How to improve your Amigurumi Crochet Skills
It’s no secret, amigurumi is adorable and rewarding. But when you’re first starting, it can be very frustrating. Amigurumi skills take time and practice, and even some techniques you’ve never thought about.
Anyone else start crocheting just to make amigurumi? Well, I did! And most of my crochet experience has strictly been amigurumi. So let’s just say that I have learned quite a bit along the way. I’d like to share with you some techniques that will change your entire amigurumi game! But as a quick note of encouragement: Here is an early amigurumi project compared to my most recent.
2016 vs 2017
2016 vs 2018
2017 vs 2018
2018 vs 2019
Pretty funny, right? My improvement seen in these pictures are thanks to the tips I will tell you about.
Work with a smaller hook
Working with a smaller hook (3.0mm-4.0mm) is ideal for amigurumi because it makes the stitches smaller and closer together, thus, the amigurumi looks cleaner and more uniform. Think about it, an amigurumi done with a 5.0mm-6.0mm is likely to have larger holes that often times, you can see stuffing in! To eliminate this problem it is best to work down to a smaller hook.
When you first start crocheting, it’s likely you start out with using a bigger sized hook. By “bigger” I mean 5.0mm+. That’s completely fine for when you’ve got the hang of amigurumi, but when you’re looking to improve, try out a smaller size. Start out by doing a few projects with a 4.5mm hook. You wont notice a huge difference, but the stitches may be a little more challenging. Just keep up the practice. By the end of a few projects you’ll feel just as confident with the smaller hook! Repeat this process until you can work down to ideally, a 3.0mm-4.0mm hook. Be sure to take progress photos of your projects when you do this. You will notice your improvements!
Get Tighter Tension
Tension is how tight you hold your yarn. How tight you hold your yarn then impacts how tight your stitches are. When you first started crocheting, it is likely you had very loose tension. Your stitches were likely far from perfect, but that’s okay! Let’s learn how to fix this.
Tighter tension is something we often built without even thinking about it. It’s like a tiny muscle we build to hold more weight for a longer period of time. Much like first learning how to write, your writing gets better because you learn how to hold your pencil. Try to hold your working yarn firmer and not too tight. It’s a happy medium between the two. You’ll notice that holding your working yarn too tight, especially with a smaller hook, makes your stitches too tight and hard to get a hold of. The goal is gradual. Gradually hold the tension a little firmer paired with a slightly smaller hook.
Placement of Limbs & Eyes
Far too many times I have seen someones great amigurumi work ruined with horribly placed eyes. Much like a dog trying to stare down a cat with one eye and a bone with the other. Don’t go for that look! Instead, let’s try to learn how placement of eyes, limbs, nose, etc. is crucial for perfect amigurumi work.
Symmetry is key. As simple as it sounds, it is hard to pull off. When you’re ready to sew on all your limbs, don’t just start sewing! You need to invest in some pins. They’re very inexpensive and can take you a long way. Put your limbs in place and secure it with contrasting color pins. Trust me, if you place pins that match the color of your amigurumi, it’s gonna be a pokey-bad time. Once you have all your limbs, nose, ears, etc. in place with pins, take a step back and analyze your work. Get opinions from your husband or your kids on if anything looks off. Now you can unpin anything that needs to be replaced, and simply pin it on a better area again! Now you can sew them on! Please don’t forget: symmetry, symmetry, symmetry.
Now eyes are a different story. Depending on the type of amigurumi you’re making, the placement of eyes will be different. Try to find something you can align your eyes with. If your amigumi has a nose, count an equal amount of stitches apart from the nose and secure your eyes there. Make sure the eyes are on the same row! Get a ruler or use your crochet hook and line it beneath the eyes. Do they line up? Are they spaced out a good amount?
Ready to learn a new way to crochet? There’s actually an awesome stitch that gives your amigurumi the ultimate clean look. Instead of yarning OVER when you crochet, yarn UNDER. That’s right! Pull your yarn towards you, under the hook, then over the hook, the opposite way we usually yarn over. This makes the stitches look more “square” and very tight. To be honest, I haven’t even mastered this technique yet! How embarrassing! In my personal experience, I get caught on my loops and take a much longer time doing a round with this technique. But these things take practice! I would suggest taking this step once you’re comfortable with a tighter tension and a smaller hook. It’s definitely worth the effort!
If you’re noticing big gaps while you’re decreasing, there’s two possibilities as to why. The first being that the pattern may include too many decreases in one area. The other (and more likely) is you’re not aware of the invisible decrease. The invisible decrease is definitely worth including in your crocheting routine!
Next time you’re going to decrease, don’t go through both loops. Instead, do your decreases in the FLO (Front Loops Only). Make sure to not yarn over when going through the loops, only yarn over and pull through when you have both front loops on your hook. Also, don’t have too tight of tension, or else your decrease stitch will be too small and hard to get a hold of.
Who would have thought that something like stuffing would impact how good your amigurumi comes out? Well… it’s true! If you’re stuffing incorrectly, your project will come out lumpy, floppy, or squishy. If you want a firm and non-lumpy toy, your best bet is to pull apart your stuffing before you stuff your project. Imagine you’re pulling apart cotton candy, but with stuffing. Now when you have some pieces separated, go ahead and stuff your project. Pulling out stuffing the wrong way is wrong because if you just pull out a lump of stuffing, then shove it in your work, your project will reflect that. It’s likely to take on the shape of the lump. Give the new separating technique a try!
I hope you learned something from reading these little tips! Trust me, these are all things I learned the hard way, and I would have loved to know some of these tips when I first started crocheting. Remember, everything takes practice and nothing happens over-night. Crocheting is supposed to be fun, so if you get frustrated – take a break! Try again in a few hours. Let me know if you learned something new. Happy crocheting!