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Scaling Amigurumi: a crochet investigation

I’m often asked how to scale one of my amigurumi patterns up or down by a specific amount. It’s hard to answer that without relevant data, so that means it’s time for another crochet experiment – yay!

Want to skip straight to the results? Jump down to the Amigurumi Size Conversion Table.


Method

I made 8 versions of my Tiny Whale pattern, ranging from the largest 25mm hook I own down to the smallest hook I felt I could manage (0.9mm), and choosing the most appropriate yarn size for each hook.

resizing amigurumi by scaling up and down, by planetjune

Of course, it’s possible to crochet outside this range – massive 40mm hooks exist (or you can crochet using your whole hand instead of a hook!), and some talented people are able to crochet with sewing thread and a 0.4mm hook – but I had to set some limits for my experiment…

The three dark blue whales in my photos mark these limits: largest, smallest, and the standard size (made with worsted weight yarn and a US E/3.5mm hook).

I’ve named all eight sizes so we have something to refer to throughout this post, from largest to smallest (and top to bottom in the photo above):

  1. Extreme Amigurumi
  2. Giant Amigurumi
  3. Mini Giant Amigurumi
  4. Large Amigurumi
  5. Standard Amigurumi – regular amigurumi!
  6. Small Amigurumi
  7. Mini Amigurumi
  8. Micro Amigurumi

The difference in scale is incredible – one stitch of an Extreme Amigurumi whale is larger than an entire Micro Amigurumi whale!

resizing amigurumi by scaling up and down, by planetjune

And here’s a top-down photo of all 8 sizes (this is a single photo so the scale is exact; the only editing I did was to add the pink spiral for clarity):

resizing amigurumi by scaling up and down, by planetjune

Look for the three dark blue whales to see the differences in size between the Standard size and the Micro (smallest) and Extreme (largest).  Isn’t that something?!


Calculations

Time to quantify those differences. To get an idea of the scale change, I took four measurements from each of my whales:

  1. the average width of one stitch (sampled over several stitches for higher accuracy)
  2. the average height of one round (sampled over several rounds for higher accuracy)
  3. the overall length of the whale
  4. the width of the whale at its widest part

Then, for each whale, I compared each measurement with the same measurement on my standard sized whale (made with worsted weight yarn and a US E/3.5mm hook). I used the average of the four comparisons, rounded to a nice number, to give me an approximate overall scale factor for each amigurumi size.

There’s a lot of variability here – not only in the numbers I measured from my samples and the accuracy of my measurements, but in the difference between specific yarn and hook combinations and the individual crocheting style of each crocheter – so a rough conversion factor is the best we’re going to get.

My scale factor is not intended to be an accurate number, but a rough idea of the size difference you can expect from scaling up or down.


Results: Amigurumi Size Conversion Table

resizing amigurumi by scaling up and down, by planetjune
Pictured above are the main amigurumi sizes with the hooks used to crochet them (L-R): Micro, Mini, Small, Standard, Large, Mini Giant, Giant, Extreme

In the table below, for each amigurumi size I’ve given the yarn weight and hook you’ll need to make that size, and its approximate scale factor compared with standard amigurumi (the row marked in bold in the table below).

Amigurumi Size Yarn Hook1 Scale Factor
Micro2 crochet thread #30;
pearl cotton #12
0.9mm (14) 30%
Mini crochet thread #20;
pearl cotton #8
1.4mm (8) 40%
Small sport (#2) – DK (#3) 2.25-2.75mm
(B-C)
80%
Standard worsted (#4) 3.5mm (E) 100%
Large 2 strands worsted (#4);
1 strand bulky (#5)
5mm (H) 150%
Mini Giant super bulky (#6) 8mm (L) 240%
Giant 2 strands super bulky (#6);
1 strand jumbo (#7)4
15mm (P/Q-19) 360%
Extreme3 6 strands super bulky #6;
1 strand jumbo (#7)4
25mm 650%
Notes:
  1. As hook size names can vary between brands, I’ve given the mm size first, followed by the common (US) size name. The best hook size for you will vary depending on the exact yarn you choose and how tightly you crochet – the hook sizes given here are good starting points, but you should choose an appropriate hook for your project, no matter the scale of the amigurumi:
    • If your stitches stretch open too much and the stuffing is clearly visible, reduce the hook size.
    • If you cannot insert the hook into your previous stitches, increase the hook size.
  2. Micro Amigurumi refers to any extremely small amigurumi, so you may also find ‘micro amigurumi’ made with sewing thread and a 0.4-0.6mm hook – those could be much smaller than the sample I measured, so the scale factor would also be smaller.
  3. Extreme Amigurumi refers to any extremely large amigurumi, so you may also find ‘extreme amigurumi’ made with unplied roving and a 40mm hook (or hand-crocheted with no hook) – those could be much larger than the sample I measured, so the scale factor would also be larger.
  4. Jumbo #7 weight is a catch-all term for any yarn thicker than super bulky, so these yarns can range widely in weight, with recommended hook sizes of between 15mm and 40mm! For Giant Amigurumi, you’ll need a jumbo yarn that recommends using a 15-19mm hook; for Extreme Amigurumi you’ll need a jumbo yarn that recommends using at least a 25mm hook.

