Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Answering Mail

I get a lot of questions and requests for advice from aspiring amigurumists (it’s now a word, I’m sure), by email and private message on YouTube and deviantART. Sometimes I go into older sent mail to find the answers all written up so I can copy and paste them. Here’s a new reply I wrote today that I felt bore repeating here. I hope it’s as useful as it seems to me right now.

If you get similar pleas for advice, feel free to quote me.

hi Jan :D
how long have you been doing crochet? :)
did you practice a lot to get as good as you are now?
when you first started was it easy? did things come at a little funny looking? lol I was just kind of wondering about these things
I've been looking at some plushies made by amigurimi (am i spelling it right :P) and want to make some 2. i have been looking at a lot of tutorials and will have some money next month to buy all the supplies needed. is there anything you might recommend for me?
bye-bye thank you for your wonderful tutorials

Hi! Thanks for your message!

I first learned to crochet when I was a child, as my mother crocheted afghans. That's what it meant to me back then; blankets that took months to make. I was not at all interested in ANY project that took that long, so I didn't crochet for many many years. A few years ago, I found pictures of amigurumi on deviantART, the website I use to host my gallery of handmade jewelry (and now crocheted and knit things too). It was love a first sight; I could see these things could be made in less than a day!

I searched for a good pattern to try, and found Hannah Kaminsky's blog, Bittersweet. She had a free pattern for these little birds, and it just clicked immediately. I suddenly knew the technique to create and construct anything I want just by adjusting the number of rounds, increases and decreases. I used the things I learned making that pattern to create my own, and have never used another person's patterns again. Here's the pattern that turned me onto it all:


http://bittersweetblog.wordpress.com/2007/02/19/birds-of-a-feather/

Here is all you need to make your own amigurumi:

  1. Cheap, colourful acrylic yarn in worsted weight. Acrylic can be thrown in the washing machine and dryer without much fuss and is always the best choice for little toys like this, IMO. Buy a few different really bright colours that give you joy!
  2. A good hook or two. For amigurumi, I always use a smaller hook than is recommended on the label of the yarn. If you got that worsted weight yarn, use a 4mm (G) or 4.5mm hook. If you can find hooks with fat handles on them, spend the money and get them. If you end up crocheting a LOT, then this will help you prevent repetitive strain injury like tendonitis and carpal tunnel. Take care of your hands
  3. Scissors. Small scissors you can toss in a pencil case with your hooks for cutting your yarn. Acrylic yarn doesn't break easily like wool (which you can usually just pull apart).
  4. Yarn needle. You need a good blunt yarn needle that fits the yarn through the eye, for weaving your ends in when you're done. Very important, as the finishing touches make a BIG difference.
  5. Polyester fibre fill. This is fluffy stuff you'll stuff your toys with.

That's it. There are other things that help, like stitch markers to help you keep count of what row/stitch you're on, but you can always use a scrap of yarn in a contrasting colour for that in a pinch. Same with safety eyes and things, you can always just embroider facial features on your toys with contrasting yarn colours. All this stuff should be available at Walmart, or whatever local craft store you find yarn in. This doesn't have to be a costly hobby though. Check thrift stores for yarns and hooks and notions as well!

Good luck and have fun!

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