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Saturday, May 21, 2011

Free Amigurumi Tutorial: How to "Prettify" Your Amigurumi Projects

Ever finish an amigurumi project and gaze down at your creation in disappointment? I know I have, a bunch of times when I first started making amigurumi. They'd come out lumpy, distorted, and...not right.

Exhibit A: Clementine Amigurumi Cat by Katy Yellen on Ravelry

Version 1: Taken from the original pattern posting on Ravelry

Version 2: One of my first ever amigurumi attempts for this same pattern:

Obviously, something got lost in translation! What I came up with left me slightly discouraged...this mangled, abstruse demon-creature did nothing but cause me to almost abandon amigurumi. But considering I already spent the money on yarn, polyfill, safey eyes, embroidery floss, and tapestry needles, I needed to make this work. 

And now that I've come a long way, I know exactly what caused my creature to come out looking nothing like...that. I'll take you through, step by step, how to ensure that your amigurumi comes out looking prettier and more adorable than ever before. 

Know your gauge and keep it tight.

Every fiber artist has their own unique gauge - in other words, how tightly they hold the yarn before, during, and after crocheting a stitch. It's a good idea to work as tightly as you can, while still being able to slip your hook into the next row of stitches. This way you won't have open gaps in your project like in my monstrosity pictured above.

Crochet into BOTH loops of the "V", not just one. 
From here on out, I refer to a lot of crochet terms that will probably only make sense once you've tried a pattern or two out before. Basically, when you finish a row of crochet, you form loops on the top that you will then go back into and crochet again. This added row kind of looks like a series of sideways V's. Make sure you crochet into BOTH of these, again to prevent strange gaps and holes. And to give the front of your work a smooth, even texture. If you do this right, you should have no gaps between rows in your piece and you should see little crests on each stitch. 

Example: See the difference between the clementine cat and this guy? Just following these above two steps really makes a world of difference. 
Learn how to do the Magic Loop. 

This will help SO much in getting that good, clean start to a project instead of chaining into a circle the normal way. This technique is almost always used with amigurumi because it keeps the ends of a project nice and tight and prevents lumps and gaps. Here is a good video tutorial from The Art of Crochet by Teresa on how to learn the magic loop. It WILL be a massive pain, and it will take a lot of practice, but once you get it down it becomes second nature. 

Learn which side is the RIGHT side of your project.

This might seem pretty "duh" to most people, but I really had trouble distinguishing the right side from the wrong side of my first few projects (the above clementine cat is actually inside out!) This video example by Nerdigurumi clearly shows which way your amigurumi project should ultimately face because it really does make a difference!

Stuff firmly, but not too firmly. 

Make sure that once you're ready to stuff your final piece, that you put enough stuffing in it to bounce back. Try to aim for a squishy feel that's like the pressure of your index finger against your nose. Any looser than that, and your piece will become distorted once you add embroidered embellishments (like the puckered-in smile on my clementine cat example). However, if you stuff it too tightly, you risk distorting the shapes you made which will stretch and disfigure your final piece.

Try out these tips for prettifying your projects before starting your next amigurumi project! Happy hooking :)

Oh yeah, let me know if you have any questions about what I've posted here...if anyone reads this and wants to know more, I'd be happy to do some video tutorials. I'd like to hear your success stories too -- if any of these tips have helped you, post a comment!

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