Sneak peek at my latest project!

There are some special occasions coming up this summer and one that I am super excited for is my nephew’s first birthday! I realized that I haven’t created a blanket yet since I started taking up crochet and this occasion provides me with a great opportunity to create one! It has actually allowed me to combine a couple of other project ideas that I’ve wanted to play with, and having project pieces fall into place has been really exciting.

I have a bad tendency to start new projects before I documenting the process for the blog (which is kind of big deal given that it should be part of the main content… lol). So as I stand on the cusp of creation, let me showcase the materials that I just picked up to begin! I took a trip to the Purple Purl who provided me with some pretty Sweet Georgia yarns. I have never worked with this brand before. It is a bit pricier than what I am used to (buying yarn on a budget from Michaels), but it is a nice treat to work with natural fibres.

Originally I was planning to use a Sweet Georgia gradiented mini skein set because I wanted a graduated colour range, but realized after putting the set on hold that these sets only came in a Fingering weight and I had been planning to work at a worsted weight. I could have doubled the Fingering weight to make a light worsted yarn, however the yardage of the mini skein sets would have been halved and I would have had to buy double the amount of yarn. Thankfully, the worsted Superwash yarns offered by Sweet Georgia came in a large colour range that I was able to pick see colours in a range and pick them out individually. I also got some wonderful advice from Robbie at the Purple Purl, who helped me pick out a great colour combination to give my project some extra pop. These yarns are 100% merino wool and the skeins already feel nice and soft.

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I don’t have the best camera but from the top left (going clockwise), we have one skein each of West Wind, Cherry, Saltwater and two skeins of Glacier. I also have a Pound of Love from Lion Brand Yarn in white to use for the background colour of the blanket. Can’t wait to show everyone the finished results!

 

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Busy Busy! And a hint at some upcoming designs!

Hello Crochet World!

I know the blog has been a bit silent for the last few weeks but I want to assure you that I have been working on some new designs that I am excited to roll out in the near future! I have been experimenting with some shaping techniques because I personally love the “seamless” amigurumi look. It has been a lot of trial and error to get the right look. I think one of the most challenging parts of the design process is keeping track of the stitch counts/what I’m doing as I rework parts of the piece in order to provide the most comprehensive pattern for you guys! I noticed that I sometimes get carried away with the shaping that I have to remind myself to be diligent about the recording part process.

So here is a hint about two of my upcoming designs for you to ponder, maybe you will be able to guess what they are and let me know what you think they might be in the comments! 😀 I am a big supporter of the #loveinvasion and assembling my own soldier to contribute to the cause!  There is also a stack of yarn ready to be turned into “beary” good brothers!

Wish me super fast crocheting!

Addicted to Amis

A Study in Starting Techniques (or The Evolution of How I Start My Amigurumi!)

Do you also feel like getting off to a good start makes every project/endeavor feel auspicious and optimistic? I thought it would be fun to share the evolution of my starting technique for amigurumi-making. There are a few methods out there and when I look at new patterns, I  find it interesting to note what the designer prefers when it is really obvious from their instructions.

*For non-beginner readers, please feel free to skip ahead to Alternative Techniques for my preferred techniques*

I think it is crucial for every beginner to understand the most basic way to start any crochet work before delving into the alternative methods I present below. When I picked up my first book of “easy” amigurumi patterns, I thought that the handy stitch/instruction reference guide at the end of the book would teach me how to start. There were pictorial instructions on how to do simple chains and single crochet stitches, but I was still left to wonder, how did they even get yarn/make a loop on the hook?

Whether you are working in a round or by row, any crochet project can be started with a slip knot. Some pattern/project books may or may not (as was in my case) include instructions on how to make a slip knot. Furthermore, pattern instructions usually won’t begin with “Create a slip knot”. It is assumed that you will have created one already to start. After my experience, I cannot stress highly enough how crucial it is to know how to do a slip knot! It is the essential “start point” from which every crochet work is built.

