When knitting toys, choosing colors for stranded knitting can make or break a project. But I’ve got a trick to help you pick the best colors every time!
Stranded Knitting and Summer Camp
You may be asking yourself what in the world stranded knitting and summer camp have to do with one another. Unless I’m missing something, I don’t think they do. But last week I spent my days as a camp counselor at Wings of Eagles Ranch, a therapeutic horseback riding facility for children with special needs. By night I was a stranded knitting colorwork queen.
Are you caving in to the peer pressure? Have you dipped your toe into the incredible world of amigurumi yet? Before diving into Part 2, Choosing a Pattern and Color Palette, make sure you visit the last post. In Part 1 of Amigurumi 101 we discussed the most important skill you need to possess before crocheting your first toy. Not to be all doom and gloom, but seriously do not skip this step! I believe that if you skip this essential skill you are setting yourself up failure! And ain’t nobody got time for that!
I have been enamored with details since I was a little girl in elementary school when I discovered they could be useful. In third grade our teacher had an art project for the students to make. The assignment was to draw a scene on a plastic plate that when treated would render the artwork permanent. What I discovered was that the more I added to the picture the longer I could stay out of class. I can still remember adding worms in the grass and birds in the sky. “Just one more,” I would say and surprisingly the teacher just let me. That is the day I discovered that details weren’t just for fun they could come in handy!
Many wouldn’t define making amigurumi “art” but I believe there’s at least of hint of it in every creation. The dictionary defines artistry as “artistic quality of effect or workmanship.” Crocheting something beautiful or useful is at the very least a skilled craft or to put it another way, workmanship. But making something that creates emotion in another person, whether that is happiness, joy, or wonder takes artistry. Being an amigurumi maker takes both skill and artistry.
When making amigurumi the details are what make the object come to life. With each project there are choices to make. Those choices will determine not just the size and shape of your project but its personality and uniqueness! This quote by the great coach John Wooden sums up my feelings perfectly about all the details involved with making amigurumi!
“It’s the little details that are vital. Little things make big things happen.” John Wooden
The following six steps are the decisions that I make for each and every project and I hope you find them helpful!
Yarn Weight and Hook Size
This is the grand decision that needs to be made at the beginning of each and every project. The yarn is what serves as the inspiration for the whole project. For the wolf pattern, from the wonderful and talented Yan Schenkel (you can read more about her work here: Book Review: Animal Friends of Pica Pau), I first had to choose which weight and brand of yarn to use. I chose the Berrocco Vintage wool blend specifically because of its soft touch and the slight fuzziness it creates. It is a worsted weight fiber and it comes in so many gorgeous colors. With that particular yarn I have found that I like using a 3.5mm hook. It creates nice small stitches that do not leave big gaps or holes for the stuffing to show through.
Many times I use very similar colors that the designer chose but I have the most fun when I go off the rails and try new things. For this particular wolf project I decided to stick with a traditional gray and white color scheme. I love the heathered gray and feel that it gives this project a rustic look. Currently I am in love with mustard yellow so I chose that for his shirt. The gray, white and mustard were the first colors I chose and I used them as the basis for the other colors I wanted to add. I decided on a rusty orange and mossy green colors for his little cowl.
Just changing the colors could have made this project look completely different. If I had used a reddish orange instead of the gray he could have been a fox! Or I could have made him a her by adding more traditionally feminine colors like pink and mint green for the shirt and cowl colors.
Eye size and shape can also completely change the look of your amigurumi. I tend to like 9 mm round safety eyes. But I have seen others use oval and multicolored eyes as well. It completely changes the appearance of the project. It is surprising that such a small thing can make a really big difference. You could also not use safety eyes at all and embroider them on. It’s such a cute design feature to stitch the eyes closed to make them look like they are sleeping or just closing their eyes in pure happiness.
Nose and Mouth Embroidery
This is where you can get really creative! Do you want a small nose or a large one? Do you want to use a satin stitch to fill it in or just make it a simple “V” shape? Will the mouth be smiling, frowning, or absent altogether? I enjoy this part of amigurumi but it is the most challenging for me. I have found that a sharp embroidery needle instead of a yarn needle works best. I also prefer using embroidery floss rather than yarn. It can be quite tricky to make sections of a nose even or a smile look straight or curved. I had to practice so much to make them look cleaner and neater than when I first began making amigurumi. I am also not afraid to rip it all out. I redo the mouth and nose until they look the way I want them to. To be completely honest though I always see room for improvement and am never 100% happy.
