Thursday, October 12, 2017

Amigurumi tips part 2 - check the yarn, choose the hook, tension and stuffing

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I learned it the hard way. I don't know why, but even in paid patterns nobody will emphasize such stuff, which in the end turns out to be way more important than you all think it is! I will therefore present the following 3 tips, on the example of my Rita bunnies.

The first detail I observed about amigurumis that I made some years ago is that I under-stuffed them... I remember, at the beginning, reading some article about stuffing, which recommended something like this: "you need to be careful with stuffing, you can easily over-stuff your creations, which is not desirable". Therefore, fearing not to over-stuff, but also taking as a guide the plush toys we all have around the house, I decided to stuff them just as much as they seemed to need at the time... which proved lately to have been the wrong choice.

The truth is - there is no such thing as over-stuffing with amigurumis. The stuffing will get loose in time, even if the toy is just resting, like my Rita bunny did on our couch. Imagine what it would happen if your kid played all day with a toy, that you would have to wash, eventually, several times in a year!

Even with wired dolls, I like to stuff around the wire a lot more than they recommend in the tutorials. You will develop, eventually, a sense about just how much you need to stuff your wired dolls, with each doll you create.

Tip 1 - always stuff as hard as you can all your amigurumi creations! 

The second thing I used to do wrong is using the same hook number as I used for normal (clothing) creations. It is definitely recommended to always use a smaller hook than the smallest recommended, such as to obtain a tight crocheting - it will become, eventually, looser. You can also try different crocheting techniques, like YU-YO (yarn under/yarn over) and YU-YU (yarn under/yarn under). It is harder to get used to them at first, but they are very efficient. In some cases, they can even improve the look of your work.

In the image above we have, from left to right: one bunny worked with 3.5 mm hook, 3 years ago, washed and restuffed; one bunny worked with 3 mm hook, tightly, yet not tight enough; one bunny worked with 3.5 mm hook, restuffed after 3 years. All these bunnies were worked using the same yarn, Catania Originals, which I found, meanwhile, that it is best to be worked with a 2 mm hook.

Tip 2 - choose the smallest crochet hook you can use with a certain yarn!

The third and maybe most important aspect - always verify the quality of the yarns you use, in terms of wash-ability... I was very disappointed to discover that some of the embroidery floss I used for my Rita bunny and her brother are color bleeding... Staying on the couch, Rita has developed a dusty look, which not only didn't whiten, but also became a mess of colors after washing...

Notice in this picture the traces of color bleeding on the white material, on the left bunny's belly. Also, the light is reflected evenly on all the bunnies. However, only the middle one is lighter. This is because there are less and smaller holes in his body. On the other bodies, the stuffing revealed through the holes isn't reflecting the light, thus the body appears less highlighted.

Tip 3 - test your yarn, and especially dark colors, for color bleeding!

I learned all these things during the last year, firstly by mere observations, then by volunteering for Octopus Romania. This is an international project in which volunteers crochet small octopuses for preemies that need to stay in hospitals for long periods of time, away from their mothers. Because of the tentacles resembling the umbilical cord, babies get attached to the toy, and not only there is less risk of getting disconnected from the monitoring devices, but their blood circulation, breathing and general health are also improved.
The Octopus Romania project banner. Photo by W Stronę Zdjęć

I strongly advise you to get in touch with your local community of volunteers for The Octopus Project. You don't know yet just how many stuff you will learn by volunteering for a few months for this project. Unless you get a few octopuses rejected, you won't understand the importance of the features I highlighted in this article. Anyway, I hope at least that these tips will improve considerably the quality of your amigurumis.

Link to the first part of the amigurumi tips series - reading and understanding the crochet patterns proposed by Papillon en Papier.

The bunnies in this article were worked using a Lalylala pattern+the free Easter bunny mod on her blog.

Check the other parts of Amigurumi tips series:

Part 1 - Reading and understanding crochet instructions proposed by Papillon en Papier

Part 3 - Dolls hair and eyes

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