There has been a literal explosion of amigurumi crochet all over the Internet. This is an explosion of extreme cuteness because amigurumi are miniature animals or dolls that are made with yarn and stuffed. They were first made in Japan but now are made just about everywhere. Just check online craft stores and you will see all kinds of cute little animals crocheted from yarn. In Japanese ami means things made from yarn and nuigurumi is the name of a specific doll that has no arms and legs, just a large head and torso. The first amigurumi are patterned after these dolls. These are probably the easiest things to make and are appropriate for a beginner to try.
You may wonder how crochet animals came from Japan when the art of crocheting was not done prior to around the nineteen fifties. In fact, the only Japanese people that actually knew how to knit were the Samurai warriors who made their own socks with toes in order to be able to get a better range of movement. Because they did not have patterns that came from their ancestors they made up their own unique techniques. They would make charts to crochet instead of writing the method out and used symbols and calligraphy to explain what stitches to make. The charts are so beautiful they can almost be framed to hang on the wall.
Amigurumi were first made when it was culturally acceptable for things to be cute during the fifties. During this time Hello Kitty, the white large headed cat with pink bows, made its debut in Japan. In the sixties Hello Kitty was even more popular. She was mass produced along with other sweet little cartoonish animals. At this point in time the office revolution was happening in Japan. Many families were moving to the big cities and children did not see their parents often because they were dedicated to work rather than family. Kitty and other cartoon characters were a way to keep that element of cuteness in life. The crochet animals were made and used like greeting cards to lift the spirits.
To make some of these cute little animals you use a smaller crochet hook than you would normally use for the size of yarn. The whole pattern is made in a spiral that never connects which entails marking the first stitch of each row so you do not get lost in the pattern. The Japanese charts are very hard for some to read because of the characters. It should be noted that the charts are merely a suggestion of how to make the animals. It is expected that once you understand how they are made you deviate from the pattern to make your own creation.
Patterns can be found that are totally written out instead of using charts, which is what most Western countries use in order to make yarn arts. The method is simple because you generally only use single crochet stitches (US – this is double crochet in UK terminology) and chains. Rows decrease or increase in number of stitches in order to make the animal round and make the shape.
The best thing about making the crochet animals is that any yarn left over from a project can be used. They do not take much and certainly not an entire hank of yarn. Some put beads and sequins on their creations. They are usually stuffed with poly fiberfill but old torn stockings can also be used. Many times they are filled with pellets or dry beans to make them more of a bean bag consistency. Patterns for cupcakes, lions, kittens, birds, and human like dolls in different professions can be found on line with a simple search. If you can crochet you will have no trouble trying to make one. And if you do be careful, they get very addictive and you will not be able to stop.
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