How to make a Slip Knot

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1. Cross your yarn to make a loop.
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2. Pull the ball end of yarn through the loop to make a second loop
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3. Pull on the tail end while maintaining the second loop of pulled-through yarn to tighten the knot. Congratulations! You’ve made a slip knot!
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4. Place loop on hook and pull on the ball end to adjust the size of your loop. You’re ready to go!

Now that you know how to make a slip knot, you’re ready to “start” (har har)! And if you want to keep on practicing how to make one, it is very easy to start over  and reuse the same piece of yarn. Just continue pulling on the ball end and you will find out why this knot is aptly named, because it undoes itself by just “slipping out” of the knot! As a result, you can undo a little to all of your crochet work if you keep pulling on the ball end of yarn.

For ease of discussion, the following examples will limit the starting number of single crochets in a round to 6, as it is probably the most common way amigurumi patterns start.

Basic Crochet Round Start –  Chain 2 Method

  • After creating your slip knot, create two chain stitches. Into the second chain from hook, work six single crochets. This creates your first round. The initial size of your circle will depend on the amount of single crochets you work into that second chain from hook. This will usually appear in patterns like so:

Ch 2.

Rnd 1: In 2nd chain from hook, make 6 sc. (6 sts)

I must admit that I did not start with this method. But it is important to mention because it is a basic, more step-by-step, and almost universal instruction. It is more friendly for beginners who are still learning, and the “norm” for a veteran crocheter, who will have the know-how to skip/modify steps accordingly. I soon quickly discovered during my initial searches of “how to start amigurumi” that more experienced Ami artists don’t really use this method to start their rounds because it leaves a “hole” in your dolls/stuffies, which is not ideal for amigurumi. You want nice tight stitches so that admirers can’t see the stuffing.  Ami artists will usually use a starting technique that will “pull” their initial stitches tightly together without leaving a visible hole.

Alternative Starting Techniques

So if you are like me and want to start making amigurumi more “sophisticatedly”, I opted to go straight for a more advanced technique so I wouldn’t be left with hole-y Amis. It was soon evident that many Ami artists promoted the use of the Magic Circle method. All about Ami has a great post about how to do a Magic Circle so I will not get into the how-to details here. Amigurumi patterns that start with a Magic Circle will usually look like this:

Rnd 1: Create 6 sc in magic circle (6 sts)

You can see that this instruction can replace the starting instructions of the Chain 2 method to achieve your first round of 6 single crochet.

As I tried to repeatedly watch and follow videos and pictorial instructions on how to create a Magic Circle, I could not do it. So I must admit that I have never used this method lol. At this point, you the Reader, must be wondering what the heck do I do. So while trying to learn the Magic Circle from Wire My Soul, her video also introduced another option called the Double Ring method. I had more success creating a Double Ring instead of a Magic Circle. Thus, the Double Ring became my preferred starting technique for the large part of my amigurumi making. While I’ve never come across an instruction specifically stating to do a Double Ring, you would essentially substitute it where you would do a magic circle. So I suppose a substituted instruction would look like this:

Rnd 1: Create 6 sc in a double ring (6 sts).

One caution for this method. In my experience, while I got really tight seals when I closed up the hole with my double ring, I sometimes got a “bump” of slightly loose yarn if I didn’t have the right tension from the first single crochet in the ring. And being a bit of a perfectionist, I would redo my ring because there was no other way to get rid of it. A small tip if you decide to use this method is to place your tail end behind the work as you move into starting your second round. It will probably be in the way anyways, so this removes it as an obstacle, and serves a double purpose as you won’t have to hide that end later, as it will already be on the inside of your amigurumi.

I thought that that was it. I didn’t see any other starting options, but found one that really worked for me. I was proudly a “Double Ring” amigurumi starter! However, in my quest to become an amigurumi designer, I signed up for Stacey Trock’s “ Amigurumi: Design Your Own Monster ” class on Craftsy to learn about design a few months back. In this class, I encountered my first “new” starting technique in a long while. Stacey introduced her “Sloppy Slip Knot” technique, which she demonstrates here on  her site FreshStitches , so you don’t have to enroll in the full class in order to see how to create one.

