Let’s get started! You will need to gather all your essential crochet tools. Feel free to start with any one of the 21 animals. You will see that once you have made one or two critters, all the others work from the same simple pattern shapes. We will be using worsted weight yarn and a size H crochet hook along with a few other basic supplies that you can easily find at your local craft store or order online. You can make multiple animals from one skein of yarn so pick up a few colors and get your hooks ready!
Essential Tools & Supplies CROCHET HOOKS
There are many different types of crochet hooks available for purchase. You will find they come in aluminum, steel, plastic, wood, and bamboo. Some have ergonomic handles that are larger or that act as a grip designed to fit more comfortably in your hand. I recommend working with a basic aluminum hook. These are easily available in all craft stores and are very durable. I prefer to use the Susan Bates brand, but many also love Boye hooks. The major difference between these two hooks is that the Bates hooks have an inline throat on the head of the hook where a notch has been cut out as opposed to the Boye hooks that have a tapered head, as you can see in the picture on this page. The inline hooks are typically better for beginner crocheters as they grab the yarn a little more securely and help you keep a smooth tension. But there is no right or wrong choice. Use what is comfortable for you!
Crochet Hook Sizes
You will only need one hook size to make each project in this article: a size H/8 (5mm) crochet hook. This is a very commonly used size and works well with worsted weight yarn. There is a handy chart to show the metric conversions. This article uses medium (4) worsted weight yarn; if you will be using other yarn weights, use a hook size one or two sizes smaller than that suggested on the ball band to get the tight stitches desired for these projects.
CROCHET HOOK SIZE
STEEL CROCHET HOOK SIZE
I have chosen to use Bernat® Super Value™ yarn throughout the entire article. This is a medium (4) worsted weight yarn that is available in a huge range of solids, ombres, and heathers. The colors really pop and you get a lot of yardage for the price. It’s an acrylic yarn that is machine washable, so it’s perfect for amigurumi animals that will be well loved. Every color featured in this article will be used more than once, for more than one cute critter, so you will be able to make the most out of each skein. But feel free to choose any shade of yarn you want for each of the projects. Make them bright or choose a more neutral palette. There are many options and ways to personalize and customize! Bernat Super Value is available for purchase online and in select craft stores. You can also substitute this yarn with another medium (4) worsted weight yarn.
BERNAT® SUPER VALUE™ YARN FEATURES
Poly-fil Premium Polyester Fiber Fill is a high-performance fiberfill that can be used for pillows, dolls, stuffed toys, and crafts. Its fibers have an extraordinary resilience that maintains its integrity when it is washed and dried. It will not bunch! Your amigurumi animals will always keep their shape and stay plush. The Poly-fil brand can be purchased in most craft stores. It’s washable, hypoallergenic, and can be machine washed with warm water. Air or tumble dry on low heat. You will need approximately 2 to 3 large 20-ounce bags to complete all of the animals in this article, but it really depends on how much you stuff your critters. The more fiberfill you use, the stiffer the animals will be. Some parts (like Uniqua the Unicorn’s horn) should be stuffed more firmly so that they hold their shape.
MATERIALS FOR THE FACE
An easy and adorable option for adding face embellishments to your animal amigurumi is to use safety eyes and safety noses. They give a quick finished look to your plush toys. The safety eyes and noses have two parts to them. There is the plastic decorative portion that shows on the outside of your animal and then a washer that snaps over the back, locking each one in place. Once you have locked in your eye or nose, you cannot remove them. They come in a variety of sizes and colors ranging from realistic-looking to classic black. For the projects featured in this article, I used 12mm black safety eyes and 18mm black animal noses. Each of the 26 projects uses one pair of black eyes and a total of six animals use safety noses. Keep in mind that the use of safety eyes and noses is completely optional. As an alternative you can always embroider eyes with black yarn as well as stitch on little triangle noses. Be cautious when using safety eyes and noses for projects that will be given to babies and pets. They are recommended for use for children over the age of three. The most common places to purchase safety eyes and noses are at craft stores or online.
Along with your yarn, crochet hook, stuffing, and safety eyes and noses, there are a few other basic materials that you will need to complete your animal amigurumi. Be sure to have a pair of scissors on hand as well as a medium-size tapestry needle (also called a darning needle). Unlike sewing needles, tapestry needles have blunt points and large eyes that are ideal for slipping between yarns without snagging or splitting them. You will need a tapestry needle to weave in your ends as well as stitch on embellishments, like the spots on Ginger the Giraffe and the mouth on Lilly the Lamb. A tapestry needle sized anywhere from 17 to 20 will work well with the worsted weight yarn for these projects. You may also want removable stitch markers, which can be helpful to mark the beginning of rounds when working in spirals, such as on Edward the Elephant.
