This is the first post in a four part series all for the amigurumi newbie! Part one of Amigurumi 101 focuses on the most essential skill any beginner must have and that is perseverance. The following three weeks will describe and demonstrate the fundamental techniques that you will need to master and become a confident toy maker!
Amigurumi 101: Part 1- Perseverance
While it is best for someone to have some basic crochet experience before attempting amigurumi, don’t let that stop you from trying!
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I am a serial “giver-upper”, also known as a quitter. I have dropped out of almost everything I have ever attempted. Violin, Girl Scouts, gymnastics, and hair braiding are just a select few. Clearly perseverance wasn’t my strong suit. Whenever the going got tough, I just gave up! Thank goodness that is all in the past and I finally learned how to persevere.
Amigurumi 101 – It’s a Skill not a Talent
First of all, amigurumi is a learned skill, not a talent. You read that right. I often have folks comment that they could never crochet toys. While I do admit it takes a great deal of time to become proficient at making amigurumi, it is a skill almost anyone can achieve. Yes, I do agree it comes more easily to some. But the biggest predictor of success is simply the desire to learn.
For instance, maybe you’re looking at photos of the animals I, or many others make and you’re thinking, “That’s easy for you to say!” But hear me out! It took hours upon hours of practice to make my amigurumi look the way they do now. Yes, I’m proud of them. I’m proud because it took a lot of hard work to be able to make them. I’m proud because I made umpteen million mistakes but the point is I kept trying. Humor me and let me show you how I started!
About a year after I began crocheting, I began making baby clothes. Why? I have no idea. I had no babies and had no intentions of selling the clothes. The sweet tiny sweaters and crocheted dresses were just so addictive. I began watching a lot of YouTube tutorials from the wonderful Wooly Wonders Crochet. I was beginning to get the hang of basic garment construction when I happened to notice a tutorial for a stuffed bunny, an adorable, chubby bunny that is! I worked and worked on this little bunny and was so pleased with myself when I finished. I knew he was wonky. It was obvious he had some issues, but I was in love.
Soon after, I began looking for more amigurumi tutorials and patterns. I came across the Animal Friends of Pica Pau book and I bought it instantly. I had never read an amigurumi pattern before but I was so enchanted by the cover and knew this was what I wanted to spend time doing. I began by reading the book like a novel. Beginning with page one, I read all the way until I reached the pattern section. I felt like I had a solid grasp on the construction. Naively, I dove headfirst into the Victor Frog pattern. I quickly became discouraged and wanted to quit.
Arguing with Myself
But something was different that day. I calmed myself down and had a little conversation with myself that went something like this:
Me: I can’t do this! I quit!
Self: So you’re just going to give up again?
Me: Of course I’m going to give up! This is ridiculously difficult.
Self: Is it really that difficult or are you just not willing to work that hard? You must not really want to make that adorable frog.
Me: Well that’s not fair.
Self: Other people can make amigurumi, why can’t you?
Me: Ummmm, it must be harder for me.
Self: Is it harder or is it that you just don’t want to work for it?
Boom. Did you hear that sound? That was the mic dropping! Lol! That last question literally changed not only how I saw making amigurumi but how I saw myself. Most of my life I had put minimal effort into hobbies and then became discouraged when I couldn’t do them. I decided then and there that this time was going to be different.
Want to learn how to read a crochet pattern? Please visit my blog post: How to Read a Crochet Pattern
I went back to Victor Frog with a completely different attitude. No longer was I huffing, puffing, and uttering curse words under my breath! I decided to take the slow and steady approach. Calmly and carefully I read over the pattern. I took each step as it came and worked at it until it was right. When I hit a stumbling block I would research YouTube and blogs to figure out what I was doing wrong. Within a week I had completed my goal and had a frog to prove it. He wasn’t perfect but I couldn’t have been more excited.
Next, once I had gained a bit of confidence I decided to tackle Harry Wolf. He was a much more difficult pattern but his adorable face and ears motivated me to push through. I didn’t yet own safety eyes so I just used buttons. My stitches were uneven and my color changes were sloppy. Also I had no idea that you weren’t supposed to stuff the ears! Harry Wolf turned out to be completely weird and adorable, and I wanted to continue to improve my skills. Each mistake taught me something valuable. Therefore with each project I learned skills that helped me progress to be able to make the next toy even better!
From that point forward I began crocheting toys with the sole purpose of improving my technique. I wanted my stitches to be more even, I wanted my embroidery to be more uniform, and I wanted my sewing to be neater. I frogged sections that looked bad. Improving my technique became the motivating factor when choosing patterns.
Want to see a side-by-side comparison of my first wolf and my third one to see the improvement practice and perseverance makes? Visit my blog post: You Can Make Amigurumi: A Tale of Two Walters.
You Can Make Amigurumi
I promise you can do this. Don’t believe me? Try it! Start with a YouTube tutorial. Work at improving your skills. Keep at it even when you feel like you aren’t making progress. Within a few months you will be able to see how far you’ve come.
Amigurumi 101 – Homework
Finally, this week’s homework is to watch Wooly Wonder’s YouTube video, Very Easy Mouse Tutorial. Then try making this adorable little mouse or any of her beginner amigurumi tutorials! I think you’ll be surprised that you can do it! Please share your little mice with me! I would love to see your progress!
Next week’s post will be all about how to choose a written pattern and color palette! Check out part 2 : Choosing a Pattern and Color Palette!