AMIGURUMI TOOLS & MATERIALS
A lot of people ask me how to get started in amigurumi and what they need. You can take a look at my Tips and Tutorials section for great tips and tutorials on individual construction elements of amigurumi, but the following list will help you out with which tools and materials you might like to gather first. These are the 8 items that I have found most essential and useful when making my amigurumi projects.
First and foremost is obviously your yarn. Buying yarn is undeniably an enjoyable, even addictive experience! Put your hands up if you have more yarn than time...yet you can't resist adding that new skein of silky soft, oh so squishy yarn to your collection! I unashamedly raise my left hand! There is nothing like the aforementioned ball of soft, squishy yumminess to get you inspired to begin a new project!
But, "which yarn should I choose?", I hear you ask! Yarns are made from many different fibres, some that work better for certain crochet projects than others. When it comes to amigurumi, I most definitely have my personal preferences that I keep coming back to. I have covered these preferences and the reason why in my Blog article My Favourite Yarns To Use For Amigurumi. That doesn't stop me however, allowing myself the pleasurable experience of experimenting with different fibres. I recommend you do the same. As a starting point however, I don't think you can go past a 100% cotton or cotton blend for your first amigurumi project.
2. COMFORTABLE CROCHET HOOK
Next up is a comfortable hook. This is going to be very personal to you. Some people like to use a simple stainless steel hook, others a more ergonomically designed hook, or even a bamboo hook. Now don't be overwhelmed by the variety of hooks out there. When I started off I used a very simple coated steel hook from my Mum. Thanks Mum! My advice is to try out a single hook in the size you need, before investing in a whole set of hooks. My preference these days are the ergonomically designed Clover Soft Touch hooks. I find them very comfortable to hold for long periods, with a lovely smooth hook for making small, tight stitches. You can purchase these individually as well as in sets. Most amigurumi patterns call for a small hook somewhere between a 2.0 to a 2.75.
3. STITCH MARKER/S
Stitch markers are an absolute essential when working an amigurumi project. As the name suggests, it is a tool used to mark a stitch! As amigurumi projects are worked in continuous spirals (rounds), you really cannot get by without using a marker of some kind. Otherwise, no matter how good you think you are at keeping count, one small distraction (and they happen ALL the time in my household...) and your whole amigurumi piece can be messed up. Always mark the first (or the last) stitch in the round and keep moving it up as you go.
My favourite stitch markers to use are the Clover Locking Stitch Markers. However, stitch markers certainly don't have to be fancy - you can use a safety pin, paper clip or even a bobby pin (hair clip). Anything that locks into place so it will not slip out will do the job nicely.
A little tip I do have when it comes to stitch markers, is to insert your marker through the back loop only of your stitch so you will not be creating any visible holes in your finished amigurumi piece.
4. SHARP SCISSORS
Small lightweight scissors with sharp points are perfect for amigurumi. I use a pair of inexpensive embroidery scissors and they do the job just fine. There are many beautiful pairs of ornate and wonderful scissors on the market, but you really don't have to spend a lot of money.
5. TAPESTRY OR DARNING NEEDLE
Tapestry or darning needles are an essential tool used for sewing in yarn tails, closing gaps, embroidering on details and joining amigurumi parts together. Tapestry needles and darning needles are very similar; both have rounded, blunt tips so that you don't split or snag the individual fibres of the yarn when passing the needle through. They also have a large eye that allows thicker yarns to pass through. They are available in various sizes, with straight ends and bent ends. The bent-tip needles are excellent for joining parts in tight spaces in amigurumi - such as a head to a body. Choose one suitable for the thickness of yarn you are using. For toy-making, I find the steel tapestry needles work better than the plastic ones.
Helpful for pinning amigurumi parts into position, straight pins with plastic or glass-heads are ideal as their large head means they will not easily slip through your stitches. There would be nothing worse than having a stray pin lost inside your amigurumi...not to mention dangerous!
7. SOFT TOY STUFFING
I like to use polyester fibrefill. It is easy to work with, lightweight, soft and inexpensive. Polyester fibrefill is made from a mix of various synthetic (polyester) fibres that are loosely spun. The result is a light airy texture that is soft and extremely lightweight. It is also washable, hypoallergenic and holds it's shape well when used to fill crocheted toys.
8. TOY SAFETY EYES
Toy safety eyes (and noses) come in a huge array of colours, shapes and sizes. I tend to favour the black round safety eyes myself, though I have a collection of many different types. The eye and nose is made up of two parts - the 'eye', which has a ribbed shaft, and the washer, which gets secured onto the shaft. Once on, good quality washers are pretty hard to remove. In fact, some washers can be quite tricky to fix on in the first place. Take a look at my Fitting Safety Eyes tutorial to get some bonus tips and tricks on attaching eyes.
Despite never having had any issues with safety eyes coming off toys I have made myself, safety eyes are not recommended for toys that are intended for children under 3 years of age. If you are planning on making a toy for a child under 3 years of age, you might like to omit the use of safety eyes and embroider the eyes on instead. Regardless of who the finished toy is intended for, I recommend you use good quality safety eyes and noses.
So, there you have it, my round-up of the 8 essential tools and materials I find essential to my amigurumi making process.
Thanks so much for stopping by, and happy crocheting.