Amigurumi is the Japanese art of crocheting or knitting small stuffed animals. Patterns for various different animals and styles can be found online and many are simple enough that a person with basic knowledge of crochet would have a wide selection of what they can make. These animals are often made as toys and sometimes even sold for profit on websites such as etsy.com, amazon.com, etc.
Step 1: Items Needed:
1. You will need a crochet hook, depending on what weight (thickness) of yarn you choose to use you can determine the size of hook you will need. It is often suggested on the yarn packaging what size hook would work best with the yarn.
2. Yarn! There's a enormous variety of yarn to use. When making animals I typically use a medium weight yarn because it allows you to see the stitches more easily while you're working. You will need at least 2 different colors of yarn, one for the body, and one for wings and beak.
3. A yarn needle, these are thicker needles with an eye large enough for a piece of yarn to slip through. You will need this to finish your work and stitch in the ends of the yarn and also to create the shape of your animal.
4. Stuffing, You can use various different types of stuffing depending on the purpose of your project. I typically use a cotton stuffing that can be purchased at any craft store but there are other options also. Wrapping materials such as beans, silicon beads, small dog treats, catnip, or feathers in a small cloth bag will give the amigurumi a different texture and in the case of dog treats or catnip will create a pet's new favorite toy.
5. Plastic eyes, if this is going to be used for a decoration I would suggest using plastic eyes that can be purchased at a craft store otherwise if it's going to be used as a pet toy then the eyes should be stitched on using a different color of yarn to give contrast between the body and eyes.
6. A pair of scissors to trim off excess yarn and detach from the working yarn.
7. Time. Depending on how long you've been crocheting and how big of an animal you're making these can take from anywhere from 1 1/2 to 4-5 hours to make. If you're just starting out it may take a bit longer but once you get the single crochet stitch, that is often used, your project will go by much quicker.
8. Optional: Yarn marker, these are used to mark beginning stitches, this can be helpful when crocheting in the round as you will be doing here.
Step 2: Starting Out Your Owl
The beginning steps for most amigurumi animals will be the same, once this is mastered you should be able to make many other animals. These steps are tying a slip knot, chaining three stitches, then placing a slip stitch in the first chain to create something that is called a magic circle.
1. Tying a Slip Knot:
I typically do this by wrapping the yarn around my index and middle finger until it overlaps. You will then take the part of the yarn that is overlapping and pull it under the part wrapped around your finger and pull it up, this will form something that looks like a triangle. Insert your hook into this triangle and then pull the yarn until the slip knot is against the hook.
2. Chain Stitch (Ch):
After you've formed your slip knot you will hold the knot with your left fingers and take your working yarn (yarn that leads to the ball) and wrap it around the hook. You will then use the hook to grab the working yarn and pull it through your loop that is already on your hook from the the slip knot. Do this two additional times.
3. Single Crochet Stitch (Sc):
The first stitch in your chain (the one nearest your slip knot) is where you will begin forming your circle. Take your hook and push it through that first chain and grab your working yarn with the hook then pull the yarn back through the chain. You should have two loops on your hook now.
Wrap your working yarn over your hook again, grabbing it and pulling it through the two loops already on your hook. You will want to have a total of 12 sc in the first chain. You will be able to count these either as you're going on if you turn your work to the side you can count the "v'' shapes that the stitches form.
Step 3: Increasing in Rows 2 and 3
In each sc stitch you will put your crochet hook through each "v" and make another sc by grabbing the working yarn with the hook and pulling through, then wrapping the working yarn around again and pulling that through the two loops on your hook.
To increase, you will put two sc in each stitch of the previous row until you reach the beginning. It may also help to have a yarn marker to keep track of where the beginning of each row starts.
Repeat the same double sc in each stitch pattern for the third row.
Optional: If you are using a marker move it into the next row to keep the starting point clear. Do this for each consecutive step if you are using a yarn marker.
Step 4: Row 4 and 5
To increase in row 4 instead of placing two sc in each stitch as was done in rows 2 and 3, you will do a pattern of two sc in one stitch then one sc in the next all the way around until you work your way around to the beginning.
You will still be increasing in this row by placing two sc in the first stitch, then in the next two stitches place one sc in each. In the fourth stitch of that row you will again place two sc, continue this until you return to the beginning.
Step 5: Rows 6-34
Optional: Depending on what height you want your owl, either taller or shorter, you can adjust this pattern to either more or less then 34 rows.
In each of these rows you will place only one sc in each stitch all the way around. Around row 6 or 7 you may notice the edge of your work begin curling forming almost a bowl shape, this is the bottom or base of your owl.
Step 6: Placing the Eyes
Before you close your owl's body you will need to put the eyes in if you're using plastic ones like I have. You will push them through the yarn in your desired spot.
In order to tell where I want to place them I fold over the top to get the correct shape of the owl's ears and upper head and see where the eyes look right. After they have been pushed through you will clip on the backs of the eyes to hold them in place.
Stitched Eyes (not shown):
You will take yarn in the color of your choice and the yarn needle and weave the yarn in and out in a circular pattern until the desired shape is formed. Choosing where to place these eyes will be the same as choosing where a plastic eye would go by folding over the top to get the shape of the head. This step can either be done at this point or after the owl has been stitched closed.
Step 7: Stuffing/ Binding Off
Before binding off you will need to stuff your owl until it's shape fills out. Depending on what type of stuffing you're using it may take a few hand fulls or until your owl is slightly firm.
You will need your yarn needle during this step. Once you have finished your last row you will cut about 6 inches off from the working yarn, keeping your hook in the last stitch, pull your hook with the yarn still wrapped around it away from the work until the cut working yarn comes away from the stitch, this is called binding off.
Stitching the Ears:
You will then stitch both sides of the top of your owl together using the length of your cut working yarn until it is almost closed, then put some more stuffing to fill the ears and top of the head. In order to get the shape right you can pull up on the ears after and move the stuffing around.
Step 8: Creating the Stomach Patch
This will be the same moves as creating the magic circle in the very first steps.
You will form a slip knot, tighten until it's against your hook, ch 3, then slide your hook through the first ch and make 12 sc through the first ch. You do not need to increase here. You will continue for 3-5 rows depending on how large you want the stomach patch. Bind off by cutting the working yarn a few inches away from your last sc and pull it through your last stitch.
Step 9: Creating the Wings
This will be different from the previous shapes that have been created.
1. Form a slip knot.
2. Ch 2.
3. Sc in to the first ch twice.
4. Flip your work and ch one.
5. Sc into each stitch of the last row, there should be 3 sc in this row.
6. Ch one then again flip your work and sc into each stitch of the previous row, there should now be 4 sc.
7. Repeat until the 7th row where you will begin decreasing.
8. After you ch one and flip your work skip the first stitch and start sc into the next, do this for two rows.
9. Ch one then begin sc in every stitch of the previous row for four more rows.
10. Bind off.
Repeat this for the other wing.
Step 10: Creating a Beak
This will be similar to making the wings but much smaller.
1. Form a slip knot.
2. Ch 2.
3. Sc in to the first ch twice.
4. Flip your work and ch one.
5. Do this for 1-2 more rows.
Step 11: Stitching Stomach Patch/Wings/Beak On
This step will again use the yarn needle. You will want to use the same color of yarn that you made the wings/stomach patch with to sew them onto the body. Push the yarn through the wing and then through the side of the body and weave back out, keep on doing this until you have sewn it on.
Do the same for the other wing, stomach patch, and beak.
Step 12: Finished
At this point you are finished. If the shape has gotten messed up from stitching on the body parts, you can squeeze the stuffing around until it looks correct again.