How to Use the Size Conversion Table

Note: There are many factors that affect the exact size of an amigurumi. As you can see from my worsted weight yarn comparison, even using the same hook and pattern with different worsted weight yarns can result in a remarkable range in size. (And that doesn’t account for other factors: the differences between our hook styles; how tall we each draw up our loops; our tension…)

So please be aware that the scale factor in my table is only a rough estimate. This isn’t an exact science; crochet is handmade, after all!

Reading the Scale Factor

I’ve given the scale factor as a percentage difference from standard size (100%), so, for example, 650% (for Extreme Amigurumi) means the amigurumi will be 6.5 times larger than standard (650/100).

How Large will my Amigurumi Be?

To find out roughly how large your amigurumi will be at a different scale, look at the standard size in the pattern, and find the scale factor that corresponds to the hook and yarn you want to use.

final size = [starting size] x [scale factor] / 100

So, for a 4″ long standard amigurumi, converting it to Extreme Amigurumi scale (650%) means:

final size = 4 x 650 / 100 = 26″

Resizing To a Specific Size

To find your scale factor, look at the standard size in the pattern, and the size you want your amigurumi to be.

scale factor (%) = [desired size] / [starting size] x 100

So, for a 6″ tall amigurumi that you’d like to reduce to 3″ tall:

scale factor = 3 / 6 x 100 = 50%

Then find the closest scale factor from my table to find the hook and yarn you should use.

Resizing in Between the Options

If you’d like to go for a scale in between two of my options, look at the closest size option on either side and choose a yarn weight and hook size that lie in between the two.

Example 1: Half Size (50%)
From the table, you can see that Mini Amigurumi is 40% and Small Amigurumi is 80%, so you’ll want to choose yarn and hook sizes between those listed for those two sizes, i.e. a yarn weight in between size 20 crochet thread and sport (#2) yarn, and a hook size between 1.4 and 2.25mm.

  • As a starting point, I’d try a size 10 or 5 crochet thread, or a super fine (#1) or lace (#0) yarn, and a 1.6-1.8mm hook.

Example 2: Double Size (200%)
From the table, you can see that Large Amigurumi is 150% and Mini Giant Amigurumi is 240%, so you’ll want a yarn weight in between bulky (#5) and super bulky (#6), and a hook size between 5mm (H) and 8mm (L).

  • As a starting point, I’d try holding 3 strands of worsted weight (#4) yarn together, or 1 strand of bulky (#5) and 1 of worsted (#4),  and a 6mm (J) hook.

resizing amigurumi by scaling up and down, by planetjune

So there you have it – a way to make amigurumi in any size from extremely small to extremely large! You can use my table of results as:

  • A starting point for figuring out how big your amigurumi will be when you use a different yarn and hook
  • A reference for the yarn and hook sizes to choose to make an amigurumi of a specific size

I hope you’ll find this conversion table as helpful as I will!


How to Go Giant!

Learn all my upsizing tips and techniques (including patterns for the giant eyes!) in my ebook The Complete Guide to Giant Amigurumi:

The Complete Guide to Giant Amigurumi ebook by June Gilbank - available in right-handed and left-handed versions

This is the perfect guide for all your Mini Giant, Giant and Extreme Amigurumi – every stage of making a super-sized amigurumi is slightly different from what you might expect, and I’ve designed this book as a comprehensive reference guide that covers everything from the absolute basics to tips for fixing problems and making complex amigurumi.


