Understanding Round and Oval Shapes
(in order to create head)
There is no animal or doll toy without head. Understanding and learning how to make one is essential when creating your toy.
This simple round shape used to create head, as all of amigurumi elements, also has endless possibilities.
You can make simple sphere. With simple one you can never go wrong. You can make wider top and slimmer bottom or vice verse. You can make it squarish looking or go some three edges weird shape if creating one alien.
Many possibilities and you are not sure how?
Let me know if you’ll find out how, after this lesson!
This lesson will talk about basic round and oval shapes made with even increasing stitches to form the shape’s width and even decreasing stitches to close it.
Most commonly used are spheres. Specially common are spheres starting in magic ring with 6 single crochet stitches.
Why is that so? Let me show you on examples:
As you can see from above photo, I have crocheted several different rounds. Each one I started with different stitch count in the magic ring, increased evenly for 5 rounds, then repeated last round stitch count for the following 5 rounds and evenly decreased in order to close.
Increases are made in orange colored yarn for you to see what is happening in each work.
If you ask me, I like all of them, even the rounds starting with 7 or 9 stitches that are not in this photo but I included them in this lesson as well.
All of the rounds increase nicely and all are creating nice rounds to start with.
I am sure you will agree with me.
Now let us see how they look from the side view.
Aha! So that is the difference!
Can you tell?
Depending on how many stitches you use to start with, it will apply to your work. The less the stitches, the narrower the work. More stitches you start with, the faster you will reach desired width.
The more stitches you start with, the more repeating s in the middle rounds you’ll need to do in order to reach nice and round shape.
By now you can guess why is the 6 stitches in magic ring very popular (5 sts as well). They find themselves in the golden middle.
So why to bother talking about all other possibilities?
They all matter and are all important. Furthermore, you need to understand all of them in order to make your head desired shape.
Each one of them talks different story and will make your work look just the way you imagined. Many times, you won’t find yourself satisfied with simple 6 increasing rounds on top and decreasing to close. Many times you will need narrower head on the bottom or in the middle or longer neck to create…
That is why all these stitch counts matter and are important for you to understand. So let us talk a little about each one of them.
3 sts start/inc/dec
Very rarely used, but is nice for small works and cone shaped heads for example. It will always have this pointy, sharp end because of only three stitches used in the magic ring. Increasing/decreasing will go slow. 3 stitches each round is not much, but remember and use it if you are looking for something pointy on top. Middle part, if done will make this cone looking beginning start to look as spindle-shaped. Not the round shape but nice one to use for small heads, flower buds…
3 sts inc/dec are great to form edges on your head. Adding them inside you work will shape your head little bit better and give nice edges touch. For example, try adding them right after you finish creating your top of the head, and use 3sts increase to form the forehead and back of the head. Or use it around nose area two even increases on sides and make one just above where nose will be. This will make your nose pointing more. These are just few samples crossing my mind as I write.
4 sts start/inc/dec
I love this one! It makes great squarish looking shape, specially if you add chain in the middle of increasing stitch. That chain points your increases and nicely forms the shape of a cube or rectangular.
Great stitch to use when forming the body (and we will talk about it more in our advanced lessons).
Making roundish shape as seen on above photo samples is something to use if 3 is to narrow and you are not looking for a round shape as you would reach with 5 sts.
If looking for a square head to make, use this one as your guide and don’t forget the chain in the middle of each st when increasing! 4 is great to use on the bottom if you wish to make fine looking neck. Great as well to forming heads middle….
Make sure to make a sample and try it on. I am sure you will be pleased with result.
5 and 6 sts start/inc/dec
Placing 5 and 6 sts together as they give very similar results. They will both create nice round top and nice round end when closed. For as simple round and sphere go after these two options. Many will always got after these two, as are simple to count and work with.
7 sts start/inc/dec
Very rarely used, but again great one in my opinion. Many times you will not be satisfied with 6 sts to work with and 8 will be too much. 7 can be added and used as great alternative.
8, 9 & 10 start/inc/dec
Large number of stitches used in the start create wide rounds quickly. These are specially useful when working with thin yarns or thread. They provide faster development of your top of the head and make your work much easier.
