet a little loosely. This should be especially problematic at the beginning, if you are still unexperienced.

If you have some practice, it really doesn't (almost) matter what you crochet with, but I personally think cotton is best for Amigurumi, especially for decoration or playing. It just feels better (for me). For cuddly toys I prefer to use natural wool or other yarns that feel as cuddly as possible. But in the end it is your personal taste that decides which wool you use.

As already mentioned: if you are just starting, cotton, especially the mercerized one, is the most suitable. There are different companies offering mercerised cotton, to my knowledge the most extensive color range is Scheepjes Catona, comparable are also Schachenmayr Catania, Schöller & Stahl Limone, Lana Grossa Cotone, NEXT Yarns Cotton, Phildar Phil 3, Katia capri and many more. Many of these brands also offer slightly thicker, mercerised cotton if you want to crochet larger figures in a simple way.

Which hook size?

You can' t answer this in general, because which hook size you use depends on many factors, namely the used wool and your personal tension (firm or loose) and last but not least what it should become or how firm you want to stuff.

Let's start with the wool used. On each ball of wool there is a label with a recommended needle/hook size. This hook size can first be seen as a guide value. Because Amigurumis are stuffed very tightly, holes are created when the recommended hook size is used, so that the stuffing can be seen. That's not nice, of course. Therefore, I would generally recommend using a needle ½-1 mm smaller than the smallest recommended needle size and then testing it. So just crochet a few rounds, then stretch the fabric from below with your finger, and if there are no holes, then it is actually right. But it shouldn't get too tight either, because then you can see holes again - sounds funny, but that's how it is. The stitch structure is also not very nice when crocheting too tight. So you should stay as relaxed as possible and try to crochet as evenly as possible.

It took me quite a long time to find the optimal position and technique. The Addi Swing needles helped me. Crocheting with it is quite unusual, but you learn to stay relaxed and to follow the correct movement of the wrist, so that fatigue-free working is possible. When all this has gone into flesh and blood, you can switch to "real" crochet hooks. I tried a lot of hooks and finally found two brands that are great and barely different: Clover Amour and Tulip Etimo (the Tulip is minimal in front). Of course, this is only to my taste and can be different for everyone. If you are not sure whether you want to continue crocheting or just want to try it out, you should of course choose a cheaper hook.

Last but not least, it is important if it is to be decoration or something to cuddle. For decoration (or dolls, etc.) crochet as tightly as possible so that you can stuff very tightly. If you want to make it a cuddly toy and cuddle it, crochet it looser and only stuff it loosely so that you can crumple and cuddle it well. If you crochet firmly and then stuff only loosely, the result usually looks baggy and not very beautiful. Therefore: crochet loosely, stuff loosely. The same goes for clothes for dolls, which are also crocheted more loosely, and the specifications on the label of the wool are then followed.
Grundsätzlich muss man aber zu Beginn oder beim Verwenden einer neuen Wolle erst einmal probieren, auch wenn es nervt :o)

For these reasons, the information on wool and needle size in my patterns are only suggestions which must be adapted to the above mentioned points.

Now the right stuffing. Stuffing hasn't been as easy for me as it sounds for a long time. In retrospect, it was the wrong stuffing material. Many use cushion fillings, you can make it, I have not tried it and actually do not see the need (the price difference is marginal). I have already written an article about stuffing material, in which it is not only about that, but also about other useful tools, which one does not necessarily need immediately, maybe you are not infected with the Amigurumis... You can find the article here (click!).

What I don't explain now is crocheting itself, i.e. how to make single crochets, chains, slip stitches and how to make a magic ring. There are many videos and tutorials for both on the web. I recommend really, really to learn how to make the magic ring, even if it seems a bit difficult at first. But it is worth it, because it is not so difficult and the result is simply much more better than with the alternative (ch 2, crochet the appropriate number of single crochets in the 2nd chain from hook). The problem with this method is that the hole in the middle cannot be closed completely, so it usually remains larger, while no hole remains with the magic ring.

I really recommend crocheting something like potholders in rows (it doesn't have to be potholders, you can also unravel them afterwards) to get a feeling for hook and wool. It can be done without it, but of course it would be easier - and possibly even better.

