How to read a pattern

I had several messages from people who would like to crochet amigurumi items based on patterns but still have difficulty understanding the technical terms and abbreviations. I have been there, my first project was a little bear which ended looking like a voodoo doll because I had no clue what I was doing. The instructions looked like special codes and cipher from some James Bond flick and I wasn’t about to save the world with my crochet hook. I was very discouraged and for a while, I stopped trying. I learned, eventually, but it took me a lot of efforts to get started.

I am going to base these instructions on the way I write my own patterns, starting with the abbreviations. Patterns start with the list of materials you will need, and in most cases the type of crochet stitches you are going to use. Here a the basic ones:

rnd: round
sc = single crochet
dc = double crochet
hdc = half double crochet
st = stitch
sl st = slip stitch
ch = chain
inc = increase
dec = decrease
beg = beginning
blo = back loop only
flo = front loop only

Most amigurumi start with a magic ring, so in most cases, you will be asked to make one. Here is a very good video by June Gilbank that shows you how to make one and its purpose:

Now that you know what a magic ring is made, here is a sample from one of my pattern to make a ball:

Make a magic ring,
Rnd 1: 6 sc in center of the ring (6)
You make 6 single crochet in the ring you just made (this step is explained in the video). The (6) is the number of stitches you end up with when you finish the round.

Rnd 2: 2 sc in each st around (12)
You make 2 single crochet in every 6 stitches of the last round. At the end of this row, you should have 12 stitches.

Rnd 3: [1 sc, inc] 6 times (18)
This is what the instructions would be without abbreviations:
“1 single crochet, increase – 1 single crochet, increase –  1 single crochet, increase – 1 single crochet, increase – 1 single crochet, increase – 1 single crochet, increase.”
You repeated the process of one single crochet and one increase 6 times. Once you finish this round you end up with 18 stitches

Rnd 4: [2 sc, inc] 6 times (24) 
“1 single crochet, 1 single crochet, increase – 1 single crochet, 1 single crochet, increase – 1 single crochet,  1 single crochet, increase – 1 single crochet, 1 single crochet, increase – 1 single crochet, 1 single crochet, increase – 1 single crochet, 1 single crochet, increase “
Similar to the previous round but you make 2 single crochet and one increase 6 times. Once you finish this round you end up with 24 stitches.

Rnd 5 to 9: sc in each st around (24)
For the next 5 rounds, you will just single crochet in each stitch. You will end up with the same number of stitches at the end.

Rnd 10: [2 sc, dec] 6 times (18) 
This is what the instructions would be without abbreviations:
“1 single crochet, 1 single crochet, decrease – 1 single crochet, 1 single crochet, decrease – 1 single crochet,  1 single crochet, decrease – 1 single crochet, 1 single crochet, decrease – 1 single crochet, 1 single crochet, decrease – 1 single crochet, 1 single crochet, decrease.”
On this round, you made 2 single crochet and one decrease 6 times. You end up with 18 stitches at the end of your row.

Rnd 11: [1 sc, dec] 6 times (12)
“1 single crochet, decrease – 1 single crochet, decrease – 1 single crochet, decrease – 1 single crochet, decrease – 1 single crochet, decrease – 1 single crochet, decrease.”
On this round, you made 1 single crochet and one decrease 6 times. You end up with 18 stitches at the end of your row.

Rnd 12: dec 6 times (6)
Fasten off.
You decrease 6 times and end up with 6 stitches at the end of this round.
Cut your yarn and pull it with your hook.

Now that your ball is finished and stuffed with fiberfill, how do you close it? You still have 6 stitches left. In order to do that you will use your remaining thread and a needle. Insert your needle and thread in the front loop of each stitch of the last row and pull your string, this process with close the hole. You can hide the rest of the thread by weaving it between stitches of the ball.

Starting your round with a chain instead of a magic ring
There are cases where a pattern will ask you to start with a chain to start your first round, here is an example:
5 in ch,
Rnd 1: sc in second ch from hook, 2 sc, inc, turn, 2 sc, inc (9)
This is what the instructions would be without abbreviations:
Make 5 stitches to make a chain,
“single crochet in the second chain from the hook, single crochet, single crochet, increase, turn to the other side of the chain, single crochet, single crochet, increase.”
This one sounds a little bit more complex so I added a visual to understand the process:

Tail-3.jpg

I hope this helps a little, not everybody writes patterns the same way so I don’t expect to have solved all the difficulties one might run into while reading a pattern. But if you have any questions, or things you would like me to add to this post let me know in the comments.