Like I said. Creating the head is not just making the sphere. Above we mentioned basic rounds you can use in your creations. But, there are some other options as well.
What if you start with 10 sts in the magic ring, increase evenly few rounds and start decreasing and closing your work with just 5 even decreasing each round?
What if you start with 4 and change your mind to close with 8 or 10 sts decrease?
Everything is possible and you can work either way. From above mentioned basic shapes and stitches used, you can make a mixture of all and create something extraordinary.
That is why you need to practice. You need to get familiar with the shapes and understand what happens with each of the stitches used.
If you are really keen on learning I suggest you make samples, like I did for this lesson, for your future reference (or until you become familiar with the work) and use them as your guides when creating your own toys.
On how to count rounds and knowing how many you’ll need in order to reach desired shape I will talk more after we finish all of the basic lessons, but for now can tell you to make these samples and simple measure the round height in order to calculate approximate number of rounds needed in your work. Like I said, use samples to guide you. Measure them, observe them, make two three with different round counts and write notes. This is how you will learn.
Keep your notebook and pen at hand. Write down what you do. You will need to calculate stitches all the way, but all these little troubles are worth it. Making something of your own is priceless.
Now let us return to making rounds using different stitch counts and different increasing/decreasing counts.
As you can see from above photo, this little ball I started with 10 sts in the magic ring, but finished with 5 even decreasing on each round (the photo is up side down).
As a result, I had just few increasing rounds and reached 40 sts round count very fast. Just three rounds needed to reach 40 sts. Repeated 40 sts for 5 rounds and then started to decrease evenly (but this time 5 sts decrease). This decreasing took me double the rounds than increasing, but as a result my doll would end up with nice longer chin and neck area.
Vice verse, if I started with 5 sts, I would end up with nice round and deeper top of the head, but there would be no chin or neck space at all. Head would be cut on the bottom sharply (because of sudden 10 sts decrease).
The same way you can use any of the above mentioned stitch counts in order to create special effects.
For now practice with these simple shapes. Even increasing/decreasing or different stitch increasing/decreasing on top and bottom. Find the one you like the best. Write it down as you first head pattern. You will have one part of your toy done!
Dear friends we are not done yet!
We haven’t said anything about head shapes starting with chains! Or famous and lovely ovals!
These shapes are pretty awesome, but very rarely used in the Western countries. Our Chinese and Japanese amigurumi artists are using these shapes very commonly. I think we, “wild West” people are little lazy to count when making these oval shapes!
Oval shapes are wonderful for animal heads, rug doll look-a-like crochet dolls, baby rattles and baby toys….And are not difficult to master!!!! So don’t be afraid to take your hook, pen and paper and try making oval shaped head or body on your own.
I have prepared few of basic patterns you can use.
You can increase more on sides or more on the corners (depending what are you after, depth or width of the shape). But try working on them! You will be surprised how beautiful they are and how beautiful shapes they create.
For this purpose I have made one sample.
On above photo, you can see round and oval shape. Round is made from 6 sts started in the magic ring, while oval is made from 6 chains. Both are done in rounds.
When making ovals, specially if making one that will be worked together and continued work with the body work in closed rounds or rows. Meaning, ch1 on beginning, and sl st to chain made in order to finish the round. This will keep your work straight.
For small elements, ovals done in rounds work fine.
As you can see from the photo, oval is increased only on sides. Evenly, each row, but on sides only. This makes it much wider than regular round shape.
In the next photo are three samples. Round, round started from chain (but continued with increases and decreases as worked in round) and oval with side increases (decreases) only.
They are all lovely, don’t you think? And all can be used for something different.
One thing you have to remember the more chains you use to start with the wider the work will be (no matter how you will increase).
This starting chain is forming your shape and width.
Here are few of the oval patterns you can practice on:
R1 sc4, 3 sc in last ch st, work around chain, sc3, 2 sc in the last (12)
R2 inc, sc4, inc x3, sc4, inc x2 (18)
R3 sc, inc, sc5, (inc, sc) x2, inc, sc5, inc, sc, inc (24)
from here continue on your own…
each red marked sc, increase by 1, each blue marked stitches increase by 1
Your next round would be as follows:
R4 sc2, inc, sc6, (inc, sc2) x2, inc, sc6, inc, sc2, inc (30)
After you reach desired width, stop increasing and continue with repeating stitch count rounds.