Personally I really enjoy making tags for my amigurumi! My current favorite are black tags and I use a white gel pen for writing the text. They look like miniature chalk boards and I feel it also helps to give them a vintage look. I also like using the craft brown tags and black ink. I prefer doing them by hand rather than having them printed. I can personalize them so much easier that way. I also always add who the designer is to the backside of the tag.
Ribbon can be used to solidify the style you’re going for. I love that rustic look and choose ginghams and twine to hammer my style home. There are so many affordable ribbon options that coordinate with any project! Changing the ribbon could easily change the entire design aesthetic! You could also add ribbon that have a holiday or even a sports team theme.
Amigurumi details are what make projects truly personal and unique.I hope that you have found this post useful! I would love to hear what your tips are for adding those special touches to your amigurumi projects!
Lately I’ve been taking time to stop and really look at my surrounding. I’m beginning to see things I’ve never noticed before. Maybe it’s because I’m getting older and I appreciate the little things more. Maybe it’s because I bought a new camera recently and I’m looking for scenes to take photos of. Winter has never been a season that I enjoyed or that sparked my imagination, but that is beginning to change. I’ve heard it said that inspiration is all around us and I’ve never been more convinced of that!
Wolfgang is made with a heathered gray wool mix, mustard yellow, rust, moss green, and creamy white colors. The cowl is made from two Shalimar Yarns, one called Dirty Jeans and the other Merlin’s Beard!
Lately I’ve been leaning more and more toward colors found in the great outdoors for my amigurumi projects, and nature has produced a very wide variety indeed! I’ve even noticed how the seasons are affecting my color choices. Earlier this year I began making Pinterest boards of seasonal color palettes (you can find them here – Pinterest color boards) I appreciate that talented designers from so many different industries are adding them. You can find them for home decor or weddings and everything in between! Regardless of their original intent you can use them to help decide which colors to choose for your crochet projects. Brittany from Bhooked recently did a whole podcast about choosing colors and she had so many wonderful ideas! (you can find that podcast here – Bhooked – How to Pick Colors for Your Project)
On our daily walk with my beloved dog, Jersey-boy, I began noticing how interesting and beautiful the “weeds” are! I had never taken the time to really look at them. This particular route isn’t very picturesque but once I stopped and noticed the individual plants I was mesmerized and started snapping photos. I have no idea what their scientific or common names are but these winter neutrals are giving me all the feels!! The creamy whites contrasted with rusty and grayish browns take my breath away!
I have never seen such a bright white fungus before! I love how it pops against the dark wood of the fallen tree limb.
These leaves contain colors from light peach hues all the way to deep eggplant tones. I can just imagine these colors all together in a gorgeous crocheted blanket or scarf!
I’m really enjoying all the green colors right now. I can’t get over how many different shades there are in one small photograph!
What looks better than bright red and deep green together? I just love these berries and how saturated the color is on this plant.
I found one lingering dandelion and marveled at how bright and rich in color this little flower is!
This was the perfect pinecone specimen. I cannot get over how many shades of brown are on one scale! There are deep rich nutmeg colors all the way up to a grayish white.
These fuzzy weeds are my absolute favorite. I see maroon and gold tones on some of the stalks. They are so delicate and brittle and have a beauty all their own.
I have long enjoyed these wildflowers that are so prolific on our roadsides here in North Carolina. They must be a very hardy species indeed to be still flowering all the way into December after several freezes.
These prickly weeds are also one of my favorites. The contrast of the beige tones and the dark green is brilliant!
I’m trying to stop and smell the roses, so to speak. I’m trying to truly see things at a deeper level not just at the surface. Typically color is what inspires my projects from the very beginning stages of planning. Nature has quickly become my first resource for making those decisions and seasonal colors are even more inspirational! Browns, golds, grays, maroons, whites, blues and greens are all on my radar currently.
For my wolf amigurumi project, from my favorite book Animal Friends of Pica Pau (you can read more about that here – Book Review: Animal Friends of Pica Pau) I decided to make him a traditional gray wolf with white accents, which is how he appears in the pattern book. Those colors are everywhere right now in my world, from the dark gray skies to the white fungus on the tree trunks. I also decided on the mustard yellow shirt which is also how he is featured in the book. For his cowl I chose white but decided to add a rusty brown and my favorite, moss green. I think the color combination is wonderful and could easily be found in the natural areas all around my home.
I thank you from the bottom of my heart for reading my blog post and would love to hear from you! Please comment below with your ideas! What are the winter colors from your neck of the woods? Are you inspired by nature’s palette?