This technique actually brings us back full circle (hahaha) to our most basic round start, the Chain 2 method. The Sloppy Slip Knot follows the same basic instructions of the Chain 2 method, while achieving the tight seal you couldn’t get following this method with a regular slip knot. I found the Sloppy Slip Knot  less “clunky” to make in comparison to when I was trying to learn either the Magic Circle or Double Ring. Furthermore, I no longer get that weird little “bump” as I did from the Double Ring. I think it is also easier when I design patterns because my written instructions will still follow that basic Ch 2 format.

Whether you are a beginner or a veteran, I hope this post is useful! I highly recommend the Sloppy Slip Knot method if you’re a beginner looking for that more “sophisticated” starting technique to level up your Amis, but give them all a go to see what feels best for you, and please let me know which one you chose! 🙂 If you’ve never tried the Sloppy Slip Knot, please give it a try and let me know what you think! And if you are a seasoned Ami artist, I would love to hear what is your preferred starting technique. Do you know of any others?  I am always up for learning more!

Happy crocheting everyone!

Special thanks to Steph at All about Ami, Jan at Wired my Soul and Stacey at FreshStitches for all their wonderful work which helped get me “started” (I can’t resist the cheesy puns… haha). 

 

Pattern: Flower Ring

Recently, I have been branching out into crochet apparel to try my hand at some new crocheting techniques and practice different types of stitches. It has been really fun to “make clothes”. I really love seeing amigurumi accessories and one project that inspired this post was a pattern for a wearable amigurumi bunny head ring that I came across a while back. Unfortunately, it has been such a ways back that I can no longer find the original blog where I found the pattern! 😦 But I did get to make two rings and they have been really fun and cute accessories to wear.  If anyone is aware of who the designer for this ring is, I would love to know so I can put up a link to her original post 🙂

I own a pretty, chunky flower ring and I thought it would be a great idea to combine the two concepts into a wearable crochet flower ring. This project is great for using up scraps or that small amount of yarn from when you almost  used up a skein. I went for a regular flower appearance with some of my leftover green, yellow and pink yarns. In this case, I specifically used Lion Brand Vanna’s Choice in Fern and Rose Pink, and Loops and Thread Impeccable in Butterscotch. I think it would be really fun to play around with different colour combinations so choose whatever you fancy!

I had so much fun creating this ring! It was my first time using puff stitches, which I discovered there are quite a few ways to create. I played around with the size and look of my puffs, so PLEASE NOTE that the “puff stitch” used in this pattern may not necessarily be the same as a puff stitch used in another pattern. I also wrote the pattern in a “basic” pattern form, but feel free to use any  preferred techniques that achieve the same result.

Crochet Flower Ring

Finished Size: Approx. 4.5 cm (1.75 inches) – width of finished flower. Size of band will vary depending on your finger size and should fit snugly. The pattern below fits an approximate ring size of 4-5.

Materials:

  • Size F hook (3.75 mm)
  • Worsted weight yarn in yellow, green and your choice of petal colour.
  • Tapestry needle

Notes

  • Worked in two pieces with a row for the band and joined rounds for the flower.
  • I recommend using foundation hdc when creating the band to adjust the ring size more easily.

Abbreviations:

  • Ch = chain (stitch)
  • Sc = single crochet
  • Sl st = slip stitch
  • Hdc = half double crochet
  • YO = yarn over
  • Rnd = Round

Band 

Using green yarn

Ch 9.

Row 1: In 3rd chain from hook, hdc across in each ch (7). Fasten off and leave a tail to sew the two ends together to form the band. Weave in loose ends.

Flower

Start with yellow yarn.

Ch 2.

Rnd 1: 5 sc in 2nd chain from hook. Switch to petal-colour yarn with a sl st to join ends.

Rnd 2: *Ch 3. YO and insert hook within same stitch as the slip stitch and just made 3 ch. **YO and loosely pull up yarn as tall as the height of your 3 ch **. Repeat ** 2 more times. YO and pull through all loops on hook. Chain 2 and complete the puff stitch with a sl st into the next chain*. Repeat * 4 more times. For the last puff stitch, place the closing sl st into the same sl st from the beginning of the round. Fasten off and leave a long tail for sewing.

