Why is amigurumi so popular? Because it’s over-the-top adorable! Who can resist a tiny crocheted bunny, mushroom, cupcake, or … just about any item you could ever dream up? From friendly monsters and angry birds to any food you could find on a restaurant menu, amigurumi designers have crocheted it all. But one designer in particular has gone in a bigger direction with her amigurumi patterns—quite literally.
In Durby’s interview below you’ll meet Stacey Trock, author of the popular books Crocheted Softies and Cuddly Crochet. When it comes to crochet for kids, Stacey’s struck a chord. She’s combined the whimsy of traditional amigurumi with the cuddliness of larger stuffies. The results are not only delightfully charming; they’re worthy of the tightest squeeze a little one’s arms can muster.
It’s not only kids who love Stacey’s crochet animals; Ravelry has lit up with projects, posts, and favorites from both of Stacey’s books. Check out two Ravelry members’ delightful projects from Crocheted Softies (don’t you just love the cute photo styling that these two talented crocheters came up with for their softies?):
To give you the opportunity to try Stacey’s amigurumi patterns—and to experience her easy-to-follow amigurumi how-to—we’re thrilled to share a free amigurumi pattern from Stacey with you today.
Meet M. Richard the Whale:
Of M. Richard, Stacey says: "This big whale was tired of the spotlight, so now he goes by his middle name. No need to go out into the deep to find him. This cute and cuddly guy is right at your fingertips when you’re holding a crochet hook."
In Stacey’s free amigurumi pattern, the whale body is worked from the tail up to the face. You’ll attach features and stuff the body as you work to ensure that your hands will fit inside when they need to. Download the free pattern now. You can see more of Stacey’s playful designs at the bottom of this post.
Now, let’s meet Stacey—take it away, Durby!
An Interview with Stacey Trock
You’re quite an accomplished crafter for someone so young. How did you first get “hooked” on crochet?
Aw, thanks! I started crocheting when I was six years old. My mom taught me, to give me something to do, and it just took off from there. I started coming up with my own designs and entering them in the county fair before I was 12 years old. I was motivated by winning those little ribbons at the fair, so I kept going. In high school, I crocheted afghans during math class and, since I was a good student, I got away with it. I kept going, so I think I have about as many “crochet hours” as someone twice my age.
Your entertaining Fresh Stitches blog is filled with great tips, patterns, and stories. What do you enjoy most about blogging?
What I like best is reaching an audience. As a designer, I work from home, so I usually only leave the house (and talk to real-life people who aren’t my boyfriend) a couple times a week. Blogging (and reading comments left on my blog) gives me a way to connect to the outside world and keeps me from getting too lonely! I’m also continually (pleasantly) surprised by how much people enjoy my blog. I’ll go to my weekly sit-and-stitch, and someone will come up to me and say, “I just loved seeing your stuffed monster visit Philadelphia.” Hearing that makes me happy all evening long!
How else do you stay connected with the knitting and crochet community?
Ravelry has changed my world! It’s a place where I can chat with others about knitting and crochet and also look at new yarns and patterns. I love talking to people at all different levels in their needlework lives. I learn so much from the experienced designers, and when I talk to people just starting out with crochet, I also learn how I want to present my instructions. Seeing where beginners run into trouble helps me refine how I want to explain my techniques.
I go to a weekly sit-and-stitch at my local yarn store, where I also work once a week. There, I can chat with others and see what everyone else is doing. Being an employee in the store really helps me stay involved, because I see the new products that come in and have customers who keep me up-to-date on the hottest patterns and yarns!
I’ve always loved and been inspired by children. They’re so free-spirited and creative, and it’s a joy to create items that will make them happy.
A lot of customers at my local yarn store make baby items either for their own children or as gifts, and I noticed some gaps in the patterns available. I heard a lot of requests for gender-neutral baby patterns, since a lot of parents don’t know the gender of their baby until it’s born, which can make gift giving tricky!
Also, many customers want a great baby project that will “grow up” with the child. So, I was inspired to create baby items that spanned childhood. The designs from my books are great for a newborn and will still be wonderful when the child is five years old.
How are your stuffed animals different from most amigurumi?
Most amigurumi tend to be fairly small, only a couple of inches tall. If you intend to make a toy for a very young child to play with, that size just isn’t practical. Most of the toys in my books are 7″ to 8″ inches tall, which is a great size for hugging and carrying around.
Also, it’s always my goal to keep the finishing (seaming, embroidering) to a minimum. A lot of amigurumi make use of felt, paints, or detailed embroidery to make adorable facial features. I admire that style, but I find that crocheters sometimes have difficulty replicating the exact details that the designer used. My amigurumi have less-detailed faces, which I hope allows people to easily replicate my results!
What’s one tip you’d like to give to someone just learning to crochet?
Don’t beat yourself up! The first time you learn anything (whether it’s crochet or cooking), you’re going to make mistakes. If you learn to play a musical instrument, you’re not going to play songs on your first day. And in crochet, you won’t have a perfect item on your first day either! Play around with practicing the stitches, and if you make a mistake, learn from it and keep going. You’ll get there eventually.