How to read amigurumi crochet patterns ?

Once you’ve learned the basic crochet stitches, you’ll want to start your first pattern. (If you are new to crochet, learn the basic crochet stitches here).
I strongly recommend you choose a beginner level pattern as a first project, for written patterns may look almost as a foreign language when you see them for the first time.

They usually use many abbreviations and technical terms which save space and make patterns easier to read and memorize.
So the first thing you need to do is become familiar with the abbreviations and terms. Here are a few of the basic abbreviations I use in my patterns & tutorials :

Though you may find similarities between 2 patterns, there is no consensus about how to write a a pattern : each designer has its preferences and lists the abbreviations used in the instructions, giving additionnal information when needed.

There are 3 main families :

  1.  Descriptive instructions : the rows or rounds are explained step-by -step, it’s the easier to follow kind of writing pattern as a beginner. But you’ll see as you get experience it becomes really boring , and you’ll crave for some more condensed instructions.
    E.g. :
    Round 1 : work 6 single crochet in a magic ring (6 stitches in the end)
    Round 2 : work 2 single crochet in every stitch around (12 stitches in the end)
    Round 3 : work 1 single crochet in 1st stitch, work 2 single crochet in next. Repeat the sequence 6 times. (18 stitches in the end)

  2. Abbreviated instructions : this kind of written pattern goes straight to the point, using abbreviations rather than long descriptive sentences. It’s easy to follow once you know the basic abbreviations. It’s the kind of writing I choose for my patterns.
    E.g. :
    R1 : MR6 (6)
    R2 : inc around (12)
    R3 : *inc, 1sc* x6 ( 18)
  3. Symbol instructions : half way between the abbreviated tut and the diagram, this kind of writing uses symbols instead of abbreviations. It can be easier to understand for any foreign language speaker.
    E.g. :
    R1 : 6Ø
    R2 : V (12)
    R3 : *1X, 1V*(18)

Make sure you read the abbreviations key and notes at the beginning of each pattern before you start crocheting. Even better : read the whole pattern thoroughly before beginning ! It will be time and frustation saving in the end.

Let’s see how it works using my basket pattern :

Round 1 : make 6sc in a magic ring

Round 2 : make 2 single crochet in every stitch of the row (you should have 12 stitches at the end of that row)

Round 3 : make 2 single crochet in first stitch, 1 single crochet in next and repeat that sequence between asterisks 6 times (you should have 18 stitches at the end of that row)

This round is worked in the back loops only . This is what will shape the bottom of your basket : Round 8 : single crochet in every stitch around, working in the back loops only (you should have 42 stitches at the end of that row)

Here the instructions has to be repeated on several rounds :

Round 11 to 15 : single crochet in every stitch around (you should have 42 stitches at the end of that row)

Rounds 16 and 17 are a bit more complicated : they shape the handles of the basket (if you don’t want handles, just keep crocheting as before until you reach the height that suits you).

On round 16 you will create the opening of the handle by joining the 6 chains in the 7th stitch after skipping 6. You’ll have to do it twice because we want 2 handles, of course (you should have 42 stitches at the end of that row)

On round 17 is an instruction that often confuses beginners. You’ll have to work in “chain-6 space”, that is the the space underneath the chain, not into the chain! This typically is the kind of implicite instructions that is not explained in patterns, as they assume you just know it. Well, now you do  !

I hope this blog post helped you understand how patterns work !
Please let me know in the comments how your first project is going, and if I forgot to talk about something, or if anything isn’t clear yet !

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Amigurumi essentials : all you need to know before starting

{ how to choose your hook size }

Generally, gauge is not crucial for amigurumis. That means you can use any hook size you like providing you use the matching yarn. You’ll find recommended hook size on the skein label. However, depending on how you crochet (tight or loose) you may be more comfortable with a larger or a smaller hook.

What’s really important is that you get a nice sturdy fabric that won’t show the stuffing.

{ stitch markers }

Stitch markers are mandatory if you don’t wanna go crazy like hell. A stitch marker basically is something that helps to know the end of a row. You can buy some in craft stores or you can use paper clips, safety pins… whatever works for you.

Now, there’s an even simpler and more effective way not to get lost in your work : yarn ! Cut a piece of yarn of a contrasting color from your work’s, and use it to mark your rounds AND keep track of previous rounds. This way, you can pause your work any time and always know which round you stopped. Plus, if you got confused in your pattern and have to go a few rounds  back it will be very quick.

{ the magic ring }

Amigurumis are crocheted in the round. Some people like to begin with a chain and slip stitch, but I like magic rings better. It’s simple, effective, and neat : everything I want !

There are many ways to achieve a magic ring, this is the method I use :

  1. Wrap the yarn twice around your finger, yarnt tail on the outside
  2. insert hook through both strands and pull the one close to the palm under the other one
  3. yarn over
  4. pull yarn through the loop
  5. yarn over again
  6. pull yarn through the loop
  7. remove your finger
  8. crochet your sc’s inserting the hook inside the ring, make sure you are crocheting around both strands
  9. keep going this way until you get the amount of stitches your pattern requires
  10. pull the yarn ends
  11. pull until the ring is very tight
  12. insert a stitch marker under the last stitch’s V to indicate the end of round 1


{ invisible increase }

I usually don’t really have problems with regular increasing, but in some cases invisible ones can be useful : to invisible increase, you’ll have to sc in front loop only of next stitch, then sc in both loops of same stitch.

