How to crochet the mane on a lion!

Our Kepler the Lion CAL is well underway! The pattern is available for sale here.

Amigurumi Lion Stuffed Animal Pattern

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.

(Tip – you can use this skill in lots of different ways – like attaching a skirt to a doll, a foot to a slug, petals to a flower, and more.)

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!

Here are handy links to all the posts about crocheting more advanced shapes. . .

Return to the main table of contents for Let’s Learn to Crochet Amigurumi.

Move on to the posts about troubleshooting common problems.

Happy stitching!

Tutorial: Gnome Costume

Happy Halloween!

Maddie decided that she wanted to be a gnome for Halloween… and I thought it was a good excuse to put my craftiness to good use. This is a great costume to make! It’s adorable, and you only need to make a few components. Combined with store-bought clothes, it looks amazing!

Baby gnome costume

If you’re wondering why these photos are so cropped, it’s because I let Maddie play with the November Kit Club sample- she just loves it! But, it means that I needed to crop it out to avoid a major spoiler!

Let me give you a quick run-through all of the components!

Knitted Hat

There are loads of pixie-style patterns on Ravelry. You can follow one of those, or modify a normal hat pattern.
baby pixie hat, knitted
To do this, work two plain rounds in between every decrease round of the crown. That’s how you make the point! This technique works for knitting or crochet!

Crocheted Beard

I followed the Bobble Bearded Beanie pattern. It’s a great pattern, and comes in adult sizes, too!

Sewn Belt

To make the belt, I cut a piece of belting (yes, that’s actually what it’s called! You can find it by the yard in the notions section of a craft/sewing store) to length. I sewed snaps to each end to fasten it on.
I cut a square of felt (about 2″ longer in each dimension than the width of the belting) and cut two slits in it so I could run the belting through. Easy!


I bought red pants and a blue cardigan from Primary (the Baby Pants in Cherry and the Baby Snap Cardi in Pool). I bought the cardigan one size too big, which gives the outfit a cute, oversized gnome look!

Happy Halloween!

I hope you have a blast today! And you might want to download my free pumpkin pattern for a fun little project! Or crochet a sweet gnome!

Crochet Ripple Afghan

Have I shown you the beautiful afghan that my mom made Maddie?

orange and aqua crochet ripple afghan freshstitches

I just love it! It’s in my favorite colors!

freshstitches chevron afghan

She used Knit Picks (either Brava or Comfy Worsted… I can’t tell because it looks like the aqua color has been discontinued!) and a size I hook. I bought her a Caspian Crochet hook (because she was wearing the paint off of her aluminum hook) and she loved it!

freshstitches aqua and orange afghan

My mom doesn’t read crochet patterns (yes, I fully appreciate the irony in that- given that my job is to teach people to read crochet patterns!), but the stitch she used is very similar to the classic back loop ripple stitch.

There are lots more inspirational chevron photos on my Crochet Afghan Pinterest board… so many color combinations you can do with this stitch to get a great blanket!


Rainbow Star Afghan!

I have something very exciting to show you… I finished my Rainbow Star Afghan!

Rainbow Star Afghan FreshStitches

I just love how it turned out! You know I’m a sucker for rainbows!

Star afghan rainbow freshstitches

I’m planning on writing a little tutorial on the color changes sometime in the future… but you know, time is a little sparse right now!

Rainbow star afghan freshstitches

I couldn’t be more pleased with the results!

WIP: Star Afghan begins!

Remember last week when I asked you to vote on my next afghan using these great rainbow colors?

Rainbow yarns

I was floored by all of the responses! And while the winner wasn’t clear-cut… the star pattern got oodles of votes!

The Pattern

After looking at lots of star patterns, I was really inspired by stablewoman’s version of the Lyn’s Round Ripple Afghan pattern.

I’ve gotten started:

crochet rainbow star afghan by FreshStitches

What do you think?

It’s a 12 point star, and even though the pattern isn’t terribly well-written, I’ve gotten the hang of it and I’m really enjoying it!

And some bead crochet…

I’ve also been into doing some bead crochet… here’s a little progress photo:

bead crochet

I’m hoping to show you some finished items, soon!

That’s what I’ve been up to this week… how about you? I hope you have an awesome Wednesday, and get some great knitting/crocheting done this week!