My suggestion is to work in closed rounds or rows.
Each round start with ch and end with sl st to that chain.
- The same way you can start with chain 9
sc in each sts until you reach the last chain stitch. Make 3 sc in the last, continue working around the chain. Sc next 6 sts and inc or make 2 sts in the last ch stitch. This way you will create first round of 18 sts and in start make your work wider. Following rows continue based on instructions given above.
- Or start with chain 12, crochet as explained above and start with 24 stitches in R1.
Those were ovals started with chain and increased by 6 stitches evenly on each side.
Here are examples on how 4 increases can be done.
R1 sc7, 2 sc in the last ch st, continue working around chain, sc7 (16)
R2 inc, sc6, inc x2, sc6, inc (20)
R3 sc, inc, sc6, inc, sc2, inc, sc6, inc, sc (24)
R4 sc2, inc, sc7, inc, sc4, inc, sc7, inc, sc2 (28)
continue the same way increasing red and blue by 1 and green by 2 sts
Here is another 4 inc example:
R1 sc7, 2 sc in the last ch st, continue working around chain, sc7 (16)
R2 inc, sc6, inc x2, sc6, inc (20)
R3 inc, sc8, inc x2, sc8, inc (24)
R4 inc, sc10, inc x2, sc10, inc (28)
continue increasing each round and changing red marked stitches by 2
Your next round would look like this:
R5 inc, sc12, inc x2, sc12, inc (32)
If you have some you came up on your own, post it in comments under Lessons Page and I will add them in this post as well.
By now you learned about classic rounds and different stitches you can start them with. Classic rounds that can be worked with different increases and decreases on top and the bottom. To them you can implement and work with ovals as well. All together will help you make your desired shape.
There is only to make conclusion and leave you practice on heads until next week when we will talk about cylinders (open, closed…) and their uses for arms, legs and body.
Make a simple drawing of the head you would like to do and try making one using these simple basics.
For now make just a head.
Wait for the body to start with until we finish the lesson of basics on increasing and decreasing in order to form the shape other than round or oval.
Hope you have enjoyed and more important that you have learned something new.
See you next week with new lesson
Looking at picture, it looks so easy and simple, right? It is that simple as it looks!
And you still wonder why can’t you make your own doll?
Lets see if this lesson will help.
As you could see from above picture cylinders are the shapes used to create all other body parts, beside the head.
I find cylinders brothers of round shapes. Either they are older (wider) taller from our round, or are younger (more narrow) taller from our round.
What that means?
The way we started the round is the basic of any other crochet piece we’ll work on. It is always the magic ring or the chain. Magic ring will shape your ends in more round shape, while chain will create oval start and oval shape of your work.
How you start will be the base and will lead your cylinders to grow:
slim and tall ones will be the ones you start and don’t increase or increase one round and continue with repeating rounds for desired length fat and short or tall ones, will be the ones you will work same as round shape, or oval, but then instead of making round, and repeating middle session for few rounds, for the cylinder you will have to go double and more (depending how long one you’re making and what it’s purpose will be).
Cylinder shapes are used for arms, legs and torso.
When making arms and legs in simple cylinder shape it is very simple task to do. With just few stitches and repeating rounds you will create little arms and legs in no time. Here are few samples I made, different stitch counts, but yet tried to work through all of them we used in our first lesson. On this photo I skipped 3 and 4 stitches, as they are really rarely used for arms or legs. Three stitches in repeating rounds are very difficult to work, almost impossible even for experienced crocheters. Four stitches are not impossible to make, but are rarely used and I skipped them gladly. Four stitches and long repeating rounds of them are used when making tails in small amigurumi animals, or, sometimes, when making fingers on your doll’s hands.
