How to Chain in Crochet – video tutorial

Chain stitches are the foundation for most crochet work – and they’re really easy to do.

Watch this video – Stacey will show you how to do it.

It’s kind of crazy that all crochet is just one long, continuous piece of yarn wrapped and looped around itself. 🙂

Happy stitching!

Best,
Wendi

Crochet Tools – Everything You Need

Crochet Tools - everything you need to get started, from Shiny Happy World

You only need a few things to crochet amigurumi – a hook (to crochet), some stitch markers (to mark your place), and a tapestry needle (to weave in the ends and attach arms and legs).

Besides yarn – that’s really it! It’s a lovely craft – and easy to carry your projects everywhere.

I’ve added these tools to the Shiny Happy World shop.

Crochet Hook Set from Shiny Happy World

This set of hooks includes the three most common sizes for working with medium weight yarn.

Locking Stitch Markers from Shiny Happy World

This packet contains 20 locking stitch markers – more than enough for any amigurumi project. I use these to mark the end of a row, to mark where eyes and noses go, to hold pieces in place while I whipstitch them together, and more. They’re super useful!

(If you want something a little fancier, pick up these cute heart-shaped stitch markers.)

Extra Large Tapestry Needles from Shiny Happy World

These are the biggest tapestry needles I could find and they’re awesome for crochet. Yes – you may have a large embroidery needle that you could maybe, with a lot of effort and swearing, work a piece of yarn into. Do yourself a favor and just get the enormous needles. They cost $1.99 and you’ll be glad you spent the money every time you need to thread some yarn.

Total for all these tools?

$15.48

Add in a pattern and a skein of yarn and maybe a packet of eyes, you could be making your first amigurumi for less than $25.

Give it a try! And happy stitching! 🙂

Best,
Wendi

November Crochet Fun!

November is my favorite month of the year, because it has my two favorite holidays: Thanksgiving and Black Friday!

As always, FreshStitches having a HUGE Black Friday Sale!

The sale will begin a midnight, November 24th (Eastern Time Zone). You are going to find the lowest prices of the entire year! I’ll post more details as we get closer to the date, so you can begin planning!

In years past, I’ve had a different sale every day (so, for example, you’d order on Saturday if you wanted free shipping, Sunday if you wanted a big deal on eyes…), but this year, I’m doing things differently. The sale will last all weekend long, and the more you buy, the more you’ll save. So, you’ll be able to grab a great deal on eyes AND get free shipping! Hooray!

While nearly everything will be on sale, some items will have particularly deep discounts if they’re being discontinued or are less-popular items. This is your time to stock up!

FreshStitches craft eyes

Donny the Donkey

Donny the Donkey

This month’s exclusive Ami Club pattern is Donny the Donkey, designed by Chloe. Isn’t he adorable? Log in to your account to download!

Featured Patterns

As always, we have 3 featured patterns this month that members get for 50% off. Log in to the forums for the code! Patterns include these adorable pilgrims!

Holiday Card Swap

Our card swap is underway, with both domestic and international sign-ups open! This is a great chance to get to know someone else by exchanging greeting cards! Signups open until November 20th.

Holiday CAL begins November 15th!

I’m really excited about our newest crochet-a-long… I’m not going to spill the beans, yet! Members will get the pattern in their downloads, and we’ll all crochet this holiday-themed-cutie together!

 

Hope you’re having a great November, and get your shopping list for Black Friday, ready!

 

October Crochet Fun + Fave Links

I know I say this every month, but there is just SO MUCH going on! Fall is the time for crocheting, so I’m just going to go ahead and get started!

October Ami Club Pattern

Isn’t Mr. Jack the Pumpkin so adorable?
freshstitches pumpkin
I designed his arms to be like ‘vines’ that you can style any which way! And I created an easier technique for making the ‘pumpkin grooves’ than many other tutorials I’ve seen, so I hope you find it a cinch.
Ami Club members can hop over to their account and download the pattern!

