How to Start Amigurumi the Easy Way! The Sloppy Slip Knot.

Sloppy Slip Knot - the easiest way to start amigurumi

This blog post was originally published April 15, 2009.

Today I’m going to show you my favorite way to begin crocheting amigurumi: using the sloppy slip knot. I find it easier to do than the magic ring, and it closes up nicely so that you don’t have a hole at the start of your work. I’ve included a photo tutorial and a video tutorial.

Sloppy Slip Knot Photo Tutorial

Step one: To begin, don’t make a slip knot. Instead, simply twist the yarn once around your crochet hook.

Easiest way to begin your amigurumi crochet! Try this technique: the Sloppy Slip Knot!Step two: Chain two stitches.

Easiest way to begin your amigurumi crochet! Try this technique: the Sloppy Slip Knot!

Step three: Single crochet 6 times in the second chain from hook. Not sure which one is the second chain? Check out where this arrow is pointing!

Easiest way to begin your amigurumi crochet! Try this technique: the Sloppy Slip Knot!

It’s important to note that you go into the second chain away from the hook, not the second chain that you crocheted. The loop on the hook doesn’t count as a stitch.

Easiest way to begin your amigurumi crochet! Try this technique: the Sloppy Slip Knot!This is what your piece will look like when you have done your 6 single crochets. There’s a hole in the middle.

Step four: Here’s the magic part. Just pull the tail, and your hole closes up! And don’t worry, the hole won’t slip open over time.

Easiest way to begin your amigurumi crochet! Try this technique: the Sloppy Slip Knot!It’s easy!

If the hole doesn’t pull closed, this probably means that you crocheted your 6 stitches into the incorrect stitch. No worries, try again!

And now you’re ready for the second round. You’ll want to read this post on crocheting the 2nd round of amigurumi for help counting your stitches.

If you’re new to amigurumi, I think you’ll find my free ebook Amigurumi Guide for Beginners very helpful!

Sloppy Slip Knot Video Tutorial

A picture is worth a thousand words, but a video is probably worth a million! Here’s a video of me doing the Sloppy Slip Knot:

I have lots of great amigurumi videos on my video tutorial page, so have a look!

Do you think it’s a technique you’ll try?

How to crochet the 2nd round in amigurumi

Today, I’m going to talk about how to crochet the second round of your amigurumi!

You see, I spend a lot of time talking about how to start off with the first round. Whether it’s using the magic ring method or the sloppy slip knot… the first round gets all the attention!

And then, Jen told me she was having trouble on the second round. Of course! We never talk about the second round, even though it’s just as tricky! So, here we go!

For today’s tip, I’m using the pattern shown in my beginner ebook, but almost all amigurumi patterns are the same! It starts with 6 stitches for the first round. So, let’s say we’ve completed our first 6 stitches:

how to crochet the 2nd round in amigurumiDon’t turn your work! You’re going to crochet the second round going around just the way you’ve been going. The hardest part about crocheting the second round is finding the next stitch you should use. I’ve highlighted the next stitch in red:

how to crochet the 2nd round in amigurumi

How did I know it was the next stitch? It has to be! I want to have 6 stitches in my first round, so I count my 6 stitches (backwards, starting from the hook):

how to count your stitches in crochetSo, now I know what my next stitch is! What is that little weird extra bit that might trick you into being a stitch? The arrow is pointing to that weird piece in this picture:

ignoring a turning chain in crochet
That’s just a confusing chain left over from the original chain 2. Don’t crochet into it… skip over it and pretend it isn’t there!

Now you know which are your 6 stitches, crochet twice in each one. Now you’ve finished your second round! The rest will be a piece of cake!

crocheting amigurumi

You might also want to read my post on using stitch markers… it’ll help you keep track of your stitches!



How to use 9" circular needles for any pattern!

You know I love my 9″ circular needles. I think they’re the easiest way to knit socks and sleeves.

But, because they’re fairly new, there aren’t a lot of patterns written specifically for the 9 inch needle. I’m often asked how to translate your favorite sock pattern into one that can be used on a 9″ circular.

Here’s how to do it! And good news, it’s easy!

How to translate any pattern to using 9" circular needles

In this blog post, I’m going to show you a simple little example of a piece of knitting with 10 stitches. The green string is our yarn!
yarn on 9 inch circular needle

Step 1: Place your End of Round marker

If you’re familiar with knitting on circular needles, then you are probably already doing this step. The end of round marker is an interestingly-colored marker (different from all the rest!) that tells you when you’ve hit the end of your round.

end of round stitch marker on a 9" needle

Place stitch markers where the double points would be

Now, here’s the real trick. You want to place stitch markers on your work to note where would have been between the double point needles (shown in the image as orange).
how to use stitch markers on a 9" circular

Using our little example, let’s say the pattern told you to cast 3 sts onto one double point, 3 sts onto another and 4 sts onto a third needle. You would place markers to section off 3, 3 and then 4 sts.

This trick works whether you’re instructed to use 3 or 4 double point needles.

If the pattern called for 2 needles (such as when you knit socks on 2 circular needles), then you can do the same trick, just using fewer markers!

