Searching for a new hobby? Let us introduce you to the adorable world of Amigurumi.
What exactly is Amigurumi? This trendy form of crochet is an amalgamation of the Japanese words Ami (編み), which means “crocheted or knitted” and Nuigurumi (縫い包み), which stands for “stuffed doll”.
It’s not at all like the crocheted doily tablecloths and patchwork blankets of old. Even I initially dismissed learning to crochet as a boring pastime done by grannies.
In fact, my own grandmother taught me how to crochet when I was 12 years old. She crocheted daily and would cover our sofas and dining tables with intricate lace doilies. I tried it, too, for a while – before I got tired of the lopsided doily coasters I was able to conjure. When she passed away last year, I kept one of her crochet books and a bundle of green yarn that still sits on my bookshelf today.
When Covid-19 hit the world and sent everyone home, I noticed a sudden influx of people crocheting on social media. There were TikToks about crocheted sweaters and jackets, and Instagram accounts selling crocheted bags and purses of every colour. (I’m sure we all saw Tom Daley knitting his cardigan at the Tokyo Summer Olympics!)
But what finally caught my attention were these adorable crocheted plushies and stuffed toys. I realised, “Hey! I could definitely do this.” So, in July of this year, I impulsively bought some yarn and a hook and made my very first Amigurumi, which was a cute little stuffed bee (pictured below).
The art of Amigurumi dispels common misconceptions about what crocheting is all about. In truth, learning to crochet is gaining a creative skill you can use to destress, occupy your free time and make adorable dolls for yourself or to give as gifts.
This guide will explain the supplies you need to learn crochet (if you haven’t already), plus the types of Amigurumi you can make along with some totally free patterns you can access online.
1. Supplies you need
Before you embark on your Amigurumi journey to create adorable stuffed creatures, it is important to be prepared with the appropriate tools on hand. Here is a list of essential items to gather before starting your first stitch. You can find any of these at your local crafts store.
When choosing a yarn type, keep in mind the type of Amigurumi you will be making. There are two things to consider when purchasing yarn: material and weight (also identifiable via needle size).
For material, we recommend either acrylic, cotton or semi-cotton material. Cotton is ideal because not only is it durable but also machine washable!
Choosing the right weight is equally important. As a beginner, look for worsted-weight yarn. This stands for medium weight, which makes the yarn easy to handle. If you’re struggling to recognise this yarn, some other exchangeable terms for it are “Afghan” or “Aran” yarn.
If you’re really struggling, you can also identify worsted-weight yarn by looking at needle size. Worsted-weight yarn is usually between 4 to 6 mm. in needle size (check the back of your yarn wrapping as pictured above).
Note: Be cautious of chunky, velvet yarn. While tempting and soft to the touch, fluffier yarn makes it tougher to look at your stitches.
Since we are using worsted weight yarn, a hook between sizes 3.75 to 5 mm. will work best. Remember, the size of your hook changes depending on the type of yarn you use.
Don’t forget stuffing for your plushies! Purchase polyester stuffing at your local craft store or online to keep your creations lightweight and squishy.
If you like, you can also pick up a tapestry needle, stitch markers, thread cutter, buttons and/or black safety eyes.
2. What you need to know
Already know how to crochet? Making Amigurumi will be an easy feat for you. New to crocheting? No worries! If you don’t already know how to crochet, here are some quick tips for learning to crochet – specifically, the type of stitches you need to know for making Amigurumi.
Since your stuffed animals are usually round in shape, starting off with a magic ring is the usual way to begin. Although this stitch seems daunting, there are plenty of tutorials on YouTube like this that will help you master this starting technique!
Once you’ve figured out your magic ring, learning to stitch the building blocks of your Amigurumi is essential. There are different types of stitches that different patterns will require of you, such as single crochet stitch (sc), double crochet stitch (dc) and half double crochet stitch (hdc). These abbreviations will be explained later on in this article, so don’t fret just yet!
This video teaches every crochet stitch necessary to start your Amigurumi journey! We recommend learning how to make single crochet (sc), double crochet (dc) and half-double crochet (hdc) stitches first, as well as how to increase (inc) and decrease (dec) stitches.
Single (sc), double (dc) and half-double (hdc) crochets help build your Amigurumi in different lengths and thicknesses. Increasing (inc) and decreasing (dec) your stitches are for raising and lowering the number of stitches per row.
3. Crochet abbreviations
Crochet patterns are often explained using written abbreviations, so understanding the abbreviations of crochet stitches is crucial. When reading the instructions for a pattern, remember to refer to this chart for ease of reading.
4. Finding patterns
Once you’ve got the hang of your basic stitches plus the magic ring, you are ready to make your first Amigurumi! There is an abundance of patterns online and through websites like Etsy. Discover patterns for various kinds of stuffed animals, flowers and even succulents.
But before you begin, hold on! It’s easy to get excited and jump into ambitious patterns like this pot of primroses (pictured above). Instead of going straight to complex patterns, it’s best to try easier patterns for your first Amigurumi.
A good place to start would be heading over to YouTube for guided tutorials. Amigurumi YouTube tutorials allow you to follow along while you crochet a simple stuffed animal.
Gaining some experience
Once you’ve practised for a bit, feel free to dive into more complicated creations. Explore crocheting different animals or flowers like a bundle of tulips and lavender, which make a perfect gift – and last way longer than, say, giving a bouquet of fresh-cut flowers! The pattern for the creation below is right here.
As cliche as it is to say it, practice really does make progress. The more experience you gain in learning to crochet, the better your stitches will be in the future. Have fun gifting family and friends your crochet projects or collect your creations and admire your progress. Gain enough confidence and you can create your own custom-made Amigurumi, just like this Mr Coconut I made (pictured below).
Some fun Instagram accounts to follow and gain inspiration from are my twisted loops, elisas crochet and crochet panda. Why not start your own Instagram page to capture your progress? Mine is called knots and petals. Check it out!
Learning to crochet can also prove to be a useful and enjoyable skill. Unsure what to gift someone for their birthday? Crochet a cute crossbody bag using the pattern available here, or try these…
Free Amigurumi patterns
My last gift to you? This picture of my cat wearing a cute sombrero that I crocheted for her. You’re welcome.
By Arshi Iqbal