5 Things I’ve Learned About Amigurumi

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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

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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.

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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

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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”.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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. 🙂

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!

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17 thoughts on “5 Things I’ve Learned About Amigurumi

  1. This is a great idea for a post! Thanks 🙂 I’m excited to learn about invisible decreases, the holes that normal decreases leave have always bothered me 😛

  2. I’m so glad I found this post! I’m on my 2nd amigurumi and I’ve only been crocheting through the front loop! Oh boy 🙂 I’m also excited to try out the invisible decrease! Thank you!

    • You’re very welcome Krista! It’s funny the mistakes you make when you first start crocheting. Stephanie’s blog has many great tips and patterns – since I’ve learned the invisible decrease I’ve never gone back!

  3. Hi There,

    know that this a quite old post, but it is the best! And it helped me with one of my questions about “right or wrong” side.
    Maybe you can help me…
    As you said, when you make you amigurumi, the right side will be faced to you, but it will curve the wrong side out. I have then read the post on All About Ami, where she sugested, either to flip the work, or just leave as it, and only flip near the end.
    I tried flipping near the beginning, but the it seams like the stitches are all open, and it wont make that round look to the amigurumi.
    And if I turn towards the end, it gets kinda of tricky to do the stitches inside the ball…

    How do you do this part??
    And, when you make the legs/arm/etc, how do you get the right side out??
    Change the way you crochet??

    These are a few of alot more doubts that I have. But as I haven´t getted quito further on my amigurumi, and I found your blog, I thought about asking.

    Hope you can help me…

    Thanks in advance.

    • Hi Bettina! I’m sorry I didn’t reply this earlier!

      To avoid the struggle of flipping a piece inside out towards the end, I would advise trying to crochet with the “right” side facing out from the beginning. It may look a bit strange at first, but if you keep going you will find it works.

      I was also wondering – are you crocheting through both loops? That could be why the stitches are difficult to access?

      I hope you have been able to figure out how to crochet with “right” side out. Let me know if you need me to try and explain things better Bettina!

  4. I don’t agree with the 5th point. The hook size does matter. you can’t crochet thin wool with a large hook because it will create large holes that will make the filling visible. You don’t have to be 100% on target but you’ve got to be in close proximithy. Smaller suits better.

    • Hi Sev! Thanks for your feedback. I didn’t say that hook size didn’t matter – what I meant was, like you say at the end of your comment – that “you don’t have to be 100% on target”. 🙂

  5. Hi, I was looking at your yellow bear and the crochet loops looks like tiny x together not like tiny v, one girl who crochet that way told me it is because she crochet very very tight, can you tell me how do you do it? 🙂 greetings, your post was nice!
    Fayette_dream@hotmail.com

    • Hi Paulette! Thank you for your kind words! I didn’t crochet the yellow bear using any special techniques. The yarn is 8ply ( a light worsted yarn) and I used a 4mm hook. I now crochet the same yarn with smaller hooks. Your friend is probably right – the look of the crochet is probably to do with the tightness. I’m sorry that there was no special technique to share with you!

  6. Hi,
    Just a quick couple of questions as I am just starting my first Amigurumi project.
    Always knitted, so this is very new to me.
    I want to know why I never seem to get the required number of stitches after counting them in increases or decreases? I count them every round, and use a stitch marker, but I always end up with more stitches!! I put the hook into the two stitches, and have been working in the round with the wrong side facing outward. If I turn the work inside out so that the right side is outward, do I only insert the hook in the single stitch nearest me?
    Sorry if this sounds dumb, but it’s very frustrating at the moment, and I am determined to nail this!!
    Thanks, Carole

    • Hi Carole! Sorry I didn’t reply earlier. It’s not a dumb question.

      A single crochet stitch is made up of two loops (forming a V shape when you look at them from above). Regardless of whether you have the “wrong” side facing in or out, you will always put the hook through both of them.

      I hope that makes sense and helps somewhat – let me know if it doesn’t! (or if I’ve misunderstood your problem!)

      Happy crocheting!
      Rachel

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