That’s it! Now you can knit, and easily follow the instructions as they refer to double point needles. If you want a bit more help, you might want to find stitch markers that contain numbers (to remind you which ‘needle’ would have been which.

knitting on double point needles with freshstitches

You can now use 9″ circular needles on socks and sleeves… now that you know how to ‘translate’ the pattern! Happy knitting!

How to knit anything with STRIPES!

I am completely in love with the Rainbow Yarn Sampler Pack!

FreshStitches Rainbow Yarn Sampler pack

I love rainbows. I want to knit everything in rainbows.

But I’ve been asked… what pattern do you use? I’m not seeing a lot of patterns with stripes!

Well, let me tell you: you can knit almost any pattern in stripes! I’m going to share my tips with you, and show off a darling little sweater as an example!

FreshStitches rainbow stripes sweater

Tips for knitting almost any pattern in stripes!

This adorable little sweater is Gramps by Tin Can Knits, and the sample is in two colors, not stripes. But no worries!

rainbow sweater with heart buttons from FreshStitches

Here are some tips!

  • Calculate your yarn usage (total amount of yarn divided by the number of colors you have) to make sure you have enough yarn of each color. You can supplement with one ‘main’ color (as I’ve done for the collar)
  • Select a pattern that’s fairly simple, like stockinette. For example, a lace pattern would get lost in the stripes.
  • Change colors at the end of a row (and not the middle) for the cleanest stripes.
  • Keep in mind that changing colors on a purl row will create a bump of color, so aim for a changing on a knit row.
  • A ‘make 1 increase’ draws up yarn from the previous round, so avoid changing colors on this type of increase. For the sweater below, I started a new color on rows that were just plain knit.
  • Read the pattern in advance to plan out the number of rows each color should be to avoid the increases/purls/etc mentioned above.

Rainbow sweater from FreshStitches

Have fun! There’s no right or wrong way to do it!

I like to organize my stripes in color order (all rainbow-like), but it would be equally awesome for you to plan your colors randomly. Or have different stripe widths. There are no rules!

How to crochet in joined rounds

I usually crochet my rounds in spirals: which means that I go around and around continuously. It’s an easy technique.

The main downside, though, is that if you’re crocheting stripes, you get pesky little jogs in the color changes.

The solution is to crochet in joined rounds. That means, at the start of each round, you chain one, and then slip stitch into that chain at the end of the round.

It’s pretty easy to accidentally add stitches using joined rounds… which makes a chevron shape instead of a nice, flat join. Oops.

The trick to avoiding accidental increases is to know your stitches! Here’s a little graphic of the stitches involved:

crocheting joined roundsSo, when you’re crocheting, you don’t want to single crochet into the slip stitch of the previous round. It’s funny because it feels like you’re skipping a stitch. But that’s the trick.


So, how’s your temperature cowl going?


How to use a stitch marker in crochet

How to Use a Stitch Marker - from Shiny Happy World

Besides your crochet hook and yarn, a stitch marker is your best buddy for crocheting!

You want to look for a locking stitch marker, which is a lot like a fancy safety pin.

Locking Stitch Markers from Shiny Happy World

Locking stitch markers come in a few varieties, but the most important thing is that they open and close! Don’t get fooled into buying those ordinary ring markers that are for knitting needles… they don’t work for us crocheters!

Do you have your stitch markers ready? Let me get you and your new best friend acquainted!

Handy use #1: mark the end of the round

The most common problem crocheters have when crocheting in the round is losing track of where the round starts and ends… which leads to an incorrect stitch count and mayhem! So, I’ll show you how to use a locking stitch marker!

Don’t lose track of your end of round!

I don’t tend to use a stitch marker for the first couple of rounds (because there are so few stitches per round), but I usually start at the end of the third round (here, I’m crocheting the snout of the cow, but many circles begin similarly):

Since I crochet through the back loop only the front loop is available to hold a locking stitch marker:

Close it up, and keep crocheting!

I know I’m finished with my next round when I’m just above the stitch marker, like this:

Then I can move the marker and start my next round. No confusion!

Handy use #2: counting how many rounds you’ve done

A lot of amigurumi are made by crocheting in the round. When teaching classes, I’ve noticed that counting rounds is something that gives a lot of crocheters trouble… I mean, who wants to count every stitch? I’ll show you how a locking stitch marker can help you in counting rounds.

Let’s do a little example.

I’ve been following my pattern instructions for the first three rounds, and now my pattern says:

Rounds 4-6: sc in each st (18)

How can we do this without counting?

I take a locking stitch marker (the orange thing in the photo above), and lock it onto the last stitch of the round. Then, I’m just going to keep crocheting around and around until I’m exactly 3 rounds above my marker!

Check out the photo above… and you’ll also see why I prefer crocheting through the back loops- each round leaves behind a little horizontal ridge that makes each round super-easy to count!

Handy use #3: position your pieces for attaching

Attaching pieces can be a little tricky, too… but stitch markers can help! So, let’s look at some instructions that say, ‘attach legs to rounds 9-14’.

