Amigurumi is a Japanese style of needlework in which you crochet small stuffed creatures and figures. These creatures are often cute animals, but they can range to almost any subject and have no limit on creativity. These amigurumi dolls have been a staple in Japan for many decades but are a relatively new and trendy craft idea in the West, especially the United States, where social media has helped to generate interest. While perfect for children’s toys, this precise, detailed style of crochet is often made for the pure aesthetics, and thus is an excellent challenge for both new and experienced crochet enthusiasts alike. Over the past few years, these toys have gained popularity, and as a result, more people are looking to find the best crochet patterns and yarn types that would best suit the craft.
However, finding the best yarn for amigurumi can be daunting when faced with the sheer number of yarn types that exist on the market today. How do you know which is the best? What pros and cons exist for each type of yarn available, and which of those would most suit the specifics of creating an amigurumi doll? Each type of yarn has its own pros and cons based on composition, color, weight, texture, washability, and cost, all of which can help you determine how your crochet toys will turn out. Below are some common yarn types you may come across in your search to help you with your amigurumi patterns and the specifics of how they will help you get the best outcome possible.
100% cotton and mercerized cotton
First and foremost, cotton and mercerized cotton are the best choices for crochet toys intended for babies. Mercerizing is a yarn and thread treatment which actually changes the chemical composition of the cotton, making it softer, smoother, and shinier than if left in its original state. The reason 100% cotton and mercerized cotton are perfect for small crochet toys is because they are tightly spun, which makes for good stitch definition and is easier to see. The tiny details in your doll will stand out more, especially with the vibrancy of mercerized cotton. It also holds its shape well, unlike softer, more pliable yarns which could make the doll come out misshapen.
Make sure you use a smaller crochet hook when using this type of yarn since it requires a tighter stitch for the smoothest possible look. Cotton is the perfect weight and thickness for small stitches and, luckily for you, it is relatively cheap.
Semi-cotton (50% cotton, 50% acrylic) yarn
Lowering the amount of cotton in yarn makes it more lightweight because cotton itself is heavier, and the bigger the project, the more likely it will pull out of shape. Semi-cotton is also easier to care for, since it can be machine washed without worrying about tarnishing the quality of the finished work. Most of amigurumi toys published on our website are made with semi-cotton yarn.
While this is the cheapest yarn and often comes in the most variety of colors, it also does not offer much detail integrity, and it pulls out of shape quite easily if it is not stitched tightly enough. It also is not made from natural fiber, since acrylic threads are made entirely of synthetic materials. It is pretty easy to care for since it can be both machine washed and dried, but it is probably not a quality choice for amigurumi yarn because it is slippery and fibrous. Despite all the shortcomings, this type of yarn is widely used for making toys.
The nature of wool, while perfect for babies and children due to its 100% natural fibers, is also notoriously itchy. Wool comes in a wide variety of natural colors, which can contribute to the specific aesthetic you’re looking for. Needlework enthusiasts have said wool is nice to work with, and it has a nice, hefty texture. However, wool is hard to care for since it can shrink in the dryer unless it is a “super wash” variety, which means it has been pre-shrunk. Unfortunately, wool can be expensive and doesn’t hold its shape as well as cotton. A good alternative is alpaca yarn, which is hypoallergenic, but you should probably still look elsewhere for amigurumi yarn.
This can be much less itchy and irritating than 100% wool, since it is blended with other materials. Depending on what those materials are, semi-wool can also be cheaper, but once again, it’s harder to clean without risking shrinkage.