Crochet & amigurumi techniques
How hard is it to make a crochet toy?
A basic knowledge of crochet stitches is required to follow our patterns. We have a range of patterns from beginners to more advanced - choose the level that suits you. There is a lot of resources online that you can use to learn to crochet. We are currently working on a series video tutorials which will be added to our website soon - watch this space!
What is tension?
Tension in crochet means how tightly or loosely you make the stitches. If you crochet tightly you item will be smaller & stiffer, and if you crochet loosely then your item will be larger. When making garments, tension is very critical as will will impact on the final size, but in amigurumi tension is not critical. You do need to make sure your stitches are fairly tight though, or you may find stuffing shows through.
What hook size do I use?
Although most yarn labels will give you a suggested hook size to use, in amigurumi we generally use a smaller hook size to make a tighter fabric so that stuffing does not show through. All our patterns have the hook size recommenced on the pattern. Remember though, if you are using a different yarn, you may need to change the hook size.
What is the difference between a UK and a US pattern?
The only real different is the name of the stitches. It gets confusing as the names are the same or very similar for different stitches. In amigurumi the main stitch we use is the 'double crochet' known as the 'single crochet in the US.
How do I count my stitches?
You’ll notice when you look at the top edge of you work, there are lot of little ‘v’s stacked horizontally. Each ‘v’ is one stitch. Count each ‘v’ to determine how many stitches you have in that round.
How do I change colour?
Some of out patterns require colour changing (lots in Peg Leg Pete the pirate)! When working in a spiral, colour changes have a noticeable ‘step’, although this will be at the back of the doll. The neatest way to change colour is to do it in the last stitch of the round you have just completed (unless otherwise stated):
Start a double (single) crochet as normal, but for the last part of the stitch (yarn over and draw through 2 loops), yarn over with the new colour ready to start the next round.
For a less visible colour change, the first stitch of the new colour should be a slip stitch. Cut the yarn off of the old colour and tie the 2 ends of each colour to secure. Ends will be hidden inside the piece, so there’s no need to weave them in.
What is a magic ring, and do I have to use it?
You will see the magic ring (also called ‘magic loop’ or ‘magic circle) a lot in amigurumi. It is used at the start of most pieces to pull the initial stitches of the first round together tightly so there is no hole. It is a very useful technique and well worth practicing even though it can seem pretty daunting at first. There are many tutorials YouTube. If you really can’t get the hang of it, you can chain 3, then join to the first chain with a slip stitch to create a loop, then work your first round into that loop.
I don’t have the right amount of stitches.
When working in the round it is important to use a stitch marker (or a piece of scrap yarn) to mark the beginning of the each round, as it won’t be obvious. It is also a good idea to count each stitch at the end of each round to check you have the right number according to the pattern. If you don’t have the right number of stitches, you could pull out the last round and re-do it, sometimes a stitch can be missed. If you are just missing one stitch, you can easily just add an extra stitch at the end of the round and it won’t be noticeable.
I have gaps in my work, what do I do?
A common problem for beginners in amigurumi is gaps between stitches in the finished work. This can be caused by either the tension not being tight enough and / or over-stuffing the toy. As you become more practised at amigurumi your tension should naturally tighten. Another trick is to move down a hook size. But one of the best ways to reduce these gaps is to use an invisible decrease:
Insert hook into the front loop only of the stitch, insert hook into the front loop only of next stitch, yarn over and pull through 2 loops on hook, yarn over and draw through remaining 2 loops.
Because decreases generally tend to be slightly noticeable, even when using the invisible decrease, we have designed most of our patterns so that most of the decreases are hidden, (for example, under that arms when shaping the body of a doll).
My stitches don’t look the same as yours!
In amigurumi there is considered to be a ‘right’ side and a ‘wrong’ side (although some people prefer the ‘wrong’ side of the fabric).
If you are crocheting on the right side then your hook will be closest to you with the other edge of your crocheted piece on the other side. The tail end should be inside the piece.
If you are crocheting on the wrong side you hook will be furthest from you and the tail end should be outside of the piece.