A few more explanations on the structure of my patterns and some terminology and its implementation:

It is described part by part, the number in front is the number of rounds (so you can check if you missed one), then the abbreviations describe what to crochet in this round and at the end (in brackets) - at least in my patterns - the number of stitches you should have in this round. I find that very helpful - especially at the beginning, but also later on - in order to be able to check whether everything has been done correctly if you are not sure.

Most pieces start with a magic ring into which a specific number of stitches are crocheted. In my case it looks like this: "sc 6 in MR" <- i.e. you make a magic ring and crochet in these 6 single crochets.

Increase means, that you now crochet 2 stitches in one stitch of the previous round, i.e. you make two stitches in the same stitch.

Decrease means: crochet the next two stitches together. For this I recommend the "invisible decrease". This is very simple: you insert the hook into the first stitch, but in the front loop only (which points to you), then insert hook directly through the front loop of the next stitch, without yarn over in between, now yarn over and pull the thread through both loops and crochet the stitch to the end as usual. This means that the decrease is hardly visible even during later stuffing. Make sure to stay relaxed and crochet evenly, the less you can see this spot.

As crocheting Amigurumis is usually done in continuous rounds (i.e. crocheting is done continuously without joining the rounds with a slip stitch), it is recommended to mark the beginning of the round with a thinner thread in contrasting color. You can either pull out the thread after each round or - and this is how I do it - simply lay the thread again after each round from back to front, then from front to back and so on. In this way you can easily unravel to a specific point or even count the number of crocheted rounds.

Fasten off, leave a long tail for sewing means: cutting off the thread remaining 20-30 cm, pulling out the loose end.

Fasten off invisibly means: thread the end of the yarn that has been cutted and pulled out through an appropriate tapestry or wool needle and pick up the outer loops one after each other. When all (usually 6) loops are threaded, insert the needle through the centre inwards and come out somewhere at the side, close the hole by pulling.

Go back through the same stitch where you came out to the beginning, but come out offset by one round and knot well the thread around this stitch 2-3 times. Simply pull the resulting knot inwards by stinging inwards next to the knot, coming out again at the side of the piece and pulling until the knot has disappeared inwards (if necessary help with the needle). Then pull the thread tight and cut close to the figure, making sure not to cut into the stitches, really only the thread.

Later a color change takes place between head and body. How to do this is described here (click!). But it doesn't have to be so perfect for the first Amigurumi, a normal change is enough, to do this, the last stitch in the first color is started normally, so insert hook, yarn over and pull up a loop, now hold the new color behind the crochet piece, keep the current thread tight and pull the loop through with the new color. If you don't think you can do that yet, just skip the color change and crochet the piece in one color, that's not bad either. :o)

Which side comes to the outside, I have explained here (click!).

That's all you need for your first Amigurumi. Now a pattern is still missing. You can find a lot of them here on my site, but for the beginning I would suggest something quite simple. I have designed a figure especially for this, which is easy to make and with which you learn the basics.

First of all, you should know a few terms that are actually used in all of my patterns (and of course in others as well). I’m using for my English translations US-Terms only.

sc = single crochet
ch = chain
slst = slip stitch
st = stitch
MR = magic ring

Now I think we can start :o)

My very first Amigurumi (YAY)

I used slightly thicker cotton and a slightly thicker needle than I mentioned above. On the label is indicated a hook size of 4-4,5 mm. This is much too big for my tension, there would be very large holes, so I use a 3.0 mm hook size. The wool has a aran weight (8 wpi).

At the beginning I added some explanations at the end of the round.