You will need to have a basic understanding of crochet stitches to create these cute critters. They are all made up of simple stitches like the single crochet, half double crochet, and double crochet. For the most part you will just be using the single crochet stitch. The single crochet is commonly used in amigurumi because it creates tight stitches and a solid form (fewer holes and spaces between stitches) that you can stuff without it showing. Below is a crochet stitch abbreviations chart. This article is written in US crochet terms, but the UK conversions are available below.
SLIP KNOT & CHAIN STITCH (CH)
Typically when you begin a crochet project like a blanket, you will need to start by making a series of chain stitches, called the foundation chain. You use this long row of chain stitches as the base to make your first row of crochet stitches into. In amigurumi projects, like the animals you find in this article, a lot of the pieces are worked in rounds instead of rows. You will see that one chain stitch is made at the end of each round. This chain stitch allows you to get your yarn high enough so you can begin the next round of stitches. You will not work any stitches into the chain itself.
How to make a slip knot:
SLIP STITCH (SL ST) JOIN
When the pattern says to join at the end of each round, that means you will make a slip stitch join. You will insert your hook into the first stitch, which is the first single crochet you made at the beginning of the round, not the chain 1. Slip stitch by pulling the working strand of yarn straight through the single crochet stitch and the loop on your hook. From here you will chain 1 and continue by following the pattern for the second round.
How to make a single crochet:
HALF DOUBLE CROCHET (HDC)
The half double crochet allows you to make a slightly taller stitch than the single crochet but not as tall as the double crochet. It sits nicely in between the two!
How to make a half double crochet:
DOUBLE CROCHET (DC)
The double crochet is another common stitch and is twice as tall as the single crochet. It’s not used as frequently in amigurumi, but there are a few places where this stitch is needed when working up these animals.
How to make a double crochet:
There are a few special stitches that we should go over before diving into the patterns.
Many of the animal parts start with a magic ring. The magic ring allows you to begin your crochet over an adjustable loop so you can pull your starting round tight enough so that no hole is left.
How to make a magic ring:
INCREASING AND DECREASING (2 SC AND SC2TOG)
Increase and decrease stitches are very important when making amigurumi. They are how the project takes shape. An increase isn’t labeled as any kind of special stitch, but you will encounter instructions such as “2 sc in first st,” which is the increase. To work this, simply make two single crochets in one stitch. A decrease, on the other hand, is a little trickier. To decrease, you will be working a single crochet decrease, abbreviated as sc2tog. You will basically crochet two stitches together in order to eliminate one stitch from the round.
How to make a single crochet increase (2 sc):
How to make a single crochet decrease (sc2tog):
PART TWO Finishing
Finishing your amigurumi consists of a few different techniques. In this section I will show you how to stuff your amigurumi, join the parts, close up the pieces, and add details to the face and body. This is the part that will bring your amigurumi to life! You will be able to finally see it come together and take on a personality. With a few tips and tricks, you can get your amigurumi to look its best with clean seams, perfect stuffing, and all the parts connected properly.
Stuffing Your Amigurumi
In concept, stuffing seems like the easy part. You just stuff the fiberfill into the crocheted pieces, right? Well in theory, yes, that is all there is to it, but there are two things that can go wrong: overstuffing and understuffing. You know you have overstuffed your animal if you can see the fiberfill start to poke through your stitches. Overstuffing will also cause the body parts to stick out funny or become lumpy and deformed. You need to keep in mind that the acrylic yarn has a lot of stretch to it and it will become misshapen if it is overly stuffed. Now, on the flip side, if you understuff, the animal will be limp and may not be able to sit on its own. It can also have the same side effects as overstuffing where the body parts may not look quite right because they haven’t been filled enough. So how do you get the perfect amount of stuffing into your amigurumi? The key is to stuff as you go. Little by little you will want to fill your piece or at least begin to stuff before you get to the decrease rounds of your pattern. Stuff enough in so that each part of your animal is well-formed yet still squishable. You should not be able to see the stuffing popping out of seams or between stitches. Use the stuffing to your advantage. This is your chance to mold and form your animal to look just the way you want it! As mentioned before, the yarn stretches and you can control the firmness. For instance, on Edward the Elephant you will want the trunk to be sturdy and to curve upward. Part of the curve will happen because of the way it is crocheted, but use the stuffing to help it have that nice curve. Stuff more in the top and less along the bend if needed. You will get a feel for it as you go.
Joining the Parts
Joining your amigurumi is a very important part of the process. This is also one of the most intimidating parts to conquer. When making these amigurumi animals you will have several parts that need to be attached together. Most of them will have an end that is open (an open-ended piece) with stuffing sticking out of it just waiting to be attached to a larger body piece (a solid piece). For instance, the snout of the bear that needs to be attached to the head. You want the connections of these pieces to look as neat and tidy as possible. The first thing to do is to make sure you leave a long tail when fastening off each part. If you cut the end too short, you won’t have a yarn strand long enough to sew one body part to another.
