Amigurumi: The Japanese Art of Crocheting and Knitting Adorable Plushies
Do you love adorable things? So does the world of amigurumi. Keep reading to learn all about the art of crocheted plushies.
Table of Contents
What is amigurumi?
The word “amigurumi” is a combination of the Japanese words “ami,” meaning crocheted or knitted, and “nuigurumi,” meaning stuffed doll. These little creatures are usually made with yarn and a crochet hook or knitting needles, and they can be as simple or complex as you’d like.
Why do people make amigurumi?
Some people make them as gifts for friends and family, while others make them to sell online or to simply pass the time. No matter what the end goal is, it’s always a lot of fun!
How does amigurumi differ from regular crocheting?
- With amigurumi, you crochet in continuous rounds instead of joined rounds. With continuous rounds, you simply continue crocheting from the end of one round to the beginning of the next. With joined rounds, you crochet what’s called a chain stitch at the beginning of each round and slip stitch into that chain at the end of each round. Crocheting in continuous rounds gives your finished product a seamless look, which is perfect for plushies.
- Amigurumi mostly uses single crochet stitches. The single crochet stitch is one of the basic crochet stitches. It’s great for amigurumi because it’s small and tight. This gives amigurumi a nice, solid shape and minimizes any holes that stuffing could be seen through.
- Amigurumi uses smaller hooks than regular crochet projects. Take two projects - an amigurumi and non-amigurumi project - and use the same yarn. You’ll want to crochet amigurumi with a smaller hook than the non-amigurumi project, so that your stitches come out tighter. This way, there’s less chance that there’ll be holes for stuffing to be seen, and your plushie will be more structurally sound.
- Amigurumi often uses smaller yarn than regular crochet projects. People get really into the charm of making teeny tiny plushies, sometimes even crocheting with thread or hooks as small as 1mm!
- There’s more counting involved in amigurumi. Whether you come out with a doily or a penguin depends on how many stitches you crochet in a round. Compared to crocheting a scarf or blanket, you need to be extra careful not to lose any stitches. To do this, you put a stitch marker in the first stitch of the round you’re currently working on, so you can easily keep track of where you are.
- There's more sewing involved in amigurumi. You'll need to sew the different parts of your amigurumi together using a tapestry needle. This is usually done at the very end of a project, after you've crocheted all the pieces.
- Safety eyes are used in amigurumi. Safety eyes are plastic eyes that give your final plushie a little bit of life. They have a backing behind them so they can't be easily pulled out. That said, if you wiggle the crocheted fabric around enough, it’s possible to accidentally remove safety eyes so don’t put them on plushies meant for small children or pets!
- Amigurumi is always stuffed. After all, stuffing is what makes it a stuffed animal or doll! As you stuff your amigurumi, be sure to use small, even pieces of stuffing so that it's not lumpy.
Does amigurumi have to be crocheted or can it be knitted?
What do I need to get started with amigurumi?
- Yarn - If you're new to crocheting, we recommend The Woobles's Easy Peasy yarn, which is designed for complete beginners. Traditional yarn is like a rope - it’s made of lots of yarn fibers twisted together. Easy Peasy yarn is more like a drawstring so it can’t fray and the stitches you make with it are super easy to see, making it easy peasy to learn crochet with. Can’t get your hands on Easy Peasy yarn? Then try acrylic or cotton yarn - they keep their shape well and come in lots of fun colors.
- A crochet hook - Crochet hooks come in lots of materials and sizes. The most common materials are plastic, aluminum, and bamboo. We recommend hooks with an aluminum shaft and rubber handle because they’re easy to use and comfy to hold. Yarn glides smoothly on an aluminum shaft, and the size and feel of a rubber handle make it easy to hold.
- A tapestry needle - You'll need this to sew the different parts of your amigurumi together. A tapestry needle can also be called a yarn needle or darning needle. It’s got a big hole to thread the yarn through, and a blunt ti.
- Stuffing - Sometimes people think that amigurumi is stuffed with more yarn. And now you know…it’s not! You can find stuffing at most craft stores or online.
- Safety eyes - Safety eyes help give your amigurumi some personality. You'll need to insert these into your amigurumi's face before you start stuffing and sewing the pieces together.
- Scissors - You'll need scissors to cut the yarn when you're finished with a project.
- Stitch markers - Stitch markers are small rings that you can clip onto your work to mark a specific stitch. They help you keep track of your stitches and rounds, which is especially important when you’re making amigurumi, because amigurumi is crocheted in continuous rounds. When crocheting in continuous rounds, you can’t easily tell where a round begins or ends, so stitch markers help you make sure you’re on the right track.
- Sewing pins - While you don’t need pins for amigurumi, they can be helpful to keep two pieces together while you sew parts of your amigurumi together.
What techniques do you need to know to be able to make amigurumi?
- Magic loop. The magic loop or magic ring lets you start crocheting in the round without having a hole in the middle of your piece. It’s one of the trickiest techniques in crochet, so don’t be discouraged if you don’t get it on your first try! When you make a magic loop, the most important thing to keep in mind is that you should crochet over the yarn tail and one side of the magic loop. This way, when you’re done crocheting stitches in it, you can pull on the yarn tail to make the hole in the middle of the piece disappear.
- Single crochet stitch. The single crochet stitch is the most basic of all the crochet stitches. To create a single crochet stitch, insert your hook into the next stitch, yarn over and pull up a loop. You should now have two loops on your hook. Yarn over again and pull through both loops. You should be left with one loop on your hook.
- Increase stitch. When you make an increase stitch, you’re adding an extra stitch to your piece to grow the size of your piece. To do this, put two single crochet stitches into the same stitch.
- Decrease stitch. A decrease stitch is the opposite of an increase stitch. You turn two stitches into one and make your piece smaller. When decreasing in amigurumi, you’ll want to do the invisible decrease stitch, which is easier to crochet in the round compared to a regular decrease stitch.
- Fasten off and hide yarn tails. When you're finished with a project, you'll need to fasten off your yarn. To do this, cut the yarn leaving a long tail (about six inches), yarn over, and pull the tail through the last loop on your hook. Once you've pulled the tail all the way through, you can remove your hook. To hide the yarn tails, thread the tail onto a tapestry needle and pull it through your plushie, to get the yarn caught inside the stuffing.
- Sew pieces together. Once you've crocheted all the separate pieces of your amigurumi, it's time to sew them together. Thread a tapestry needle with the yarn tail of the piece you’re attaching onto the other, and pull the needle in and out of the corresponding stitches on each piece, following the curve of the piece being sewn on.Where you put your needle differs slightly depending on if you’re sewing a flat or a round piece onto another piece.
Now that you know the basics of amigurumi, it’s time to start creating your own little creatures. The Woobles is here to help! We give beginners the easiest way to learn crochet using our kits. Each beginner crochet kit comes with everything you need to make your own stuffed animal, including step-by-step instructions, videos, and our custom made no-fray Easy Peasy yarn.
No matter what your skill level may be, we hope you’ll give amigurumi a try! It’s a fun and rewarding craft that’s perfect for beginners and experienced crafters alike. Happy crocheting!