Tips and Tricks

Tips and Tricks

For Crochet Toys/Amigurumi

by Janine Tsakisiris

tips

Your hook:

Your choice of hook will affect your end result. Choose a larger or smaller hook then suggested and your crochet toy size will be altered.

Your hook size will depend on the yarn chosen. Whatever yarn you select, if it is different from the suggested yarn in the pattern, you will need to make sure that it results in stitches that are small enough so that no stuffing will show through.

Yarn choice:

Not all yarns are suitable for crochet toys. Acrylic is one of the best. It holds its shape well and is durable and usually very affordable. With crochet toys, one ball can go a long way.

Some wools, although lovely to work with, are not so good when it comes to stitching pieces together. They tend to fray or felt and break apart after pulling on it for a while. Some people may also have allergies to wool so you need to consider your recipient.

Cotton is another nice choice that also washes well. Keep in mind though that it can have a tendency to stretch, so after a few washes you may find the stitches being pulled and the stuffing showing.

Always read the label on your chosen yarn for its care instructions. Is it washable? An important thing to consider when making a toy that will be much loved.

Because you are creating tight stitches, you will need to find a yarn that doesn’t scratch and grate across your fingers. There are many available yarns and yarn blends. Experiment and find a yarn that suits you and take note to ensure the colour palette available is large enough for your requirements.

Yarn in a nutshell…
1. Any yarn can be used, simply adjust your hook size so that no holes appear in your stitches that might show the stuffing.
2. If you use a smaller or larger hook your toy size will vary.
3. Not all bulky yarns are equal! They vary from brand to brand. (This goes for all plies of yarn!)
4. To find out what ply yarn you have (as they don’t all say), simply go to Ravelry (link below) and type in your yarn. It will list all the properties but keep in mind point 3! lol
5. To find a similar yarn simply go to YarnSub (link below) and see if you can find an equivalent.
Your yarn choice will affect your end result…don’t forget to have some fun with it! Enjoy bringing them to life and making them unique! 😀

Some helpful places to look at:
Yarn Substitution: Yarnsub
Yarn Details/properties: Ravelry yarn database

Stitches:

Right side vs wrong side…yes, there is such a thing with crochet toys. End up with the wrong side facing and your whole project will not only look different, possibly be slightly larger and a little distorted, but some stitches simply won’t work to give the desired effect. As you crochet your work will start to curl slightly. It’s important to make sure you curl it so the right side, the side that is facing you from the beginning, stays on the outside of our work.

Stitches for crochet toys need to be tight so that the stuffing doesn’t show or become tempting for little fingers to pull out. You may find the tightness of your stitches changes from day to day. Trying to keep the stitches tight and consistent can take some practise. If you find your stitches are still too loose then try going down a hook size.

Stuffing:

Loosen the stuffing fibres slightly before using to prevent it from having a lumpy appearance.

Keep in mind the shape you have created, where the increases and decreases are is important. Don’t force so much stuffing in that it causes your toy to fight its own shape.

Ensure when working around safety eyes and/or noses, that you don’t push the inside stem of these causing the eye or nose to tilt at a funny angle.

If your toy has a neck, ensure there is adequate stuffing as, over time, this can become a weak spot.

Be careful with arms. If you overstuff the end it will become bulky and this will cause the arms to sit out straight from the body rather than aiming slightly down. Keep this in mind for any other appendage depending on the toy you are creating.

Add your largest piece of stuffing first and then work in smaller wads of stuffing to help give your toy its shape. Use the end of your hook, or even the tip of your scissors (carefully of course) to push the stuffing into the smaller sections.

If your pattern has two pieces with large open ends to be sewn together, always ensure you add extra stuffing before sewing the hole closed. Again, the end of your crochet hook is a handy tool for this.

Compact your stuffing slightly as you go without forcing your crochet toys shape to pull or stretch. Stuffing naturally compacts over time and with continued play so ensuring plenty of stuffing is essential.

Stuffing can have a huge impact on your end result. Too much and it’ll force the stitches apart and allow the stuffing to be seen. Too little and it will quickly compact and your crochet toy will have no shape. It’s important to find a balance.