As always, there are featured patterns that are 50% off for club members. Head to the News & Announcements forum to have a look and grab your coupon!

New Products

Glow in the Dark Eyes

Just for October, I’ve released hand-painted, glow in the dark eyes! Here’s a video so you can see them in action.

These are limited in quantity, so get them while they’re available!

Craft Eye Sampler Boxes

I’ve had lots of people ask me about making sampler boxes available. I usually sell eyes in 5-pair packs, but maybe you don’t want 5 pair. You just want a sampling of the different colors?

FreshStitches eyes sampler

Now I’ve got you covered. Craft Eye Sampler boxes now available in 2 sizes!

Mini Scissors

A rainbow of mini scissors (with adorable Nelson the owl) is now available! A video of how to use them (shown on the previous version) is here:

Giveaway!

You can enter to win a giveaway of 5 amigurumi books, here!

Mini Knitted Books

Crochet Hook of the Month Club

Have you seen this Crochet Hook of the Month club by Louet?

Kollage square crochet hook

You choose either a pointed or rounded tip (whoa!) and the hook is customized with your chosen inscription. So cool!

Amigurumi Patterns.net Design Contest

I’m super-happy to be a sponsor of the AmigurumiPatterns.com design contest!

This is a great opportunity to enter… you don’t even need to write a pattern!

Love my customers!

This one is fun… here’s a little map of purchases from the month of September!

Fave Links

The Crochet Wildlife Guide Review + FREE Penguin Pattern + Giveaway!

I am so excited! I love showing off a great book to you… and there are so many goodies! Keep reading to grab a FREE download of the Chinstrap Penguin by Philip Ha (aka Sir Purl Grey) AND enter to win a digital copy of the book, The Crochet Wildlife Guide.

The Crochet Wildlife Guide

You may have heard me say this before on the blog, but I get a lot of amigurumi books across my desk and for many of them, I say, ‘oh, ok. This has some cute patterns.’ And it ends there.

And I’ll admit it, my books are among them.

Much of the bare-bones nature of many books you see is completely driven by the publisher’s desire to save money. Cute illustrations? You have to pay an illustrator for those. Step-by-step detailed instructions? Nope. That takes too many pages. Fancy shaping techniques? Oh, no. That doesn’t appeal to a wide-enough audience.

For a crocheter who wants extra information either because they’re a beginner (and need the help and explanations) or are adventurous and want to try something new (hence, needing explanations of new and complicated stitches), this formula can be very frustrating.

Needless to say, when a book comes to me that breaks the mold, I jump out of my chair with glee!

The Crochet Wildlife Guide

The Crochet Wildlife Guide is a self-published book by Philip Ha and Jeff Wiehler, and the book is filled with creative crochet ideas and an artist’s touch. I was impressed by the coverage of basic crochet techniques as well as detailed instructions and illustrations for each animal.

The Crochet Wildlife Guide bird

Each project contains a diagram (as shown above) that allows you to see each piece and how they are put together. These photos are often what takes a good pattern and makes it amazing and easy-to-follow. (It’s why I include step-by-step photos in all of my individual patterns… no matter how many words you have, sometimes, you just need a photo!)

I was also enchanted by the darling illustrations in the book (including this table of contents).

The Crochet Wildlife Guide table of Contents

The patterns included in the book walk the line perfectly between wildlife-realism and kawaii cuteness. Amigurumi like the red panda on the cover, have little details so the animal is instantly-identifyable and unique, but not fussy and still cute with wide appeal.

The book also includes a table of the skills required for each pattern. This is such a great idea… you can identify the project that’s just right for you!

The Crochet Wildlife Guide difficulty levels

Throughout the book, the authors emphasize places where you can become your own designer, by highlighting small changes you can make or pointing out the design techniques used to create a particular shape.

The Crochet Wildlife Guide Bat

The photography, with animals photographed in nature, is lovely as well.

