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Amigurumi Clean Edge Join tutorial

Usually in amigurumi, the goal is to join pieces with an invisible, seamless join, so you can barely tell where one part ends and the next begins. But sometimes, especially with a piece of a different colour, you can get a neater finish by not smoothing the join, and instead making invisible stitches so it looks like the pieces are magically holding themselves together without any stitching at all:

Amigurumi Clean Edge Join crochet tutorial by PlanetJune

You can use this technique to attach something where you want there to be a clear defined edge between pieces, for example, attaching a beak to a face, or (as I’ll show in this demo) attaching a cactus to the soil of its pot.

Continue to the Amigurumi Clean Edge Join tutorial:

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Crochet Investigation: Avoiding the Jog in a BLO Round

Spoiler alert: in doing this jog-minimising back loop only round amigurumi experiment, I have a recommendation for a simple modification to make to your amigurumi that will minimise the jog with those back loop only rounds! If youโ€™re not interested in my experiments, jump straight to the Jogless Back Loop Only Round for Amigurumi video tutorial ๐Ÿ™‚

jogless back loop only round for amigurumi by planetjune


Crocheting a round of back loop only (BLO) stitches is a standard method for creating a sharp corner in amigurumi. The biggest problem is that, when you work in a continuous spiral, you end up with a noticeable jog between the first and last unworked loops of the round.

I’ve had several requests to develop a method for minimising that jog, so you know what that means: it’s time for another PlanetJune crochet investigation!

Method

For this experiment, I tested a few candidates that I thought may improve the look of that jog. Modifying one or other of my Perfect Stripes methods seemed like a promising idea, as well as changing the height of the end stitches to bring them closer together.

I crocheted the same small sample for each method so we can compare the effectiveness of each one. Each sample was crocheted in a spiral with a flat circular base, a round of BLO stitches to turn the corner, and then a few more rounds worked straight.

So, here are the candidates:

A. The control sample, as described above, with no attempt to minimise the jog
B. Sample using the No-Cut Join technique for the round before the BLO round and the BLO round
C. Sample using the Invisible Join technique for the round before the BLO round and the BLO round
D. Sample modifying the height of the stitch before the BLO round with a slip stitch

The photos below show each sample from two angles, and, if you’d like to play along, you can compare the appearance of the line of unworked loops around the edge of each sample and see what you think of my ‘improvements’…

jogless back loop only investigation - candidate A

jogless back loop only investigation - candidate B

jogless back loop only investigation - candidate C

jogless back loop only investigation - candidate D

Results

I compared each candidate with the control sample (A) to see how much it improved the appearance of the jog, judging on two criteria:

  1. How continuous the line of unworked loops appears between the first and last stitch of the round (left photo)
  2. How circular the entire round of unworked loops appears (right photo) – note that this effect is more noticeable because the samples are quite small; it wouldn’t be as obvious for a larger piece such as the base of an ami plant pot

Here are my observations:

B. The No-Cut Join gives the worst result of all the test pieces. Although the jog is reduced, extra mess is introduced to the surrounding stitches, and I think the overall effect is actually worse than doing nothing.

C. The Invisible Join gives a flawless result – the join is completely invisible and the round of unworked loops is almost completely circular. However, it’s slow, and leaves a lot of extra yarn ends, so it’s quite an investment in time and effort.

D. The height modifying method is very quick and simple to execute and gives a pretty good result. As the spiral is almost uninterrupted, the unworked loops don’t quite form a perfect circle, but the jog is almost invisible.

My Recommendations

If you want the best-looking back loop only round possible and don’t care how long it takes, switching to joined rounds (for both the round before the BLO round and the BLO round) and using the Invisible Join method from my Perfect Stripes tutorial will give you the most perfect result.

But, my recommendation is: for the best balance of a good result with a quick and easy method, use my height modifying method – now called my Jogless Back Loop Only Round method – for minimising the jog. (And, to give an even better result, combine it with my Better BLO technique – between the two, you’ll end up with a very neat and practically jogless back loop only round, as you can see below.)

jogless back loop only round for amigurumi by planetjune

Impressed? Now learn how to do it, with my new video tutorial:

Continue to A Jogless Back Loop Only Round for Amigurumi video tutorial >>

Comments (3)

New Crochet Tutorial Videos

Thanks to a long-lasting thumb injury and a intercontinental move, it’s been a frustratingly long time since I’ve been able to make any new crochet tutorial videos. But all that’s about to change!

