Amigurumi Angst

This is my first amigurumi ever:


I call him Little Give Up.

He was originally supposed to be an owl from this book,


… but we never made it that far together. I think I’m having issues with my crochet hook and/or yarn choice—I’m using wool yarn that’s a bit grabby, and I kept switching to smaller and smaller hooks just so that I could fit the silly plastic things through the yarn, and now the whole thing is so tight that it was a struggle just to squeeze the plastic eyes in.

So, I’m ready for any advice any of you amigurumi pros might have. My specific questions might be:
1. Is it generally easier to work with a metal hook, as opposed to the plastic ones? (Any particular recommendations?)
2. Is it generally easier to work with an acrylic yarn, instead of wool?
And, even more generally,
3. What do you like about amigurumi, as opposed to knitted toys? (I promise you won’t hurt my knitterly-feelings!)

Thank you in advance for your help!

Update 10/7/07: I just received the lovliest kit of metal crochet needles from Rebecca, so I am now armed and dangerous! Thank you Rebecca!!!

21 thoughts on “Amigurumi Angst

  1. 1. Yes, using a metal hook is five hundred percent better!!!! And not just with amigurumi. You have better control and can manipulate tension much better with metal. I only ever use plastic hooks in sizes greater than a US K.

    2. I’ve only ever made crocheted amigurumi with acrylic, but I did a knitted one with wool (Cascade 220) that worked fine as well. I think it’s more about preference. The wool I use is always very forgiving, but I’ve only used Cascade 220, Lion Brand Classic Wool, and Patons Merino Wool. They’re not fancy, but they work well. Acrylic is nice because it’s cheap and you can make lots of mistakes without worrying about it. I like acrylic in general, so I work well with it.

    3. I’ve been crocheting longer than I’ve been knitting, so I feel more comfortable with crochet. As far as toys, crochet is easier to change patterns and manipulate the stitches, I think. It also goes faster, which lets you see the finished product sooner or know sooner that you have to start over.

    Hope this helps! I love your patterns by the way. Thanks!

  2. 1. I like the Clover brand Soft Touch crochet hooks –
    I think they are really comfortable to use. You can get them at a lot of small yarn shops or at Joann Fabrics. I also like my Skacel Addi crochet hooks but they are harder to find. I got mine from eBay.

    2. Acrylic yarn is really easy to work with. I think it’s because you can crochet it pretty tightly and it doesn’t get stretched out. I’ve also used wool, but you want something pretty smooth and even. Personally I don’t like to crochet with anything smaller than worsted weight but plenty of people make cute tiny amigurumi!

    3. I love the Japanese pattern books!!! I am more skilled at crochet than knitting so I have more options of toys/animals to make in crochet than in knitting. I think that the way amigurumi are constructed with single crochet makes them easy to learn and you have a lot of flexibility with shapes and can make animals with a lot of personality. Knitted toys are fantastic – I’m just not a good enough knitter to make them!

    Good luck! :)

  3. I’m not an expert, but here’s my 2 cents.

    1. I think ANY yarn will slide easier on metal hooks than plastic, and I would just forget about using bamboo or wood hooks unless you’ve got really slippery yarn. I feel the same about knitting needles. In metal I’ve tried the regular Clover (not Soft Touch), Susan Bates, and Boye. Boye prefer the best. It has wide thumbrest. The hook edges are rounded and not sharp like Bates, which tends to stick a bit more to the yarn.

    2. When crocheting with smaller hooks like F, acrylic yarns that are smooth and tightly plied work well and quickly. Otherwise, the hook will have tendency to split plies in any fiber, including acrylic. With those yarns you work a little slower to be sure you are inserting your hook under just the top loops and not picking up strays.

    3. I like to use crochet for small toys because you can do small detailing and shaping (like curves), and small tubes more easily and faster than using a bunch of dpns. For example, instead of doing short rows or a bunch of decs/incs to do a curve, you can “cheat” and just use stitches of different heights like hdc, dc. Can’t do that in knitting. If you liked, you could use steel hooks and thread to do really tiny ones. Incs stand up straight and look almost like any other stitches, and might be a bit more transparent than left/right slanting knit.

