Designing Amigurumi 2 – tall row shaping with half double crochet

A little while ago we looked at the first steps of how to design an amigurumi. We learned how to break down a sketch into simple shapes and how to translate that into a pattern. Today I’d like to show you how to add an extra dimension to your designs, adding curves using tall-row shaping. To do this, we’ll learn how to make a half-double crochet stitch, and make a cute coiled snake amigurumi.

In knitting, shaping is often done with short-rows. It is possible to use this technique in crochet, but the end result doesn’t look too good, as it is almost impossible to avoid leaving holes. Instead, we can add shaping using tall rows – we can make any row into a wedge shape by adding some stitches which are taller than the rest. For amigurumi, a tight gauge is important, and so using stitches such as double crochet is a no-go. The resulting fabric is too holey and the stuffing will show through.

We can, however, use a half-double-crochet stitch, abbreviated hdc. This stitch is half as tall again as single crochet, while still maintaining a tight fabric. If we crochet on one side in single crochet, and on the other side in hdc, then the piece will curve – as the single crochet side grows 1cm, the hdc side will grow 1.5cm.

The tightness of the curve will depend on the width of the piece, and whether rows of plain single crochet are added in between.

As an example, say you sketched a design for a curved neck. You measure the lines on your sketch and find you want the long side of the neck to be 10cm long, and the short side to be 8cm long. Lets say for simplicity’s sake that your gauge is 1 sc =1x1cm. The neck is 6cm round.

If you crocheted 8 rows as sc3, hdc3, then the short side would be 8×1=8cm, and the long side 8×1.5=12cm, or 4cm longer. You want it to be 2cm not 4cm, so you need to crochet half as many rows of hdc. Alternating rows of single and half-double crochet gives usĀ  (4×1)+(4×1.5)=10cm… perfect! The pattern for our neck is now (Round 1: sc3, hdc3; Round 2: sc plain) 4 times. We can work out how to make any gentle curve for our patterns.

So how do you do a half-double crochet?

Yarn over the hook, then insert the hook through the next stitch, as if to double crochet. Yarn over the hook and bring the yarn through the stitch. Now yarn over again, and draw the yarn through all three loops on the hook.

OK, lets give that a try with this cute coiled snake.

You’ll need:

  • Any yarn, and a crochet hook 2-3 sizes smaller than recommended for the yarn.
  • Polyfil or other stuffing
  • Googly eyes, beads, buttons, or black and white felt

Make a magic ring and sc 6 into ring
sc2 into every stitch
(sc2 into next st, sc1) 6 times
(sc2 into next st, sc2) 6 times
Single crochet plain for 5 rounds
(sc2tog, sc2) 6 times
(sc2tog, sc1) 6 times (12 stitches)

sc6, hdc6 – repeat this row every round until your snake is about 3 ins shorter than you want it.
sc2tog, sc2, sc2tog, hdc6
(sc5, hdc5) for 10 rounds
sc2tog, sc1, sc2tog, hdc5
(sc4, hdc4) for 6 rounds
sc2tog twice, hdc4
(sc3, hdc3) for 4 rounds
sc2tog 3 times
sc plain for 2 rounds
draw yarn through last 3 stitches, draw closed and fasten off. Weave in ends, and stitch on eyes and tongue.

If you enjoyed this pattern, check out my latest pattern book!

12 thoughts on “Designing Amigurumi 2 – tall row shaping with half double crochet

  1. Great! Great! Great! I am so excited I found this :) I have been crocheting for years and although I have been able to make quite a few things without using a pattern, I usually make animals and such in the round and then increase or decrease for shaping. This method opens up so many more ideas. Thanks :D

  2. I want to learn how to write my own crochet pattern.
    Thanks for the information. It is very useful for me.

  3. OMG! You have saved me!! In 2 hours is my mum’s birthday and I was panicking, but then I found your pattern on Ravelry! Thank you so much!

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