It’s been almost six months since I started making amigurumi (for the unacquainted, Amigurumi is the Japanese art of crocheting or knitting small stuffed toys – mostly animals, but also objects) so I thought it’d be a great time to share with you 5 things I’ve learned since then. Being self taught (well, mum taught me how to crochet a chain and the rest I’ve learned from books and blogs) I’ve made an array of “mistakes” – some of which have only been corrected as recently as a week or so ago. While some of my mistakes might be unique I’m guessing that some might not be – so hopefully this post is of use to someone!
Above is a picture of two bears. The mocha coloured bear is my first real amigurumi and you may recognise him from here. The yellow bear is an amigurumi I made during the past week. They are actually the same pattern (which you can find here on All About Ami)! I’ll be using these two to demonstrate what I have learned.
1. AMIGURUMI HAVE A “WRONG” AND “RIGHT” SIDE
See how the two bears have different textures/patterns? While Mocha Bear (let’s call him MB) is not an exact example of the “wrong” side (I’ll explain more later), Yellow Bear (let’s call him YB) is an example of what is generally considered by amigurumi enthusiasts to be the “right” side of an amigurumi. When Amigurumi are crocheted, most people (including myself) find that one side naturally curves in and the other curves out. The side that seems to most naturally curves out is considered the “wrong” side.
This is probably because the “right” side is better looking. But also, as I discovered whilst crocheting YB (my first “right” side amigurumi!), having the “right” side facing out makes the amigurumi have a nicer shape.
Whilst I guess it’s all subjective as to which bear looks “better” – YB has a more balanced, round shape to him – especially in his head.
But at the end of the day, which side you choose to use in your amigurumi is a matter of personal taste – though I’m making the switch to the “right” side from now on.
Stephanie from All About Ami was kind enough to point this out to me – you can read more about the “right” and “wrong” of Amigurumi in her post here.
2. THE INVISIBLE DECREASE
Another advantage about using the “right” side of amigurumi is that you can use the “invisible” decrease . It took me a few tries to get it right, but when I finally did – wow. It’s a tidier method of decreasing and reduces those gaping holes that can appear with your average “miss a stitch” decrease.
To learn how to do an invisible decrease – check out (once again! ) the All About Ami post here.
3. WORK IN ROUNDS
Before creating MB I dabbled in some simple amigurumi. The patterns were (in hindsight) not very well written, hence why I didn’t catch the amigurumi bug at that time. The patterns also left me with an odd habit – finishing off each row/round with a slip stitch before starting the next. While this may work for some patterns (I don’t dare say it’s just plain wrong – as I am still learning so much about amigurumi and may find later on slip stitching a round has a purpose), I find with amigurumi all it does is leave a strange looking “seam”.
While it’s not as obvious in the photo above, MB has a diagonal “seam” along the back of his head from when I slip stitched the end of every row. There’s nothing wrong with a “seam” but the alternative to slip stitching each round – by working in a continuous round – leaves your amigurumi seamless – giving your amigurumi a more polished look.
It also helps to give the amigurumi its smoother, rounder shape, as seen in the picture below.
4. CROCHET INTO BOTH LOOPS, NOT JUST ONE
I think this amigurumi mistake is more unique to myself than the majority. For no particular reason, I crocheted my initial amigurumis in only what is considered the “back loop”. This resulted in a finer looking textured amigurumi. The amigurumi was also softer and not as firm as the amigurumi crocheted with both loops. This is why I don’t consider MB to be an exact example of the “wrong side” of amigurumi.
I’ve discovered now that crocheting into the back loop of an amigurumi is useful for creating edges. On this bear pattern, crocheting in back loops gave definition to the pad of its foot. So really, crocheting in just the back loops is not necessarily “wrong”, but rather the technique has its time and place.
5. HOOK SIZES ARE NOT CRUCIAL
At least not in amigurumi. And at least if you’re not pedantic about matching a pattern in size and shape exactly.
These two bears were crocheted with the same size hook. Perhaps it was the odd back loop, inside out way I was crocheting or my tension has changed, but the bears differ a little in size.
Each crocheter will have their own tension. Patterns will indicate a hook size but depending on the crocheter – you may need a smaller or larger hook to match the size of the example in the pattern.
However, getting the correct hook is only crucial when you are working on a project like a garment that must be a particular size and fit. That is perhaps why I like coming back to amigurumi time and time again between (or when I need a break from) tension crucial projects. It doesn’t matter what size your amigurumi is!
So, that was my run down of 5 things I have learned about Amigurumi since September! I hope it made sense and perhaps helped someone out there.
One other random thing I learned while putting together this post was how to create animated gifs. All these years I have owned a version of Photoshop that had the capabilities of creating gif images – and only have I learned to make them now! So, I leave you now, with a 360 degree view of dear Yellow Bear.
(Sorry, the gif might take a while to load depending on your internet connection!)
I think this whole creating animated gif thing might become a new “hobby” of mine!