Most amigurumi patterns are made from circles. And making circles means that you will have to increase in a calculated and systematic way. This means you will have to count. There is no escaping it. According to my experience, this is disappointing news for beginning crocheters… the dreaded counting. But, you need not fret. In this article, I’m going to show you a system for counting for beginners.
Beginning crocheters tend to have difficulty counting because they are concentrating on performing the stitch properly… and before you know it, have lost count. It’s okay, this is not a disaster. To start, grab a row counter and a locking stitch marker.
Row counters are handy devices. They come in many forms: circular ones that stick on the end of your crochet hook (and that you need to manually rotate to advance to the next number), ones that hang around your neck (and click as a means of advancing), and even… these things called pencils and paper… Yes, many people prefer a post-it note and a pencil to keep count of what row they are on. These are all fine ways of keeping count, and it’s really a matter of personal preference. For example, if you carry your crochet projects around with you often, a row counter that sticks to your hook may be more useful than a post-it note, but it’s up to you. We3 will demonstrate using the hook-based kind of row counter.
In yarn world, there are two types of stitch markers. If you knit, you may be familiar with ring stitch markers, that are kept on your knitting needle as a place holder. Because crochet doesn’t keep stitches on a needle, it’s not surprising that this kind of stitch marker is completely useless to us. We need to use the second type: a locking stitch marker. This type of stitch marker has a hook that will lock onto a stitch and stay there until you take it off. This allows you to keep a place in your work as you continue on crocheting. And, there are different options available! Locking stitch markers are available in the plain plastic variety, and should be available at most yarn stores. In a pinch, a safety pin will do (although, if you have a choice, aim for the french safety pins, which lack the coil on the end that sometimes catches your yarn). And decorative locking stitch markers are making an appearance.|
You are going to use these two items to keep track of your stitches. You will use the row counter to keep track of what round in the pattern you are on. And you will place the stitch marker at the last stitch of each round to keep track of where you started the round. That’s all you need to do. Let’s see how this works: step by step.
|Okay, so those are your tools. Now get out your pattern. The first step is to ch 2, so no exceptional counting skills required there. The next round says to sc 6 times in the first stitch. Set your row counter to ’01’ to remind you that you are on your first round. To finish this round, you will need to count to six. At this point, it is difficult to use a stitch marker because the piece is so small, so you’ll have to rely on your memory.|
||Now you’ve finished round 1 (and hopefully, have a circle with 6 stitches in it). Increase your row counter to ’02’, to remind you that you are now on the second round. Place your stitch marker on the front loop of the last stitch that you just completed. This is pictured at left.|
||You are at the last stitch in the round. How do you know? You are directly above the stitch marker from the last round, meaning that this round is done.|
Now it’s time for Round 2. Notice that the instructions say to ‘sc twice in next st, then sc in next st’, and repeat 5 more times. Here is where the stitch marker does his work. All you need to remember is that you need to ‘sc twice in next st, then sc in next st’ until the end of the row! So, sc twice in the next st, and in the next stitch, single crochet once. You just keep doing this until you are directly above the stitch marker, as we saw with the previous round. If you forget what you are supposed to be doing, just look at your row counter, which will remind you that you are on round 2, and check the instructions for that round.
When you have completed round 2, it’s time to start the process over again. Increase your row counter to ’03’, and move your stitch marker to the last stitch you have just completed. Now, just look at the directions. They say ‘sc twice in next st, then sc in next 2 stitches’. So, single crochet twice in the next stitch. Single crochet in the next stitch, and again in the next stitch. And, you just have to remember to do this until you arrive above the stitch marker again. And on it goes!
With this system, you just need to remember to increase your row counter and move your stitch marker at the end of each row. And before you know it, you’ll have your circle!
|There is another part where the stitch marker is useful. Notice, after you complete the circle, this pattern tells you to do 10 rounds of single crochet. Looks like a lot of counting, but it’s not! Leave your stitch marker in place at the end of Round 10. You won’t need to move it soon. Now, just keep single crocheting. Every time you pass the stitch marker, you’ll know you’ve completed one round. At that point, just count how many ridges you see between your hook and the stitch marker, as shown at left (The arrow points to one ‘ridge’). This tells you how many rows total you have done. When you get to 10, you’re finished, and you didn’t need to count the stitches!.|
This is the system I teach to all of my beginning amigurumi students, and it’s helped them not get lost in a maze of numbers. I’m sure it will help you get started, too!