The book is available for purchase in digital or print form, from The Crochet Wildlife Guide website or from Amazon.

FREE Chinstrap Penguin Pattern

Free penguin crochet pattern

Phillip and Jeffrey have given us a pattern that didn’t make the book for FREE so that you can get started on some crochet cuteness right away!

Click here to download the pattern:  Penguin pattern by SirPurlGrey

Giveaway

Want to win a digital copy of the book? Yes, I know you do!

Just leave a comment (including your email address) on this post before Thursday, October 5th and you’ll be entered to win!

The Crochet Wildlife Guide Flying Squirrel

 

Technique for Joining Standing Legs in Amigurumi without a Hole

Today we’re lucky enough to have a guest post written by Mirena of Mirena Made! Mirena has been a FreshStitches customer for years, and she creates hand-crocheted creations that she sells in her shop. (yes, you too can sell finished FreshStitches animals!)

Thank you so much, Mirena, for coming by and sharing this new technique with us!

New Technique for Joining Standing Legs in Amigurumi

I am a huge fan of FreshStitches designs and of Stacey and I also prefer patterns where the sewing and attaching is kept to a minimum (I suspect there are other amigurumi crocheters like me!)

adorable bear from FreshStitches Ami Club

One of my favorite FreshStitches patterns is Bentley the Bear, which is crocheted using standing legs.  In the standard technique, you get little hole that remains between the legs and you have to sew it afterwards… ah, sewing!

So, here is a technique that eliminates the hole and lets you continue your crocheting without worrying about it!

Step 1: You crochet the first leg exactly as stated in the pattern BUT at the end you cut the yarn, leaving a long tail and you DO NOT fasten off.

Step 2: You crochet the second leg as stated in the pattern (leaving the yarn attached, as instructed).

how to crochet standing legs without leaving a hole

Step 3: You take both legs and you place the first one behind the second one, matching their stitches.

how to crochet standing legs without leaving a hole
Step 4: You place the loop of the first leg on your hook and using its tail you single crochet in the next stitches through both thicknesses. You do 4 sc in total and you fasten off.

how to crochet standing legs without leaving a hole

how to crochet standing legs without leaving a hole
Step 5: You place the loop of the second leg on your hook and you are ready to continue crocheting!

how to crochet standing legs without leaving a hole

The disadvantage to this technique is the stitch count. Normally, you would have 36 stitches after joining the legs but because we crocheted some of them them to attach the 2 legs together, we lost a few stitches. I solve this problem by increasing in the next round.

This technique will work with any pattern with standing legs, you just have to pay attention to the stitch count and adjust accordingly!

What a fabulous technique! Thanks so much for sharing, Mirena! This trick will work perfectly with the October Ami Club pattern… want a sneak peek?

amigurumi crochet jack o lantern

September Crochet Fun + Fave Links

I can’t believe it’s already September! Time is moving so fast (and um, it was 105 in Los Angeles last week… that feels like July to me!).

As always, I have lots of exciting news to share! If there’s something specific you’d like to see on the blog, feel free to leave a comment or shoot me an email!

Mojo the Monster

This month’s exclusive Ami Club pattern is Mojo the Monster!

He uses the new shaping technique we learned for the horns last month (single crocheting in one row below instead of using slip stitches, which have a tendency to bias)… I’m really loving it!

Mojo uses a 24mm black eye… but I also think he’d look amazing by leaving out the white crocheted eye and just using a 40mm eye (by painting a 40mm clear eye. Check out instructions here.) So many possibilities!

Handpainted Eyes back in stock!

FreshStitches handpainted eyes

Last month, I made a limited edition number of handpainted craft eyes just for Ami Club members. They were so popular (they sold out in just a day or two!), that I’ve decided to make up some more!

They are currently available in purple and copper in 12mm. I have a small number of larger handpainted glitter eyes.

handpainted copper eyes from FreshStitches

My plan is to bring in a limited number of colors and sizes on a rotating basis (for example, this month is purple and copper 12mm, next month might be 15mm or glow-in-the-dark), so I encourage you to grab a color that you love when you see it.