    Come visit the “weloveamigurumi” community at LiveJournal! It is a nice place to ask questions and play.

    Also, you may find the amigurumi links at helpful for finding tutorials, Japanese pattern help, etc.

  4. 1. My favorite crochet hooks are Brittany Walnut. The best place to find them is Ebay. One of the things I really like about them is that they have wide heads on them, so they won’t split the yarn like metal ones do. Also, because the handles are decorative, they are longer than a standard crochet hook, and when you are crocheting little things like amigurumi, it keeps your hand from getting so cramped up. Never used plastic. They just won’t give you consistent gauge. Metal would be my second choice. On some yarns they work well, but on others they can sometimes be slippery and change your gauge if you’re not careful.

    2.I have used both wool and acrylic, but acrylic is much more forgiving and tends to spring back better for small items like this.

    3. I like to crochet toys, versus knit them. I have 17 nieces and when they were young I made toys for them every Christmas. Crocheting is much faster than knitting. I have done both types of toys. Also, it’s easier to adjust to make round shapes when you crochet. Other things are easier to adjust, like the size or the curves.

    I like Little Give Up. He reminds me of PacMan.

  5. 1. Hooks – It’s a matter of opinion. Like in knitting, if you feel like the yarn is sliding too much, don’t user metal. If you’re too tight, or feel like the hook won’t slide, use metal. (I prefer metal, cheap old aluminum Boye brand.) It sounds like you may need to try a metal hook.

    2. Yarn – It’s a matter of opinion. Like in knitting, some people can’t stand acrylic. I’ve never been one of them. (In fact, I keep a decent acrylic stash for just such occasions.)

    3. I don’t know what technically passes for Amigurumi. I crocheted tons of stuffed animals when I was younger (they didn’t call it amigurumi then,) and it actually seems like crochet lends itself better to stuffed animals. You’re not trying to keep track of several stitches at once, it’s easier to work small circumferences in the round and the extra stiffness helps them hold up.

    I think you may need a bigger hook, because a bigger hook will give you bigger stitches that should be easier to slide into. I don’t know how much experience you have crocheting. It may benefit you to just crochet back and forth in single crochet for a while to get a feel for things. It sounds like you just need to get used to crocheting before jumping into something more complicated. (Crochet a coaster or something.) And “focus” on being looser. (I know this easier said than done, but this just comes with practice.) has some great resources on crochet in general, including this link with amigurumi tips:

    I learned to knit and crochet at a early age. I kept the crochet up off throughout the years and on while my knitting languished. Now I’m knitting like a made woman, with a little crochet thrown in here and there. Feel free to let me know if you have any questions.

    And I think “Little Give Up” is an adorable example of turning lemons into lemonade.

  6. ohmygod. are you kidding me?? he is SO CUTE!!! i can’t stand it! if you start writing amigurumi patterns, i’m going to have to learn to crochet. i’m not ready! jinkies!

  7. The little guy is cute. :)

    I think that your problem is not the hook or the yarn, but where you put your hook through the stitch. From the picture it looks like you put your hook through the V of the stitch itself instead of sliding it under the sideways V on top of it.

    Wait, I found a pic to show you:

    Scroll to the bottom of the page, the last picture shows a single stitch with both V’s highlited. You should slide your hook under the top two threads withour catching the bottom threads at all.


  8. I’m no expert at crochet but I can say I learnt crochet simply so that I could do some amigurumi. :P Hmm… I used a metal hook the time I did my first amigurumi (Momo, to be exact) and some 8 ply acrylic yarn. I can’t say I love to crochet because my hand hurts after awhile – probably I’m doing it all wrong.

