Cuddly Crochet Critters introduces 26 soft, huggable, pillow-like animals that are easy projects for beginners and will be loved by children and adults of all ages. Fashioned from super-bulky, machine-washable, chenille-style yarn, the stuffed animals can be completed in just a few hours. These cuddly critters make great pillows for a child's nap time, homey accessories for a dorm room, comfy companions for travel, and great gifts, too!
Based on the popular Japanese "tsum tsum" style, each project starts with a standard body shape and requires just some basic crochet stitches. As an added bonus, there are 12 additional "critter combinations" to make! Mix and match pattern pieces to create a koala, a zebra, a narwhal, and more.
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|Product dimensions:||8.20(w) x 10.70(h) x 0.40(d)|
About the Author
Megan Kreiner is an animator at DreamWorks Animation and the author of several crafting and crochet books, including Dover's Creepy Crawly Crochet. Her designs and patterns, marketed as Mk Crochet, encourage imaginative and safe play for people of all ages.
Read an Excerpt
Before you begin on your first critter, check over your materials to make sure you have everything you need to complete your project!
Yarns: To make your chunky critters super-sized, it's recommended you use Super Bulky Bernat® Blanket Yarn (100% polyester). It comes in 10.5oz/300g skeins and in a wide range of colors. You should expect to use between 200 and 250 grams or 150 to 170 yards for each project.
In addition to this super-bulky yarn, you will also need 2–3 yards of chunky black yarn for smaller details such as eyebrows. For the samples in this book, I've used Bulky Berroco® Comfort® Chunky Yarn (50% super fine acrylic, 50% super fine nylon).
Tip: The blanket yarn used for these projects can sometimes snap when pulled too hard, so take care when pulling on the yarn when closing the holes in the middle of your adjustable rings.
Safety Eyes & Noses: The extra-large eyes and noses featured in this book were all purchased online through the website www.glasseyesonline.com. It is important to note that pillows intended for children under 3 should utilize alternative eyes and noses (page 13) as plastic safety eyes and noses can pose a choking hazard.
Stuffing: Polyester fiberfill stuffing is readily available at most craft stores and will maintain its shape over time. Each pillow critter takes about one 12-ounce bag of stuffing to complete.
Notions & Tools
A short list of tools will help make the process of putting together your chunky critters quick and easy:
Hooks: For super-bulky yarn, you will be using a size M/N (9.0mm) hook. There are lots of options in regard to materials and handle styles for crochet hooks. To find the one that works best for you, try to hold the hooks in your hand before you make your purchase to ensure a comfortable fit.
Because you are making pillow critters and not garments, your stitch gauge and overall sizing is not crucial. However, if you find that your stitches aren't tight enough and your stuffing shows through, try reducing your hook size.
Scissors: Fabric scissors used exclusively for yarn will help ensure clean cuts and quick snips.
Tapestry Needles: You will need a large steel tapestry needle with an eye large enough to accommodate extra-chunky yarns. Avoid plastic tapestry needles since they can sometimes bend and break when going through multiple layers of crochet and stuffing.
Stitch Counter: A counter can help you keep track of where you are in your pattern.
Large Safety Pins: Use safety pins when a pattern calls out for "place markers" (pm) to help mark useful landmarks on your work. Smaller place markers such as split rings can sometimes slip off or get lost among the large stitches.
Marking Pins: For projects using bulky yarn, you might find that regular straight pins are not large enough to hold anything in place. Look for larger bamboo straight pins to help keep your project pieces together while you sew!
Project Bags: A small project bag (such as a canvas pencil case) is great for storing smaller tools and notions while a larger canvas shopping bag can hold everything else needed for your current project.
Crochet Stitches & Techniques
The projects in this book are considered "Easy" (a step above the novice/beginner level) and require a few basic crochet stitches to complete. If you are new to crocheting, this section will provide an overview of all the stitches used for the patterns in this book.
To make the details easier to see, we'll be using a thinner yarn for our stitch-making examples.