If you want to check out more Work-In-Progress posts, please check out Tami’s Ami’s Blog, who’s been organizing a great WIP Wednesday blog theme! And, don’t forget to come back for FO (Finished Object) Friday!

5 ways to modify an amigurumi pattern

It’s really fun to modify an amigurumi pattern!

You can make the same pattern a hundred times and have a hundred different critters that all look different from each other.

Of course, you can follow the pattern exactly. There’s no shame in doing this! Use the recommended yarn, recommended hook size and follow the instructions to the letter. That way you’ll get exactly what you see on the pattern cover.

But try these fun ideas to modify an amigurumi pattern. . .

1. Change the color.

Pick any color you like! And remember – it doesn’t have to be realistic. It’s especially fun to pick seasonal colors to make a holiday version of a pattern you already have.

Take a look at this fun Valentine’s Day owl made with the Nelson the Owl pattern.

modify an amigurumi pattern by changing the color - pink and red owl for Valentine's Day - crocheted with the Nelson the Owl amigurumi pattern

Or how about this adorable red, white and blue version of Roosevelt the Monster?

modify an amigurumi pattern by changing the color - cute red, white and blue monster crocheted with the Roosevelt the Monster pattern

The easiest way to modify an amigurumi pattern is to change the color.

2. Make a giant amigurumi

To make a super-big amigurumi, pick a thick yarn and use a larger size hook. Then, follow the pattern!

I adore this giant slug that Stacey made!

modify an amigurumi pattern by changing the size - giant slug crocheted with the Hannah the Slug pattern

If you can’t find a thick yarn, hold two strands of yarn together. It’ll be double the thickness of the original!

Don’t know what size hook to use? Don’t fret. Check the yarn label for hook recommendations, or (if you don’t have a label) guess and try a swatch. As long as your fabric doesn’t have holes, it’s a fine hook!

Stacey has more tips for crocheting a giant amigurumi here.

3. Make a teeny-tiny amigurumi

Instead of going big… go small!

modify an amigurumi pattern by changing the size - small green crab ornament made with the Tipper the Tiny Crab pattern

Alyssa made Tipper the Tiny Crab extra tiny by using super thing yarn.

I like using a fingering weight yarn (i.e. sock yarn) and a size C hook… but I’ve seen others go even smaller! Try crochet thread and a steel crochet hook for a super-tiny guy!

Update: If you want more info about modifying an amigurumi pattern by changing the size, Planet June has a great post here. She actually created a conversion table showing what kind of increase or decrease to expect with which yarn sizes!

4. Add stripes or a gradient

It’s easy to add stripes to your amigurumi… just change yarn colors every few rounds. This is a fabulous way to use up all those little odds-and-ends of yarn!

Modify an amigurumi pattern by adding stripes - solid and striped bunnies crocheted with the Ringo Rabbit pattern

I used several different colors to make a striped Easter bunny version of the Ringo Rabbit pattern.

This post shows how to get a clean color change, and this one shows a way to change colors that minimizes the jog you get with that change.

Even easier… use a self-striping or gradient yarn, like the one I used for this Cooper Cat.

striped brown cat made with the Cooper Cat crochet pattern

5. Add some glitz

Maybe your amigurumi just wants a little pizazz!

modify an amigurumi pattern by adding beads - beaded orange crab made with the Tipper the Tiny Crab pattern

You can add some beads (there’s a tutorial here showing how to crochet with beads), or pick a yarn that already has beads or sequins added in. Fun!

Whatever method you choose to modify an amigurumi pattern – change is good! It’s like getting a whole new pattern!

Happy stitching!

Join the slug-a-long!

Crochet a long Slug amigurumi freshstitches

I know you’ve been gearing up for the next crochet-a-long! This one’s a… slug-a-long!

That’s right! This month, we’re crocheting Hannah the Slug. She’s a great pattern for those of you who have conquered your first amigurumi, and are looking for a fun project where you’ll learn something new, but isn’t too difficult.

Isn’t she cute?

amigurumi crochet slug

And of course… Hannah looks great in any color. And, since she only uses 35 yards of yarn, this is a great project for using up a little bit of leftover yarn from your stash!

Ready to join in? Grab the pattern and get started crocheting with us!