Happy crocheting!

Advertisements

How to make eyes with felt

My previous post was about a Chibi doll I made that required large manga eyes. It was my first time trying that style, and since I had to figure out how to make them I thought it would be nice to share a tutorial to show you how I did it. It turned out to be very simple!

gweneyes

Before starting on the eyes, I spent some time browsing through images of manga eyes to find a design I liked that would be easy to replicate with felt.  My doll had black eyes so I used felt in the following colors: black, dark brown, and white. I also used scraps of black yarn to embroider the top edges. If your doll has blue eyes, use the blue instead of dark brown.

You will need really good scissors to cut the felt, preferably small ones to cut the small pieces. I bought two pairs at the craft store, one large and one small, and they come very handy!

img_7013

  • Cut two ovals shapes with black felt, the size will depend on the head. You can start with large ovals and cut them down until you are happy with the size. Mine were about 1.5 inches because the head of my doll was quite large.
  • Next you will cut two small circles using white felt, and two rounded croissant shapes with brown felt.
  • Finally, cut two triangles with your white felt for the corner of the eyes. Curve them at the bottom to fit the shape of the side of your eyes.

IMG_7019.jpg

Glue the pieces together (except for the white triangles). Glue  your eyes to the head, then glue the triangles on each side of the eyes (I used a glue gun, it holds the pieces really well together).

With a long strand of black yarn, embroider from top to side on each eyes just once.

img_6996

That is it! You can even glue some eyelashes to make her look even cuter. I hope you enjoyed this little tutorial, and if you have any questions don’t hesitate to ask me in the comments.

Happy crocheting!!!

Two ways to crochet doll feet

Today I am posting a tutorial to crochet doll feet. Not just one tutorial, but two of them because there is more than one way to make them. One is very simple and starts with a basic round, the other one uses a chain.

IMG_5765
Two different methods to make a foot.

I personally like the shoe shape foot, even though the other one is easier to make. If you are a beginner I would recommend to start with the first tutorial.

IMG_5764

You can decide which one you like best for your projects, or use both depending on the doll you are working on. Once you understand the concept, you can modify the tutorial to make feet larger or smaller.

IMG_5766
On the left, the foot is crocheted with a chain at the beginning. On the right, it is crocheted in rounds with a magic ring.

Abbreviations used for both tutorials:
rnd = round
sc = single crochet
inc = increase
dec = decrease
ch = chain
st = stitch
BLO = back loop only

ROUNDED FOOT:

The foot is crocheted in continuous spirals without joining the rounds.

With yarn, and crochet hook of your choice (I use a 2.75mm hook):
Start with a magic ring, or crochet 2 stitches in a chain and work your first round in the second stitch:
Rnd 1: 6 sc in center of the ring if using a magic ring, or 6 sc in second st from hook if using a chain (6)
Rnd 2: 2 sc in each st around (12)
Rnd 3: [1 sc, inc] 6 times (18)
Rnd 4: sc in each st around (18)
Rnd 5: dec 3 times, 12 sc (15)
Rnd 6: dec 2 times, 11 sc (13)
Rnd 7: dec 2 times, 9 sc (11)
Rnd 8: sc in each st around (11)
Stuff your foot with fiberfill.
Now you can continue with rounds of sc to make the legs!

In this second tutorial, the shape of the foot is more defined as a shoe. You will start with a chain, but you will still work in rounds without joining the rounds.

SHOE SHAPE FOOT:
Rnd 1: ch 6, 4 sc, 3 sc in next st, continue on
the opposite side of the chain, 3 sc, 2 sc in
last st (12 sc)
Rnd 2: 2 sc in first st, 3 sc, 2 sc in next 3 st, 4
sc, 2 sc in last st (17)
Rnd 3: (2 sc, inc) 5 times, 2 sc (22)
Rnd 4: sc in each st around BLO (22)
Rnd 5: 8 sc, dec 4 times, 6 sc (18)
Rnd 6: 7 sc, dec 3 times, 5 sc (15)
Rnd 7: 7 sc, dec 2 times, 4 sc (13)
Rnd 8: 7 sc, dec 2 times, 2 sc (11)
Rnd 9: sc in each st around (11)
Now you can continue with rounds of sc to make the legs!