Finishing

Tie off and weave in loose ends. Using the long tail from the flower, attach the flower securely to the joined part of the band. Weave in loose end and your fabulous new ring is complete! 😀

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I love how the puff stitch gives each petal a bit of a curl and more “body”, making it look more three-dimensional. You might have noticed that the number of sc that you start with in Rnd 1 will determine the number of petals on your flower, so you can also play around with the number of petals. There are so many variations to try and I would love to see your creations!  😀

This pattern is an original pattern by Alvina of Addicted to Ami’s (January 2016). Please do not claim this pattern as your own. If you wish to share this pattern, you may link to this pattern but please do not reprint it on your site. You may keep a copy for your own personal use but you may not sell or distribute it, or sell items made from this pattern. 

Funassyi (Funasshi) Amigurumi Pattern

For my inaugural pattern, I present my original Funassyi (or Funasshi) pattern! Funassyi is one of Japan’s most popular and mascot characters and is unofficially associated with the the city of Funabashi in Chiba prefecture. I am a huge fan of this giant pear (hence the nashi part of its name) who has no official gender. I personally tend to think of Funassyi as a ‘he’ (and thus will refer to him as such) because that’s just my impression. He has a very cute aesthetic with roses for eyes and spherical shape.  Funassyi is full of energy and is a super fun television personality, which is probably what he appears on so many Japanese variety shows.

What I love most about Funassyi is his costume! It looks like its essentially fabric draped over a frame and really “cheap”, but it gives Funassyi great agility! See him run at a surprisingly fast speed from this explosion prank – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TQPQDdEnvWs. His costume moves in unexpected (and often hilarious) ways.

I haven’t seen too many examples of Funassyi amigurumi and his shape is very perfect for crochet projects! Here is my written pattern:

Funassyi Pattern

Finished Size: Approx. 13.5 cm

Materials:

  • Size F hook
  • Worsted weight yarn in light yellow, baby blue, leaf green and red
  • Tapestry needle
  • White felt
  • Black sharpie or permanent marker
  • A pencil or gray pencil crayon
  • Embroidery needle
  • Red embroidery thread/floss
  • (optional) Red lip liner

Notes

Worked in continuous rounds.

Abbreviations:

  • Ch = chain
  • Sc = single crochet
  • St = stitch
  • Sl st = slip stitch
  • Inc = Increase
  • Dec = Decrease
  • BLO = Back loops only
  • BL = Both loops

Legs (Make two)*

Using yellow yarn

Ch2.

Rnd 1: 6 sc in 2nd chain from hook – (6)

Rnd 2: 2 sc in each st around – (12)

Rnd 3: In BLO, sc in each st around – (12)

Rnds 4-6: In BL, sc in each st around – (12)*

*For first leg, fasten off and leave a long tail (around 3-4 inches), make second but DO NOT fasten off

Joining the two legs

Rnd 7: With 2nd leg (non-fastened off), sc in next 6 st (6). Join the first leg by sc into the next st of the leg, starting on first st after the fastened off knot (1). Place a stitch marker. Continue sc in each stitch around the first leg (11). Finish with sc into the last 6 st of the 2nd leg (6) – (24)

Head and Body

Rnd 8: Sc in each st around – (24)

Change to Blue yarn

Rnds 9-16: Sc in each st around – (24)

Change back to yellow

Rnds 17-22: Sc in each st around – (24)

Rnd 23: (1 sc dec, 2 sc in next two sts) six times – (18)

Rnd 24: (1 sc dec, 1 sc in next st) six times – (12)

Rnd 25: 6 sc dec – (6). Fasten off.

Arms (Make two)

Using yellow yarn

Ch 2.

Rnd 1: 4 sc in 2nd chain from hook – (4)

Rnds 2-3: 4 sc in each st around – (4)

Rnd 4: (1 inc, 1 sc in next st) two times – (6)

Change to blue yarn

Rnd 5: 1 sc in each st around (6)

Fasten off and leave a long tail to attach to body.

