Friday, June 29, 2012

The Basics, Yes Really - Cont.

Apologies for taking so long to get Part II up for my readers.  Some pressing issues in addition to some weather phenomenon has kept me far too busy (and stressed) to concentrate of writing up a tutorial accurately.

So, now that we understand how to make a single crochet, how to increase with one and the importance of Stitch Markers when working in rounds - and before you get into any sort of stitch variations, it's important to learn decreasing of single crochets.
After all, what goes up, eventually will need to come back down.. right?

Well, yeah, sure - you could always make 2 halves and sew them together - but as one who detests sewing ANYTHING - I'd rather toss in a few decreases and make life simpler.

So with that in mind - there are at least 3 ways to decrease single crochet stitches.  There's the standard method, the "invisible method" and the ... hmm.. "invisible (invisible) method"?
Let's begin with the Standard or Basic Method (since you need to understand that before you can even attempt one of the invisible versions)

Single Crochet (SC-DEC) :  The single crochet (Dec) is the 2nd most common stitch in any amigurumi project.  Single Crochet Decrease is completed in a 5-step process.
1 - Insert hook into the instructed stitch (in most cases, the next stitch)
2 - draw up a loop and pull it through the stitch - placing the hook back on the side closest to you (2 loops on the arm of the crochet hook)
3 - Insert hook into the next stitch (to the left of the one you just finished working in)
4 - draw up a loop and pull it through the stitch - placing the hook back on the side closest to you (3 loops on the arm of the crochet hook)
5 - yarn over (bring your yarn over the hook) and pull yarn through the 3 loops that are on the arm of the crochet hook.
You have just completed a "Single Crochet Decrease"


** The photographs in this tutorial are worked on flat stitches, however, decreases are made with the same steps - mattering not if the object is 3 dimensional or flat. 
Now, I did say there were 3 ways to decrease a single crochet didn't I?

Hmm..  they are more like "variations" 
based on the "Basic/Standard" method of decreasing - the 1st.  So before attempting the variations, make sure you understand the basic (it is very easy of miscount a decrease using methods 2 & 3, simply because the decrease stitch will be 'pulled')
The 2nd, the "Invisible Decrease", is to only insert your hook into the FRONT LOOPS of the both (all) stitches to be decreased (
instead of the entire stitch that you are decreasing), without drawing up a loop until the last stitch is added, and finishing from there just as you would normally to decrease a stitch.

This creates "less bulk" and therefore seems to make the decrease less 'visible' or even 'invisible'.
and The 3rd, is utilizing the 2nd method joined with the same techniques I shared with you for the "Invisible Increase" in Part I of this tutorial - spacing out those Decreases so that they do not line up and create the 'decrease seam'.

All very easy.. yes?
and certainly not to be confused with the "skipping" of a stitch to 'decrease' in an area.



Stuffing

Stuffing depends on availability, more so than desire sometimes.  Here in the states, I have 2 brands of fill that I use:  Morning Glory fill and Polyfil fill.  
Morning Glory is a cotton ball-y like textured fill that works GREAT for feet and small items which need to be firm and supportive for the overall functionality of the project.  
The Poly-fil, is more like stuffing with air.. light and fluffy, which makes for squishy bodies and hugable friends. 
No matter what type of fill you use.. always, ALWAYS.. separate it/fluff it, before just cramming a big wad into your piece.  Take the time to adequately prepare your fill - or it will show in your finished work as 'rolls' or 'lumps'; producing a finished item that you will be less than satisfied with.

Stuffing is NOT about speed - it's about adequately filling your piece to IT'S potential.

Now, I do not care what anyone says... when it comes to stuffing a project, it is a matter of 'personal' tastes as well as style.  Many of my clients are amazed at just how heavy my amigurumi is compared to others they have purchased.  
I tend to stuff my pieces very firmly (over-all) because I have a very tight hand (gauge) while crocheting (which means that the stitches are very tight together and I can really get a lot of fill in without it showing through the stitches).  This comes from years of working with thread.  So feet and body are often weighty on several of my dolls which are more for show than play
, such as Maximus and Lu .
Others, have a very loose hand (gauge) and therefore, the stitches have more spacing between them, so they cannot use as much fill without it peeking out between their stitches.

You want to stuff a project completely - meaning, you want the belly or head or arm/leg to look full and not con-caved, bumpy or limp.  The most important items on your amigurumi are going to be your focal points - usually the HEAD and the FEET!  You can sort of .. fudge the body because arms, dresses and even colors.. can deflect attention from it, and still allow you to have a not perfect, but fully stuffed base, without throwing off the overall look of your project.  However, an incorrectly stuffed head or foot is going to stick out like a soar thumb!  Take your time when stuffing these areas especially!