Tip: If you want to make a sole for your foot, just change colors at round 4. You don’t have to work round 4 in back loop only if you don’t want to. You can just crochet both stitches if you don’t want a sole.

IMG_5770
Foot without back stitches.

I hope you find these tutorials useful, and if you have any questions don’t hesitate to ask me in the comments.

Happy crocheting!

How to change color seamlessly

When you change colors while working in rounds you usually end up with a zig zag pattern that doesn’t look very nice if you really care about details. That’s the downside of working in spirals, your row is not leveled with the previous one, and any change of color will show. There is another way to make your rows look seamless, and it is actually very easy to do.

Here are two pieces I crocheted, one was done the basic way, the other one is seamless. The one on the right looks much better, obviously, so here is a tutorial to show you how to do it.

Let, basic color change. RIght, seamless color change.
Let, basic color change. Right, seamless color change.

When you are ready to change color, just finish your row and fasten off (do not make a slip stitch). You will start your next row 3 stitches back from the previous row.
color change step 1

Make a slip stitch with your new color, then a single crochet in the same stitch. You can start hiding the  loose threads behind your stitches as you go.

color change step 2

color change step 3

color change step 4

Continue to single crochet in rounds as usual until you are ready to change color again. Fasten off and repeat the same process from the beginning with the new color.

color change step 5

Color change step 6

color change step 7

That’s it!  As easy as that. If you have any questions about this tutorial don’t hesitate to ask me in the comments section. Happy crocheting!

Tutorial – How to close extremities

Here is a short tutorial to teach you how to embroider the extremity of an amigurumi part. Amigurumis are worked in rounds that you increase then decrease at the end. Usually you end up with a small hole at your last row that you have to embroider to close up if you don’t decrease until your last stich. Here is the best way to do it, it leaves the extremity seamless and neat.

Here I have the body of a piggy I have been working on. I only have one row left to finish it, but if I decrease until I have no longer any stitches left, this is what will happen:

montage1

You will end up with a lump that doesn’t look very nice. Instead of decreasing all the stitches of your last row, just decrease until you have 6 stitches left. fasten off and leave a long tail for sewing.

DSCN8274

With a yarn needle, insert your thread in the front loop of your first stitch, and pull. Do the same with the remaining 5 stitches.

DSCN8276

Now pull your thread until the hole is closed up. All you have to do is hide the remaining thread by weaving it between the rows. This is a very easy method and I think the one that works best.

montage2

DSCN8281I hope you enjoyed this little tutorial, and if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to ask me. Also if there are tutorials that you would like me to post, I welcome any suggestions.

Happy crocheting!

How to change yarn color

When I write amigurumi patterns, I always assume people know how to change color, so I only tell them what row they are supposed to do it, but not how. That inspired me to post this tutorial for crochet beginners who would like to learn how to do it. I hope this tutorial is comprehensive, I put a lot of pictures to help you understand the process.

Assuming that you have to change yarn color for the next row, you will then do it while working on the last stitch of the previous row (amigurumi rounds are worked in spirals). In this case, we are doing it with single crochet stitches.

– Insert your hook in the stitch, wrap your yarn over it, then pull it through both loops of the stitch. You have now 2 loops on your crochet hook.

color tutorial1

– Grab the yarn you want to change color with, fold it into a loop, and wrap it over your hook to draw through the 2 remaining loops in your round.

Color Tutorial 2

– Now you can cut the yarn you won’t be using anymore, but leave a long tail of strand (you are going to hide it within your next crochet stitches).

Color Tutorial 3

– Insert your crochet into the next stitch, and make a single crochet with your yarn over the two loose strands.

Color Tutorial 4

Color Tutorial 5

Color Tutorial 6

– Once your loose strands are secured, just continue working your round normally. Another way would be to embroider the strands with a yarn needle after you finish your round, but I like doing it this way better.

Color Tutorial 7

Voila! I hope you found this tutorial useful, and if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to comment.

Happy crocheting!