On below photo I made 10 repeating rounds of 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 and 10 stitches I started in magic ring. Difference is obvious and for such a small pieces there is not much to say. These are all suitable for small doll arms and legs. Adjust the length by repeating rounds and you will have your doll arms and legs done in no time.
(for cylinders 8, 9 and 10, I actually started in ring with 4, 6 and 5 sts; increased first round to desired number of stitches and continued with repeating shape. That gives me possibility to close magic ring nicely).
Let’s see what happens with the torso. Torso will require few more increasing rounds and let us see what is happening with cylinder shape there. Same method you can implement if making bigger doll and with it bigger arms and legs.
Torso, together with head, makes one of the largest body part. We will not use blue prints of human body and actual proportions to make doll’s torso, but we have to picture and decide of it’s size, compare it to the head before we start crocheting. For that, the best is to keep picture or drawing of a doll you wish to make. This way you can keep track of what you’re doing and test your progress, compare it with your design as you go. You don’t have to be good at drawing, simple sketch will be enough. Maybe your hand doesn’t cooperate with the brain and eyes when drawing, but based on this drawing your brain will cooperate with you work and make things much easier for you. Give it a try. Draw your doll the best you can and try to follow it as you crochet.
For torso, same as for arms and legs we will use cylinder shape again. I made two little samples I started with 6 stitches in magic ring. One is done with 10 repeating rounds between increasing and decreasing ones, and second with 15 of them. In between I placed round little one, with just 5 repeating rounds so you can compare the sizes.
I can’t give you magic formula on how wide and how tall to make doll’s torso. This is what makes all this designing and crocheting interesting and diverse.
My lessons I started with rounds and ovals or the head shapes, as most of dolls start from the head. Once you have created and have size of the head you like, the rest of body parts will be easily made in order to match you head the way you wish.
For creating body, same as with arms and legs, make a base. Increase several rounds, but keep in mind not to make body larger than the head. If using same stitch count as one you used when making the head, stop increasing at last two rounds. This will make your body fit nicely to your doll’s head. This is some ration most designers use when making “normal” proportion dolls. I say normal as there are chibi dolls with extremely big heads and tiny torso, arms and legs, dolls in between chibi and normal, normal ones have head somewhat bigger but still remind on traditional doll shape… Whatever doll you will make, keep in mind to make body less wide than the head.
Even though the simple body can be done with easy and simple cylinder shape for most of you it will not be satisfying. Then these tall brothers we work on will call few relatives for help.
And so they come, relatives
Simple cones will make nice ears to your animal toys, but you will hardly use exact cone shape on your doll. Instead you need to understand how they are created and how to add them into your work.
Cones are done by simple, even increasing or decreasing round followed by one, two, three and more repeating rounds.
On what stitch number you use when increasing or decreasing, followed by how many repeating rounds you work, will determine how narrow and how fast your cylinder will be, and what shape it will get.
On above photo I have made cones with one repeating and two repeating rounds in between even increasing rounds. Cones are started (from left to right) with 3, 4, 5, 6 and 8 stitches in the magic ring.
If you increase or decrease each round your crochet work will have the shape of round, same beginning or end we talked about in our previous lesson. It will be nice and round. Adding round or two rounds in between each of increase/decrease, you can shape your work to more cone looking piece.
It is still simple shaping, but this way you can form chest and neck area more narrow, or play with shape of your head, arms or legs.
There is no formula or recommendation on how many repeating rounds to use in between your increasing or decreasing rounds. This really depends on what you are after.
If you are novice and just learning how to make a doll, and wish to use cone shape to finish your dolls body, use the same stitch count on decreasing rounds as you used for increasing ones when starting the body. Count rounds!!! That is essential!
Compare the body length to your head (assuming you have done the head first). You don’t want body to be too long. If you are working after blueprint (picture or drawing, try to make comparison based on that). Taking all these parameters in mind, count how many rows will you come up with if you repeat one round in between each decrease, and how many will give you two repeating rounds.
These all matter and these are all the things you have to be aware of and pay attention to when making your doll.
Below are few photos to show you what will happen with your round or cylinder when decreasing on top of your work. I tried to join two crochet pieces, round and cylinders adding the cone on top of them to show you what you might expect from your work. But to get familiar and to understand exactly what are you doing, you will, again, need to practice.
