Crochet Amigurumi: A Beginners’ guide

Amigurumi beginners guide

Table of Contents

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What’s Amigurumi

Amigurumi is the Japanese art of knitting or crocheting small, stuffed yarn creatures. The word is a compound of the Japanese words 編み ami, meaning “crocheted or knitted”, and 包み kurumi, literally “wrapping”, as in 縫い包み nuigurumi ” stuffed doll” Amigurumi can be made from any type of yarn, from cotton to plush yarn. 

The most popular amigurumi patterns are for animals, but there are also patterns for food, plants, objects and dolls, etc.

What do you need?

To get started, you will need:

  • Crochet Hook: you will use the crochet hook size recommended by the yarn you want to use
  • Yarn: you can use any yarn you want, your pattern will recommend the right yarn, but in general I would recommend to start with a thick cotton or acrylic.

Plush yarn is amazing as final result but it’s quite tricky to use as beginners. 

My favourite yarn for amigurumi, that you find in most of my patterns, is Rainbow Cotton 8/6 from Hobbii.

  • Darning needle: to weave the ends and / or to sew parts together
  • Stitch Marker: to mark the beginning of the rounds
  • Pattern: you can find patterns for amigurumi in books or online – the major online sources for online patterns are YouTube, Pinterest, RaverlyRibblr, LoveCrafts and Google, I know they are many but I wrote a post (at this link) where I listed the various online pattern sources with pros and cons explaining how to search for patterns.

When you get a pattern, be careful because there are two terminologies: US terminology and UK terminology; the stitches are the same, they are just called differently. At this link you can find a conversion chart that you might find helpful. Usually in the pattern it’s indicated with terminology is used.

If you are completely new to crochet (not just amigurumi), I would recommend you to have a look at this page first where I list the essential tools for crochet. 

If you have never crocheted before, I would recommend not to start with Amigurumi first, but to start with simple crochet projects such as coasters or bookmarks, etc, This will help you learn basic stitches and yarn handling techniques. Want a jumpstart? Our Beginner Crochet Course teaches you the essentials and gets you comfortable tackling projects on your own! You can find all the info here.

Then you could move to amigurumi with, again, simple projects such as little whales, octopus, everything that has an easy round shape.

When you got that, you can move to more complicated projects, experimenting and having fun with adding features and decorations.

Ready to take your crocheting to the next level? Our Amigurumi Course is perfect for those with basic skills. Learn everything you need to create adorable crocheted creatures at your own pace, with 13 easy-to-follow modules – you can find all the info here.

How to Crochet Amigurumi

STITCHES

SC – Single Crochet

The most common stitch used in amigurumi is the SC – Single Crochet (US terms), called DC – Double Crochet in UK terms.

You might find other stitches in some patterns and they are usually explained at the beginning of the pattern.

TIP: when you start a new pattern, always read all of it from the beginning: usually pattern designers write useful information regarding the stitches, the colours abbreviations, the construction, the features and it’s important starting your projects having all the info BEFORE you start.

Increases and Decreases

Amigurumi takes shape thanks to increases and decreases.

Increase (abbreviation: INC): two stitches in one previous stitch

Decrease (abbreviation: DEC): one stitch over two previous stiches

There are lot of videos online where you can learn about them: specifically here below you can find the video regarding the difference between the normal decrease and the invisible decrease.

Invisible Decrease will help you to have much neater shapes and less holes, it’s not mandatory at the beginning, but I would recommend to try it out.

There is also an invisible increase but I find that it’s not that relevant for the majority of the patterns.

Magic Ring

The first step in crocheting amigurumi is to make a Magic Ring, called also Magic Circle or Magic Loop.

Many people are scared about the magic ring, because it takes a little bit of practice, but when you learned it, you will ask yourself why you didn’t start using it before.

Here below you can find an easy and quick tutorial I recorded.

TIP: remember to pull the magic ring after the first round, you might need to pull it again after a couple of rounds.

Magic Ring Alternative

In case you are still struggling with the magic ring, which is completely normal at the beginning, you could start amigurumi with CH (Chain) 2, then you will work Round 1 into the first chain.

With this method though you will have a hole quite visible (especially if the yarn is quite thick), so I would recommend to try the magic ring first.

Working in Rounds

Once you have made a magic ring (or the 2 CH method), you can start working on your amigurumi. Amigurumi is worked in rounds, you could start with a circle or an oval, but still in rounds.

There are two methods to work in rounds:

  • SPIRAL METHOD: you work the first stitch of the round into the first stitch of the previous round
  • JOINING METHOD: you join the round with a SS (Slip Stitch) and CH (Chain) 1, then, in the same stitch where you made the SS, you do the first stitch of the next round.

I personally prefer the Spiral Method because the standard joining method leaves a sort of a ridge visible on the work.

TIP:

  • Stitch Marker: if you use a spiral method, it’s crucial using a stitch marker. You will insert the stitch marker on the top of the first stitch of the round, so you will know that you finished the round when you reach the stitch marker.
  • Counting: don’t forget to count! Every time you finish the round count how many stitches you have (before removing the stitch marker and starting the new round) – most of the patterns have the stitch counting in the end of each round, usually you find it in brackets. Also keep track of the number of rounds you’re working.
  • RIGHT Side vs WRONG side: the right side is the one facing yourself while you’re working and the wrong side the one where the initial tail from the magic ring is. Sometime you can get confused because the work naturally curves towards you, but you just adjust that with your hands (stuffing stays in the wrong side!)