1. Make a loop with a 6" tail. Overlap the loop on top of the working yarn coming out of the skein.
2. Slip your hook into the loop and under the working yarn and gently pull to tighten the yarn around the hook.
Yarn Over (YO)
Wrap the yarn over your hook from back to front.
1. Make a slipknot on your hook.
2. Yarn over (YO) and draw the yarn through the loop on your hook. You should now have one loop on your hook with a slipknot below it.
3. Repeat Step 2 until you've reached the specified number of chain stitches. When counting, only the chains below the loop on the hook should be counted.
Slip Stitch (sl st)
1. Insert your hook into the next chain or stitch.
2. While keeping your tension as loose as possible, YO and draw the yarn through the stitch and the loop on your hook.
Single Crochet (sc)
1. Insert your hook into a chain or stitch and YO. Draw the yarn through the chain or stitch. You will have 2 loops on your hook.
2. YO and draw yarn through both loops on your hook to complete the single crochet.
Half Double Crochet (hdc)
1. YO and insert your hook into a chain or stitch. YO a second time and draw the yarn through the chain or stitch. You will have 3 loops on your hook.
2. YO and draw yarn through all three loops on your hook to complete the half double crochet.
Increases (Sc 2 in next st)
Work 2 or more stitches into the same stitch when indicated.
There are two kinds of decreases used in this book's patterns: Single Crochet Decreases and Skipped Stitches.
Single Crochet 2 together (Sc2tog)
1. Insert your hook into the next stitch, YO and draw the yarn through the stitch. You will have 2 loops on your hook.
2. Repeat Step 1 in following stitch. You will have 3 loops on your hook.
3. YO and draw yarn through all three loops on your hook to finish the decrease.
Per the pattern instructions, count and skip the number of stitches indicated before working the next stitch in the pattern.
Working in back loops (bl), front loops (fl) and both loops (tbl)
For all patterns, work in both loops of a stitch except when the pattern instructs that a stitch should be worked in the back loop or front loop. The front loop is the loop closest to you. The back loop is behind the front loop. If a round or row begins with "In bl" or "In fl" work entire rnd/ row in that manner unless you are instructed to switch.
Working in the round
Many patterns in this book are worked in a spiral round in which there is no slip stitch or chains between rounds. You just keep right on crocheting from one round to the next. If needed, use a stitch marker to help keep track of where your rounds begin and end.
Adjustable Ring (AR)
The adjustable ring is a great technique that will minimize the hole that commonly appears in the middle of a starting round.
1. Form a ring with your yarn, leaving a 6" tail. Insert the hook into the loop as if you were making a slip-knot.
2. YO the hook and pull through the loop to make a slip stitch but do not tighten the loop.
3. Ch 1 and then sc over both strands of yarn that make up the edge of the adjustable ring until you've reached the number of stitches indicated in the pattern. To close the center of the ring, pull firmly on the yarn tail.
To start your next round, work your next stitch in the first single crochet of the completed adjustable ring. If the pattern requires a semicircle shape (like for an ear), ch 1 and turn the work so that the back of the piece faces you before working the next row in your pattern.
Working around a chain
When working around a chain of stitches, you'll first work in the back ridge loops of the chain and then in the front loops of the chain to create your first round.
1. Make a chain per the pattern instructions. To begin round 1, work your first stitch in the back ridge loop of the second chain from your hook (feel free to mark this stitch with a stitch marker to make it easy to find).
Work the rest of your stitches into the back ridge loops of the chain until you've reached the last chain above the slipknot. Work the indicated number of stitches into the back ridge loop of this last chain.
2. When you're ready to work the other side of the chain, rotate your work so the front loops of the chain face up. Starting in the next chain, insert your hook under the two front loops of the chain to work your next stitch.
3. Once you have finished working the rest of the stitches into the front loops of round 1, continue on to round 2 (indicated by your stitch marker).
Right Side (RS) & Wrong Side (WS)
When working in the round, the side of your pattern perceived as the "right side" will affect which part of the stitch is the back loop versus the front loop. As a general rule, the 6" tail left over from forming the adjustable ring will usually lie on the wrong side (WS) of the piece. The same can be said for patterns that begin by working around a chain provided you hold the 6" yarn tail at the back of your work as you crochet the first round.