On above photo you can see what will happen if you start decreasing and repeating one round after you repeated only 5 rounds of the middle part. This example shows work started with 6 stitches round and 6 stitches cone. This would make nice body shape.
Above photo showing little round started with 6 stitches, 5 repeating rounds in the middle and cone with two repeating rounds between decreasing rounds (of 6 sts). What do you think? If you ask me, I think it is too long on top.
Lets see how it works on cylinders we previously made:
Each one works fine, don’t you think? At the end, all will depend on the size of ones head and the rest of the body (arms and legs) but 1 decreasing round with one repeating looks very nice to start with when learning the basics.
Just to compare, I added 2 repeating round cones to same cylinders.
Same as with round, even here the top seems too long.
But this is not all. All above examples showed you when you try to finish one piece from cylinder to cone shape using same stitch count on decreasing rounds as you did with increasing ones on the bottom.
Don’t forget that you can mix and match all of them. You can start with 6 but gradually change to 8 and finish with 4 stitches decreases in cone. Or any other way using any other stitch count in your work. This was just one little example on how it looks when 6 sts round shape and 6 sts cone work together.
And again I remind you to practice! This is the only way to get to understand all this and understand your work.
By the end of this week I will try to finish one simple doll, based on these first lessons we made, to show you on exact doll sample how it all works. While working and showing you on doll sample will tell you more about round shapes used on doll’s hands and how to make them. Feet and shoes we’ll leave for some other time. For now we keep on the simple!
Until next lesson keep on practicing and happy crocheting!
By now we have talked about rounds, cylinders and coins, some of the basic and fundamental shapes you need to know how to crochet and understand how are done if you wish to make your first amigurumi doll.
Now it’s time to crochet those pieces and see how they work together.
The major problem most of you have is not being able to draw your idea to keep it as reference and guide to your work. It doesn’t have to be the drawing, you can find inspiration from clip art pictures online, maybe you liked some plush at downtown shop, or you have a photo of one old doll or toy from the childhood you would like to make. Important is to have an idea on what you wish to make, and to work that idea in details before actual crocheting part starts. Best way is to draw a sketch. It is not essential, but is good way to start.
I hardly ever work with colors when drawing, and most of them are just lots and lots of basic shapes joined together (same as you need for crocheting, so use basic shapes for your sketch as well), and that way I know in advance what I am after. While making the sketch your ideas on what shapes you’ll start and use will grow, and while sketching write them down a side as notes.
Here is sample of simple sketch I make for my designs. Based on this I make notes on how I expect my work will go. This one was done in tiny little notebook I always keep by hand, but for more detailed work I have big sketch book with all the notes written on sides and across the sketch.
Important is to help yourself with anything you can. So use all your resources and make preparation before you start to crochet.
To show that you can make your doll for stick man drawing, in the FB group I made this little girl based on which I finished this lesson on basic amigurumi shapes. Stick man drawing is not detailed, but again, can help you guide through your work. And you all know how to make stick man drawing, right?
So let’s start with one simple like that!
And with color or two, I wish my doll to look like this!
Based on what we learned so far, we know how to make rounds to make the head. We can try endless options. Don’t be afraid to try different options for each of your dolls. Experiment! It will not be successful work every time, but from trials and fails you will learn.
With rounds we will star the legs, but then after creating feet (shoes looking bottoms) we can decrease evenly just a little to make the right width for legs we can carry repeating till the top, or as long as we wish our legs to be long. Another option is to make simple cylinders. Will show you the samples later.
Arms, same as legs. We can work them as simple as plain cylinder shape from bottom to top, or we can add little round on the bottom to form hands.
On below photo you can see options on how to make legs and arms. As we are still on basic shapes, and even increasing and decreasing, both, the arms and legs are done same way. If they have larger roundish end on the bottom, it is even on all sides. It is increased evenly, repeated rounds are done 2 times for each of them (but you can work as many as you wish, and that depends on number of the stitches you will use), then increased slightly, but enough to reach the number of stitches I needed for arms (6) or legs (9).