Yarn Under VS Yarn Over

There are two different methods of taking the yarn with the crochet hook and of course the shape of the stitch changes slightly: one method, the most common one is called Yarn Over and the other one is called Yarn Under.

At this link you can find a post and a video tutorial where I explain the differences in detail.

Stuffing

Amigurumi, per definition, is a stuffed item, so, at a certain point you will need to stuff your creation.

Usually in the pattern is written when to stuff, and, if it’s not, I recommend to start stuffing half way through and
then continuing stuffing as you go. 

For the stuffing you can use Polyfill also called polyester fibrefill.

There are many alternatives on Amazon or Craft Shops, for example I like is this one – link – because it’s made of recycled bottles.

TIP: if you don’t have access to polyfill , you can use either old scrap yarn or an old pillow stuffing.

Finishing

When you finish your amigurumi, after stuffing and before adding features, you need to close your amigurumi and you will need a darning needle.

Usually amigurumi finishes as it started with 6 SC (Single Crochet): so you will cut a long-ish tail, you will take your darning needle and you will insert the needle only in the front loop of the 6 SC and then you will pull the yarn and hide it inside.

In the video below you can see how to do that.

Features

Usually, once you have finished the main part of your amigurumi, you can start adding the features.

The features can be made from the same yarn as the main part, or you can use a different colour. The most common features for amigurumi are eyes, nose, mouth, ears, and arms and legs.

These features are then sewn to the body: in order to sew parts together you use pins to put the parts in place and then you sew around with the long tails you would have left in each part when you finished them.

But sewing parts together is not always the easiest thing for beginners or for people who don’t like to sew, so there are some patterns created with no-sewing involved, you could check out my collection of no-sewing amigurumi patterns at this link, but, I will be honest, no-sewing amigurumi are not the easiest projects for complete beginners, again, I would recommend to start with a simple spheric project first and then move onto more complex projects.

You can also use no-crochet features, like safety eyes, beads, etc. – keep in mind that in case of safety eyes, they are added while you’re working, before starting stuffing: usually in the pattern is indicated when and where to add the safety eyes.

Another alternative is to embroider those features, which is the option I highly recommend in case you’re going to give the amigurumi to a little child, in order to avoid any risk of them swallowing small parts. 

FAQ

This is a list of Frequent Asked Question I collected from my crochet students, from Facebook Groups and from fellow crocheters.

If you have any other question about amigurumi, please feel free to comment at the end of the page and I will be more than happy to answer!

The short answer is no.

The long answer is that it really depends on your crochet knowledge and patience.

If you never crochet before I would recommend you to start with simple crochet projects such as coasters or bookmarks, etc, to learn the stiches and how to hold the yarn.

Then you could move to amigurumi with again simple projects such as little whales, octopus, everything that has an easy round shape.

When you got that, you can move to more complicated projects, experimenting and having fun with adding features and decorations.

The main reasons why you might have holes in your amigurumi are:

  • You’re using a bigger crochet hook than you should use: even if the yarn suggests a certain size, your tension might be loose, so you need to try to reduce the size of your crochet hook
  • If you are having holes in correspondence of decreases, try invisible decrease (video tutorial at this link), it will help you to reduce holes
  • You might be skipping stitches, make sure your count is right

As I explained above where I was speaking about Working in Rounds, there is a difference between RIGHT Side vs WRONG side: the right side is the one facing yourself while you’re working and the wrong side the one where the initial tail from the magic ring is.

There is a funny saying to remember this: Noodle is in the bowl!
Meaning that the noodle (=initial tail) is in the bowl (=bowl shape of the amigurumi).

Sometime you can get confused because the work naturally curves towards you, but you just adjust that with your hands (stuffing stays always in the wrong side!)

Most of the time it’s just a problem of counting, probably the count is off, but it can also be the type of yarn.
With plush yarn is quite a common issue: so considering that you normally start with 6 SC, with plush yarn you might want to start with 8 SC in the magic ring, adapting the pattern to reach the right number in the second round.

Usually the trick you can use to make the project bigger or smaller is using a ticker or smaller yarn and adapting the crochet hook size to the yarn you’re using.

Unfortunately though certain patterns don’t adapt that easily to a change of yarn thickness, so you might want to search for specific bigger or smaller patterns.

The short answer is “not really”.

Even if they are created to be safe, I wouldn’t recommend them at least for little children under 3 years old.

The safety eyes can be safe, but we are not sure how much a child could distress the crochet part and the safety eyes might come out the stitches.

So in case of children, I would recommend to embroider the eyes.

Unfortunately safety eyes are designed to be inserted while you’re working because they have a clip that you have to insert in the back, inside your work, so you can’t insert them after you finished.

What you can do is substituting them with beads, embroidery, crocheted eyes or felt.

Unfortunately you have to find a way to stuff it: my suggestion is trying to re-open the last stitches you closed and fill it from there.

.

Yes you can, but of course depends on the yarn and stuffing you chose.

Always check the label of your yarn and the instructions of your stuffing, but usually you can wash amigurumi: I always recommend to handwash them and to avoid the washing machine spin.

Conclusion

Crocheting amigurumi is a fun and rewarding hobby that can turn also in a side hustle or, why not, in a proper business!

It is a great way to use up leftover yarn and to create unique gifts for friends and family. With a little practice, you will be able to crochet beautiful amigurumi that everyone will love.

Just trust the process, be patient and take your time. Crocheting amigurumi can be a time-consuming process sometimes, especially for complex projects, but it is also very gratifying.

Happy Crocheting!

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