Do you find my tutorials helpful? If so, please consider making a contribution towards my time so I can continue to create clear and concise tutorials for you:

Thank you so much for your support! Now click below for loads more crochet video and photo tutorials (and do let me know what else you’d like me to cover in future tutorials…)

See more helpful PlanetJune crochet tips and technique tutorials

 

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free pattern: Crochet Phone Stand

If you, like me, tend to spend a little too much time on your phone, you’re going to love my new pattern!

I use my phone for so many things these days – working, reading, playing games, video chats, shopping, watching videos – and it gets uncomfortable to hold after a while. To save my hands, I thought it’d be fun to try to recreate the old phone stand I sewed almost a decade ago, but this time in crochet, with dimensions better suited to today’s larger devices.

And look what I came up with! Crochet is the perfect medium for a stand like this: one piece, no sewing, basic stitches and techniques, and it makes a perfect support for a smartphone:

crochet phone stand by planetjune

Isn’t it great?! it’s quick and easy to crochet, and makes a handy addition to any desk or bedside table. With only yarn and a little stuffing, you can make a stand that’s sturdy enough to support any phone (or a small tablet) in portrait or landscape mode.

crochet phone stand by planetjune

This pattern is a blank canvas for any yarn choice: get colourful with a variegated yarn, go for a subtle neutral shade, choose your favourite colour, or match your room decor.

I especially love how my variegated phone stand turned out: the colours pooled into diagonal stripes, and because either side of the stand can be the top, I can flip it over to get a different colour pattern!

crochet phone stand by planetjune

I’d recommend using a cotton yarn for your phone stand as it gives a neat smooth finish, but you can use acrylic if you prefer. This is a great pattern to use those striped or ombre cottons that look lovely in the skein but may not crochet up the way you’d expect! (In case you were about to ask, the specific yarn I used for the above sample is Bernat Handicrafter Cotton Stripes in Beach Ball Blue.)

crochet phone stand by planetjune

Amigurumi-style crochet gives this stand enough stiffness to support a mobile device with just regular fibrefill stuffing, which also makes the stand light and portable. You can even comfortably rest it on your tummy so you can watch videos while lying in bed, if you’re so inclined…

As you can see below, the phone stand is also big enough to support my 7″ tablet, which is very handy for video calls or watching YouTube!

crochet phone stand by planetjune

As I like to reward people who choose to donate for my donationware patterns, the PDF version of the Crochet Phone Stand pattern also includes tips for stuffing, additional instructional photos, including left-handed photos, and instructions for resizing the pattern to fit a larger tablet or other device. As always, the pattern is free for you to use online, and you need only donate if you’d like to thank me for my time in creating it, or if you’d like the easy-to-print PDF version with the bonuses.

Go to the free Crochet Phone Stand pattern >>

Or jump straight to donate:

Order the Crochet Phone Stand pattern >>

Not ready to make one yet? Add this pattern to your Ravelry queue:

I hope you’ll find this pattern useful!

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crocheted Bagpuss

I saw on Twitter that there was a UK magazine with a super-cute knit Bagpuss kit on the cover (Your Crochet & Knitting, Issue 17)… and then my Mum bought it and sent it to me!

crochet bagpuss

For the uninitiated, Bagpuss was a charming UK kid’s TV show from the 70s that, despite only having 13 episodes, was repeated endlessly on the BBC throughout my early-80s childhood, and was one of my all-time favourite TV shows.

I was prepared to tackle a new adventure in my knitting journey – I’ve never followed a knitting pattern before, or worked with multiple colours, but I do like a challenge! In fact, though, the magazine included both knit and crochet patterns for Bagpuss. After looking at the photos, I could see that they all showed the crocheted version – how strange! Without even a single photo for reference, I didn’t want to take a chance that the knit version wouldn’t be as cute, so I decided to go with the crochet pattern.

I don’t actually remember the last time I crocheted something I hadn’t designed myself (maybe this panda, over a decade ago?), so this would be a novel experience too!

Crocheting

There were two things I really didn’t enjoy about the crocheting :

  1. The yarn. Ugh, now I remember why all my fuzzy patterns are worked inside out in back loops only – it’s impossible to see your stitches when you work normally with a fuzzy yarn. I was just guessing where to insert my hook the entire time, counting carefully, and ripping out the round (slowly – frogging fuzzy yarn isn’t easy!) every time I was off by more than one stitch in my count for the round.
  2. The kit yarn quantity. I was so happy to have the perfect Bagpuss yarns included in this kit, but with only 16g of each colour, I knew from the beginning that the quantities would be tight. I made the back legs, then weighed them and the remaining yarn and calculated how much more yarn I’d need to complete the project. The answer: exactly as much yarn as provided, with no wiggle room at all! I kept all my yarn ends as short as possible and replaced all the decreases with invdecs to try to save yarn anywhere I could.