When stuffing feet, that are going to be the foundation for most amigurumi projects and needed to help your amigurumi stand unassisted - ALWAYS use a hard surface such as a tabletop or floor.  You will need the bottoms of those feet to be entirely flat and stuffed firmly - therefore you are going to need something that is NOT going to give into you pushing against it, while inserting your fill.  
If you stuff too lightly, your piece will not have the support it needs and therefore, you will have a finished item that may/may not be able to stand alone or function as intended.

When you are stuffing your head, use small amounts of fill at a time.  A smaller head can be 'molded' in the palm of your hand while you are working to help keep it 'round' or even oval.

Don't be afraid to do some 'shaping'.. it's only fiber and filling.. it's not going to bite you.  Depending on what type of 'fiber' you've used, some slight help in the shape department might be absolutely necessary.
Stuffing is a skill which will come with practice, patience and TIME.  

There is no perfect measurement that can be given to adding stuffing.  It's not some mathematical formula which can be written down to calculate exactly how much you will need for each piece.  
Your first amigurumi is not going to be (most likely) a perfectly stuffed piece - it takes time to get the feel, the right feel and overall look, that you will want to have for YOUR pieces.   There are times, when even the 'experts' - take it out, re-fluff it up and re-insert their fill...  persistence and patience are the key.



Chain 2 V.s. Magic Circle
I was asked if I planned on working the "Magic Circle/Adjustable Ring" (more specifically the "Double Magic Circle") Start for amigurumi projects into this "Basics Tutorial".

No, I am not getting into the whole 'magic loop' Vs Ch-2 start. I was taught to use the ch-2 start when applicable, and I do not have "holes" in the beginning of my work - so I've had little interest in retraining myself in this method.  The magic circle is not comfortable for me and therefore, I do not feel educated enough to write about it.  However, there are many wonderful tutorials written online and even videos which you can watch if this is the method you'd like to pursue.  
When I write out my patterns, I always make sure to include those who prefer to use the 'Magic Circle' methods by stating: "Using either the [ch 2, begin work in 2nd st from hook] or [magic circle] method to begin project..."  It is simply a personal preference.



Now.. let's put all this into practice with a little 'exercise' yes? Utilize the information you have gained from this tutorial to make a bang!  (If all this is old news to you, well you can just make a free project, if you'd like!) Either way, a little holiday fun for you from FiberDoodles by K4TT.
On to the workout...


For this exercise, I used a Size G/6 - 4.25 Crochet Hook (US) and Red Heart Worsted Weight Yarns in Red, Black and White


I do not use 'stuff here' indicators.

Body (Make 1):
with Red,
___ Rnd 1: Using either the [ch 2, begin work in 2nd st from hook] or [magic circle] method to begin project, 6 sc  (6 sts)
___ Rnd 2: [Inc in nxt st] 6 times  (12 sts)
___ Rnd 3: [sc in nxt st, Inc in nxt st] 6 times  (18 sts)
___ Rnd 4: [sc in ea of nxt 2 sts, Inc in nxt st] 6 times  (24 sts)
___ Rnd 5: [sc in ea of nxt 3 sts, Inc in nxt st] 6 times  (30 sts)
___ Rnd 6: in BLO, sc in ea st around  (30 sts)
___ Rnds 7-8: sc in ea st around  (30 sts/ea rnd)
___ Rnd 9: [sc in ea of nxt 8 sts, Dec nxt 2 sts tog] 3 times  (27 sts)
___ Rnds 10-11: sc in ea st around  (27 sts/ea rnd)
___ Rnd 12: [sc in ea of nxt 7 sts, Dec nxt 2 sts tog] 3 times  (24 sts)
___ Rnds 13-24: sc in ea st around  (24 sts/ea rnd)
___ Rnd 25: [sc in ea of nxt 7 sts, Inc in nxt st] 3 times  (27 sts)
___ Rnds 26-27: sc in ea st around  (27 sts/ea rnd)
___ Rnd 28: [sc in ea of nxt 8 sts, Inc in nxt st] 3 times  (30 sts)
___ Rnds 29-30: sc in ea st around  (30 sts/ea rnd)
___ Rnd 31: in FLO, sc in ea st around  (30 sts)
___ Rnd 32: [sc in ea of nxt 3 sts, Dec nxt 2 sts tog] 6 times  (24 sts)
___ Rnd 33: [sc in ea of nxt 2 sts, Dec nxt 2 sts tog] 6 times  (18 sts)
___ Rnd 34: [sc in nxt st, Dec nxt 2 sts tog] 6 times  (12 sts)
___ Rnd 35: [Dec nxt 2 sts tog] 6 times  (6 sts)
Finish off, weave tail into FLO of Rnd 35 to close opening and hide tail.