Leaf

Using green yarn

Ch 4.

2 sc in 2nd chain from hook, slip stitch in same st.

2 sc in 3rd chain from hook, slip stitch and fasten off with long tail for sewing.

Sew tail through the middle of the “stem”. Attach to head slightly off centre to the right.

Bow

Using red yarn.

Ch 4. Slip stich in each st across starting from 2nd ch from hook.

Sew loose ends to the middle and wrap yarn around the middle of the chain like a bowtie, leaving enough to attach to the front of the body.

Finishing

Embroider a triangular mouth with red embroidery floss.

Using white felt, cut out two oval shapes for the eyes. With a black marker, outline the edges of the eyes and draw roses as Funassyi’s irises (see image below). Shade in the rest of the felt with a pencil or gray pencil crayon.

For his two cheek blushes, I used red lip liner to draw on the dots, but you can embroider them on with yarn or embroidery floss. Whatever works!

Happy crocheting!

Funassyi amigurumi

When I completed the design/doll, I found the arms to be semi-posable which was an unexpected but really nice surprise! It was a little tricky to mimic his red ribbon, so I opted to go with a tiny bow since it seemed to work with the scale of the piece. But feel free to use other mediums like felt, maybe even real ribbon, don’t be afraid to play! Please enjoy! As my first written pattern, I welcome any feedback/questions 🙂

Funassyi is copyright of Copyright Funassyi. This pattern is an original pattern by Alvina of Addicted to Ami’s (January 2016). Please do not claim this pattern as your own. If you wish to share this pattern, you may link to this pattern but please do not reprint it on your site. You may keep a copy for your own personal use but you may not sell or distribute it, or sell items made from this pattern. 

Introducing Marvelous Marvin the Ringmaster Mouse!

In honour of the blog debut, I present to you my first original creation, Marvelous Marvin the Ringmaster Mouse! Marvin was inspired and designed as my entry into the Design Contest at http://www.amigurumipatterns.net!

http://www.amigurumipatterns.net/designcontest/vote?id=712 The voting window is open until Dec.7, 2015. You can see him working hard to prep the other animals for their big show!

He knows he’s up against some tough (but adorable) competition and would greatly appreciate your votes! 😀

What I love about this contest is not only the great prize pack (of which 3 can be won so you aren’t limited to voting for just one favourite design!), but past contest entries have been featured and published in the amigurumipatterns.net book series (http://www.amigurumipatterns.net/books/).

Creating Marvin was a great learning experience. Stay tuned for his creation story! And don’t forget to vote! 😀

 

Discovering the cute and crafty world of Amigurumi!

It all began with a cupcake. A coworker gifted me with an adorable baked good made of yarn and fibre fill for my birthday. I was amazed, fascinated and in love.  So much so that I didn’t mind that it wasn’t edible! As a child, I loved stuffed animals and still love my fri- errr…”collection” as a totally mature adult.

My first exposure to crochet was from a coworker at a previous job (I’m sensing a theme…). She was creating a baby blanket and all the girls were curious and wanted to learn too. I realize now that while I learned how to create that blanket by memorizing the pattern of actions, I never actually learned “how to crochet”. I should mention that I never finished my baby blanket and also completely forgot how to make it. Nonetheless, I remember enjoying the process and still love the idea that with one simple tool, you can create amazing things!

And so began my obsession and addiction to Amigurumi! I learned beginner techniques from the Lion Brand website, which is a fantastic resource for all things knit and crochet, amazing bloggers/crochet designers such Stephanie Lau of “All About Ami” (www.allaboutami.com) and June Gilbank from “Planet June” (www.planetjune.com), and good ol’ Youtube. Anytime you come across something your not familiar with, an easy Google or Youtube search will usually do the trick.

In my quest to become an amigurumi designer, I give you “Addicted to Ami’s”! The place where you will find my original creations, see what projects I’m working on and ravings about other cute and crafty things that have come my way. Please enjoy! 😀