The Origin And Popularity Of Amigurumi Crochet

The Origin And Popularity Of Amigurumi Crochet

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.

Want to find out more about Amigurumi Crochet, then visit our site on how to choose the best crochet patterns for your needs.

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A Comparison of Pattern Grids

A Comparison of Pattern Grids

A Comparison of Pattern Grids

Last month a friend of mine gave me a special book on knitting. It is called “Knitologie” by Lucy Main Tweet, and contains some pattern grids which I found really exciting. I have quite a variety of cross stitch alphabet patterns, but this book has two different sized knitted alphabets, one being 14 rows high and the other 28 rows high. This seemed to provide the perfect opportunity to do a comparison of pattern grids for knitting and cross stitch.

Knitting patterns are often published on square grids, but knitting stitches are not actually square. Tension guides indicate that the width of three stitches is equivalent to the height of approximately four rows. This means that a pattern represented on a square grid will appear shorter and wider in the knitted work.

I decided to use the 14 row knitting grid, then chose a fairly plain 14 row cross stitch grid to use as a comparison. The cross stitch was worked in red on some scraps of white 14 count Aida that I had, and I found some balls of acrylic yarn in red and white to create a similar effect.

A Comparison of Pattern Grids
The Knitted Samples
A Comparison of Pattern Grids
The Cross Stitch Samples

The letter “O” seemed to be a good one to demonstrate the differences in shape, so I worked the capital version of that letter from both alphabets and in both mediums. This meant I ended up with four red “O’s” on white backgrounds. I have taken a number of photos to illustrate the different results created by knitting and cross stitch. It was great to be able to create such a clear illustration of something I had known the theory of for some time, but had not had a good mental picture of.

A Comparison of Pattern Grids
Comparison for Knitting Grid
A Comparison of Pattern Grids
Comparison for Cross Stitch Grid

So what does this mean in practical terms? Is it possible to transpose knitting and cross stitch patterns to create your own unique projects? The short answer is “yes” but you do have to be aware of the distortion factor. You may be happy to accept the result of the pattern without any alterations, or you may want to try to compensate a little.

To modify a cross stitch pattern for knitting you will need to either insert a few rows evenly up the design (roughly one for every three rows of pattern), or decrease the number of stitches evenly across it (taking out approximately every fourth stitch). Obviously you will need to make these changes in a way that doesn’t change the overall look of the design.

To modify a knitting pattern for cross stitch you will need to use the opposite of the suggestions above. In other words, you will need either fewer rows or more stitches across.

Good luck and I hope you have fun experimenting with your patterns!

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Toy Crochet Patterns For That Special Someone

Toy Crochet Patterns For That Special Someone
Image courtesy of Pixabay

Toy Crochet Patterns For That Special Someone

The joy of crocheting often compels us to make all kinds of useful garments, place mats and tablecloths, in all manner of styles and in various colours. This fantastic use of yarn is however not used so much in the making of toys. There are a great deal of crochet patterns out there for a huge range of soft, cuddly bears and other outlandish characters.

Toy Crochet Patterns For That Special Someone
Image courtesy of Pixabay

If you’re on the look out for some fun toy crochet patterns, the internet provides lots to choose from. (Check out “Ravelry“.) Little teddy bears are often the preferred choice – coming in a bewildering array of styles – with or with hats and clothing; girls bears, boy bears. You can also find bears with specific occupations, so if you know someone who’s recently graduated from University, for example, you could crochet them a teddy in a graduation uniform! Police and firemen also all have lots of great crochet patterns to choose from.

If you’re feeling adventurous, you could even adapt one of your favourite soft toy crochet patterns to make it look like a member of your family! You should make sure it’s flattering though. Making a good likeness of someone you know is not always easy, even in the versatile medium of crochet, so it might be a good idea to create a prop that that person is normally associated with.

For example, if you’re partner is a plumber, then why not create a small plunger or spanner? If you’re not sure how to make such a prop and there are no crochet patterns detailing how to create such an item, you could perhaps visit a toy shop – those specializing in dolls house accessories are particularly good for little trinkets and props. Remember – the whole toy doesn’t need to be crocheted – so you’re not cheating if you use another material!

Often, when creating props using crochet, you’ll need to have some kind of solid interior to support the wool. This might be cardboard or plastic, but it certainly helps to create the shape of an object, as crochet itself can lack structural integrity.

Using one of the many crochet patterns out there you will be able to create any character you can think of. And if you can’t find one, why not try and adapt an existing pattern to your needs? It sometimes only takes a few changes to the face and clothing to make a likeness (a rough likeness admittedly) of someone you know.