{ invisible decrease }

To decrease, you could skip a stitch or crochet 2 stitches together, but invisible decreases are so easy and neat that it would be a shame not to use them.

{ how to tell the right side from the wrong side }

This can be confusing at the beginning, for your eyes and brain are not used to distinguish the slight variations of your stitches. On the right side you can see little “V‘s”, whereas on the wrong side the V‘s are upside down with an horizontal bar on top :

Turning your amigurumi wrong side up may give it a curious look. Right side is supposed to be very clean and regular, while on the wrong side for example decresaes will pop out with their two little bars. Also, wrong side up isn’t as stretchier, so you may have troubles shaping with your filling.

When starting the first rounds after a magic circle, the right side is the side facing us. As soon as the piece begins to curve, the right side becomes the inside. If you want to have it on the outside, just turn the piece inside out, either during work or at the end. Beware parts with a very small number of stitches: it can be very difficult to turn them at the end. Turn them outward after a few rounds only, using a pencil or hook handle to help.

Some designers like the wrong side up better, and build their patterns accordingly. They specify it in the tutorials because one generally agrees that it is the right side that’s supposed to be outside. If nothing is mentionned, turning and assembling your work wrong side up may give a very irregular look to your work. Plus, if the pattern requires working entire rows in front and / or back loops only, you may not be able to assemble the parts as expected. In addition, the back is not as malleable as the place, which complicates the modeling when stuffing.

{ fermer le haut d’un amigurumi }

The very last row of a closed piece almost always requires to decrease until you have only 6 stitchs left. I never had a really clean result proceeding this way, whereas the technique shown in this video is absolutely perfect !!

( Technique & video by Repeat Crafter Me )

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How to crochet basic stitches

{ Chain stitch and slip stitch 

1-7 : make a slip knot
8 : yarn over
9 : pull yarn through the loop that’s on your hook

Repeat from 8 to 9 as many times as the number of chains needed. The chain should be a bit loose and even to facilitate inserting hook on next row.

The chain stitch is the basis for almost every pattern, that’s why it’s sometimes called a foundation chain. When working in rows, the 1st row always is a chain, and you’lluse the chain 1.stitch again to turn at the end of each rows.

The slip stitch is almost the same : the only difference is that you insert your hook in a stitch before yarning over, then you pull the yarn through your work AND through the loop on your hook. The slip stitch is the flattest of all crochet stitches, it’s also this stitch you’ll use to fasten off your work.

Single crochet } 

  1. Insert your hook under the 2 loops ( = the ones that look like a little “v” ) of next stitch
  2. yarn over
  3. pull the loop through your work ( you now have 2 loops on your hook)
  4. yarn over again and pull the loop through both stitchesEt voilà, you just made a single crochet !

{ Half double crochet,double crochet, trebles… } 

These stitches belong to the same group of “high stitches” : at the beginning of a row, you’llhave to chain a few stitches before making your first double crochet. But first, let’s see how to make these stitches :

The half double crochet :

  1. yarn over once
  2. insert hook in the next stitch, yarn over again
  3. pull the yarn through your work (  3 loops remaining on the hook), yarn over for the 3rd time
  4. pull the yarn through all the loops
  5. you’ve just made a half double crochet !

The double crochet :

  1. yarn over once, insert hook in next stitch
  2. yarn over, pull yarn through the stitch
  3. yarn over, pull yarn through 2 stitches
  4. 2 loops remaining on the hook
  5. yarn over for the last time, pull yarn through the last 2 remaining loops.
  6. you’ve just made a double crochet !

The treble :

  1. yarn over twice, insert hook in next stitch , yarn over, pull yarn through the stitch
  2. yarn over, pull yarn through the first 2 loops on the hook
  3. yarn over, pull yarn through 2 loops on the hook
  4. yarn over for the last time, pull yarn through the last 2 remaining loops.
  5. you’ve just made a treble !

Proceed the same for all other trebles, adding “yarn over’s” before inserting hook to make higher trebles.

{ turning at the end of a row } 

When you finish a row, you have to turn your work to make next row. You’ll need to make 1 or more chain stitches for that. The amount of chains needed generally depends on the height of the next stitch you’re making :
1. if making a single crochet : chain 1
2. if making a half double crochet : make 2
3. if making a a double crochet : make 3…and so on.

Depending on the pattern, these chains may be considered as the first stitch of your row. If so, you’ll have to insert your hook in the 2nd stitch from the hook (= second to last stitch from previous row) to make the 2nd stitch of the ongoing row.

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How to change color

To change color, wheteher it is at the beginning, at the end or right in the middle of a row, it’s very simple : you just have to finish the last stitch of color A by pulling a loop from color B.

It may be difficult for a beginner to hold every strand of yarn so if it’s easier to you you can tie a knot with the yarn ends, but know that it will create an irregularity on the side of your work.

The last step is to weave in ends with a yarn or tapestry needle (whichever is big enough for your yarn), or, if you want to save time , weave ends on the go : 

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