To commemorate my return to YouTube, I’ve updated my video template with a fresh new look and animated logo, and, to ease myself back into the video-making saddle, I’ve re-edited my last-published video to add some additional info (as well as the new look). Want to see?

Better Back Loop Only Details for Amigurumi (right-handed)

Better Back Loop Only Details for Amigurumi (left-handed)

Note: The videos may look a little small embedded in the blog: if so, you can fullscreen them or click through to YouTube (links: right-handed; left-handed) to watch them full-sized ๐Ÿ™‚

You can also find more detailed information on this topic, including a discussion of when to use it in my accompanying tutorial post.

And here’s a topical bonus: if you’re taking part in our BotaniCAL crochet-along, the technique I demonstrate here is perfect for the edge around the bottom of your crocheted plant pots!

New Tutorials Coming Soon!

Now I’m back up to speed with editing with my new software and I have my new template set up, you can expect regular new crochet videos from me again! All my tutorials are clear, concise and in close-up, and come in right- and left-handed versions, with full closed captions (in case you find it easier to read my words than listen to them).

Subscribe to my YouTube channel here and you’ll never miss a new PlanetJune video. ๐Ÿ™‚

PlanetJune Crochet Video Tutorials on YouTube

Your Video Requests?

I already have a long list of tutorials I’d like to make, but I’d also like to hear your video requests. Are there any crochet techniques I use in my patterns that I haven’t explained on video yet and you’d like to see? Let me know by email, or in the comments below, and I’ll make note of all your requests.

I hope you’ll enjoy my crochet videos – both the library of existing tutorials, and the new videos to come!

Comments (3)

Stitch Tension in Amigurumi: an investigation

Link easily to this page in your patterns: www.planetjune.com/stitchtension

Today, I’d like to dispel a common amigurumi myth…

In amigurumi, as with all crochet, you should always be keeping tension on the yarn to keep your stitches compact and regular. But I often hear misinformation that you should be ‘crocheting tightly’ to make amigurumi, and that’s not true at all!

The tightness of amigurumi stitches refers to the tension of the small stiff stitches of the fabric you produce, not to the tension in your hands while you crochet.

Showing is better than telling, so allow me to demonstrate, via a new crochet investigation, how to make perfect amigurumi stitches without hurting your hands!

Experiment 1: Effect of Hook Size

I crocheted the same sample amigurumi cup shape 3 times with different sized hooks and the same worsted weight yarn each time. I crocheted the same way as I would when making a scarf or anything else – I kept my tension even, but didn’t try to pull my stitches tightly or pull back on the yarn after pulling up each loop.

I used my standard amigurumi E hook (3.5mm), and, to show the effects of changing hook sizes, I tried a larger H hook (5mm) and a smaller C hook (2.75mm).

stitch tension in amigurumi: a PlanetJune investigation

You can see that the stitches are neat and even in all three samples and, as you may expect, using a larger hook results in a larger finished piece that’s both taller and wider than the same piece crocheted with a smaller hook.

See how the smaller hook samples can stack inside the larger ones? There’s quite a size difference!

stitch tension in amigurumi: a PlanetJune investigation

What you can’t tell from a photo is how stiff the fabric of each sample is. With the H hook, the fabric is too floppy to hold its shape well. With the E hook, the fabric is much firmer and holds its shape much better. With the C hook, the piece is even firmer and feels very solid.

I simulated the effect of adding stuffing by gently stretching out each piece between my fingers, so you can see the gaps between the stitches:

stitch tension in amigurumi: a PlanetJune investigation

As you can see, the H hook fabric is far too open for an amigurumi; the gaps between the stitches are very noticeable. With the E hook, the stitches have smaller holes between them, so the stuffing would be far less visible. And, with the C hook, the gaps between stitches are almost invisible.

So here’s the result of changing hook size: a smaller hook gives a smaller and firmer crocheted piece, with tighter stitches and smaller gaps between the stitches.

These are the properties we want for amigurumi fabric! A stiff, sturdy fabric that holds its shape and has tiny gaps between the stitches is exactly what we need for crocheting a 3-dimensional sculpture.

Choosing the Right Hook Size
The C hook was the smallest hook I could manage with this specific yarn (Caron Simply Soft, a light worsted weight yarn), and I had to stop and undo a stitch a few times, when my hook hadn’t grabbed all the plies of the yarn. I wouldn’t recommend using a hook quite this small, as it’s annoying to have to undo your work whenever you realise you have a snag in your stitches from splitting the yarn with the small hook.

