Kyuuto! Japanese Crafts: Amigurumi Review
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A while back, when I was planning to tag along on my husband’s business trip to Malaysia, several of my crafting friends told me to be sure to bring home some Japanese craft magazines. The Japanese magazines, I was told, were full of fun designs. So as soon as I got the chance, I headed to the mall to check out the bookstore. And they were right—the Japanese magazines were filled with cute knitted dolls and stuffed animals and other quirky designs that I wanted to try. But there was one problem: they were all in Japanese. Though my friends assured me that the designs were charted and illustrated and described in diagrams that I’d be able to figure out, I still couldn’t justify spending $25 on a book of patterns that I didn’t really understand.

Fortunately, someone heard my lament—and along came Kyuuto! Japanese Crafts, a series of Japanese craft books presented in [mostly] perfect English. The first book in the series is Amigurumi, a book full of adorable stuffed animals made from simple crochet patterns.

After reading the book’s description online, I was under the impression that the patterns were both knit and crochet—but there isn’t a knitting pattern to be found here. Still, though my crocheting skills are minimal, even I can understand the patterns—most of which use just four simple variations of single crochet.

The patterns in Amigurumi are very visual. Instead of presenting patterns in the usual way—line-by-line, using words and abbreviations—the patterns are all presented using symbols: one for single crochet, another for a single crochet increase, and so on. Each line of the pattern is explained using a series of symbols and numbers, showing how many of each stitch you’ll need to do to complete the row. If you’re used to the usual crochet pattern, I’m sure the visual patterns will be frustrating. But for newbies and rusty crocheters like me, it’s actually a good thing—because it’s simple and straightforward. The symbols make perfect sense—and once you get started, you’ll have no problem following along.

On the other hand, though, the patterns in Amigurumi are rather vague. Yarns, for instance, are classified into “fine, light, medium, heavy, bulky, and extra-bulky,” but the book never explains what those weights mean. There aren’t any details on gauge, nor are there any specifics offered. So you’re pretty much on your own there. Also, from time to time, you’re left to figure out some of the specifics of the patterns on your own. Fortunately, though, the patterns include all kinds of drawings and diagrams—and there’s plenty of room for trial and error. You’re making cute stuffed animals—not a fitted sweater—so if the size isn’t perfect, it’s no big deal.

From frogs and sheep to bears and bunnies, Amigurumi serves up patterns for all kinds of adorable crocheted animals. And even if you’re new to crocheting, you’ll have fun making these fluffy little friends from the Far East.

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