How to Crochet
Working in a seamless spiral is perfect for toy making as it produces a fabric that is robust and durable enough to stand up to enthusiastic playmates. Once you have mastered this technique, a world of exciting patterns will be available to you.
Crochet’s recent resurgence has been helped by the popularity of Japanese amigurumi – the art of making small stuffed animals and characters. These are made in spirals, so you do not finish each round with a joining slip stitch but instead work continuously round and round.
The most effective stitch to work in spirals is double crochet, as the stitches are short enough to create a smooth spiral. Working in a spiral also means that there is no line created by the turning chain. This type of work is often started with a ‘magic circle’ that can be pulled up tight so there is no hole or gap left in the centre.
Be warned though: making amigurumi can be quite addictive!
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Using stitch markers
After making many mistakes, I now always use a stitch marker when working in crochet spirals. It helps me to identify where each round begins, and is invaluable if you are increasing or decreasing to create shape. Unwanted added stitches can really affect the look of your finished crochet article and using a stitch marker will help you keep track of where you are in the pattern. You can use an interlocking stitch marker (as shown here), but if you don’t have one to hand you could simply use a piece of yarn in a contrasting colour or a safety pin.
Place the marker, then when you get to the end of the round, remove the marker, work the stitch and then replace the marker between the last stitch of the previous round and the first stitch of the next round.
To join the ring, slip stitch the end of the round to the beginning. Work your first double-crochet stitch into the next stitch (without a starting chain). Continue to work around the ring in double crochet without joining any rounds with a slip stitch or creating height for the next round with a chain.
As you work in rounds you will be able to see that each round of stitches creates a ridge. You can count the ridges to see where you are in the pattern. You work out from the centre; the first round is the circular centre, and the rounds then grow out from this central point.
Round 1 (centre)
Round 5 (outside)