Bring on the Mermaids!!

Tips on Tuesday will return again next week… this week we are focusing on Mermaids!!

Two weeks ago, on the Facebook page, I polled the fans to see whether they would be interested in Mermaid or Unicorn crafts.  Although it was a close race, the Mermaids won the vote and this week will be dedicated to crafting with a splash!

Mermaid3It was obvious to me that I would be doing a mermaid amigurumi but I was unsure which pattern I would be using.  If you are a fan on the Facebook page, you may remember the pattern link I posted at the beginning of the month from Neogurumi.  I had planned on making this adorable mermaid to showcase, but she was a bit bigger than I had originally thought.

The search for the perfect mermaid began… I wanted something that was relatively small and worked up quickly – with summer approaching, there is a lot of yard and housework that has to be done, so a quick project was a must have.  I also wanted to find a free pattern that I could share with my readers and fans that they could make easily if they wanted.  Thanks to Pinterest, I stumbled this adorable mermaid from Black Hat Llama.

Alterations to the Original Pattern

Mermaid1As with every pattern I use, I tend to make slight alterations and this one was no different.  I was recently gifted new crochet hooks… and I must say – I absolutely LOVE my new Clover hooks.  Previously, I had been using bamboo hooks – which I preferred over basic metal hooks.  I have every size imaginable of the bamboo hooks and they have lasted me over 8 yrs (apart from the occasional loss when the puppy decided to use my hooks as a chew toy).  I currently only have 10 sizes of the Clover hooks… and of course, I did not have the required 3mm hook that this pattern called for.  I used the 3.25mm hook and my completed mermaid measures close to 6 inches in length.

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I used 9mm Safety eyes which I placed between rows 12 and 13 with a spacing of 7 stitches.  Unlike the pattern suggests, I place my eyes prior to stuffing the doll and before the neck opening gets too small – I believe I inserted them when I reached row 10 of the pattern.

The hair for this project was a bit of a challenge.  In all honesty, I have never created a doll with this much hair.  Although I used the technique suggested in the pattern (pictured above, right) I found the coverage was not as I had anticipated and I added in single strands underneath the “cap” (pictured left).

A small wooden flower button and felt “cheeks” glued in place helped to complete this look.  When all is said and done, I am super happy with this little mermaid and will definitely be making more of her in the future!

Happy crocheting!!

Tuesday Tips: Jogless Stripes

By far, one of my favourite things to crochet lately is Amigurumi.  I love these cute little

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Amigurumi with colour changes, crocheted in the round.

characters!  There are so many patterns and unique creations to make.  As a creator – and perhaps a bit of a perfectionist,  one of the most frustrating things about amigurumi is making stripes that join uniformly.  As you may remember from my first amigurumi post, these characters are created in the round, meaning there is not visible beginning or end to rows.  While this technique makes your creation seamless, it creates a distinct disjoint when changing colours.

The solution to avoid the jagged stripe look is a technique called Jogless Stripes.  Although it does not create a perfectly symmetrical stripe line, it is very close.

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Amigurumi with colour changes, crocheted using the Jogless Stripe Technique.

Simple manipulation of the stitches can create the desired jogless stripe. Crochet Ever After has an excellent instructional video on creating jogless stripes in single crochet.  It is definitely one of the best videos I have seen on the subject: easy to follow and an easy technique to master.

Tuesday Tips: Colour Changes

One of the most important techniques to master in crochet is colour changes.  Perfecting this technique is especially important when crafting amigurumi.  Ideally you want to make changes without the use of slip knots or tying off of yarns.

Although I will be explaining this technique using a single crochet, the result can be achieved using any stitch.  The important thing to remember is that in order to initiate a colour change you must not fully complete the stitch prior to the change.

Begin your single crochet stitch as you normally would with Colour A.  Insert your hook and pull up a loop.  You will now have 2 loops of Colour A on your hook.  At this point you would normally yarn over to complete your single crochet but in order to switch colours, you must complete the yarn over using Colour B.  Pull the new colour yarn through to complete the stitch.  Your next single crochet will be continued using Colour B.

For those of you that are visual learners, Planet June has a wonderful video tutorial on completing this technique in the round for amigurumi and the Crochet Guru has a tutorial on changing colours at the end of a row.

Colour changes really are one of the simplest but most important techniques to master in the art of crochet.

Amigurumi Introduction

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One of the first things I taught myself to crochet was an amigurumi cupcake – I have never been one to start with a simple project, and I thought a cupcake would be fitting to go with the name I was crafting under.  I have come a long way since that little cupcake (please excuse the dust on the top, she has been sitting on a shelf above my desk for almost eight years now).

If you are unfamiliar with Amigurumi, it is simply the term used for the art of the creation of small stuffed crochet or knitted creatures and/or dolls.  The term is derived from two Japanese words: ami, meaning crocheted or knitted, and nuigurumi, meaning stuffed doll.

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Generally, crochet amigurumi are constructed using a very small crochet hook (usually ranging in size from 2.5mm to 4mm).  The smaller and more complex the creation, the more difficult it is to prefect. Amigurumi are created using a single crochet stitch and are done in the round.  This term refers to the fact that the “rows” are worked into a circle and are not joined with a slip stitch – there is no visual beginning or end to a round so a stitch marker and/or counting stitch method is necessary to keep track of where you are in the pattern.  I promise you, it really is not as confusing as it sounds.  The Crochet Guru on YouTube has an excellent tutorial for crocheting in the round.  We will dive into more amigurumi tips and techniques in future posts.

Embellishments are also an important part of amigurumi.  Safety Eyes (or buttons) are required for facial features.  I purchase mine on Etsy – there are so many bulk crafting shoppes there to chose from.  Embroidery floss is also often used to create facial features or to shape the ami’s face.  Felt is a great media to use for creating clothing for your creations.  Pipecleaners are another item that is frequently used in the creation of amigurumi to produce poseable limbs.

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When using embellishments, you must be sure to keep your target customer in mind.  For example, if you are creating toys for small children, buttons and safety eyes are not the best choice as they may be a choking hazard, alternatively, you will have to stitch facial features on.  Also, the use of felt and pipecleaners makes your ami unable to be washed…  if you are creating toys for small children, parents may request that the toys be washable, so you will need to get creative in how you make your characters.  Washing has never been a concern for my amigurumi as the majority of them are created for collectors and are not used for toys.

There are hundreds of adorable amigurumi patterns available online, both free and for purchase.  Regardless of which patterns you choose, always try to add a modification to make your creation unique… change up the colours or make a small addition.  I frequently add additional facial features or use a sewing technique to shape faces.  But note – regardless of the addition of modifications, this does NOT make a pattern your own, copyright is still maintained by the pattern author.

Have you created amigurumi of your own?  I would love to see them!  Comment below or share them on twitter.

Happy crocheting!