Sewing:

Sewing requires a wool needle that has a large enough hole to thread your chosen yarn easily and a sharp enough point to be able to slide through your crochet toy without pulling the yarn fibres apart.

Deciding on the best way to sew on attachments can take a bit of practice. It will also depend on the desired look for the completed toy. Ensure the stitches are pulled tight and, if necessary, add in a little extra stuffing before sewing any holes closed. This is especially important for necks to avoid them becoming overly floppy as they are carted around.

Pinning any attachments before sewing is always recommended. Sew once you’re happy with the positioning.

Ensure the attachment is secure. If it’s too loose, it will simply be pulled off over time. Add extra stitches if necessary to ensure a tight bond.

To finish, run your yarn through a few stitches and then pull it through the body of your crochet toy. Pull slightly and cut your yarn close to your work and the end will slip back inside the body of your crochet toy.

Personalising and personality:

Make your crochet toy your own. Alter the colours to suit your tastes. Who says a teddy bear needs to be brown? Moving the positioning of facial details, limbs, etc., can completely alter the appearance of your new friend. Experiment with placement. Using pins to check positioning of appendages before sewing is always a good idea. Add buttons, a crochet flower and a ribbon around a neck, glasses perched on a nose or even some tufts of hair. Enjoy creating something truly unique.

 

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Little Miss Muffet

It’s been a little while since my last post! Life has been busy and over Christmas I took an extended break to be with my family. To rest and recharge and to get my crojo back! Yes, I had lost it there for a time but the time off has done me the world of good!

So, introducing my first pattern for 2016…

Little Miss Muffet

She’s pretty quick to come together as the arms and legs are crocheted in with the body…I’m sure I’ve mentioned before that I hate stitching pieces together! Not only that but I think it produces a stronger end product. Kids love to tug and pull and I’m sure this technique will make sure she’ll last for the long haul!

The pattern includes instructions for her spider friend too…

Enjoy! ♥

Little Miss Muffet pattern can be found on Ravely here

How easy was Tat!

Yes, how easy was it to fall in love with tatting?

It’s been a little over a week since I started and I have finally placed an order for some proper tatting needles (insert excited squealy noises here!) I got a little tired of jabbing myself in the finger with the doll needle and I’m enjoying tatting enough to warrant acquiring the necessary tools to progress!

Here are some little pretties I’ve made whilst practicing, along with some ideas for their uses. Hoop arts, headbands, card making, appliques…I’m sure any crafty person could find somewhere to use these little lovelies!

tattingcollage

What a wonderful art tatting is. There are some absolutely stunning pieces out there! I truly hope more take it up so it doesn’t become a craft that is lost!

♥Neen

A Good Day for Yarn

Today I bought my first crochet magazines ever. That’s right, you read that correctly! My first crochet magazines EVER! I grabbed the only two crochet magazines on the newsagency shelf, stuffed down in a bottom corner below all the knitting, scrapbooking and patchwork offerings.

So what did I grab? Simply Crochet Hooked on Handmade issue #32 and Amigurumi Collection (a special collection of all things cute and amigurumi also by Simply Crochet). magsSimply Crochet website    Simply Crochet Facebook

Now, I’m not new to crochet toys. I have my own style and unique ideas but that doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate and admire the work of others. The cuteness in the Amigurumi Collection almost makes one go into meltdown! So…much…cuteness!! This book would be a great resource for a beginner. Not only does it have cute little projects but it includes crochet basics, stitches and conversions. It’s well laid out and has lovely colourful photos. It really is just a pleasure to stroll through.

My copy of Simply Crochet came with a free kit of yarn and stitch markers to make a special little bracelet. Again, plenty of interesting things to read, beautiful patterns with wonderful photos all laid out in a lovely magazine. I may be venturing out for the next issue…

Add to that my afternoon trip to my local op shop where I scored a couple of bags of yarnie goodness for a bargain price and it’s been an all round great day in my crochet, yarnie world!

opshop

It really is the simple things in life isn’t it!

♥ Neen