Saturday 3 February 2024

Amigurumi and more

Herein, find a summary of December and January's crochet projects.

It's fair to say that these winter projects were dance-themed.

My current crochet interest is amigurumi , a Japanese word for small knitted or crocheted creatures. According to the ladies at the boutique yarn store where I sometimes indulge, I am not at all alone in this. The cotton yarn that is preferred for amigurumi flies off the shelves. Amigurumi have a distinctive "Hello Kitty" aesthetic - big head, small chunky body, small face - which makes them very cute and universally appealing.

The first, and most ambitious project I worked on was a doll that I donated to the the Malanka silent auction. I used this pattern from the designer Galena Veremeenko. I chose it because of the beautiful details, which from a creator perspective, are both the most challenging and rewarding aspect. I had to read the pattern carefully and often several times to make sure I wasn't forgetting some of the details, from the bead earrings on the doll's tiny ears to the dark green centres of the poppy headdress, from the embroidered detail on the dress to the dangling ribbons at the back. Some creators omit a few of the accessories, but I joyfully included them all.

Front view

Detail: poppy headdress

Back view

I started this project in December and finished it the first week of January. As I worked on my girl I had plenty of time to think about the significance of why I took on this project. I usually begin crochet projects on a whim. I wouldn't say I think much about it at all. I get an idea, then I search Etsy for a  pattern, and then if I find one I like I can't wait to get started. The spontaneity of it is partly why I enjoy it. I can just decide to create something and make it happen. It's a kind of superpower. But of course, once I commit to a project it feels different.  Time, effort and focus are required, and that means sacrifice. As I worked on the doll, I realized that it was at least partly a symbolic statement of what the dance organization has come to mean to our family, as well as a statement about how important it is for me to be accepted and acknowledged as a member of this group. As such, I of course had some butterflies about how the doll would be received, if she would attract attention at the silent auction, and so on.

All the time I was making the doll, I no qualms about giving her up, as that was always the intention. It wasn't right until I handed her over that I experienced some separation anxiety! After all, this was something that a lot of time and love had gone into. I was quite attached.

Happily, my girl was very well received. Everyone who got a look at her before the silent auction was very excited, and it caused some buzz even before the event. One of my dance classmates particularly had her heart set on her, and she got into a nice bidding war at Malanka. I'm not totally sure of the final bid, but it was at least $125 CND, which was quite satisfying. I also am happy that I have shared some of my other creative side with this community.

Of course, I couldn't make this doll and then not make something for my own daughters. The original plan was actually make to three dolls, keep two and donate one, but when I saw how much time was involved for the doll and how costly materials were, I nixed that plan. Instead, I created these teddy bears using another awesome but simpler pattern from Marizza Toys.

Ballerina bears

The colours of the outfits match AJ and Dani's practice outfits. I gave them their bears after they performed.  I put the finishing touches on the second bear in the car as we were driving to the hall to perform.

What's next for amigurumi? Well, I want to make another Ukrainian doll to keep. I'm not quite sure if I should make it look the same or add some customization. I'm half tempted to give her grey hair and a bun, and a slightly different outfit as an homage to my group of mature dancers. But I don't know, maybe that is a third doll. 

I also want to make a small green dragon as a gift for AJ's best friend. And then I'll still probably have a fair bit of yarn hanging around, so we will see.

I also like to have an easy project on the go, something repetitive that I can work on in bed while listening to a podcast. The moment when I crawl into bed is one of my favourite times of the day, not going to lie. Also in January, I completed this ballet shawl. The yarn is a soft synthetic, a very dark green that looks black in some lights, and forest-y in others. It is delightful to wrap around my waist before class or workshop on a winter day.

So, January was busy, but in a soulful way, I think. I need the experience of creating my life, not just reacting to what comes at me like a speeding train. Crochet is a way to call that meaning to me: it's tangible, intentional, and can be used to tighten family and community bonds. Not a bad way to start the year, at all.


  1. I love your projects. You're inspiring me with the shawl. And the little figures - I've had a pattern for a dairy cow I have wanted to make for a niece for ages. I must try it.

    1. Thank you! I enjoy the vision, the creation process, and then (most of the time) the final result, whether I keep it for myself or give it to someone else. Win-win all around! You should totally make the cow.