Ami-What? The Art of Amigurumi, Japanese Crochet

Posted on 3rd September 2016

Wanting something cute but simple to crochet that will appeal to children and adults alike? Explore the wide-eyed world of amigurumi animals, food, plants and creative creatures.

amigurumi

What Is Amigurumi?


You've probably seen these small and adorable creations but might not have known the style has a name. The term "amigurumi" (which is singular and plural) comes from two Japanese words: "amu," meaning "to knit" and "nuigurumi," meaning "stuffed toy." Although the original word comes from knitting, crocheted amigurumi are more popular. Amigurumi are crocheted or knitted toys, usually small but they can range from tiny keychain adornments to oversized floor pillow size. Many of these designs are anthropomorphized with heads larger than the bodies and big, bright eyes placed low on the face to give them a childlike look. Also, the extremities are undersized on a cylindrical body and sometimes referred to as "chibi" style as well as amigurumi.

Popular Amigurumi Designs


Almost any animal, insect, plant or food can be turned into an amigurumi craft. But amigurumi designs aren't limited to variations of real-life objects or things. Creative crocheters have designed patterns for all types of categories, including digital products like Minecraft figures, popular video game characters, and cartoon and movie personalities.

Some very interesting creations run the full gamut:

  • Kitties, puppies, bunnies and bears

  • Butterflies, inchworms, ladybugs and ants

  • Octopi, starfish, sharks and crabs

  • Sushi, cheeseburgers, cupcakes and ice cream cones

  • Cacti, flowers, trees and lily pads

  • Pokemon, Hello Kitty, Star Wars and Disney characters


How They're Made


In addition to the cuteness factor, the simplicity of these toys is attractive to many crafters. Generally, patterns consist of only one type of crochet stitch, the single crochet. In order to keep a tight gauge, crocheters will choose a crochet hook slightly smaller than other projects of the same size. This keeps stitches uniform and gives a distinctive texture. Patterns are worked in a spiral round, which avoids "striping," or the uneven stripe that occurs when rounds are joined.

For designs with bodies and heads such as animals, people or insects, the body and head are usually crocheted in one continuous piece. Extremities, ears, clothes or accessories are then crocheted individually and attached by sewing on with yarn and a yarn needle. For other designs like foods or plants, patterns may consist of either continuous pieces or individual components pieced together.

Amigurumi are stuffed tightly with cotton or polyester filling or sometimes other improvised stuffing. The tight gauge keeps the stuffing from showing through. If you want the amigurumi to be able to stand or sit in a specific position, you can add plastic craft pellets inside a layer of stuffing material. Add this to lower portions as a weight.

Adornments


Amigurumi adornments range from minimal to extravagant, depending on your taste. Some will sport a collar made from a single chain while others may be covered in amigurumi flowers or jewelry. Some ideas for adding extra flair to your projects include:

  • Large, round, plastic craft eyes attached through crocheted circles

  • Crocheted clothing or accessories

  • Yarn embroidery designs on faces or clothes

  • Small circles of eye shadow on cheeks


Tips for Successful Creations


Enjoying these cute little critters will be your ultimate success, but to make your journey easier, keep these tips in mind:

  • Tight stitches create a uniform canvas that's easier to sew components and embellish.

  • When using plastic eyes, attach before stuffing the head.

  • If the amigurumi is a gift for an infant or toddler, skip the plastic eyes and embroider instead to prevent a choking hazard.


And lastly, if you want your creations to go viral, make sure to take plenty of pictures and post your photography on social media tagged with fun, crafty fonts.

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