JOINING THE PARTS TUTORIAL
With your tapestry needle and long loose end of yarn, attach ear to head. Pinch ear closed and weave your needle through both the edge of the ear and the head stitches at the same time, also called a whip stitch. Arms should be stitched on the same way.
Work tapestry needle under the tops of the edge stitches. Notice how the needle slides under the tops of those single crochet stitches along the edge of each piece.
Weave needle in and out along the edge and through the head stitches at the same time. Legs should be stitched on the same way.
Hold in place and position while stitching your embellishments on. Be mindful of where you are placing your needle and go slow.
TIPS ABOUT PLACEMENT OF APPENDAGES
It’s all about balance. Carefully place the legs so they are sticking out in a way so that your animal can sit up! In general with these patterns, this is about 7 rounds up from the bottom and 15 stitches apart. To make the parts (like the head) less wobbly, you may want to make a second stitching lap around the place where you are attaching the head to the body with your tapestry needle. Symmetry is important. Arms and ears should be placed evenly on either side of the head. Count rows and stitches to make sure you are attaching them in identical places. The starting rounds of your piece will always have cleaner-looking stitches than your ending rounds. This is because the increase stitches make nice tight and clean rounds whereas the decrease stitches are trickier and tend to leave larger spaces between your stitches. As such, always attach the head to the location where you close the body. That way the neat beginning rounds are facing out for all to see. There are some exceptions to this, such as with the lamb and kangaroo patterns where your last rows actually become the nose.
Make sure the leg is facing the proper direction. “Toes” should be upward. Weave tapestry needle through the top of the leg opening stitches and the bottom of the body. If you attach the legs about 7 rows up from the body, your amigurumi should be able to sit upright.
Second leg should be placed in a mirrored position from the first. Use the rounds of stitches on the body to your advantage. Make sure you are stitching to the same spot as your first leg, just on the other side of the body.
Fastening & Closing Up
As I mentioned in the section about joining the parts, you will quickly notice that your decrease rounds look messier than your increase rounds. There are a few things you can do when closing your amigurumi parts to make them look their best! When finishing the head or other parts that need to be completely closed, use your tapestry needle for the last round instead of your crochet hook. Sometimes it is difficult to get your crochet hook underneath the stitches when the rounds get small. Take your tapestry needle and weave it underneath the stitches in your final round and pull tight to close it. Then when you weave in the tail, go back through and between stitches that seem spaced out to bring them together and try to close gaps. It is also very important that you weave in your ends well so your amigurumi doesn’t fall apart, unravel, or come undone. A good rule of thumb is to weave the ends in 3 times, going through the middle of the yarn fibers in opposing directions. Remember it is crucial to leave yourself enough yarn to weave in the ends properly! Don’t cut those ends too short. There is also a small shortcut you can do with amigurumi: Feel free to tuck those long ends into the inside of your project. You will still need to weave them in, but no need to clip off or make sure they are super neat if they are going to be living on the inside of your project. Push the tapestry needle through the piece to the other side, pull the yarn through and cut it, and then watch it disappear!
Stuff body to desired firmness and continue to follow the pattern to decrease with your crochet hook. Safety eyes, nose, and most other face embellishments should already be added before closing. Ears and some other features will be attached later.
Sometimes it is difficult to use your hook on the last round to close your piece. You can use your tapestry needle to work under each stitch all the way around to close the head. Pull tightly to ensure your piece is tightly closed. Weave in your ends so it doesn’t come unraveled.
HOW TO WEAVE IN YOUR ENDS
Weaving in your ends means hiding your loose ends so they don’t show on your finished piece, and, in doing so, making sure they are woven in securely so your amigurumi doesn’t unravel or fall apart. You will need to weave in your ends during several parts of the process. First you will notice that where you started your magic ring and where you change color (like in many of the legs and arms) there will be loose ends to weave in. The nice thing about amigurumi is that a lot of the ends can be hidden inside the open-ended appendages. Secure the loose ends and then just leave them long and stuff them in with the fiberfill! Weave your strands on the inside of the pieces with your tapestry needle a few times (no need to go overboard since they will be on the inside of your animal). Knot the loose ends if desired and leave the ends long. No need to clip the yarn strands short with scissors. The other times you will need to weave in your ends is after you have joined the parts of the animal together and when you have finished closing a 3D piece (like the head). These loose ends will need to be woven in more carefully and neatly since they won’t be hidden on the inside. The method to weaving in your ends is pretty simple: With your tapestry needle, weave the strand into different stitches 3 to 5 times within the same color area as the yarn strand. You will want to make sure you don’t weave your end in a straight line, otherwise there is a chance your project could come unraveled. So purposely weave from different angles and directions. Pull the yarn strand tightly and snip it with scissors close to your work. Be careful not to actually cut the stitches in your amigurumi piece.