Both those factors meant this was far from the relaxing project I anticipated when following a pattern! I had to count constantly as I crocheted – checking the stitch count at the end of the round is impossible when you can’t see the stitches to count them – and always kept a worried eye on the rapidly dwindling balls of yarn…

It all worked out though, and I breathed a sigh of relief when I finished crocheting the final piece and still had about a yard of each yarn colour remaining – it couldn’t have been much closer!

crochet bagpuss
All pieces crocheted, with the tiny bits of remaining yarn at the top left.

Assembly (part 1)

Now to the assembly… I found the single paragraph of assembly instructions (“sew legs to body”, “embroider nose and mouth” etc) to be a little brief, especially when the magazine only included 2 photos of the finished Bagpuss – one from the front and one from a slight angle – so there’s no reference for the back legs or tail, or to see where the body should meet the head at the back.

I guess this is a downside of magazine patterns, where space is at a premium so instructions are brief. I’m used to my PDF patterns where I can include pages of detailed assembly instructions with step-by-step photos – quite a difference! I think the magazine format is far better suited for patterns that don’t need much (or any) assembly.

I didn’t really know how to tackle this stage – the pieces didn’t really look like they’d go together with such large openings at the top of each limb and such a tiny body, so I tried getting in touch with first the designer and then customer support at the magazine, to see if they could provide any additional photos to aid in the assembly. I moved onto the eyes while I waited for a response…

Eyes

The pattern called for 10mm blue eyes. I don’t have any coloured eyes but I do keep some clear eyes on hand, just in case – that way I can paint them to whatever color I need!

I tried some 10mm eyes on my Bagpuss’ head but they looked too small, so I decided to go with 12mm instead.

I painted the back of the eyes with a blue acrylic paint, let them dry overnight, then added a second coat of silver. As a Bagpuss fan, I know the original Bagpuss’ eyes were painted with blue backed by silver to make them sparkle, so I thought it’d be a fun detail to replicate that! Also, I didn’t want any of the pink yarn colour to show through the translucent blue paint and dull the colour, so silver seemed like a good idea.

crochet bagpuss
L-R: 3 stages: clear eye, painted with blue acrylic, overpainted with silver 

crochet bagpuss
Look how effective the silver backing is to bring out the blue! Left: the eye painted blue. Right: the eye with the silver backing.

Assembly (part 2)

I stitched the muzzle down before placing the eyes and closing the head, to make sure I got the eyes in the right place.

No customer support yet, so I thought I’d finish the head while I continued to wait. This was tricky – there was no guidance on how to turn a flat white circle into the pictured shaped muzzle. I couldn’t pull the yarn of my brown embroidered stitches tightly enough to indent the muzzle without making the stitches look terrible, so I kept pulling them all out and trying again.

crochet bagpuss
This white circle doesn’t look anything like the pattern photo…

After several failed attempts, I decided to cheat by needlesculpting the muzzle with a sharp needle and white sewing thread before adding the embroidery (see my article on needlesculpting if you’re not familiar with this technique!) to define the cheeks and chin.

crochet bagpuss
After needlesculpting, the face looked much better.

Assembly (part 3)

After a few weeks, I realised I shouldn’t expect to ever hear back from the designer or the magazine, so I just squished all the parts together and stitched them down wherever they met. First I attached each piece by just one stitch to keep them together:

crochet bagpuss

Then I posed the body, squished each limb in towards the body and then stitched them together wherever they touched, to hold them in position at the right angles.
crochet bagpuss

I’m still not sure if I’ve positioned everything the way it’s suppose to be, but I think it looks okay.

Embellishment

Then it was onto to the final stage – embroidering the nose, mouth, whisker points and claws! I abandoned the recommend yarn for the embroidery in favour of dark brown embroidery floss. Just this part took about two hours to get right – I’m not that experienced with embroidery, and I am very particular about the faces of my toys! I pulled everything out at least twice before I was somewhat satisfied.

crochet bagpuss
Maggie supervised this stage…

All done? I was fairly happy with him, but the big white misshapen circle at the back of his head looked ugly to me:

crochet bagpuss

I used (literally) the final yard of the pink yarn to stitch over the lower part of the white area, where the head met the body, to tidy up the colouring there.

crochet bagpuss

And now here we are – the finished Bagpuss!

crochet bagpuss

I feel like – with all my years of design experience – I probably could have done a better job of crocheting a Bagpuss from scratch, instead of trying to follow such a frustratingly brief pattern. I tried so hard to match everything to the photos, but I feel like every single part turned out looking different from the photo, and I couldn’t match the placements of the parts to the photo, no matter how many times I tried.