Start with color of choice (color A - for head, arms and legs)

Head / Body:
1. sc 6 in MR (6)
2. inc x6 (12) <- means: sc 2 in each stitch (6 time = x6) - at the end you have 12 stitches.
3. (sc 1, inc) x6 (18) <- neans: sc 1 in the first stitch, sc 2 in the second stitch - 6 times (x6), you have 18 stitches at the end.
4. (sc 2, inc) x6 (24)
5. (sc 3, inc) x6 (30)
6. (sc 4, inc) x6 (36)
7.-12. (6 Rounds) sc in each st around (36) <- means: sc 1 per stitch for 6 rounds (no increases, no decreases).
13. (sc 4, dec) x6 (30) <- means: sc 4, crochet together the next 2 stitches - as described earlier with an invisible decrease.
14. (sc 3, dec) x6 (24)
15. (sc 2, dec) x6 (18)
Before the opening gets smaller start stuffing. The head can already be stuffed a little, but not yet complete and not all the way to the top, so that you can continue crocheting comfortably. As long as you don't have anything else, you can stuff with your fingers first. Stuff the figure tightly, the stuffing may slightly shrink. When stuffing, you should make sure that there are no dents where no dents are to go, all as evenly as possible. First I always stuff the outer areas, i.e. add stuffing and then press outwards, refill and press outwards again, so that the new stuffing always comes into the middle until the figure is completely stuffed.
16. (sc 1, dec) x6 (12)
Change to color B.
17. (sc 1, inc) x6 (18)
18. (sc 2, inc) x6 (24)
Finish stuffing the head. Because of the small opening you may use your turned crochet hook or something like that. If you get infected with the crochet virus, you can buy tools for it later. It's worth it :o)
19. (sc 3, inc) x6 (30)
20. (sc 4, inc) x6 (36)
21.-26. (6 Rounds) sc in each st around (36)
27. (sc 4, dec) x6 (30)
28. (sc 3, dec) x6 (24)
29. (sc 2, dec) x6 (18)
You can start here stuffing, here also loosely again and not up to the edge.
30. (sc 1, dec) x6 (12)
Finish stuffing.
31. dec x6 (6)
Fasten off invisibly (see explanation above)
If you did everything right, the last round doesn't look so much different than the first round. :o)

Fine, head and body are ready now.

Let’s make the eyes now. Later you can use other eyes (made of glass or safety eyes). For the beginning I’ll show you that you don’t need so much materials for a nice Amigurumi. These eyes are suitable for toddlers, as long as they are sewn on well. But we will sew on later :o)

Eye (make 2):
white
1. sc 6 in MR (6)
2. inc x6 (12)
Fasten off, leave a long tail for sewing.

Pupil (make 2):
black
1. sc 6 in MR (6)
Fasten off, leave a long tail for sewing.

Leg (make 2):
Color A
1. sc 6 in MR (6)
2. inc x6 (12)
3. (sc 1, inc) x6 (18)
4.-6. (3 Rounds) sc in each st around (18)
7. dec x6, sc 6 (12)
8. sc in each st around (12)
Stuff the leg.
Flatten at the top and crochet together with 6 sc, always work through front and back.
Fasten off, leave a long tail for sewing.

Arm (make 2):
Color A
1. sc 6 in MR (6)
2. inc x6 (12)
3.-4. (2 Rounds) sc in each st around (12)
Stuff the arm.
5. (sc 2, dec) x3 (9)
6.-8. (3 Rounds) sc in each st around (9)
Flatten at the top and crochet together with 4 sc, always work through front and back.
Fasten off, leave a long tail for sewing.

Now all parts for the figure are finished, now everything has to be sewn on. Some people have problems with it because they don't feel like it and are quickly frustrated. To be honest, I only found it annoying at the beginning because I was always so impatient and wanted to have the figure finished. Of course it was also unusual and didn't look so good and worked as well as in the meantime. However, I would really recommend to work through the first time disciplined and not to leave things behind (UFO = UnFinished Objects), because only with practice you become a master and with a little practice it's not so bad anymore.

So let's get started. First, we sew the pupil onto the white eye patch. To do this, thread the black ending thread through a needle and then sew together stitch by stitch as evenly and as neatly as possible, all around. Then knot the beginning and end threads of the pupil at the back well and cut the threads.

Now you can embroider a light with one of the white threads (simply with a single stitch, preferably vertical), which makes the eye look more alive.

Now pin all the pieces to the desired place and change if needed until it looks really good for you.

Then sew piece by piece, stitch by stitch, carefully. The threads are fixed in the same way as described for fasten off, Hide the remaining threads inside the body.

Last but not least, embroider a nice mouth and your very first Amigurumi is ready. Congratulations! :o)

I hope that I was able to take away the fear of "getting started" from some of you :o)