Amigurumi and all crochet items are made of a series of different stitches crocheted in a particular order. Each stitch is a building block, and they are arranged so systematically that the crochet instructions are often written in a standardized way — a crochet pattern.
Each stitch is usually written out in abbreviated shorthand. This often looks like complete gibberish to new crocheters (including me when I started!), so in this section I’m going to talk through the most important points you need to know when beginning to tackle an amigurumi project.
More blog posts for amigurumi beginners:
- My Foolproof Guide to Crocheting Amigurumi for Beginners
- What’s the best stuffing for amigurumi? (+ how to stuff!)
- How to Sew Amigurumi Parts Together (easy photo tutorial!)
For your first amigurumi project, you also need to learn how to crochet each stitch, so I highly recommend following a video tutorial that has a pattern accompanying it. That way, you can learn to read a pattern while learning the stitches at the same time.
I recommend this process in my blog post of the easiest patterns to start with, but I’ll also link my recommended first project here:
This Mini Whale amigurumi is aimed at complete beginners — I worked really hard to provide a full video tutorial, blog post, as well as free downloadable PDF! This is the pattern to start with if you’re a complete beginner 🙂
This is a tutorial for complete beginners and goes through how to create the entire project from scratch. The accompanying PDF pattern can be found below and the blog post here.
This is actually the same project I started with, and it helped me learn the basic terminology so that I could try patterns that didn’t have a video component in the future.
What are the most common abbreviations?
The most common abbreviations for amigurumi are listed below (US terms):
- ch: chain
- inc: single crochet increase
- dec: decrease
- rnd(s): round(s)
- sc: single crochet
- x sc: single crochet x number of stitches
- sl st: slip stitch
- st(s): stitch(es)
- ( ): repeat steps between brackets for the specified number of times
- (x sts): total number of stitches x you should have at the end of each round
We’ll go into what each of these all mean later, so don’t worry about that. These are the most common stitches and abbreviations used for amigurumi (which aren’t really that many! hooray!), and they’re almost always abbreviated this way.
However, with less common abbreviations, designers may vary a little in terms of how exactly they abbreviate certain terms, but if you’re ever confused in a written pattern about what an abbreviation means, you should go to the abbreviations section to see it written out in full.
There’s always an abbreviations section, and once you see the stitch fully written out, a simple Google or YouTube search should get you to some great tutorials for how to execute it.
Let’s take a look at an example!
I’ll walk you through an example for the first few rounds of my Mini Whale pattern.
Deciphering Round 1
Translation into English: You will now begin round one of this amigurumi piece. Work six single crochet stitches into a magic ring. There should now be six stitches total after finishing round one.
Deciphering Round 2
Translation into English: You will now begin the second round of this amigurumi piece. Work an increase six times. There should now be twelve stitches at the end of the second round.
Deciphering Round 3
Translation into English: You will now begin the third round of this amigurumi piece. Work the stitches within the parentheses six times. In other words, work these stitches “sc, inc, sc, inc, sc, inc, sc, inc, sc, inc, sc, inc” onto your previous round. There should now be eighteen stitches at the end of the third round.
How to read other notation systems
Okay, I have to come clean here. The abbreviations I listed above aren’t always the most common abbreviations, because all of these follow the US system.
Luckily, this tends to be the most common system out there, but it will always be listed in the pattern what notation the designer follows.
A word of warning: The one time this becomes tricky is when you encounter the UK notation system. This is because their notation is very similar to the US system, but with a few things switched around that will result in a big difference. Everyone has made the mistake at least once of following a UK pattern when they thought it was written in US, so don’t make that mistake!
Aside from abbreviation systems, Japanese amigurumi patterns are often written in chart form. I won’t get into that now because you likely won’t need it, but if you’re curious you can check out this blog post by Yarnspirations here.