For those with a great deal of experience this should prove to be no problem. But equally, it is important not to try something too demanding – so it’s worth checking through a few crochet patterns thoroughly, before you start.

Wherever you source your toy crochet patterns, there is a great deal of fun to be had in creating one of these fun items. A brief search on the internet reveals an exciting range of toys, for both children and adults. In these days of mass produced factory gifts, it is special indeed to receive a hand-crocheted toy from someone special. The time, energy and thought that goes into such a gift really tells someone how special they are.

Anna Stenning is an expert on crochet patterns having crocheted many a woollen item.

Knitting Baby Clothes Through The Years

Knitting Baby Clothes Through The Years
Image courtesy of Pixabay

Knitting Baby Clothes Through The Years

If you’ve never looked into the history of baby clothes and knitting it’s really terribly interesting. For example, many women took up knitting after the Stock Market crash in the 1930s. It made sense at the time. A few ounces of wool could keep somebody knitting for weeks at a time when most folks could not afford much in the way of entertainment. Knitting your family’s clothes, including baby clothes, was a wonderful way to save money. Throughout the thirties, as interest in knitting grew, so did the number of patterns. Manufacturers created patterns for every skill level with more diversity in style and technique than ever before.

During the 1940s knitting baby clothes became even more popular. When the war broke out in England, millions of women started knitting for the soldiers and for refugees. They also did even more knitting for themselves and their children. This was the era when, because of wool rationing and chemical shortages, women sometimes chose to unravel old sweaters and reuse the yarn. Because of the shortage of rubber, rubber diaper covers for babies became hard to come by therefore women started knitting wool soakers to help keep things dry.

By the late forties countless ladies had learned to knit and now that the war was over they turned their energies to knitting for their families. Rationing was at an end and supplies were readily available. Now that the men were home there was a “baby boom” and baby knitting was very popular.

Near the end of the 1950s, though, the popularity of knitting started to take a downturn, blamed largely on television. Ladies were more interested in watching their TV shows and could not stay focused on the knitting task at hand. This is when bulkier yarns and larger needles were introduced in an attempt to make knitting quick and easy but, sadly, knitting was being left behind.

Over the years ladies continued to knit as a pastime or hobby, not because they needed to to save money. Patterns became even easier and yarns became more fanciful and knitting for babies still remained a popular pastime. Women began knitting baby hats and blankets to donate to hospitals, and mittens and scarves to donate to orphanages. (See also, “Handcrafting to Support Charities” and “Octopuses (Octopi?) For Premature Babies“.) Little neighborhood knitting guilds started popping up here and there.

There have always been enough women interested in knitting to keep it alive and countless individuals are once more adopting this well-liked activity. This time men have joined in too, and  children are taking up knitting and creating their own distinctive works of art.

Now, knitting clubs can be found everywhere – your neighborhood, your church, even online, and the patterns that you can find at no cost are unbelievable. There are so many free patterns online that you’d never be able to knit them all. “Ravelry” has been mentioned before on this site. Another site you could look at is “Baby Knitting Patterns

To purchase knitting supplies you can check out “Annies“, “Knit Picks“,”LoveKnitting“, “Craftsy“, or “Leisure Arts“.
**This post contains affiliate links and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my links.

What Are The Best Needles To Use?

What Are The Best Needles To Use?
Image courtesy of Google

What Are The Best Needles To Use?

The very short answer to this question is probably that it is a matter of personal preference. There is a bit more to deciding which needles are the best to use, so I am going to do a small comparison here. The decision can also be influenced to some extent by the type of garment or project you are making.

A number of years ago I worked in a shop which sold yarn, fabric, sewing machines and haberdashery. Amongst the many things I learned from my work colleagues was a lot of information about yarns and knitting needles. At that time the ranges of straight single pointed needles available included metal, plastic, steel lined plastic, and bamboo. There were also some circular needles and sets of four short double pointed needles.

I have never been a fan of metal needles. I find them hard on my hands and rather noisy to use. They are, however, very durable and resistant to damage. Plastic needles are light weight, cheap, and a good choice for beginners, especially children. They do have a tendency to break though, so I would not recommend them for large, heavy pieces of work, or for complicated patterns which may put a bit of stress on the tips of your needles.

What Are The Best Needles To Use?
Image courtesy of Google

Steel lined plastic needles combine the strength of metal and the more user friendly plastic surface. They are often colour coded for different sizes which can be very convenient when you are trying to sort out needles. I have also seen some of these needles with very decorative patterns on them. Obviously this is unlikely to affect their performance, but they are very attractive and a bit quirky.

