What is amigurumi?

amigurumi history

You’ve probably heard the word amigurumi, but do you know what it means? Amigurumi are crochet or knit stuffed toys. They can be animals, plants, people, popular characters or inanimate objects.

By definition, amigurumi refers to a crocheted or knitted stuffed doll. The word comes from the Japanese words “ami” meaning crocheted or knitted and “nuigurumi” meaning stuffed doll.

Crochet and knitted toys are not unique to Japanese culture, so the word amigurumi has been adopted all over the world to refer to crocheted and knitted toys. 

Amigurumi are handmade with love by knitting or crocheting, and they can be adapted to any style or object. 

How do you pronounce amigurumi?

It’s easier than it looks – just say it like it is spelled. 

AH-MEE-GUH-ROO-MEE

If you are still unsure how to pronounce amigurumi, watch this video: How to pronounce amigurumi

What is the history of amigurumi?

People have been making dolls for their children for as long as people have had small children to entertain. Amigurumi, and the art of making dolls, is not new. Most cultures have created dolls from available materials in their environment for centuries. 

Amigurumi as a trend has been active in Japan for decades and in the United States, it has become popular in the past ten years, but the true origins are not known. 

It is thought that amigurumi may have evolved from the combination of Western and Asian crochet techniques when women taught needlecraft to the Japanese in the early 1900s. 

Crochet itself only became mainstream in the 1800s. The word crochet is derived from the Old French crochet, meaning ‘hook’. In 1842, one book discusses the beginnings of crochet: 

“Crochet needles, sometimes called Shepherds’ hooks, are made of steel, ivory, or box-wood. They have a hook at one end similar in shape to a fish-hook, by which the wool or silk is caught and drawn through the work. These instruments are to be procured of various sizes…”

Miss Lambert, Hand-book of Needlework, New York City, 1842, p.92

In the 1970s, Hello Kitty and other “kawaii” Japanese products gained popularity in the US which may have increased the popularity of amigurumi creations too. The rise of the internet has greatly facilitated the sharing of patterns and the birth of an international community.

Amigurumi Basics

Amigurumi has some special techniques that creators use to make perfectly stuffed toys. 

amigurumi history

You don’t need a specific hook size or yarn type. You can use any type of yarn as long as you match your yarn with the right hook. For amigurumi, you will need a hook that is one or two sizes smaller than the yarn recommends. 

Amigurumi is usually crocheted in the round continuously with single crochet stitches. This doesn’t mean that you won’t find amigurumi that is worked in rows or with double crochet stitches, but most amigurumi is worked in continuous rounds with single crochet only. Single crochet allows you to work tight stitches that don’t let your stuffing peek through.

Amigurumi Techniques

The following techniques are mandatory if you want to start making amigurumi:

  • Magic circle
  • Single crochet
  • Using a (running) stitch marker
  • Whipstitch for attaching parts
  • Embroidery & sewing skills to create faces

Amigurumi Tools

If you want to start creating amigurumi, you will need the following:

  • Stitch markers (plastic, lockable or a simple piece of yarn)
  • Hooks (2mm, 2.5mm, 3mm, 3.5mm, 4mm depending on the yarn)
  • Yarn (depending on the hook)

That’s it! Amigurumi is fun, easy to create and adorable to look at. They make great gifts for babies, children, adults and even yourself. 

Anyone can do it! If you want to learn how to make amigurumi, send us an email at hello@amigurumi.co.za to find out about upcoming workshops or leave a comment below.

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