The Japanese art of amigurumi, or making little cuddly animals, comes from ami, the word for knit, added to nuigurumi, which means stuffed animals. These little cuties are great fun to create and a joy to give to friends and loved ones of all ages. Best of all, they require only basic stitch skills, though you'll need to crochet in the round, and counting your stitches is key.
Most amigurumi have large heads, thin bodies and small limbs. They often have large, soulful eyes that are embroidered, crocheted or sewn into place, and their overall look is whimsical. The figures are made in separate parts — head, torso, arms and legs — then stuffed and sewn together at the end.
Most amigurumi are made with DK weight yarn, which is also called light or worsted yarn. You can find specialist amigurumi yarn in shops, but you don't particularly need to use this. In fact, because amigurumi projects are quite small, they are a good way of using up oddments you have left over from other projects.
You will also need something to stuff your animal with once it's made. This is a good time to use up all those little offcuts of yarn you have left over after weaving in ends and finishing off blankets or granny squares. They are very soft and really serve no other useful purpose. But you could equally well use commercial toy stuffing, which you can easily source online, or scraps of fabric; T-shirt material cut into snippets is nice and soft. A good tip is to add a little extra weight at the bottom of your amigurumi figure to help it stand up. You could try some plastic pellets, sand securely wrapped or sewn into a fabric bag or even a few coins, also wrapped securely in case they discolor over time. You'll also need a pair of scissors and a large needle to hand-sew in any ends.
Now that you're ready to go with your amigurumi, it's a good moment to watch this tutorial, one of a series of three from Happyberry Crochet, which walks you through how to start off and create one of these oh-so-covetable rabbits:
As you can see, the basic skills involved in making your little creature are not that daunting, as you'll be using mainly the single crochet stitch, but you'll need to have your wits about you to make sure that you increase and decrease stitches at the right times. Row markers or pins can really help so that you don't miss the beginnings and ends of rows. You can find them online, or use a safety pin instead.
The other thing to watch out for is that, because the yarn is reasonably fine, the stitches can end up small, and it can be hard to get the crochet hook into the spaces, especially at first. It's tempting to work around this by keeping your yarn fairly loose and making sure you make your stitches quite relaxed, but this can mean that your stuffing shows through once you have added it. So try to keep your stitches small to create a dense fabric that will hold its shape well and not leak or expose any of your stuffing.
Once you've mastered the amigurumi technique, you're sure to have caught the bug. Luckily, you'll find loads of inspiration out there to help you create the cutest menagerie imaginable. Click on the links to find the patterns.
1. How to crochet an owl by Amigurumi Patterns
2. How to crochet Totoros by Lucy Ravenscar
3. How to crochet baby jellyfish on One Dog Woof
4. How to crochet newborn guinea pigs with Kati Galusz's pattern on Ravelry
5. How to crochet a baby octopus with The Friendly Red Fox
6. How to crochet Orlando the Manatee on Amigurumi Patterns
7. How to crochet little ducklings on Little Conkers
8. How to crochet Doobie the Sloth on Amigurumi Patterns
9. How to crochet a sleepy fox with Amanda Michelle's pattern on Ravelry
10. How to crochet llamas with Julie Chen's pattern on Ravelry
11. How to crochet a baby owl
seen on Craftser
12. How to crochet Bubbly the Baby Seal on Amigurumi Patterns
13. How to crochet snails with Stip & Haak
14. How to crochet the Dumpling Kitty with Sarah Sloyer's pattern on Ravelry
15. How to crochet a baby elephant with Theresa's Crochet Shop's pattern on Etsy
16. How to crochet the Tiny Ami Cactus Pincushion with Eightlegs' pattern on Ravelry
17. How to crochet a Nessie with Jessica Ruse's pattern on Ravelry