Body! Body can be done several ways. In this description I will mention only two of them as they are probably the most common and most of you will go after them in first trial. So let’s see what difference each of these two options I decided for are.
Both bodies are the same length. From above photo you can clearly see the difference. One has more repeating rounds in the middle, but ends short with even decreasing on every second round. While second sample has less repeating middle rounds, but to reach same length, instead of every second, I decreased evenly on every third round.
For my stick man drawing I decided to use upper sample. No special reason, simply thought it’s slimmer and with extra edgings I had in mind on adding to collar and sleeves, the second one will make my doll look chubby.
Now that you have prepared your drawing, and started to make samples for your doll, let’s put pieces together to see what we might expect doll will look like when done.
I crocheted options for legs and arms. It is more to show you what you can expect from your basic crochet elements and your first doll. If you ask me, I like both of them!
Both ways, simple cylinder legs and arms or those with little roundish ends look great for on this little doll.
But as I am working after my sketch, my doll will have round ended legs, but her arms will be simple and straight. As said earlier, for body shape decided to go after first sample, one that ends more slimmer way.
Sorry I forgot to mention my pattern on this doll’s head. I make dolls for some time now, and for me is not easy to go and make just ball looking head. I think it is because I like to challenge myself on every new project.
The head I made for this doll, I tried to simplify BB dolls head. I just love wider cheek area on doll’s head, and so far you could notice that on almost all of my dolls. I like that smiling expression doll can make without mouth on and that is what these wider cheek part of the head does (at least I see it this way).
So let me explain how I made this round head, BUT…..if you are making your own doll for the first time, try to come up with round shape of your own. Make your own lovely doll you can share with your friends and public. You can do it!
Started with 4 sts in MC
then increased all stitches for 2 rounds, or until I reached 16 sts round. From this round worked on even increases until 32 sts round.
32 stitches round repeated 2 times. Then evenly increased by 4 stitches around and reached 36 sts.
36 stitches repeated 2 rounds. Then evenly increased by 4 stitches around and reached 40 sts.
40 stitches repeated 2 rounds. Now I increased evenly around by 10 stitches and came up to 50 sts round very fast. (this is where I made head wider and made my lovable cheek area 😉 )
50 stitches repeated 5 rounds. I wanted to finish with flat bottom and to reach that I used 10 even decreasing stitches on each of the next 3 rounds
Last one closed evenly to 12, as 12 was the count number for my neck. This way when I sew body and head together they will fit perfectly stitch by stitch.
Now that we have crocheted all doll parts and know which ones we will use to make our dream doll. It is time to decide where we will make color changes. This is where your sketch will help again.
For this part, on how to decide where to add colors I didn’t make any photo, nor I can say more. This part is something you have to make. This is part is what making your doll unique. So take your time to count rows, observe your plain crocheted doll and decide where to add colors in order to create sleeves, shoes, dress…
This is still the most simple way of making your doll! when crocheting the body, leave front loops free to attach and crochet the dress, collar, sleeves, shoes, socks…. anything you wish to add. Plan in advance.
I am talking about this prototype doll, because this is the way we do in FB group. We start with simple doll. And this is the most simple one one can do. First doll needs to be made plain. No eyes, no colors….simple head and body. From there we go further. First step is to add the colors and add clothes, arrange and position eyes and decide on hair. Second step is making the doll, based on all of the information gathered and decided. As you need to know how to crochet the round, the same way you need to know where to add eyes or wish round to leave free loops for the dress later. If you are starting to crochet dolls, these are all the steps you need to take before you actually make your first doll and write your first pattern.
After this basic doll, and basic pattern, we can continue to expand our knowledge and upgrade to more difficult shapes, and work at all.
Hope this Amigurumi Philosophy didn’t turn me in boring philosopher 😀
For any questions, please feel free to write and ask. I do apologize (again) for all the mails I answer late, but really, really, I have little free time left. I do answer all of your mail, and again, please be patient; I will get back to you with reply, soonest I can.
If I forgot to mention anything in this part and you think is important and not to be excused, please feel free to point it out and let me know.
For the end let us see how my stick man drawing looks when finished.