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Amigurumi Tips
Crochet Tricks You Can Sink Your Hook In To

By Deb Richey


The First Crochet Round

The beginning round is very important. Make sure there is no hole. If you use an adjustable ring to begin, make sure that end is pulled tight and the hole disappears. If you do not, make sure you leave a length to somehow sew up that hole. You don't want a hole in the bottom of your foot or hand or head or on the end of the nose.

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Gauge

If you can see through your stitches even a little bit, you will see stuffing. Pick a smaller hook size if your stitches are loose even the slightest bit. I was told once that my projects look as if they can hold water. Surely they couldn't -- not for long at least -- but that is what you want it to look like. If your stitches are tight enough, you will not have your stuffing show through -- even if you are making a penguin. Those black areas will stay black as long as your stitches are tight.


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Increases & Decreases

Always stagger your increases & decreases unless the pattern has distinct shaping. If you do not stagger the increases & decreases, you will end up with a polygon with more pointed increases. If you stagger your increases & decreases you will have a rounder shape. Even if the designer doesn't tell you to do so, do it. A lot of designers just don't give those directions to save themselves the extra writing.

As shown in this picture, the shape on the left is created using staggered increases, causing it to look round. The shape on the right uses non-staggered increases, which creates a polygon. Each round created this way will cause more obvious angles.


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On the Subject of Decreases...

Have you tried the invisible decrease? It will make a huge difference in the end result of your project. Your decrease won't have that ugly thick blobby spot if you use the invisible decrease. To make this decrease, insert your hook under the front loop only of the next stitch. Pull your hook slightly forward to give that loop a little bit of a stretch (trust me, it makes it a wee bit easier), then insert your hook under both loops of the next stitch. To finish your sc decrease, simply make a sc, pretending the two stitches are one by pulling up your loop through both of those stitches then finish your sc. This works well for half-double and double decreases as well. Just say no to those ugly decrease blobby spots!

The decreases shown here on the left side are done with a standard decrease, while the decreases on the right were formed using an invisible decrease.


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Row or Stitch Markers

I don't care how well you can count to 48, use a row marker that will not fall out. So scrap that bit of scrap yarn and get some good stitch markers. Make them from a paper clip if you have to -- just use them! When you are on your 10th round of sc'ing around and you lose your count and have to figure out where that last increase or decrease was and spend 10 minutes doing so, you will wish you had bought that $4 package of 12 stitch markers. Sure they are only over-rated mini toy diaper pins, but you know what? They work. They are reliable and they are the best way to keep track of your rounds. Use locking or closed stitch markers if at all possible. The other kinds can fall out when you least want them to -- okay, nobody wants their stitch markers to fall out, ever -- so just be proactive.

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Some have made row markers out of wire earrings. I was given some beautiful ones years ago -- only to find out those wire ends can snag the yarn. unhappy Make sure your markers have no sharp or jagged spots on them so they don't snag that yarn and make an ugly what the heck is that?!! on your project. I also found that the ones with pretty dangly bits can get in the way or weigh down your project's edge in an annoying manner. You will choose the best marker for you -- just make sure it is a secure one!

One last thought on stitch markers: Ever leave your crochet hook in your last stitch as a place marker when you set down your project, only to come back later and find that your hook fell out and who knows how many stitches got pulled out? Next time, save yourself the frustration and just put a stitch marker on that last loop and voila! It's super-secure and no stitches will be lost when you come back to your project! Yay for those stitch markers! You may also try that with a 3 inch length of yarn, knotted at one end. Can't shake a stick at that!


Totaly Frustrated?

If you are getting frustrated with your project, set it down and walk away. Sure, tests have been done and crocheting lowers your blood pressure and puts you in a great quazi-zenlike state, but if you are frustrated and are having issues, just walk away. Really. Just walk away. Even if you are on a deadline and have to get it done, walk away -- even if only for just a few moments. When you come back with less stress it will be much easier and enjoyable. Don't make a great craft in to a stressful, enjoyment-sucking nightmare.

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Weaving in Tails

Since your stuffie (or amigurumi) is a three-dimensional object, the tails can be hidden inside, for the most part. That last bit though -- don't be too skimpy on the length. If you need to sew a body part on, leave a tail long enough for the body part to be sewn on. A good rule of thumb is 2.5 times the length needed, so take your yarn and wrap it around a few times to see. If you do not need to sew on a body part then leave about 6 inches. Thread your yarn needle with that tail, insert it into the body of the amigurumi and push the needle through to another area of the creature. Pull the needle out and put a bit of pulling pressure on it to make it good and tight. Snip the tail closely to where it comes out of the project. When the yarn relaxes from the pulling, your tail tip will disappear like magic.



Stuffing

Stuff firmly. Don't be stingy with the fluff! Your amigurumi crochet project will hold its shape better if you stuff it and stuff it well. If you can see a dent in your project then you need more stuffing. Push a bit more stuffing in than you think is necessary. Push in more right before you finish sewing on a body part. More stuffing is always better than less stuffing. You can rarely over stuff. So if you think you have enough stuffing in an area, shove some more in. It will only make your project look better in the end. Continually stuff as your work progresses. If the head and body are together, stuff the head after the body has been under way for a bit. Wait until you have a series of decreases to do before you start stuffing the rest of the body. If you are making a tail, legs, arms, or other skinny pieces, stuff every few inches. You don't want to wait til the end of that 24 inch snake to stuff the head. You will never get the stuffing to the end.

gauge2_288.jpg I am repeating this because it is that important:

If your stitches are tight enough you will not have your stuffing show through -- even if you are making a penguin. Those black areas will stay black as long as your stitches are tight.

If they are not tight and you are frustrated by your fluff popping out here or there, some people use colored nylons to try and contain the stuffing and to darken that bright white so it isn't so obvious. But your stitch size will be the best containment system out there. Drop down a hook size and tighten up those stitches. Your project will thank you.


Pellets, Beans, & Marbles -- Oh My!

If your creation is a sitter of some sort and requires some weight, think twice before using beans! Beans, when they become wet, sprout. You don't want sprouted beans inside of your project. You may say you will never get it wet, but things do happen. It won't take long for your bunny to become funky, and not in a funky good way.

You can use other things to weigh down a bunny's butt, such as plastic pellets. They sell them at craft stores if you are lucky enough to have a local one or you can also order them online. If you don't have plastic pellets, think outside the box. Marbles may come in handy if you only need a few. Those plastic or glass stones used for making floral arrangements might also work well.

To keep them in place, you can use a knee-high nylon stocking and put the weighted bits inside of that. Tie it, so it makes a sack. You don't want it to be all floppy. I personally do not like to put them directly on the bottom. I put a small bit of stuffing in first, then the weighted stocking sack, then more stuffing.


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Eyes

Whatever eyes you choose -- whether it is safety, buttons, crocheted or embroidered -- insert them on the opposite side of the beginning of the row. This way your color changes will be on the back instead of on the front -- unless otherwise directed by the designer.

The size and color of the eyes makes a huge difference! Try it out before you totally commit! Larger eyes can make the stuffie look more soulful. Closer together can be super cute. Even the color can make a huge impact on your finished project. For example, if you are making a critter that is pastel colors -- black is probably not the best way to go. Look for a dark shade of a color and use that. So if you are making a pastel blue bunny, try very dark blue for the eyes. They will still stand out but not be extremely abrupt.

Safety eyes may be purchased online, or at your local craft supply store. I buy all of my safty eyes from Lisa & Ed’s Eyes and More - they have great prices and amazing variety!


Link to the Designer's Site

Post links to the patterns you post pictures of! Your designer will love you for it!






 
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