Lastly we come to my favourite, bamboo needles. The higher quality polished ones can be a bit more expensive, but there are some cheaper ones available too. I find bamboo to be light and easy to use, and they are also very strong. They have good points on them which are quite resistant to wear. The polished ones are very good at allowing your yarn to run smoothly, and even the cheaper, less polished ones are still very smooth.

As I said at the beginning, deciding which needles are the best to use is eventually a matter of personal preference. I definitely recommend, though, that if you do a lot of knitting on a regular basis you give serious consideration to using bamboo needles. I find them a lot more comfortable to use, and am much less likely to have problems with my wrists when using bamboo.

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The Magic of Outlining

The Magic of Outlining

The Magic of Outlining

I am always fascinated by what I regard as the magic of outlining when it comes to cross stitch. I have recently finished a special project for a very special friend. We have been friends since just before starting high school. This year a group of us are turning sixty, so we have obviously been friends for a long time. For this reason I wanted to give her a personalised, handmade gift to celebrate her birthday.

When you finish the main stitching on a project, you usually end up with an attractive piece of work. I used my cross stitch software (see “Creating Cross Stitch Designs”) to design a simple birthday message. The alphabet I chose used colours that my friend likes and I complemented them by choosing some pale green Aida fabric to work on. I was really pleased with the effect.

This particular pattern really highlights the effect that back stitching can have when it is used to complete a cross stitch project. While the main body of each letter is worked in cross stitch, they all have connecting components done with back stitch. I took a series of photographs throughout this project to illustrate “the magic of outlining”.

The Magic of Outlining The Magic of Outlining

The photo on the left shows the components of the project once I had finished the cross stitching. It includes all my pencilled in modifications to the pattern I printed out. The one on the right was taken after the back stitching of the letters in the first row had been completed. As well as completing the form of the letters, the outlining really lifts the letters out of the background.

This lifting effect is also shown in the photo where the flowers start emerging from the purple “blobs”. The final one in the series shows the finished piece after it has been washed, dried and ironed.

The Magic of Outlining The Magic of Outlining The Magic of Outlining

I really enjoyed giving this present to my friend and she was excited to receive it. It meant a lot more to put the thought and time into designing and stitching this present than it would have to go to a shop and buy something off the shelf. It will have lasting significance for both of us.

Types of Cross Stitch Kits

Types of Cross Stitch Kits
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Types of Cross Stitch Kits

Cross stitching is a great way to exercise your creativity and produce amazing designs. There are several types of cross stitch kits depending on the method of stitching. You can choose your favorite among them or try your hand at each one. These are counted kits, stamped, embellished and no-count kits.

Counted Kits
The counted cross stitch kit comes with a chart or pattern of the design you are going to sew, and you have to count the squares in your cloth or fabric to match those in the chart. It is quite easy to do this kind of stitching especially if you like a certain design and you want to replicate it exactly on your cloth, although it can be cumbersome if you lose count and stitch in the wrong square. This kit is perfect for beginners in cross stitching because you need to follow instructions to master the craft before you can make your own designs.

Stamped Kits
The second type of cross stitching kit is the stamped kit, which does not require any charts or patterns but the design is printed on the actual cloth. All you need to do is to stitch the cloth according to the colors printed on it. However simple this may sound, you may have a bit of difficulty getting the right colors if there are a shade or two similar to each other. Try stamped kits that have a simple design which will minimize the chances of error and accustom yourself to the color differences.

Embellished Kits
If you want a faster stitching project, the embellished stitching kit is just what you need. It is very similar to the stamped kit. The design is printed on the cloth but, with embellished cross stitching, the parts you stitch act as the decorative bits of the design. You need not stitch the entire design but only focus on the labeled parts on the printed cloth. Completing an embellished design is quick, but not necessarily easy. Some designs in embellished kits may require you to cross-stitch at a certain angle which may make it harder to match up the embellished part with the rest of the design. Take your time with your embellished kit to get the most accurate results.

No-count Kits
Finally, the no-count cross stitching kit comes with a chart for the colors to stitch, but the outline of the figure or design is what is already printed on the cloth. It is easier compared to the counted kit because you are not strictly following the squares on the design, but on the downside, if the outline crosses the middle of a square, it becomes a little difficult to decide which color goes where.

Try out these kinds of kits and learn which cross stitch method works best for you.

Katie Thompson has more than 5 years experience in copy writing. Presently she is writing articles about cross stitch kits.

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