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Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Amigurumi Basics by a Beginner IV:
6 Basic Stitches & Techniques

Alright, you've got your hook and you've got your yarn. Now we're ready to make something.
To create amigurumi, there are not too, too many basic stitches you'll need to know. Since there are many video tutorials online, I'm going to jot down quirks I've learned along the way, and list good links to check out instead of reinventing the wheel.

Note: UK and Am patterns use different terminology, so be sure to check which version of terms the pattern is using.

Here are the basic stitches / techniques. Feel free to jump to the video tutorials if you just want to get right to it.

As you may have read from this post, many amigurumi pieces begin with a magic ring. However, to make a magic ring, you need to know how to do single crochet. So, to practise this common stitch, I'd recommend learning to do a chain first.
Making chains is useful to know anyway when you need to crochet something flat, like an applique for your amigurumi.

1. Slip Knot: Getting the Yarn on the Hook Before You Start
There are many different ways to tie this knot onto your hook.
Here are a couple: Crochet SpotStitch Diva Studios
Good to know: Slip knot doesn't count as a chain / a stitch.

2. Holding Your Yarn Just Right
With one hand holding your hook, the next thing is to figure out how to hold what is called the working yarn in the other hand.
There are again many different ways to do this. The important thing here is to keep the tension on the yarn at a comfortable level as you crochet.  Most people on crochet videos I've watched have the yarn wrapped around their pinky finger, and they bring the yarn up and over the pointer finger, using those two fingers to adjust the amount of yarn you're "feeding" to your work.
Example: Crochet Spot

3. Yarn Over Hook (Often seen in patterns as YO)
Another fundamental in crochet. After you insert your hook, you will wrap the yarn around your hook before you draw your hook back out. In some stitches, you'll also wrap the yarn before you insert the hook. As the name implies, make sure the yarn is "on top" of the hook and not under.

4. Making a Chain
Pop quiz: how many chains have been made so far?
Next we'll make a chain (also called foundation chain). It looks very similar to the paper chains you may have made when you're small.
Abbreviation: ch
Chart symbol: circle / oval
Good to know:
• The slip knot doesn't count as a chain (even though sometimes it suspiciously looks like one)
• The loop on your hook also doesn't count.
• You want your chains to be uniform in size. Using your thumb and middle finger to hold onto the previous chain as you make the next chain will help.
Chain Stitch Tutorial: Moogly

5. Crocheting into the Chain
The middle strand is basically the bottom strand of the next chain
I didn't realize there are different ways to crochet into the chain until way later, and I was doing it not necessarily the wrong way but just not the most desirable in my opinion.
Insert your hook under the top strand of the chain
Or insert your hook under the top and middle, right above the bottom strand
Or turn your chain over and insert it into the "hump" on the back of the chain
All three ways are "right" so to speak, and it's really a matter of personal preference. Detailed explanation can be found at Crochet Cabana. If you like your stitches nice and snug you may want to avoid the first method.

6. Single crochet: Basic of Basics
Finally! Now you're ready to build on that chain you made.
Abbreviation: sc
Chart symbol: X or + sign
UK equivalent: double crochet
Use: The bulk of what you'll do in amigurumi is single crochet, and that's why most people will tell you that amigurumi is not too, too hard to learn, because you don't have to know a lot of the fancy crochet stitches.
Tutorial: Crochet Spot, or check out the following video.
Video and Illustrated Tutorial: Lion Brand

And putting it all together...
Watching someone else is my preferred way of learning, so here're some links and great videos that can show you all the things we've talked about so far. Keep an eye on how these crocheters hold the yarn and do yarn over and all that.
Hooks and Needles: this is the series of videos I watched a few months ago to learn to crochet. These were the only tutorials that made sense to me at that time.
How to Start Crochet with Mikey: The first 6 minutes of so of this video covers all the above techniques, then it moves to doing double crochet. You can't get clearer instructions than Mikey's in my humble opinion.
Video tutorial from Mikey
• SassySophelia: First 6 minutes or so shows how to do a slip knot, a chain and single crochet.

Phew. That was a long post, and we've only just got to the fun part. More basic stitches and techniques to come...


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