My Recommendation: In practice, with a light worsted weight yarn like this, I might go down to a D hook for the best balance of small, tight stitches and not splitting the yarn as I crochet. For the heavier worsted weight yarns, I still recommend an E hook for most amigurumi.

(See my Worsted Weight Yarn Comparison for more about the differences between different yarns that are all labelled as worsted weight!)

Experiment 2: Effect of ‘Crocheting Tightly’

Now, part two of this investigation. I returned to my standard E hook and tried crocheting the same sample piece yet again, but this time I followed the misunderstood advice of ‘crocheting tightly’. I held the yarn tightly and pulled back on it against my hook each time I formed a loop, so each loop was tight around the hook and as small as possible.

stitch tension in amigurumi: a PlanetJune investigation

Both these samples were crocheted with the same hook. As you can see, the ‘tight’ piece is smaller and firmer than the normally-tensioned piece, but at what cost?

When you crochet with too-tight tension, your stitches are so small that it’s hard to work back into them, and that’s what happened in this case: it was an effort to force my hook into each stitch. My yarn-holding hand began to cramp from pulling the yarn so tightly, and I didn’t enjoy the process of crocheting at all. Even finishing this small piece was very hard work.

stitch tension in amigurumi: a PlanetJune investigation

Yes, the tight piece is definitely smaller (and therefore ‘better’ for amigurumi) but crocheting it was a horrible experience!

The Tension Exception
In amigurumi, chains and slip stitches should not be crocheted with your usual tension.ย These stitches need to be crocheted with an extra-relaxed tension (or a larger hook), or they’ll be too small to work back into.

See my tutorial Chains and Slip Stitches in Amigurumi for more on this.

Experiment 3: Comparing Smaller Hook and Tighter Tension

Now, let’s compare the small (C hook) sample from Experiment 1 with the extra tight tension sample (E hook) from Experiment 2:

stitch tension in amigurumi: a PlanetJune investigation

Can this be right? They look almost identical!

stitch tension in amigurumi: a PlanetJune investigation

Yes, comparing the two pieces, they look and feel almost exactly the same – the size and shape are the same, the stiffness of the fabric is the same, the gaps between stitches are the same.

The only difference? The sample on the left was crocheted comfortably with a small hook, and the sample on the right was crocheted extra-tightly, at great discomfort, with a larger hook.

Conclusions

As these experiments have shown, there’s absolutely no advantage to changing the way you crochet when you make amigurumi by working extra-tightly (and you may actually hurt your hands, wrists and arms by doing so!)

The goal with amigurumi is to maintain tension (down and backwards) on the yarn that’s balanced by your hook pulling up and forwards. This control allows you to form neat, consistent stitches.

You should never feel you have to force your hook into every stitch and/or pull your stitches as tightly as possible. This not only distorts your fabric but can also lead to hand and wrist fatigue and repetitive stress disorders.

The secret to making good-looking amigurumi without making your hands hurt is simple:

  • Select an appropriately small hook and crochet the same way as you usually do.
  • The perfect hook for your yarn is the smallest size you can manage without starting to have problems from splitting your yarn because the hook is too small to consistently grab all the plies.

The result: neat tight stitches, with no pain!

If you ever experience discomfort when making amigurumi, I encourage you to relax that death grip on your hook and yarn, and try crocheting with a slightly smaller hook instead. Your hands will love the difference and, I hope, you’ll enjoy the amigurumi-making process more.


Have you fallen for the amigurumi myth of ‘crocheting tightly’? Please leave a message in the comments and share your experiences…


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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tool review: Yarn Ball Winder

I love my yarn ball winder! Not everyone already has (or even knows about) this useful tool, so I thought I’d share today why I find it so useful in my crocheting life, and whether getting one may help you too.

How to Use a Ball Winder

A yarn ball winder is a simple mechanical tool for quickly winding yarn into a neat ball.

To use, it, load one end of your yarn through the metal guide arm and across the slots at the top of the cone, then turn the handle and the yarn will wind onto the cone (see my photos near the end of this post for examples). When you’ve finished, tie the final end of the yarn around a couple of strands on the outside of the yarn ball so it doesn’t come undone, then pull the ‘cake’ of yarn off the cone.

yarn wound on a ball winder by planetjune

The finished ‘cake’ isn’t shaped like a hand-wound ball, but has a flat top and bottom (which makes it easy to stack and store). And the starting end of the ball (that ran across the slots at the top of the cone) is ready to be used. Pulling the yarn from the centre of the ball instead of the outside means the ball won’t roll around while you work.

