Not only am I nerdy about literature, hip hop, and Buffy the Vampire Slayer; I also harbor an abiding obsession with cute tiny Japanese things: origami, bento box lunches, bonsai trees, crocheted amigurumi dolls. (I blame it on the Hello Kitty my grandma gave me when she took me to the rodeo in 1987.) The word “amigurumi” comes from the Japanese words “ami,” meaning crocheted or knitted, and “nuigurumi,” meaning stuffed doll, and they typically take the shape of adorable li’l animals. Over the past few years I’ve gotten to know our library’s arts & crafts section in the 700s quite well, and we have a handful of amigurumi books I’ve been dying to tell you about:
I will always have a soft spot in my heart for the tiny crocheted zombies, ninjas, and robots within these pages; this is the book that first introduced me to amigurumi. In fact, I learned how to crochet just so I could use this book. (YouTube Donna taught me.) Literary bonus points: contains an amigurumi Cthulhu. How perfect is this for Halloween?
The whole point of amigurumi is arguably cuteness, which is reflected in its characteristic proportions of oversized spherical heads, wideset eyes, cylindrical bodies, and tiny arms and legs. Tiny Yarn Animals is a great example of this cute “chibi” style. I’m also a big fan of the unexpected critters in this collection by Tamie Snow — hippos, koalas, foxes and ring-tailed lemurs.
This is the sequel to Ana Paula Rimoli’s Amigurumi World, which has now grown into a four part series. After spending time with amigurumi books penned by several different authors, I have to say that Ana Paula Rimoli is my favorite. Her patterns are creative, super cute, and — importantly for beginners — totally easy to follow. And I love her boyish amigurumi robots and airplanes.
When I first saw Ami Ami Dogs 1 & 2, I thought, “wait, it’s just dogs??” I’ve since developed an appreciation for Mitsuki Hoshi’s approach: because she’s dealing with just one basic shape (dogs), she’s able to drill down into the techniques for creating many different amigurumi effects — spots, shaggy fur, adorable facial expressions. She also offers several creative takes on how to transform your tiny amigurumi friends into accessories like refrigerator magnets, keychains, and cellphone charms.
One of my favorite trends in amigurumi is adorable crocheted food! Sprinkle donuts, hot dogs, bananas, sushi… you can find amigurumi patterns for just about any of these. The best example of this from Lawrence Public Library’s collection is Tasty Cute, but I’m also a huge fan of Christen Haden’s book Yummi ‘Gurumi, which you can get through Inter Library Loan.
If crocheting isn’t your thing, you can still get in on the amigurumi phenomenon by sewing “softies” (try Steampunk Softies) or creating an amigurumi knit (why not Knitted Meerkats?). Please leave us a comment if you’re into amigurumi — we’d love to see what you’ve been making! And don’t forget about Lawrence Public Library’s annual DIY crafting series, Thrifty Gifter, which starts up again on November 13 and will cover awesome projects ranging from Linoleum Block Printing to Upcycled T-Shirt Cowls.
–Rachel, Adult Programs