Work the stitch prior to the color change right up to the last step in which you would normally draw the yarn through the loop(s) on your hook to complete the stitch.
To change colors, YO the hook with your new color and draw the new color through the remaining loop(s) on your hook, completing the stitch. You can then continue on to the next stitch in the new color.
Jogless Color Changes
When working color changes in the round, the colors will sometimes appear to "break" or "jog" into a step-like pattern from one round to the next. This can be undesirable for patterns with stripes (like the tiger). To help reduce the color jog, and to blend the beginning and end of your color changes, complete the last stitch of your round in the first color and then slip stitch in the front loop of the first stitch of the next round and pull firmly.
Working in the back loop of the same stitch, drop your first color and slip stitch with your new color. Pull yarn firmly, ch 1, and pull yarn firmly again.
Working in the next stitch, complete your first stitch as written. Place a marker if desired to help mark where your round begins. You will skip over the slip stitches and ch 1 when you are ready to begin the next round.
Please note that this technique will offset your round's first stitch.
Working in Surface Stitches
You can add details such as a lion's mane by crocheting directly onto the surface of your work.
To join your yarn to the surface of your work, select a starting location and insert your hook through a stitch loop on the surface of your work.
YO the hook with your working yarn and draw the hook back through the surface stitch to pull up a loop. Ch 1.
Work your first stitch in the same surface loop to begin your pattern (so, if your pattern begins with a single crochet stitch, you will work one single crochet stitch into your surface loop).
Continue to crochet your pattern into the surface loops of your work as written.
Assembly & Embroidery Stitches
Assemble and add finishing touches to your creations with a few simple sewing and embroidery stitches.
Use this stitch to close seams and attach open edges on your work. Using your tapestry needle and yarn, draw your needle and yarn through your work and catch the edge(s) of the second piece you wish to sew in place. Pull the yarn through the edge(s) before drawing the yarn through your work again in a spiral-like motion. Continue until the seam is closed or the piece is attached.
Short & Long Stitches
Shape the surface of your character with short and long stitches. With your yarn and a metal tapestry needle, draw the yarn up through the surface of your piece (A) and then reinsert the needle in a different location (B). Repeat if desired to double or triple up the yarn. To cinch the surface of your piece, pull the yarn firmly as you work.
The mattress stitch will give you a nice tight seam between various toy pieces, such as for sewing down the open edges of tails and muzzles and for sewing crochet surfaces together like heads to bodies.
Select a point on the surface or edge of your first piece and insert the needle from A to B and pull the yarn through. Cross over to the surface of your second piece and draw your needle in and out from C to D with the entry point at C lining up between points A and B on the first surface. Return to the first surface and insert your needle directly next to exit point B. Continue to work back and forth in this manner until seam is closed, pulling firmly after every few stitches to ensure a clean, tight seam.
Tip: Leave long yarn tails when you fasten off your arms and legs. When assembling, use straight pins to attach all your limbs to the body to ensure everything is even and balanced. Then, using the leftover yarn tails, place a single stitch at each straight pin to tack your pieces in place. Remove the pins and finish sewing your pieces down using a whipstitch or mattress stitch.
Apply satin stitches by grouping short- or medium-length stitches closely together to build up a shape or fill an area with color. This can be a great option for adding spots or baby-safe eyes to your critter.
Draw your yarn in and out of the surface of your piece in a dashed-line pattern.
Use this stitch to create solid line details on the surface of your work. (A) Begin by drawing the yarn up through the surface of your piece. (B) Reinsert the needle to the right, (C) then bring it up slightly to the left of the first stitch as shown. Continue to work in this manner to make a solid line of stitches.
General Assembly Tips
All the patterns in this book are assembled using the same basic techniques. This section will give you a general illustrated overview of how to piece your cuddly critter together. For a review of the stitches used to assembly your project, please refer to Assembly & Embroidery Stitches on page 9.
