AMIGURUMI, literally “crocheted or knitted stuffed toy” is the Japanese art of “knitting” or “crocheting” small stuffed animals and anthropomorphic creatures. The word is derived from a combination of the Japanese words ——- “AMI”, meaning “crocheted or knitted”, and “NUIGURUMI”, meaning “stuffed doll”. AMIGURUMI are typically animals, but can include artistic renderings or inanimate objects endowed with anthropomorphic features, as is typical in Japanese culture.
While AMIGURUMI have been popular in Japan for several decades, AMIGURUMI first started appealing to the masses in other countries, especially in the West, in 2003. By 2006, AMIGURUMI were reported to be some of the most popular items on ETSY, an online craft marketplace, where they typically sold for $10 to $100. Since then, popularity has continued to increase.
The pervading aesthetic of AMIGURUMI is “cuteness”. To this end, typical AMIGURUMI animals have an “over-sized spherical head” on a cylindrical body with “undersized extremities” usually termed CHIBI style outside of Japan. AMIGURUMI may be used as children’s toys, but are generally purchased or made solely for “aesthetic purposes”.
AMIGURUMI are usually “crocheted” out of yarn using the “single crochet stitch” (double crochet in UK crochet terminology). They can also be “knit”. AMIGURUMI are usually worked in sections and then joined, except for some AMIGURUMI which have no limbs, only a head and torso which are worked as one piece. In crochet, AMIGURUMI is worked in “spiral rounds”, in order to prevent “striping”, a typical feature of joining crochet rounds in a project.
Crochet hooks or knitting needles that are slightly smaller than one would use in a typical project are used, in order to achieve a tight gauge that retains stuffing and does not allow the stuffing to show through the fabric. Stuffing is usually standard polyester or cotton craft stuffing, but may be improvised from other materials. Plastic pellets may be inserted beneath the stuffing in order to distribute weight at the bottom of the figure.