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Amigurumi (編みぐるみ, lit. crocheted or knitted stuffed toy) is how Japanese call the trend of knitting or crocheting small stuffed animals and anthropomorphic creatures. The word is derived from a combination of the Japanese words ami, meaning crocheted or knitted, and nuigurumi, meaning stuffed doll. Amigurumi are typically animals, but can include artistic renderings or inanimate objects endowed with anthropomorphic features, as is typical in Japanese culture.
Amigurumi have no practical use; they are created and collected for aesthetic reasons. The pervading aesthetic of amigurumi is cuteness. To this end, typical amigurumi animals have an over-sized spherical head on a cylindrical body with undersized extremities, usually termed a chibi style outside of Japan. Amigurumi may be used as children's toys but are generally purchased or made solely for aesthetic purposes.
An online fad for creating and collecting amigurumi began in 2003. By 2006, amigurumi were reported to be the most popular items on Etsy, an online craft marketplace, where they typically sold for $10 to $100.
Amigurumi are usually crocheted out of yarn using the single crochet stitch (double crochet in UK crochet terminology). They can also be knit. Typically, crochet hooks or knitting needles that are slightly smaller than one would use in a typical project are used, in order to achieve a tight gauge that retains stuffing and does not allow the stuffing to show through the fabric. Stuffing is usually standard polyester or cotton craft stuffing, but may be improvised from other materials. Plastic pellets may be inserted beneath stuffing in order to distribute weight at the bottom of the figure. Amigurumi are usually worked in sections and then joined, except for some amigurumi which have no limbs, only a head and torso which are worked as one piece. In crochet, amigurumi is typically worked in spiral rounds, in order to prevent "striping," a typical feature of joining crochet rounds in a project.
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