Creating Amigurumi always requires the basic crochet equipment: a crochet hook and yarn. But you will often need other equipment and materials to allow you to sew together pieces, stuff, and decorate your amigurumi.
Crochet hooks are made in different sizes and materials, and what hook you use depends on what you are doing. Steel hooks are smaller, used with thread, and also have a separate size labelling system. Aluminium, plastic, and wood hooks are used with thick thread and yarn. It is likely that you will use an aluminium hook for your Amigurumi – they are cheap and easy to find, and won’t break like plastic hooks. Many countries (such as the UK, Australia, and Canada) label their crochet hooks according to how thick they are in millimetres (mm), but the US uses both numbers and letters to label their hooks. Here is a chart to give you the approximate conversions between the sizes:
|Metric (mm)||US Sizes|
It is important to note that the sizes can still vary between materials and manufacturers. For amigurumi, you generally use a hook one or two sizes smaller than what is recommended for the yarn to ensure tight stitches that stuffing can’t peek through. US amigurumi patterns often recommend an F hook with worsted weight yarn, but 3.75mm hooks are not very common in Australia. I typically use a 3.5mm hook with the 8ply yarn I can easily get in Australia.
When choosing yarn you will have to decide on several things, including the type of yarn fibre, the thickness of the yarn, and the yarn colour. Also consider whether you will be likely to wash the amigurumi at some point, and check the individual label of the yarns for washing instructions.
Yarn can be made from all different fibres, from man-made to different animal fibres (e.g. sheep wool, alpaca, mohair, angora, etc) and combinations in between. For amigurumi most people either use acrylic or wool. There are many different types and textures of acrylics and wool, all at different prices. I typically use wool, only because I don’t have access to a huge range of yarns! The cheap acrylics I see are quite rough, and the softer acrylics cost more than the wools, which are soft and have a nice range of colours.
How yarns are labelled can vary between brands and countries. Amigurumi patterns I read from the US label yarn according to weight, whereas the yarn I see in Australia is labelled according to it’s ply. Yarn weight just gives you a general idea of the thickness of a yarn. Yarn ply is supposed to be the number of strands twisted together to make the thread, e.g. 3ply yarn has 3 strands, but some yarn makers use the ply to represent thickness.
Just to confuse you even more, yarn weight does not directly relate to yarn ply – I can have two different 8ply acrylics and an 8ply wool and all of them would have different weights and thicknesses! The best way to compare the actual thickness between yarns is to wrap each yarn around a ruler and count the number of wraps per inch each have.
For amigurumi however, it doesn’t really matter if your yarn thickness matches to the thickness of the pattern – you aren’t going to wear your amigurumi so it doesn’t matter if it ends up smaller or larger! You just need to make sure that different yarns you use in a pattern have a similar thickness (unless the pattern calls for different thicknesses). In general though, US patterns recommend worsted weight yarn, which approximates Aran or 10ply yarn. In Australia, 10ply yarn is not very common, so I typically use 8ply yarn (sometimes 12ply).
If you want more conversions, look at the chart at Crochet Australia.
The colour of yarn you choose is either based on pattern recommendations, personal preference, and/or local availability.
You will also need scissors for the cutting yarn, a yarn needle for sewing pieces of your amigurumi together (any needle really with an eye/hole big enough for your yarn), an embroidery needle for embroidering faces and other details, and possibly a marker to indicate the beginning of each round (either a scrap piece of thread, a safety pin, or a specially bought marker).
The most commonly used stuffing for amigurumi items is polyester fibre stuffing, also known as polyfill. It is a soft, fluffy stuffing, and is often found in throw cushions. You can easily get it from craft stores or by ripping open old cushions if you are desperate. This is probably the best stuffing for any amigurumi creations that are going to young children or animals. Some also use the off-cuts of yarn as a cheap way to stuff small areas, but these wouldn’t have the same plumping effect as polyfill.
You can also use small plastic pellets (poly-pellets), which are harder to find but should be easily available from craft supply stores (or specialty doll/toy making supply stores). They can be added to the base of your amigurumi or limbs to give some added weight. Lentils or rice could also be used, but be aware of what might eat them! Put them in a light muslin bag to stop them falling out between the stitches.
One discovery I made for adding weight to an amigurumi is to put flat marbles in the shoes or the base of an amigurumi. These flat marbles are so cheap and easily available in discount stores, craft stores, and any pet/aquarium stores that sell fish (to decorate the bottom of fish tanks). Pipe cleaners and wire coat hangers can also be cut up and put inside an amigurumi if you need added shape and definition.
There are many other things you might want to add to the stuffing for effect, such as potpourri, dried herbs and spices, catnip (for cat toys!), bells or squeakers for sound effects, etc. For example, I want to put cloves in the Christmas amigurumi decorations I plan to make later on in the year, as the smell of cloves always reminds me of Christmas!
Safety Eyes and Facial Features
To make facial features on an amigurumi, you can either crochet them on, embroider them on, glue some on you have made out of felt, buttons sewn on, or purchase and attach special safety eyes or noses. These safety eyes and noses can be plastic or glass, and have an extra piece which clips onto the back of the eye once it is in the crochet. There are a range of sizes, styles, and colours to choose from. If you are giving the amigurumi to a child or pet, crocheted or embroidered eyes are still the safest.
Felt is wonderful to make facial features and accessories from. If you buy felt, make sure you buy some appropriate craft glue too. You can cut it into different shapes and then just glue it on! Make sure you have black and white felt, as they are commonly used for making eyes and facial features. You can often buy felt cheaply in packs of different colours, which is great to have on hand.
Other Creative Items
Embroidery Thread in a few different colours is good to have on hand in case you need to embroider facial features or sew on other embellishments. Black, dark brown, a dark pink colour, and white are the most useful colours for facial features and general sewing.
Buttons in different sizes, colours, and shapes can be used for eyes and other embellishments. Round black and brown buttons make great eyes, and brightly coloured stars, flowers, and other fun shapes can be added to animals, clothing, and other items. Also try sequins.
Ribbons and artificial flowers can add some fun embellishments.
Beads of all different sizes, shapes, and colours can be used for decorative effect. You could also try jingling bells or charms.
When choosing decorative items, keep in mind who the amigurumi is for. If young children or pets will receive the amigurumi, do not add anything that can fall off, be swallowed or broken.