If you haven’t come across amigurumi before then prepare to be enchanted! Originating in Japan, amigurumi are essentially cute knitted and crocheted toys. The name – pronounced ‘a-me-gur-oo-me’ – is derived from two Japanese words, ami (which means crocheted or knitted) and nuigurumi (which means stuffed doll).
Generally speaking, amigurumi are made in crochet – although you will find patterns for knitted versions. The two main reasons for this are that it is simpler to shape three-dimensional objects in crochet and that crochet produces a denser finished fabric that is better for stuffing.
Amigurumi are great small projects. You need only small amounts of yarn and, depending on the size and complexity of your make, you can even finish one in a few hours. As well as yarn, you need only some polyester toy stuffing for the filling and something for the eyes and other details – this might be black yarn (for embroidery), beads or special sew-on toy features. (If you make amigurumi for children remember to embroider on details rather than use sew-on elements.) You will also need a crochet hook and yarn needle – the hook will need to be a size smaller than you would usually use for the yarn selected so you get a denser finish.
Most amigurumi start with a sliding ring (also known as a magic ring). In this technique, the first stitches are worked into a loop of yarn (rather than a chain loop) then that loop is drawn up so there is no hole at your starting point. If you want to find out how to work with a sliding ring then look at the Know-How in issue 12 of Knit & Stitch Creative.
The key crochet techniques you’ll need are increasing and decreasing – you’ll find more on these in issues 9 and 12 – as these allow you to shape your project. The stitch most frequently used is double crochet (single crochet in the USA) as this gives you a denser fabric than other ‘taller’ stitches. You will also need an understanding of working in the round.
For an amigurumi-style make in Knit & Stitch Creative, have a look at the adorable puppy in the Baby Animals special.