Tip: Because projects crocheted using blanket yarn feature large, chunky stitches, using regular straight pins to hold your pieces together for assembly might prove challenging. Instead, try using larger bamboo straight pins to position your pattern pieces together before sewing your seams.
It is recommended that you partially stuff the front half of your critter before installing the eyes so you can get a better feel for the shape of the body and face. If using plastic safety eyes, install the backings to secure the eyes. For critters intended for children under 3, sew on crocheted eyes (page 13) or embroider a tight grouping of satin stitches (page 10) for eyes onto the front of the face.
Once your eyes are installed, add more stuffing to the body if needed before sewing the edges of the back opening closed using a mattress stitch.
If you would like to add cheek shaping to your critter's face, loop a long stitch of yarn out from the middle of the ch-8 in the center of the face and into the bottom of the head (around Rnd 6) before drawing the yarn out through the starting point in the center of the face again. Repeat 2–3 times, pulling tightly to shape the cheeks.
If your pattern includes a muzzle that requires a nose, install the nose before sewing the muzzle to the front of the face. If a plastic safety nose is not available, or if you need a safe alternative for children under 3, refer to the crocheted nose patterns on page 13 or embroider a tight grouping of satin stitches (page 10) for a nose.
Sew the edge of your muzzle to the front of your critter's face using a mattress stitch, stuffing the muzzle before closing up the seam.
If adding a lip cleft below a plastic safety nose, tie the middle of an 18–20" strand of bulky black yarn around the post of the nose. Thread your tapestry needle with the yarn tails, draw a long stitch down over the front of the muzzle, and fasten off beneath the muzzle to create the lip cleft detail. The same long stitch can also be embroidered onto the muzzle when using child-safe crocheted noses (page 13).
If your pattern includes a belly patch, position the belly patch in the desired location. It is recommended that you pin down the edges to ensure even placement and a smooth fit. Sew the edge down using a backstitch.
The same pin and backstitch technique can also be used when installing spots.
For ears small or large, use a whipstitch to attach the base of the ear to the head. Wings and fringes can also be attached using a whipstitch.
For horns and tails, stuff your pattern piece, pin your work into place, and sew open edge down using a mattress stitch.
Install a belly patch first before sewing legs to the body. Mattress stitch the open edge of the legs to the bottom of the body but leave the yarn tails unsecured until all legs are sewn in place to allow for easier removal and adjustments. Once you are satisfied with the leg placement, fasten off the yarn tails and weave in the ends.
Double up an 18–20" strand of bulky black yarn on a tapestry needle to add embroidered details such as eyebrows, gills, whiskers, or lip clefts for those perfect finishing touches.
If you want eyebrows to have a bit of a curve, embroider a loose long stitch over the top of each eye. Shape the eyebrow stitch into an arch by adding a small stitch over the long stitch to hold the eyebrow in place.(Continues…)
Excerpted from "Cuddly Crochet Critters"
Copyright © 2019 Megan Kreiner.
Excerpted by permission of Dover Publications, Inc..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
Getting Started, 1,
Crochet Stitches & Techniques, 3,
Assembly & Embroidery Stitches, 9,
General Assembly Tips, 11,
Penny Pig, 14,
Davy Duck, 17,
Shelly Sheep, 20,
Preston Pony, 23,
Connie Cow, 27,
Henry Hippo, 31,
Polly Panda, 34,
Lucas Lion, 37,
Taylor Tiger, 41,
Ella Elephant, 45,
Maxwell Monkey, 48,
Fern Fox, 52,
Bobby Beaver, 56,
Crocheted Eyes & Noses, 13,
Bonus Critter Combinations, 106,
Abbreviations & Standards, 107,
About the Author, 108,
Olive Owl, 59,
Braden Bear, 63,
Wally Whale, 66,
Sharon Shark, 70,
Ulani Unicorn, 74,
Draco Dragon, 78,
Bella Bumblebee, 82,
Lily Lovebug, 85,
Bonnie Butterfly, 88,
Beatrice Bunny, 91,
Mason Mouse, 95,
Cody Cat, 99,
Danny Dog, 103,