Because theses are each handpainted, they’re a bit pricier than usual, and sold per pair.

If you’re looking for a great value and consistent stock, then don’t forget about my commercially-produced colored eyes which come in lots of lovely pearlescent colors! Because they come to me painted from the factory, I am able to offer them at a low price (and they’re way prettier than the dull brown ones you get from craft shops- if they still have eyes in stock!)

Shimmer craft eyes from FreshStitches!

Featured September Patterns

These patterns are 50% off for Ami Club members… the coupon code is in the forum: September Featured Patterns: 50% off!

I went with a theme this month… all of the patterns use 18mm brown eyes! That way, you can buy a 5-pair pack and make all 3… and still have two pairs! Hooray!

Jim the Goat

We went to the county fair last weekend and they had baby goats… squee! I think they’re just the cutest! Don’t let them try to eat your pants leg though 😉

Purchase link: http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/amigurumi-jim-the-goat

Jackie the Cow

This pattern is a real favorite… I think he might even be the second best-seller behind Nelson the Owl! Everyone loves a sweet cow, and you can have lots of fun by getting really crazy with the colors! Check out this one I made as a custom order:

crazy crochet amigurumi cow

 

Purchase link: https://freshstitches.com/cow/

Little Ger the Felted Bear

I love felting- just crochet with a wool yarn and throw it in the washing machine! (more detailed instructions are in the pattern, but basically that’s it!) The result is a very sturdy and durable fabric that will make a long-lasting stuffed animal. Give it a try!

Purchase Pattern: https://freshstitches.com/bearfelt2/

Crochet-a-long begins September 15th!

I’m not going to spill the beans on the theme yet, but our new crochet-a-long begins September 15th and runs through October 31st! Everyone is welcome to participate, but only Ami Club members receive the crochet-a-long pattern as a free download. (psst… membership is only $6/month- that’s the price of a pattern! Maybe you want to try it for a month and see if you like it!)

Post photos on Facebook

You may or may not know, but we have a crazy number of followers on the FreshStitches facebook page… over 568,000!

freshstitches facebook

Now, to be totally honest, I’m not really sure who all of the people are… because I certainly don’t have over a half-a-million users on the website! Anyway, needless to say, when we were going through that growth spurt, moderating the page got a little crazy (with people posting a lot of spam and such). To keep it under control, I turned off the ‘post to page’ option.

Now things have calmed down, and I’m trying an experiment. I’ve turned ‘post to page’ back on, and I would love for you to share your crocheted amigurumi– FreshStitches or not (but bonus points if it’s a FreshStitches patterns or feature my eyes!) And we’ll see how it goes!

Obviously, I want a friendly atmosphere and would rather develop content for you than spend all day moderating the facebook group, so if it gets crazy again, we may need to edit. But let’s give it a try!

Fave Links

I hope you have a great September, and for those of you in Florida, please be safe!!!

Charity Drive: Project Teddy Bear

I know you love crocheting cute stuffed animals, and if you’re like me, you probably crochet a few more than you really need (oops!). That’s why I like to feature awesome charities that collect handmade stuffed animals! You can made a few extra to send in, and feel really fabulous about making a child’s day!

It’s not always easy to find a charity that’s willing to accept items that are bulky, such as a stuffed animal. If you haven’t already, please take a moment to read this blog post about donating toys, which out that many of the thousands of stuffed animals donated to tragedies such as Newtown ended up in the trash.

That’s why I’m really passionate about sharing charities that want stuffed animals and put them to great use!

This quarter’s featured charity is Project Teddy Bear, a program that both helps inmates crochet stuffed animals (a life-changing experience for them… read more about this aspect in my post about Knitting Behind Bars) as well as children who receive the animals.

Let’s learn about them!

