What is amigurumi? (my complete guide + inspiration!)

Amigurumi is the art of crocheting stuffed toys. It originated in Japan and has gained worldwide popularity for its cute aesthetic and ease of the craft. Amigurumi are made out of just one basic crochet stitch, making it relatively easy to learn.

Amigurumi is the term commonly used to refer to crocheted stuffed toys, although they can sometimes (more rarely) be knit as well.

I’m an amigurumi designer and have been crocheting adorable soft toys since 2020. If you’re curious about the wondrous world of amigurumi and want to know all about what it is, how to get started, and whether it’s a good fit for you, let me break it all down for you!

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What is amigurumi?

Amigurumi is the name of the art of crocheting soft toys, as well as the name of the actual soft toys themselves.

In the photos above, you can see my amigurumi Sugar Plum Fairy, as well as my amigurumi bubble tea, both designed by yours truly!

All amigurumi are entirely crocheted. While it’s possible to knit amigurumi, it tends to be a lot more difficult and there aren’t as many patterns available for knit amigurumi.

Most amigurumi tend to be objects, foods, animals, or dolls designed in a kawaii style. This means that they tend to be small with baby-like features, with cute faces.

However, there are a lot of different amigurumi styles, especially now that it has become much more popular and a worldwide phenomenon there are many crochet toys that don’t exactly fit the description.

Pattern here!

Jessie at Projectarian designs huge, fully posable amigurumi with incredible detail and many, many parts. Her projects are amazingly detailed and have found a devoted audience!

Recently, amigurumi made with velvet, and sometimes jumbo velvet yarn have become extremely popular. These patterns tend to be less detailed and more chunky, and often extremely oversized.

On the other end of the spectrum, Diana at Pink Mouse Boutique designs incredible micro crochet items that are absolutely miniscule.

As you can see, although amigurumi may have originated with a particular aesthetic, nowadays there are as many styles are there are designers.

If you can imagine it, there’s probably a sub-niche out there of amigurumi, or you can be the one to start it!

What’s the difference between amigurumi and crochet?

Crochet is the art of using a hook to interlock loops of yarn or thread to create a variety of 2D textiles. Amigurumi is essentially the same as crochet, but it refers specifically to the process of making 3D toys. Crochet uses a range of techniques, whereas amigurumi almost always involves working in the round, making spheres which are then stuffed to form the limbs of some adorable little animals.

Although amigurumi and crochet both use similar stitches and techniques, amigurumi refers specifically to making soft toys. I have a whole article on what the difference is between amigurumi and crochet, but I’ll also summarize below!

This means that although a conventional crocheter used to making shawls and hats will likely recognize all of the stitches used in an amigurumi pattern, they may be implemented in unusual ways.

Specifically, amigurumi only uses the single crochet stitch for most pieces, and half double or double crochet stitches may occur rarely for more complex shapes.

However, since all toys are three dimensional, crochet stitches are used more as building blocks rather than just for decoration or to add texture, as they often are in hats and mittens.

Further, amigurumi have some specific demands for the toys to turn out well that differ from the usual techniques recommended for conventional crocheting.

For instance, amigurumi stitches should always be pulled extremely tightly, without any gaps, to prevent stuffing from falling out from the inside and to maintain structural integrity.

Also, there are methods specific to amigurumi for finishing off in the round, as well as sewing parts together.

In essence, amigurumi uses crochet techniques as well as general toy making principles combined together.

When I started learning how to crochet amigurumi, I had never crocheted anything else before. Later on, when I wanted to crochet a scarf, it was a bit of a transition until I got used to the conventions used for crocheting garments.

Is amigurumi easy?

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.

Learning to crochet amigurumi is slightly different from learning how to crochet, so it can be learned independently (that’s what I did!) but I would say that it’s slightly easier to pick up if you already crochet.

The main reason is because the learning curve for amigurumi is much steeper than just crocheting a square, because the most basic unit for an amigurumi project is a ball, which demands that you immediately master three or four skills without much time to practice them.

However, although it may technically be easier to start by learning crochet, I believe that you should make whatever you most want to make, not what you technically should make.

That’s because from personal experience, I had unlimited motivation to learn to make a cute whale, but I would be extremely unmotivated if someone told me to practice the single crochet stitch over and over again to make a scarf I would never wear. (Psst… I told the whole story here in this blog post about whether amigurumi is easy!)

That being said, amigurumi is not insurmountably difficult to learn from scratch, without any prior knowledge, and there are plenty of people I know who started amigurumi.

If you’re interested in getting started, I would highly recommend checking out my complete beginner’s guide to amigurumi, which will take out so much of the guesswork that I had when I started!

I also broke down the absolute easiest amigurumi patterns to get started with, which actually are in the exact order that I learned to make amigurumi.

So if you follow all of the patterns from the easiest to the hardest, you should be able to slowly accumulate relevant skills and be able to tackle more and more patterns as you go! How cool is that?!

Is amigurumi an expensive hobby?

Amigurumi is a fairly inexpensive hobby because all of the supplies can be sourced on a budget. The only materials required are yarn, a hook, and some notions, which can be found at big box stores, on Amazon, or for even cheaper at yard sales or community organizations.