Join the CAL!

Joining in the CAL is easy! Get yourself a copy of the the pattern, grab your materials and read all the slug-a-long posts here to get all of the helpful crochet/amigurumi tips that will guide you along the way!

If you’d like, you can even stick this adorable badge on your blog (right click and save, then link the photo to this post!) to let folks know you’re joining in:

slug-a-long badge

Are you in?

It’s going to be a blast… and I really hope you join us! Go ahead and leave me a comment… and tell me about your slug-a-long plans!

Pledge to Ten (minutes, that is…)

We all know that most New Year’s Resolutions fail. Do you know why? They’re too grand… too lofty. And they often seem impossible.

So here’s what we’re going to do: we’re going to set a practical crochet goal, and dedicate 10 minutes a day to reaching it. You have ten minutes a day, right?

And I’m going to give you a handy worksheet to use. Sounds do-able, huh?

Set realistic expectations, and remove roadblocks

If you’ve never knit before, then you’re probably not going to knit your first sweater this month. (Sorry if I’m the one who had to burst your bubble on that one).

But, there’s good news… the needle arts (knitting, crocheting, sewing) are all about putting in practice. I can pretty much guarantee you that if you practice in a consistent way (even if it’s not for huge blocks of time), you’ll get better.

help for reaching your crochet goals mantra

So, step one: pick a realistic goal that you think you can accomplish in a month.

Okay, onto step two (and I think this bit is really important!). You’re going to remove any possible roadblocks that you can think of that might come in between you and your goal. How many times have you sat down, ready to work on a project… only to discover that you don’t have the right hook?

The best way to guarantee success is to solve all of your roadblocks in advance. Before you begin working on your goal, gather all your materials and tools. This means downloading your pattern, getting your supplies, and even bookmarking resources that you might need. Then, when you need help… you won’t be slowed down. You’re prepared.

The Worksheet

easy crochet goals worksheet download

Now… here’s your helpful worksheet. Go ahead and download the pdf version.

Notice that there are 4 weeks, with 6 boxes each. Can you commit to spending 10 minutes a day, 6 days a week, to working towards your goal?

And if you find a little spare time… buy all means, keep going!

What’s important is that you consistently spend a little bit of time working towards your goal.

Let’s have a peek at an example:

goal setting for crochet, help

Look at how I came up with a list of concrete and helpful steps that will remove roadblocks and help me reach my goal. Nothing crazy… just little things that will help make the goal easier.

What’s your goal?

Notice this worksheet isn’t about setting your goals for all of 2013… it’s about picking one thing that you’d like to do within a month. Easy. No pressure.

If you’re feeling daring, you can print out 12 worksheets, one for each month. But, that’s optional! Start with the first month, and see how you go!

Crocheting should be fun, right?

Tell me about what you’re going to start with… I’m excited to hear your goals!

Achieve Mindfulness in 7 Easy Crochet Steps

If you’re a super-regular reader of this blog, you may know that I adore yoga. I love the physical difficulty paired with working on increasing my flexibility. But let me tell you. . . I’m not so good at the meditation & ‘quieting the mind’ part.

I’ve read about all of the great meditation research that’s going on: quieting your mind lowers blood pressure, gives you more energy and makes you smarter. But it’s hard!

So, when I read about an easy way to practice mindfulness using crochet. . . I knew I needed to share! I stumbled across the technique in Kathryn Vercillo’s Crochet Saved my Life… and guess what? Kathryn has been sweet enough to come over and share it with everyone!

Thanks, Kathryn!

Crocheting is Relaxing

A core reason that many of us crochet is because it helps us to relax. One of the reasons crochet is so relaxing is because it allows us to achieve mindfulness, the state of being in which we are fully immersed in the present moment.

photo of crocheting hands - use crochet to help achieve mindfulness

This gives the mind a much-needed break from worries about the past and future, allowing the brain and body to both rejuvenate themselves.

More About Mindfulness

Mindfulness was originally an Eastern spiritual concept but has become widely used by psychologists and other professionals in the Western world. Its popularity is due to the fact that it is widely helpful for people dealing with a diverse array of situations ranging from every day stress to chronic debilitating illness.

meditation by candlelight - achieving mindfulness

Mindfulness just means that you let go of all of your worries, judgments and fears and focus on the fact that you are okay, right here, right now, in the present moment.

