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). 

 

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