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.
This is longer, silkier yarn typically made from the wool of angora goats or the fur of angora rabbits. It is extremely soft, and while it’s probably too fuzzy to create your doll’s body, it can be used to make faux hair or fur for the animals. You can even brush and style it for those adorable finishing touches. Angora mohair is also all-natural and is, in general, hypoallergenic.
This yarn is soft, fluffy, warm, and so enjoyable. The fluffiness simply renders it too large to achieve the delicacy required for traditional amigurumi crochet projects. In spite of this fact, it works well for some specific crochet toy projects like popular plush crochet sheep pattern. It is machine washable and safe for babies.
Soft fluffy yarn
This is the cousin of plush-type yarn. Soft yarn is also thick and fluffy, but unlike plush, it can be much thinner. It is also made from 100% polyester fibers, machine washable and intended for children crochet projects.
Eyelash or fur yarn
This fun yarn is similar to angora wool, resembling real hair or fur that can put a cute spin on a finished crochet doll. Unlike mohair, eyelash or fur yarn is usually made entirely from polyester materials, giving you a much larger (and brighter) spectrum of colors to choose from. While it is not ideal for small crocheted projects and would be frustrating for beginners, it could be used for hair or fur details that add vibrancy and texture.
This extremely unique yarn is popular for many needlework patterns but would be difficult when it comes to amigurumi for beginners. Boucle gives a nice, bumpy, knotted texture to otherwise plain knitting or crochet projects, like blankets or sweaters. Boucle yarn is perfect for making curly doll’s hair.
Mélange generally refers to yarn that has been produced from a blend of several fibers so as to develop color patterns in the individual strands. The contrasting components can also add elements of texture not otherwise found in yarn. This provides visual interest and diversity of colors.
Batik yarn is a sister of melange yarn. The difference is in the type of yarn coloring: color mix goes gradually. As well as melange yarn, batik yarn can be different in the context of yarn composition. We recommend to use semi-cotton batik yarn or semi-woolen batik yarn for your amigurumi projects.
Fabric T-shirt or spaghetti yarn
T-shirt and spaghetti yarn are not yarns in the traditional sense but are made from recycled T-shirts that have been cut into long strips and then stretched so they curl. Spaghetti and T-shirt yarn projects have become a recent trend due to their simplicity and the ‘fun factor’; you can have any color yarn as long as you have that color T-shirt. People tend to only use T-shirt yarn to make big projects, however, since it is one of the bulkiest and chunkiest options yarn companies offer. To crochet amigurumi, you would be better off with smaller-gauge yarn that will keep your doll from appearing lumpy. You can use T-shirt yarn for interior items and accessories like baskets, stool covers, rugs, poufs, blankets and bags.
You are now ready to go out and make some of these little crochet animals for yourself. Finding the perfect crochet yarn was just the first step. Now, you may try combining different weights, thicknesses, styles, and materials to create a unique creation that’s special to you. Between the varieties of materials you can control the size, shape, and color of your crocheted toys. Feel free to experiment as many times as you wish. No matter what the outcome, you will get to enjoy an adorable crocheted creature! 🙂