Why Practice Mindfulness?

It is not healthy for our minds to constantly chase down our thoughts about the past and future. Doing so often creates stress, worry and anxiety. This can lead to a stress response in the body that can have any number of physical symptoms including headaches, muscle pain, fatigue and high blood pressure.

The brain may also whirl wildly in what is called a “cycle of rumination”, which can be both a hallmark of and an exacerbation to mental illness including depression, anxiety and bipolar disorder.

Practicing mindfulness teaches the brain and body to relax. It brings peace and helps both prevent and alleviate myriad stress-related health problems.

Seven Crochet Steps to Mindfulness

Crocheters can practice mindfulness using this easy seven-step exercise:

  1. Select your favorite crochet hook and a really cozy easy-to-work-with yarn.
  2. Sit comfortably in a quiet space with your work.
  3. Begin to crochet a foundation chain, one slow loop at a time, counting each chain as you go. Do not allow yourself to think about anything except creating the chain.
  4. Focus on the details of creating the chain. Notice how the yarn feels against your skin. Pay attention to the detailed hues of the yarn and hook. See if you can mentally be aware of each micro-movement that makes the loop.
  5. Your mind will naturally begin to drift to thoughts of other things, like the bills that are due or a conversation you had earlier in the day. Each time that happens, frog the chain.
  6. Take a deep breath after frogging the chain and start over with chain one.
  7. Repeat the process until you are able to complete a full foundation chain of ten loops without having to frog it because of extraneous thoughts.

That’s it! You may only be able to get to four or five loops at first because your mind is running rampant. Be gentle with yourself and just keep practicing. As time goes on, you may be able to make longer chains of mindfulness. Do this regularly to infuse your life with the rest and relaxation that we each need and deserve.

This is a guest post by Kathryn Vercillo from the blog Crochet Concupiscence. She discusses crochet for mindfulness in her book Crochet Saved My Life. Check out my review of Crochet Saved My Life.

How to attach a folded ear to amigurumi

How to Attach a Folded Ear to Amigurumi - a tutorial from FreshStitches and Shiny Happy World

Today I’m going to show you how to attach a folded ear when making amigurumi. There are two kinds of folds you’ll see a lot.

You can fold the ear in half, like you see here on Jackie the cow. . .

close-up shot of the face of a crocheted cow, made with the Jackie the Cow pattern

. . . and also here on Roosevelt the Monster.

I also really like ears that fold from the side into the center. You can see both sides folded to the center here on Boone Bunny. . .

. . . and also just one side folded in to the center on this Maxwell Monster.

green crocheted monster head with hairy ears

However you decide to do it, folded ear is a great technique. It looks complicated, but it’s all about the attaching.

Okay, let’s assume that you’ve crocheted the ear as instructed.

Whipstitch the opening of the ear closed

Press the opening of the ear flat, and using the long tail and a tapestry needle, whipstitch the opening closed. I stitch through one stitch on the top of the opening, then one stitch on the bottom of the opening, until I’m the whole way across.

It’ll look like this when you’re finished.

Don’t cut the tail… you’re still going to use it!

Fold the ear

Just like it sounds! Fold the ear however the pattern, along the edge you just whipstitched. This is an ear from the Mix & Match Dragon pattern and I’m folding it in half.

Remember that tail you have? It should be on one corner of the ear. I like to run the tail (with tapestry needle) through the other corner, so that the fold stays closed.

Attach the ear to the head

Now, just attach the folded ear to the head using whipstitches all around. Take one stitch in the ear, then one in the head. Repeat, working your way all the way around the base of the ear.

If the piece seems to get away from you, I recommend using locking stitch markers to hold it in place while attaching.

Once the ear is attached, tie a knot, and you’re done!

This method makes a fairly floppy ear. If you want an ear that stands up more, take a look at this tutorial showing how to attach a folded ear to two rounds of the head.

Attaching an ear that’s folded may look complicated, but it’s just a few simple steps, and gives a really cute result!

Here are handy links to all the posts about attaching parts. . .

Return to the main table of contents for Let’s Learn to Crochet Amigurumi.

Move on to the lessons about faces and details.

Happy stitching!