Chances are if you’re anything like me, you’ve seen pictures of adorable crocheted animals or dolls floating around on the internet and thought, could I make that? The good news is, it’s actually pretty easy!
Chances are if you’re anything like me, you’ve seen pictures of adorable crocheted animals or dolls floating around on the internet and thought, could I make that? The good news is, it’s actually pretty easy! I was too intimidated to try making amigurumi for many years without any experience knitting or crocheting, but once I took the leap, I managed to make my first amigurumi from scratch in two days! It is possible to learn to crochet amigurumi over a weekend, or spread out over a week.
Making amigurumi is relatively easy and can be learned in a few days from scratch. Crocheting amigurumi is not difficult and requires only the most basic stitches, and construction of most amigurumi toys are the same, making for a straightforward assembly.
If you’re as fascinated by amigurumi as I am, keep reading to learn about what you need to get started and the first steps to take!
What is amigurumi?
Traditionally, amigurumi is the Japanese art of making stuffed animals with crochet. However, this definition has been stretched in recent years to include dolls, food, and all manner of other cute household objects. Actually, anything can be amigurumi if you just put eyes and a cute smile on it!
Amigurumi are usually made in parts using single crochets worked in a round. Because of this, all amigurumi have a very similar looking exterior. This is good news, because while beginner crocheters have to learn at least three stitches to get started on a basic scarf, an amigurumist only needs to learn one stitch to begin!
Additionally, each part of an amigurumi doll or toy is formed in essentially the same structure: a sphere. This simple base shape can be endlessly extended to create tube-like arms, half domes which flatten into ears, chubby legs, and more. This means that after you learn how to make a simple ball, the world is your oyster.
If you’re interested in learning how to design amigurumi, click here to get a behind the scenes look into my process!
How is amigurumi different from crochet?
Amigurumi are different from crochet in general in that it involves crocheting exclusively in 3D to make stuffed toys. Crocheting in general usually involves working in flat, 2D rows to make garments or household objects, but amigurumi are always crocheted in rounds. Of course, crocheting in the round might occasionally be needed for projects apart from amigurumi and vice versa, but most of the time, the two techniques are divided in this way.
For an in depth breakdown into how amigurumi is different from crochet and which skills overlap, click here for my analysis!
One of the key components to crocheting in a round, and a technique that is almost always used in making amigurumi is creating a magic circle (tutorial here). If you’re a seasoned crocheter, this term might be new to you too, just because it’s used so infrequently for making the average scarf or hat. However, magic rings form the essential first building block for any amigurumi part because it is what enables you to crochet in spirals instead of in rows. Because of this, it’s easy to see that although amigurumi technically falls under the same category as crochet, it is a very specific type of crochet meant solely to meet the needs of creating cute creatures.
To learn about the absolute basic skills you need to learn how to make amigurumi, see my guided list here!
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What materials do I need?
At the most basic level, what you need to begin your first amigurumi is yarn, a hook, and stitch markers.
I broke down just how much it costs to crochet in this blog post — the results surprised me! I also go over what kinds of materials you should get at three different price points!
Yarn: Yarn is usually categorized by weight (size) and fiber (material). All you really need to know is that for amigurumi you should use sport weight (level 3) yarn of cotton, acrylic, or a blend of both. Other fibers are really fun to explore down the road, but they can get pricey and may need more experience to be able to tackle. I love Schachenmayr Catania yarn because of the huge yarn selection and high quality! Each skein is relatively inexpensive but come in a huge array of colors so you don’t have to worry about not being able to find matching yarn.
Hook: When browsing at your local yarn store, you may notice that there are many different hook sizes on the shelves. The size of the hook (measured in mm) depends on the weight of the yarn that you’re using. Sport weight yarn usually goes with 2.5-3.5 mm hooks, and the recommended hook size will often be listed on the label of the yarn. However, for amigurumi we want to size down on the hook, so that your stuffed animal doesn’t have holes in the crochet fabric. I would recommend the 2-3 mm range, or 0.5 mm below whatever is listed on the yarn that you’re buying. Clover Amour hooks are my favorite because of the comfortable grip for long crocheting sessions and smoothness with which they glide across the yarn.
Stitch Markers: For new crocheters, stitch markers might be the most underrated tool. Yarn and hooks are pretty obvious, but it’s so easy to skip past the racks of notions right next to them, and wind up not being able to keep track of the number of stitches in your rounds. The reason why stitch markers are so important for making amigurumi is because usually we will be crocheting in spiral rounds. What that means is that it’s impossible to know where your most recent round started, and when you inevitably lose track of counting stitches, you either have to have a way of marking the end of the last round or you have to restart the entire project. Sounds like a nightmare, right? The good news is that while it’s definitely possible to buy nice stitch markers, using a different colored piece of yarn, a paper clip, or safety pin works just as well. However, if you are in the market for stitch markers, these are my favorites because they lock so that you don’t have to worry about it falling out when you’re crocheting.
A few other nice-to-haves for further down the road include:
- A pair of sewing scissors that cut through yarn easily. Regular scissors work fine in the beginning, but they are much too dull to work well on fabric or fibers.
- Safety eyes to easily make eyes on your amigurumi. These are plastic inserts that fit through the crochet fabric.
- Embroidery thread to sew a nose and eyelashes on stuffed animals.
What should I do to get started?
When I first started learning to crochet amigurumi, I was so entranced by a tutorial of a chubby whale that I fumbled my way through the entire video tutorial and ended up restarting at least four times until I got it right. However, what I didn’t know was if I had just learned three basic things, then I could have made that adorable whale on my first try. Before attempting your first project, learn to:
After that, you should be able to get through a beginner level project no problem! For my full breakdown of the basic skills you’ll need as well as helpful video tutorials, click here.
I highly recommend beginning your amigurumi journey by making an amigurumi whale. The reason is that whales are round and spherical, making them pretty close to the most basic building block of amigurumi. The second reason is that whales are really darn cute! I think that the best incentive for learning is the reward, and staring at this adorable whale will get you working on those increases and decreases real fast. Honestly, if I didn’t have the promise of a super cute chubby whale at the end of my first two days of trial and error, I would never have started my crochet journey. If you don’t love whales, just pick something else you absolutely adore (like this totoro, a ball, or baby penguin)! Even if it’s a little more complex, that extra motivation you’ll get from working towards something you truly love is truly worth it.
How long will it take to finish a project?
If you’ve nailed the basics and have your first project under your belt, amigurumi can take anywhere from one to many hours to make, depending on complexity. The simplest amigurumi usually are based around a central body, but more complicated projects can have multiple substantial parts, separate clothing pieces, and hair.
I wrote an entire blog post all about how long it takes to finish an amigurumi project and how you can estimate it based on the type of project you’re making! Read all about it here!
Although the time to make these complicated masterpieces can take several days, it’s amazing to see all the little parts come together to add extraordinary detail. The best part is, the sky’s the limit when it comes to creativity and as long as you can dream it, you can make it. Now go forth and have no fear! Cuteness awaits 🙂
For more helpful, see my latest blog post : Is it possible to crochet with embroidery thread?
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