Loose ends that can be secured and stuffed into animal leg.
Weave like-color ends into like-color places on your project.
Ends will have to be woven in on the outside of your project when attaching limbs and closing 3D pieces.
Snip yarn end close to project after it is securely woven in. Be careful not to cut your crochet stitches!
FACE AND BODY DETAILS
Most of the animals featured in this article have pretty simple faces and minimal embellishments since this is geared toward beginner amigurumi crafters. A few times you will see that you need to use your tapestry needle to stitch on face elements like the whiskers on Callie the Cat, the mouth on Benny the Bear, and the nose and mouth on Lilly the Lamb. Take your time and be careful and intentional with your stitches. Once you have the safety eyes attached in the correct spots, you can use those as the centerpiece of the face and let the other parts of the face form around it. It helps to stitch on any details (like the whiskers) before you stuff and close the head. This will allow more room for you to work and get the details just right. It will also allow space to weave in your ends. Don’t be discouraged if you feel like you need to redo the details. It takes practice! Take your tapestry needle and a long strand of yarn in the color needed for a specific detail. Stitch through the inside of the head and back through the front of the head. Use your stitches from the head as your guide and make purposeful placements. Embroider details in the shape shown for that particular animal. End with the needle poking through on the inside of your amigurumi and weave in your ends.
Make sure the location of the safety eye is exactly where you want it before attaching the washer to the back. You cannot move it once the washer is locked into place.
Press down firmly to attach the washer to the back of the safety eye. This goes on the inside of your amigurumi piece. When it makes a click you know it is locked into place.
The safety nose is similar to the safety eye, just bigger. Make sure you lock it in place and then stuff your piece. You won’t be able to feel or see the backside of your safety nose or eyes once the amigurumi is stuffed and put together.
The nose should be placed with the point facing downward. It should be snug and secure.
PART THREE Patterns A to Z
Each of the 26 animal amigurumi patterns in the article are written out from start to finish and have instructions within the pattern for how to assemble and finish each animal. You will notice that every single animal body and head begins with the exact same pattern! All of the body parts such as the legs, arms, ears, wings, and snouts also have a standard set of body parts. For instance, the bear, giraffe, unicorn, zebra, and yak all have the same snout. And the whale fins are the same pattern as the penguin and owl feet. I wanted to simplify the process by reusing basic shapes made with simple stitches, making these animals as easy as possible. The result is incredible! Upon first glance, you wouldn’t be able to tell that most of the animals are crocheted from virtually the exact same pattern. It’s amazing what can be created just by changing up the yarn color and a few embellishments. Each of the amigurumi are unique and will be slightly different sizes, but on average each of the amigurumi animals measures approximately 10 inches tall by 8 inches wide (from head to foot).
Size: 10 inches tall x 8 inches wide
Gentle and sweet and the perfect way to start out our alphabet animals! Alligator is wide-eyed and ready to be stitched up with love. Once you make this gator, you will want to make the rest of the A to Z critters!
With Lush yarn, create a magic ring, ch 1 and make 10 sc in ring, join to first sc, ch 1.
With Lush yarn, create a magic ring, ch 1 and make 10 sc in ring, join to first sc, ch 1.
Legs (make 2):
With Lush yarn, create a magic ring, ch 1 and make 6 sc in ring, join to first sc, ch 1.
Arms (make 2):
With Lush yarn, create a magic ring, ch 1 and make 10 sc in ring, join to first sc, ch 1.
With Soft Fern yarn, ch 11, sc in second ch from hook and next 9 chs, ch 1, turn.
With Lush yarn, create a magic ring, ch 1 and make 4 sc in ring, join to first sc, ch 1.
With Lush yarn, ch 11, sc in second ch from hook and next 8 chs, 3 sc in last ch. Now working on other side of starting ch, sc in first 9 chs, 3 sc in last ch, join to first sc, ch 1. (24 sts)
Nostrils (make 2):
With Lush yarn, create a magic ring, ch 1 and make 6 sc in ring, do not join. Fasten off leaving a long tail and sew nostrils onto top of snout.
Eyes (make 2):
Back Part of Eye (make 2): With Lush yarn, create a magic ring, ch 1 and make 8 hdc in ring, join to first hdc, ch 1. Round 2: 2 hdc in each st around, join. (16 hdc) Fasten off leaving a long tail. Front Part of Eye (make 2): With White yarn, create a magic ring, ch 1 and make 8 hdc in ring, join to first hdc. Fasten off leaving a long tail. Secure safety eyes into center of white eyeball. Use long tail to sew white front part of eye to green back part of eye (the green part of eye should automatically curl around the white). Use long tail of back part of eye to sew onto head, resting above the snout.