My ball winder is like this one (amazon link) but there are other similar models also available on amazon and at yarn/craft shops (e.g. the KnitPicks ball winder is a less expensive option). I’d recommend you check reviews before you buy one, but, for what it’s worth, I’ve never had any problems with mine – it runs smoothly and quietly.

Why I Use It

A yarn ball winder is invaluable for turning a hank of yarn into a beautiful centre-pull ball. (This is especially easy if you have a yarn swift to hold the yarn for you while you wind it, but, if you don’t have one you can ask a helper to hold the loop of yarn from the hank taut between their hands while you wind it.) When I used to buy a big hank of laceweight yarn to make a shawl, it’d take me literally hours (and many tangles) to wind all the yarn by hand. Now it takes me mere minutes to wind 400m of yarn ready for use.

yarn hank and centre-pull yarn ball by planetjune
A hank of yarn (front) and a centre-pull ball (back)

But that’s not the only use I have for my winder; it’s really useful for my amigurumi yarn too! Once I’ve used over half a skein of worsted weight yarn, the remainder doesn’t hold together well any more. If you store it in that state it can tangle easily, and if you store lots of partial skeins together, you could end up with a giant yarn mess that takes hours to untangle. (I’m speaking from personal experience, here…)

Since getting my ball winder, I re-wind all my partially-used skeins of yarn into tidy small balls. They stack more neatly in my drawers, and don’t get tangled any more! In case you’re wondering, I need all these leftovers for my amigurumi projects – you never know when you might need just a few metres of an unusual colour to make a specific thing, so I never throw away any yarn over a couple of metres long (and btw I even save the shorter lengths too, to make pom-poms – nothing goes to waste in my studio).

small yarn balls by planetjune
Partial skeins wound into neat balls

My Special Trick

I do something extra when I wind yarn balls that makes a huge difference to my crocheting experience. I’ve never seen it mentioned anywhere else, so I thought I should share it with you: I like to wind each ball twice.

As soon as the ball is complete, I remove it from the winder and sit it on the table next to the winder, then reattach the end from the centre of the wound ball to the winder and re-wind it into a new ball, letting the yarn flow through my fingers with a light tension as I wind it.

As you can see, the first winding looks fine, until you compare it with the result of the second winding:

first and second yarn windings
The same hank of yarn, wound twice: the first winding is tiny compared with the second!

Why does this happen?
Let’s compare what happens during the first and second windings:
With the first winding, the tension on the yarn can be uneven as the yarn tugs on the swift to move it, or the skein flips about on the floor as it unwinds, or the fibres of two strands of yarn are slightly stuck together and it takes more force from the winder to pull them apart.
first yarn winding
First winding: partial shop-bought skein to centre-pull ball

With the second winding, the yarn comes from a centre-pull ball, so it winds very regularly, as nothing is moving apart from the strand being wound. As the yarn has only just been wound into the first ball, any loose fibre ends haven’t had a chance to snarl together, so the tension on the yarn is low and steady as you wind it.
second yarn winding
Second winding: centre-pull ball to lower tension centre-pull ball

Why does it matter?
If you keep your balled yarn wound tightly:

  • The yarn is kept in a stretched state, which will affect your gauge when you crochet or knit with it.
  • There’s more chance of the yarn strands sticking together into a clump – this is especially likely to happen with a yarn like mohair or alpaca, where the loose fibre ends along the yarn (visible as a fluffy halo) can grab onto each other. When you pull on the centre yarn end, a clump of yarn strands can come out together from the ball instead of one single strand, or, even worse, the yarn may not come out at all!
  • The longer you keep the ball wound like this, the worse the stretching and tangling can become.

The second winding is actually much more fun to do as it winds so smoothly, so it adds very little time to the process. And what’s a couple of extra minutes of winding time compared with the many hours you’ll spend using the yarn?

In my opinion, it’s definitely worth winding your yarn twice: the result is an ideal yarn ball with neat low-tension wraps that put no stress on the yarn. You can keep your yarn wound in this ball for a long time without having to worry that it will become stretched out or will be snarled up when you try to use it.


Verdict

If you crochet or knit and don’t already own a ball winder, I’d highly recommend you pick one up, or at least put it on your wishlist. It’s time-saving, and fun to use. Even if you don’t buy yarn in hanks, it makes a huge difference in keeping the partial balls of any type of yarn in your stash tidy and organised.

If you already have a ball winder, please feel free to add your experience and tips in the comments below ๐Ÿ™‚

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    June Gilbank

    Hi, I'm June. Welcome to my world of nature-inspired crochet and crafting. I hope you enjoy your visit!

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