    Anyway I have done a knitted bear before and I like knitting up the little pieces and putting them together. I thought that was cute. I still love amigurumi but if I had a choice, I would prefer to knit :P

    And Little Give Up is a great mascot for all the projects that have succumbed to frustration and angst! heehee

  9. I absolutely love amigurumi toys, but don’t know how to crochet. I’m hoping more knitted amigurumi patterns will start to emerge!

  10. 1. oh, metal hooks all the way, since amigurumi are crocheted at such a tight gauge. everything slides more easily on metal (even tight stitches), and you can pull *hard* on a metal hook without worrying about snapping it in half (a problem i’ve had with plastic hooks & tight gauge).

    2. i want to say, stitch with whatever you want. but i also want to note that because most acrylic doesn’t have much/any stretch to it, this makes it better for a really dense fabric, where you don’t want to fabric stretching out and letting little bits of stuffing peek through.

    3. i’ve never made one… ::hanging head in shame:: … but i have crocheted A LOT and did some background reading on amigurumi to be able to respond to your questions.

    also, i agree with vaire, above, that it looks like you might be inserting your hook through the wrong part of the stitch and making things harder on yourself than they need to be; i’d recommend looking at the tutorial she linked to. but little give up is definitely adorable – i’m sure you’ll mochify him into something excellent, once this wave of frustration has subsided :)

  11. Anna, I have some metal crochet hooks I don’t use. If you want I can mail them to you for your endevours in cuteness.

  12. Thank you so much, everyone, for the great advice! (I knew I could count on my smart readers to help me out!) Despite the name I gave my first amigurumi attempt, I am determined to master this new skill and see what fun things can come of it.

    Vaire and anastasia, I thought I was doing the crochet correctly, but the extra visual will help for the next time I try. I did do a little crochet some time ago (a scarf and a hat), and that seemed to go OK—doing looser work with bigger yarn was definitely easier for me.

    And thank you, Rebecca! I’ll be in touch!

  13. It seems I’m a little late with this response. D’oh! But I’ll answer anywya.

    I prefer wooden needles to metal, and metal to plastic. Susan Bates makes excellent metal needles that move very smoothly through the loops.

    As for wool vs. acrylic, I don’t see much of a difference. It sounds more like your gauge might be the issue.

    I prefer crocheted amigurumi to knitted amigurumi because of the freedom of movement. Creating Knitted 3-D designs kinda gives me vertigo.

    It does look as though you may be inserting your needle in the wrong location. I have the same book and page 70 has several very nice illustrations of the proper placement of the needle. I wish I could help more.

  14. Oh, on second thought, you may be right about my incorrect technique, Marcy. How embarrassing…

    When I’m armed with my new metal crochet hooks and acrylic yarn, everything will fall into place. I hope!

  15. I concur that metal hooks do make it easier. I had not thought of the acrylic vs. wool connection but now that I think about it, acrylic yarn (or at least anything very tightly plied) does make it easier. Any kind of splitty yarn is going to be a real pain.

    I honestly prefer to KNIT toys. Yes, crochet is more sculptural and may be more flexible in terms of designing-on-the-fly. But I find miles and miles of single crochet, done tightly like you do for amigurumi, boring. And worse, it aggravates my incipient carpel tunnel syndrome far worse than knitting ever does.

    There are some awfully cute crochet amigurumi out there, so I persist. I have a Totoro I’m working on now, but it’s an absolutely huge thing compared to most amigurumi and it’s going very slowly.

  16. I like Mochimochi Land stuff just the way it is! Crocheted amigurumi is neat, but it’s common. What you have is so different from what’s already out there–amigurumi-ish items that are done in knitting! (And I personally like knitting better, although that’s just a personal preference.)

    By the way–I also vote for metal crochet needles! :D

  17. Thank you, Melissa—you’re very sweet.

    I just got the lovliest kit of metal crochet needles from Rebecca, so I am armed and dangerous! Thank you Rebecca!!!

  18. Hi, I’m new to reading your blog and just wanted to jump in and say that I’ve always preferred cotton for crochet!

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