What you want to do is find out where round 9 is, and place a locking stitch marker there. Start counting (see the ridges?) from the center:

Count until you’re at round 9, and place a marker. Place another at round 14. Now you know where your leg should be located on the body!

Handy use #4: hold pieces while seaming

So now you’ve marked where your pieces should go… but locking stitch markers have one more great use: I use locking stitch markers to hold my pieces in place while I’m sewing pieces together!

They’re big enough to go through a couple layers of crochet fabric, and by placing a couple around the piece that you’re attaching, and it’ll be held in place- making your sewing even easier. Yay!

I’ve been showing you lots of examples of circles… but this exact same trick can be used when assembling a sweater or afghan blocks! It keeps everything nice and even!

Handy use #5: keep your work from unraveling when you travel

Throw your crochet into your bag, and you’re just one snag away from all of your work coming undone. Eep!
But not with a stitch marker!
how to keep crochet from unraveling
Put your locking stitch marker through the loop when you’re done… and it can’t unravel even one stitch! Fabulous!

With your new buddy, you can crochet with confidence!

The Clever Crafter's Guide to Wool

I love wool. Most of the yarn I use is wool yarn… it’s delightful to work with and makes my heart happy.

Imagine my delight when Tom from Clippers Ireland sent me this delightful infographic all about wool! (and popped FreshStitches into the reference section!)

Guide to Wool for Knitting from Clippers Ireland

Isn’t wool awesome?

Thanks so much to Clippers Ireland for putting together and sharing this great information! (reposted with permission)

5 Crafty Things You Should Do Every Month

Spring cleaning isn’t just for spring! Here’s my list of 5 crafty/organizational things you should do every month… for a fabulously crafty year!

brown yarns from FreshStitches

1. Put away all of the crafting supplies you’re not currently using

Yeah, I know. You might use that half of a ball of blue yarn to start a new project. Or you might not, and it’ll sit in your living room for another 6 months.

Make a monthly date to whip around your house and put all of your not-in-use craft supplies where they belong.

2. Add your newly acquired yarn to a database

Adding all of your yarn stash to the Ravelry database is daunting. That’s why it pays to do it a little at a time!

Ravelry's Stash screen

Resolve to add your new purchases every month… and maybe even knock out a few past purchases that haven’t made it in yet. Your database will be up-to-date in no time!

Unsure about how to use Ravelry’s stash feature? No worries! Check out my tutorial!

3. Check out Creative Live’s course offerings

Have you heard of Creative Live? It’s a site with loads of fabulous classes… and if you watch them live, they’re free!

So, every month, check out the calendar and pop any classes you’re interested in into your calendar. You’ll be set for learning oodles!

4. Unravel any hibernating projects

Did you knit a sweater that doesn’t fit? Or know you’re never going to finish that afghan you started?

Do yourself a favor and unravel it. Put the yarn in nice pretty balls that are ready to be used. It’s a boring task that you don’t want piling up!

5. Inspect and mend your handmade items

rainbow socks

You spent a lot of time knitting those socks… don’t you want them to last?

Inspect the items you’ve made (and use) every month, and fix up any holes or problem spots. Catching problems early means it’s easily fixable and will stay in use for a good, long while!

Do I need to weave in ends on a stuffed animal?

Okay, so here’s a question I get often: when making a stuffed animal, is it important to weave in ends?

I’ll tell you!

Weaving in ends

What is weaving in ends? When you change colors (or start a new skein of yarn), you’ll have little tails left behind. Those are called ‘ends’. Weaving in ends just means using a tapestry needle to hide those ends.

What about stuffed animals?

Are you ready for some good news? Because the ends of a stuffed animal are on the inside of the body, you don’t need to weave the ends in!

weaving in ends in crochet

That means, no matter how many messy tails there are on the inside of the stuffed animal, you’ll never see them!

How to Prioritize like a Pro: Schedule your Hardest Tasks

I know this has happened to you: you have sincere plans to do insert important thing here. And then, you have a little spare block of time. But it’s not the right time to do that important thing. So time slips by and that thing never gets done.

How do I know? It used to happen to me!

basic sock pattern crazy colors

It happens a lot in life, but particularly with crafty projects. Like, you’re not making progress on your knitted sweater because you haven’t gotten past that pesky part where you separate the sleeves and really need to concentrate!

I’ll tell you my trick for managing my time more effectively!

Schedule the Hardest Parts

Most craft projects have some hard parts and then lots of mindless hours. Take knitting a sock for example: you have to pay attention for the heel and toe, but unless you’re doing a fancy pattern, most of the sock is just hours of knitting in plain stockinette.

knitting socks

The trick is that you want to make sure to line up the easy part of your knitting with when you have mindless knitting time… which means that you may need to schedule the tricky parts!

If you’re planning a trip, for example, do the cast on before you leave. Then, you’re set to work on the mindless part while you’re traveling (and maybe can’t concentrate so well).

It’s a little counter-intuitive because it means treating your hobby a little like work (put it in your calender), but you’ll be rewarded with making fast progress in your spare moments!

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