I got an email recently from one of those crochet sites, advertising: 5 tips from amigurumi pros.
Amigurumi is japanese term. I don't know the exact translation, but it basically is crochet stuffed animals or toys. I consider knitted stuffed animal/toys to be amigurumi as well, but that is my personal preference.
From the Crochet Me email/website:
Tips from the Professionals on Crochet Amigurumi
Laura Gibbons: Don't give up! I think many people look at the patterns and their brain just starts to hurt because they don't understand it. Take the pattern line by line, piece by piece.
Stacey Trock: Amigurumi should be fun, not frustrating. Don't get too caught up about positioning the ears "just right" . . . whatever looks cute to you is right!
Gina Reneé Padilla: Don't be afraid of crocheting amigurumi, if you know the basic stitches of crochet, then you will have no problem crocheting amigurumi. Take your time, draw a picture, even search online for something that will inspire you.
Allison Hoffman: Keep those stitches tight and stuff 'til you can't stuff' em any more! Sketch the face out first (embroidery, eye placement, etc.), and it makes it a lot easier to transfer your idea onto the toy. Experiment with different kinds of yarn for texture.
Nancy Anderson: Use smaller hooks in order to crochet tight fabric with no stuffing show-through, but rest your hands regularly, as this tight gauge can make your hands hurt. Have fun and don't be afraid to be creative and whimsical with colors, embellishments, and feature placements. It's okay to go a bit wild and crazy, it's just a toy. Best of all, have fun—that's what it's all about.
Well, the advice was OK, but it is mostly what you tell beginners when they're starting ANY craft or activity. Mostly motivational. Their advice is not wrong, its just not how I learned.
I thought I would share some more detailed advice, more helpful advice for making nice looking amigurumis you can either love or be satisfied with.
1. When using single crochet, decrease by inserting hook through back loops only. This creates an invisible decrease, if you want an invisible decrease.
2. When sewing on different parts of the creature, sew them onto the vertical bars (into the holes) made when you crochet around a stitch. Don't sew through the yarn strands themselves.
3. Memorize (or have handy) the basic circular increase or circular decrease. You know, the kind that makes a sphere shape. That way, if you want to lengthen or shorten a spherical shape, or you want to make a sharper increase or decrease, you have within your power to do so.
4. Insert eyes and sew on any details BEFORE stuffing your amigurumi with whatever stuffing you're using.
5. Use a hook small enough to make a tight gauge, but not so much that it hurts your hand to use. You don't want to see the stuffing poking through, it just doesn't look right generally.