4 Ways to Use Increases in Amigurumi
Have you ever wondered how designers create such interesting amigurumi shapes? It seems mind-blowing to be able to crochet shapes that twist, turn, and curve so fluidly. While it’s indeed a bit complex, shaping is totally doable (even for beginners) if you break it down. Let’s start with 4 ways to use increases in amigurumi.
4 Ways to Use Increases in Amigurumi
What is an increase?
Before we jump into all the ways you can use increases to shape your amigurumi, let’s define exactly what an increase is.
Defined: an increase happens when 2 or more stitches are worked into the same stitch(es) and generally, the overall stitch count of a row/round goes up.
1. Even Increases
I don’t mean ‘even’ like even numbers, but rather steady. Basic shapes are a perfect example:
You start with a specific number of stitches, in this case 6. Then each row is increased by 6 stitches until you reach the desired width. If you started with say 8 stitches, then you would increase each row by 8 stitches. Each increase using this method is also spaced out evenly around the row.
By increasing evenly your project will (typically) lay flat until you begin regular single crochet rows. I crochet super tight, so my shapes tend to cup immediately rather than lay flat, but that’s fine for ami.
And this doesn’t just apply to spheres. Evenly distributing your increases is also used to make cylinders and cone shapes. If you want to practice making these shapes, check out: Easy Guide to Crocheting Basic Shapes.
2. Stacking Increases
In the previous example, you may have noticed that each row is worked so that the increases from each row stagger rather than stack on top of each other.
The same pattern could easily be written:
Row 2: [inc, sc] 6 times. (18)
Row 3: [inc, 2sc] 6 times. (24)
Row 4: [inc, 3sc] 6 times. (30)…
When it comes to making basic shapes like spheres, it’s a personal preference and you’re welcome to use whichever method (stacked or staggered) that you like. Here’s the difference in what they look like:
The circle on the left is created by stacking and circle on the right is created by staggering. Let’s focus on the circle on the left.
Increasing naturally creates a sort of raised ‘point’ in your row because you’re squishing more stitches into a space. When you continually increase in the same place each row, the point becomes more and more pronounced, which is why the circle on the left looks more like a hexagon.
You can use this to your advantage if you want your project to have distinct sides. For example, take a look at this tetrahedron:
For the example above, the written pattern would look something like this:
Row 1: [inc, sc] 3 times. (9)
Row 2: [inc, 2sc] 3 times. (12)
Row 3: [inc, 3sc] 3 times. (15)…
I wanted only 3 sides, so I only increased 3 times per row and always stacked those increases on top of each other. This creates sides that get more distinct with each row.
3. Bunching Increases
Up until now, we’ve been evenly spacing increases, whether they’re stacked or staggered. Now we’re getting to the real fun because I just love manipulating increases for more complex shaping.
A single increase can create a tiny point in a row, so what if we want that point to be heavily emphasized?
In my Sir Duckington pattern, the head, neck, and body are all worked together simply by manipulating increases (and decreases, but that’s another whole post). See how the body flares out at a soft curve from the front of the neck while jutting sharply from the back of the neck?
When working around the front of the body, the increases are a bit more gradual and spaced. For example: (inc, sc, inc, sc, inc, sc). Whereas in the back of the body, it looks more like: (inc, inc, inc).
Tightly bunching increases together will create sharp changes in the silhouette while spacing them out will create more gradual curves.
If you want to practice some slightly more complex amigurumi shaping like this, check out my Sir Duckington pattern above or even Sammie the Turtle, which is free here on the blog.
4. Strategic Increases
You might be thinking, isn’t bunching increases strategic because it alters the silhouette? And yes, it is, but I want you to think of the bigger picture. Think of the overall project.
Where are the curves? Are some parts thick and others thinner? Is the body round or more oval shaped?
By strategically placing your increases you can determine exactly when your project gets wider, thinner, flares out or even curves.
If you’re having trouble picturing it, watch the first 20-30sec of this video.
Think about your project like a 3D printed object, being slowly built row by row. Amigurumi is 3D, so it’s important to consider what your project looks like from all sides.
For example, if you need the body to be more oval shaped (thinner when viewed from one side and thicker when viewed from another), your increases would be focused on the two end points of the oval.
But how do I remember what side I’m working on?
The answer is: you need a focal point from the very beginning.
If you’re making a doll, which side will the face be on? If it’s an animal, which side is the face or front of the body? Once you’ve decided which side is the ‘front,’ I suggest marking it somehow using a stitch marker, yarn, etc…
Then keep an eye on your center line (which you should also mark if it helps) because crochet stitches naturally lean.
In the example above, I used the pink stitch marker to mark the center of the face which really helped when I was placing my safety eyes later.
Knowing which side is the front and where your center line are will help you place increases in the right places to get the shapes you want.
Whew, I know that was a lot, but I hope you found it helpful. Even if you prefer to make simpler amigurumi with minimal shaping, it’s important to know how increases can affect your projects. For example, if you’re noticing your heads are looking a little too geometric rather than round, try staggering your increases.
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