About Project Teddy Bear

Project Teddy Bear is a restorative justice project in which inmates at the Federal Correctional Institution in Sandstone, MN teach one another to crochet animals and hats to be donated to children and their siblings at the Ronald McDonald House.

The project grew out of inmates’ desire to do something positive and give back to the community. A couple of the guys knew how to crochet and others were interested in learning. Dr. Poch, a psychologist at the prison, reached out to Dr. Shlafer at the University of Minnesota Medical School with the idea.

Dr. Shlafer’s research focuses on children’s outcomes when parents are incarcerated, and so this service project was a natural fit for her and her students. Yarn and supplies are collected and donated to Project Teddy Bear through students at the University of Minnesota and get delivered to the inmates. Using patterns, the inmates create amazing critters! All of the critters are specifically picked with little ones in mind. For example, small birds were made for kids to hold in their hands while getting blood draws; hats were made to cover kids’ heads after they lost their hair from chemotherapy treatment.

Every few months, the critters get delivered to the Ronald McDonald house and children get to come and pick out their favorites. The children at the Ronald McDonald House get so excited when they see the animals laid out and ready to be taken home with them. The animals create a bright spot in what can be a very hard time for children and families alike.

The inmates also benefit from participation in the program as it gives them a feeling of purpose and helps to break
down borders to reach a shared goal in the prison.

How you can help

This program is supported solely by donations from individuals in the community.

If you would like to be a part of Project Teddy Bear, monetary donations can be made through the University of Minnesota’s website.

You can donate handmade animals by mailing them to:

717 Delaware Street SE, Room 382, Minneapolis, MN 55414

You can e-mail Project Teddy Bear at: umnprojectteddybear@gmail.com with additional questions.

 

How to crochet the mane on a lion!

Our Kepler the Lion CAL is well underway! Ami Club members have the pattern available in your downloads, and the pattern is also available for individual purchase!

Amigurumi Lion Stuffed Animal Pattern

There’s already a lot of great finished Kepler’s in the July/August CAL: Kepler the Lion Finished Photos thread, but I know there’s still a lot of you who haven’t quite finished (or started!) yet!

The trickiest part about this pattern is the mane. And although the pattern has step-by-step photos, I thought you might enjoy a little video that demonstrates the hardest part: planning and doing the first round of single crochets for the mane.

For this technique, I begin by attaching with a single crochet (read more about how to do that, here!) Why? This is an easy way to join a new yarn, and because you’re doing a single crochet, you’ve actually started the work! No need to get confused by a slip stitch or extra knots.

crochet lion pieces

Don’t forget to share how your lion is coming along!

Crochet: Back Loop vs. Both Loops + Video

This post was originally published April 28, 2015… but it’s so popular that I’ve updated it and added a video!

Crocheting is so much fun because there are so many options! Even a simple single crochet gives you the option of crocheting through the front loop, both loops or the back loop!

crocheting through the back loop

Today, I’ll show you where to insert your hook for the most two popular techniques: the back and both loops. I’ll also link to some posts that you might find helpful… and included a video tutorial at the end!

how to count the number of stitches in a round, crochet tutorial by FreshStitches

The Back Loop

Every stitch is a V laying on its side. Do you see the V in the above photo? The back loop refers to the top leg of this V.

crocheting through the back loop

To use this technique, insert your hook where I’ve put a black dot in this photo:

crocheting through the back loop

Why the back loop?

Crocheting through the back loop is my favorite! You’ll want to read this blog post that outlines all of the advantages!

Both Loops

The term ‘both loops’ refers to both the back and front loops. This is the ‘standard’ when a pattern doesn’t specifically reference any loops. This is the entire V:

both loops

To use this technique, insert your hook where I’ve put a black dot in this photo:

insert both loops

Video

I know it can be hard to picture what these variations look like when you’re actually crocheting, so I’ve recorded a video for you!

What’s it look like in the end?

You’ll want to have a look at this blog post where I show you photos of how each technique looks, in the round and in rows!

Which is your favorite?