Crochet in general is a relatively inexpensive hobby, and amigurumi follows suit! (If you’re curious about whether crocheting is expensive, read my other blog post!)

Most amigurumi supplies can be found on Amazon or at Michael’s for just a few dollars, and since amigurumi projects are usually smaller than shawls or blankets, you’ll need even less yarn.

I have a single box that holds my entire palette of amigurumi yarn, and although I make amigurumi quite often I rarely have to replace more than one ball at a time because they last so long.

If you’re looking for the best places to buy yarn online, I have a full breakdown you can read!

Aside from yarn, you’ll just need a crochet hook, a yarn needle, and a stitch marker. These can be acquired cheaply on Amazon or your local big box store, or you can even ask around if anyone has crochet supplies lying around.

This is actually pretty common, so you’ll be surprised with what you find! There are also Buy Nothing groups on Facebook all over the US, as well as Freecycle communities, so there are many options for getting started without investing a lot.

If you’re looking for recommendations for my favorite supplies, you can find them all here!

What materials do I need to get started for amigurumi?

  • Best Worsted Amigurumi Yarn (Brava): If you prefer using worsted weight yarn, Brava has all the great qualities of Brava Sport, except in a larger size. Again, the huge color palette and low cost makes this yarn a winner!
  • Best Value Amigurumi Yarn (Brava Mini Packs): If you’re just getting started with amigurumi and don’t want to break the bank, the Brava Mini Pack has 24 colors (in the whole rainbow) of worsted weight mini skeins.
    • I would recommend this to beginners who don’t have much experience with yarn and just want to get a large color palette to get started.
    • Each skein does not have a lot of yardage, so if your project uses a lot of one color, you might run out. If that’s the case, I would suggest looking up the exact color in the Brava Worsted to get more of the color you need.

I’ve also reviewed all my favorite amigurumi yarns (for different purposes) — check it out if you want more informatin!

You can see my Furls Odyssey hook here in white! All the other hooks are my Clover Amours 🙂
  • Best Hook for Small Hands (Clover Amour): My most used crochet hooks are the Clover Amours, and I absolutely swear by them.
    • Once you try them, you’ll never go back, and I’ve spent a long time slowly building up the entire set! These hooks have gentle rubber grip, but the magic is in the extra smooth tip that glides through yarn like nothing else!
    • Most people that I know also love these, but I have found that some feel that it’s too small for their hands.
    • If you’re interested in an in depth review of all the hooks in my collection, check out this post!
  • Best Hook for Large Hands (Furls Odyssey): If you have larger hands, give this hook a try! My friends who have larger hands tell me that it feels much more comfortable to hold than smaller rubber grip hooks.
    • Although I personally feel that it’s a little heavy and unwieldy for me, my hands are on the smaller side, so you may get a better result. In any case, this hook is widely popular and seems to have an abundance of fans everywhere, so you’ll be in good company!
The stitch markers you see here are the Clover Quick Locking Markers I recommended!
  • Tapestry needles (Chibi Bent Tip): I got this set of tapestry needles when I first started crocheting amigurumi and I’ve never replaced them!
    • This set contains 3 tapestry needles in different sizes, and the best part is the tips are slightly bent which makes it wayyy easier to sew amigurumi parts together!
  • Safety Eyes (Snacksies Handicraft): Guys, I know how hard it is to find safety eyes in the exact size you want.
    • I’ve trawled the internet to find a place to source large amounts of my most used sizes (between 4mm and 6mm), and I’ve found this delightful Etsy shop that is perfect for my needs.
    • This shop carries inexpensive safety eyes that you can purchase in bulk — what’s not to like?
    • If you’re curious about how to use safety eyes correctly and what they are, check out my tutorial!
  • Stitch Markers (Clover Quick Locking Stitch Markers): Stitch markers are one of the most essential notions for amigurumi makers who are constantly working in the round, and I absolutely love this type of stitch marker!
    • They are structured like plastic safety pins, which means that they never slip out of your work once you snap them in place (I can’t tell you how many times those split ring stitch markers have fallen out).
    • They also have small ridges to prevent slippage even more, and this set comes in a bunch of different sizes so that you’ll always have the right stitch markers to use!
  • Scissors (Knitpicks Sharp Scissors): Any brand of sharp sewing scissors will do, but I love this pair from Knitpicks because their small size is perfect for amigurumi making, and also they come with a little sheath so that you can store them safely. A win-win in my book!
  • Polyester Fiberfill (Michael’s): Fiberfill (or polyfill, as it’s sometimes called) is what I use to stuff my amigurumi.
    • You can also use yarn scraps, fabric, or even plastic bags, but polyfil can help you get an even distribution and the perfect amount of squish. I usually use this brand from Michael’s, but you can use whatever brand is most accessible to you.
    • Here’s my detailed tutorial on exactly how to use polyester fiberfill stuffing, the right way!

I hope this guide has been helpful to you and it gives you a jump start on learning how to crochet amigurumi, as well as what it is! I love this craft and I hope it brings you as much joy as it does to me <3