The coming of spring where I grew up (outside of Washington, DC) always meant cherry blossoms. They signaled that the winters were over and that there were only about 2 more months left of good weather before the hot muggy summers began. In Japan I loved cherry blossom season, walking along the banks of the Shukugawa River under the bowers of the cherry trees, the blossoms carpeting the ground like a blanket of soft pink snow.
Since there aren’t many cherry trees here in LA, I thought I’d create something to remind me of the energizing transition from winter to spring that I often long for (here in LA most of the year is spring…). And thus, the Sakura (Cherry) Brothers were born.
The red cherry, Suppai-kun (bitter) is a little upset since he was made with really old yarn from my first knitted sweater project 16 years ago. His little brother, Amai-kun (sweet), however, is a much happier fellow hanging around without a care in the world being made out of a bright Naturespun wool.
I had been wondering how I could translate a crochet amigurumi pattern into a knitted one. After seeing the envious faces of the knitters in my Tuesday night Stitch and Bitch group who don’t crochet, I thought it would be good to write up a few basic patterns, which are more like tutorials, for designing knitted amigurumi. Many of the vintage patterns I have can be a little hard to follow for beginners, and the design principles of amigurumi are pretty basic. It’s just a matter of getting a few simple shapes down and the rest is simply creating more rows between increases and decreases to generate new shapes and sizes.
So, here it is – Amigurumi Knit Tutorial #1 – Heads
Most amigurumi are knit in the round and based on a circle that’s been divided into 6, so the number of stitches for each increase or decrease should be a number that is divisible by 6. The width of the head simply depends on the type of yarn used, the size of the needles and the final number of stitches at the circumference (most larger toys are generally 48-60 stitches). Even though I had followed a lot of patterns before, it wasn’t until I saw a diagram in a Japanese book that’s similar to my very basic one below that I finally ‘got’ how many stitches to increase and decrease and when…
Each small circle represents the total number of stitches on each odd numbered round after the increase, based on 6 increases per round. To make a larger head, simply knit more stitches before each increase (30 would be K3, inc 1; 36 K4, inc 1, etc…). The decreases are simply the reverse of the increases except that the decrease is made before the knit stitches.
So, here’s the basic pattern in knit-ese for Suppai-kun. (Amai-kun was simply knit on smaller needles with one less increase…)
Yarn: Wool, Wool-Blend, and Cotton-Acrylic blends. Also acrylic yarns with a little fuzz work well for knitted objects (makes the increases and decreases look more subtle).
Needles: 4 DPN size 6 or 7
CO 6 sts, place 2 sts on 3 DPN
Rnds1 & 2: k6
Rnd 3: M1 every st (6 inc made, 12 sts)
Rnd 4 & every even rnd: k
Rnd 5: k1, M1 (6 times, 18 sts)
Rnd 7: k2, M1 (6 times, 24 sts)
Rnd 9: k3, M1 (6 times, 30 sts)
Rnds 10-12: k
Rnd 13: k2tog, k 3 (6 times, 24 sts)
Rnd 15: k2tog, k 2 (6 times, 18 sts)
Rnd 17: k2tog, k1 (6 times, 12 sts)
Rnd 19: k2tog 6 times (6 sts)
Cut yarn, leaving a 2 inch tail. Stuff with batting or polyfill. Using yarn needle, thread tail through rem sts & tighten. The head is done!
The stem was simply a 3 st i-cord tied into a knot and sewn onto the top of the head.
Add felt, crocheted or pipe cleaner/wire arms and legs. Embroider a face or use buttons/felt or googly-eyes to embellish. The ends can easily be hidden away inside of your creature, and that’s it! (Remember to embroider embellishments if you are giving these away to small children.)
With just this basic shape, it’s possible to make a variety of little guys, adding embellishments and such to give each its own character.