Eyes (Make 1):

with White,
Chain 4, 
___ Rnd 1: Inc in 2nd ch from hook, sc in nxt st, 4 sc in end ch st - turn piece to allow you to work up the other side of original beg chain (as if a flat round), sc in nxt st, Inc in last st. (10 sts)
___ Rnd 2: sc in nxt st, 3 sc in nxt st, slst in ea of nxt 2 sts, 3 sc in nxt st, sc in ea of nxt 2 sts, Inc in ea of nxt 2 sts, sc in nxt st.
Finish off, leaving sufficient tail remaining to secure eye base to body.  
Using black, outline and split the 'eye base' to create 2 separate eyeballs.
Add a pupil with either a small bead or black yarn.


Arm (Make 2): *Model's Arms are NOT stuffed at all
with White,
___ Rnd 1: Using either the [ch 2, begin work in 2nd st from hook] or [magic circle] method to begin project, 6 sc  (6 sts)
___ Rnd 2: [Inc in nxt st] 6 times  (12 sts)
___ Rnds 3-5: sc in ea st around  (12 sts/ea rnd)
___ Rnd 6: [sc in ea of nxt 2 sts, Dec nxt 2 sts tog] 3 times  (9 sts)
___ Rnd 7: [sc in nxt st, Dec nxt 2 sts tog] 3 times, changing to Black on last st (6 sts)

with Black, 
___ Rnds 8-14: sc in ea st around  (6 sts/ea rnd)
Finish Off, leaving sufficient tail remaining to secure Arm to Body.
You can add finishing touches by sc around color change to create the appearance of a glove cuff and/or creating a 'bobble' stitch thumb.


Foot (Make 2)
with White,
Chain 3,
___ Rnd 1: Inc in 2nd ch from hook, 4 sc in end ch st - turn piece to allow you to work up the other side of original beg chain (as if a flat round), Inc in last st. (8 sts)
___ Rnd 2: [Inc in nxt st, sc in ea of nxt 2 sts, Inc in nxt st] twice  (12 sts)
___ Rnd 3: [sc in nxt st, Inc in nxt st] 6 times  (18 sts)
___ Rnds 4-6: sc in ea st around  (18 sts/ea rnd)
___ Rnd 7: sc in ea of nxt 3 sts, (Dec nxt 2 sts tog) 3 times, sc in ea of nxt 9 sts  (15 sts)
___ Rnd 8: sc in ea of nxt 2 sts, (Dec nxt 2 sts tog) 3 times, sc in ea of nxt 7 sts  (12 sts)
___ Rnd 9: sc in ea st around  (12 sts)
Finish off, leaving sufficient tail remaining to secure foot to lower front of body.

Fuse: with Black, Chain 18, slst in 2nd chain from hook and in ea ch remaining.  
Secure to center top of Body.
You can add another 'Bobble' or 'Popcorn' Stitch, to create a nose. Add any other special features to create your own Amigurumi Friend.



By utilizing this tutorial and the pattern contained within, you agree and are bound by the following.  
Please remember that all patterns from FiberDoodles by K4TT are protected under US Federal Copyright Laws. Reproduction and/or distribution is strictly prohibited unless specifically authorized. This includes, but is not limited to, any form of reproduction or distribution on or through the Internet, including posting, scanning or eMail transmission. Reverse engineering and/or derivative works created using this pattern is also strictly prohibited under the law.
Users may not redistribute, resell, and/or translate pattern into another language for any reason.Permission is granted to print patterns for personal use only.   You MAY NOT sell finished items based soley on this pattern.
Every effort has been made to ensure that all instructions are accurate and complete. FiberDoodles by K4TT cannot, however, be responsible for human error, typographical mistakes or variations in individual work.

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

Only YOU could make a fire cracker that cute!!! Geez! Is there any end to your creativity??? O.O

:)
Erin

gramcar2 said...

A big thank you for tutorial and pattern!! Terrific!!

Anonymous said...

I really like your tutorial. I knew most of the stuff already, but I also learned something new. It is a great tutorial. By the way, I crocheted the little fire cracker and showed a photo of it to a friend and she went "Oh, you have to make me on - his eyes are just so great". Of course I gave her one as a present. I just got one question - what is the reason for the FLO in Rd. 31 of the body? I used the BLO, so it looks like the top of the Body.

Anonymous said...

Sorry, forgot my name on the comment (the one with the question about the FLO), hope you don't find me rude. I'm Susanne from Germany

K4TT said...

Hi Susanne!! No, I do not find the question rude at all - it's a very good question :)
Using Back Loops Only, Front Loops Only, a BackPost crochet or a FrontPost crochet will each give you a different "look" to the piece you are working on.
I always experiment with my edges.
BLO - creates a very defined edge with a sharp 'cut' (and less 'bulk) than the BackPost)
FLO - (which is what I used for the base (Bottom of the Project) is more 'subtle' break. This way, although you still have the angle you need, it is less noticeable - especially since this particular project has "WHITE" (stand out) color right at the base.

It's all a matter of preference, materials and comfort. Using the BLO in both areas is just as perfect and I am sure your little firecracker was a huge hit!!

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