(And to anyone who doesn’t think amigurumi patterns are worth paying for, I can promise you there’s a world of difference between the vague single-paragraph assembly instructions in a magazine pattern and the pages of detailed step by step instructions, photos and diagrams you’ll find in my patterns where needed! Plus customer support by email comes as standard with every PlanetJune pattern licence…)

Still, the yarn was a perfect match for Bagpuss, so I’m glad to have got the magazine and kit just for that (thanks Mum)! And it all worked out in the end for this project – I do love my cute little baby Bagpuss 🙂

crochet bagpuss

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Designer Toolkit: Yarn Colour Swatch Box

Over the holidays, I decided to give myself a fun organisation project: creating a box of yarn swatches for all my amigurumi yarns, so it’ll be easy to see all my options and make choices.

Being able to see at a glance all the yarns I have available for my designs is so handy – this could be a really useful project for you too, if you make a lot of amigurumi and have a large yarn stash!

Here is the glorious result:

worsted weight yarn colour swatches

Isn’t it wonderful?! It’s like looking at a selection box of chocolates, but calorie-free and without the one that nobody likes.

worsted weight yarn colour swatches

There’s so much pretty colour here, and so much potential for what those colours could become… I feel like I’m an artist and this is my paint box.

Why Make a Swatch Box?

As a professional amigurumi designer, I have a lot of yarn in my stash. More specifically, a lot of worsted weight acrylic from several brands. Some are close enough in weight and appearance to be mixed within a project, and others aren’t (just look at my worsted weight yarn comparison to see how broad a category ‘worsted weight acrylic yarn’ really is!)

worsted weight yarn colour swatches

All my ami yarns are filed in plastic drawers, and every time I need to pull yarn options for a new project, I have to open several drawers, grab multiple balls of yarn, and then select the best combination of shades that could work for what I have in mind and also match in weight, sheen and texture.

worsted weight yarn colour swatches

This often leaves me with 10 or more balls of yarn scattered around and the hassle of cramming all the rejected yarns back into their appropriate (and usually overstuffed) drawers. Not ideal.

worsted weight yarn colour swatches

Making the Swatch Box

I bought lots of the plastic bobbins that are usually used for storing embroidery floss, and wrapped each one with a single layer of yarn, leaving a small space at the top to write the colour name. I used the slits at the bottom of the bobbin to hold the yarn ends in place. To finish each bobbin, I used a yarn needle to pass the yarn ends beneath the wrapped yarn on the back of each bobbin, then trimmed the excess.

worsted weight yarn colour swatches

I labelled each bobbin with a simple code (due to lack of space):

  • top left corner : brand (e.g. B = Bernat)
  • top right corner: yarn line (e.g. S = Satin)

And then wrote out the full colour name below that.

I found a plastic divided box that had sections large enough to hold several bobbins, and organised the swatches first by brand and yarn line, then by colour family.

worsted weight yarn colour swatches

Do you think I have enough yarn options? (Trick question: of course I don’t! That’s what the extra space and spare bobbins are for…)

After the Swatch Box

This box has changed everything for me. Today I pulled shades for a potential upcoming design, and I just opened the box and could see all my options at once. Within a couple of minutes, I had a selection ready to go, and now I can just go to the appropriate yarn drawer (as indicated from the bobbin) and grab only the shades I need to use.

worsted weight yarn colour swatches

I can use the holes at the top of each bobbin to clip the collection together while I use them so none go astray.

worsted weight yarn colour swatches

And, when I’m finished, I can easily refile the swatch bobbins in the box.

worsted weight yarn colour swatches

Yes, I ‘wasted’ about 2ft of each yarn in making these bobbins, but it was definitely worth it to me – just opening the box and looking at my yarn palette is so inspiring!

worsted weight yarn colour swatches

Now I can’t wait to grab my hook and get ‘painting’ (well, ‘sculpting’ would be more accurate) with some of these pretties…

Comments (8)

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