Sunday, 24 March 2019

Yarn Review: Amigurumi + Exciting News

Can you guess what these are?
Two columns of black rectangular crocheted shapes with two threads leading from the outside edges of each shape towards the sides of the picture which is cropped.
This next photo has a clue:
Twelve black rectangular shapes in a semi circle. A beeswax candle in the shape of a beehive is in the centre of the circle.  Yarn threads lead away from the centre.

They are the bees’ knees!   

Not just one bee, but two, all thanks to Red Heart Amigurumi yarn, distributed in Australia by Melbourne-based business American Yarns.

Two crocheted round smiley faces of crocheted bees. Left: black face with silver features and silver wings above.  Right: a yellow round face with black features and white wings above. Underneath and to the sides of the faces are black legs.
I’m very excited to announce collaboration with Pauline and her team at American Yarns who sent me some Red Heart Amigurumi yarn to review.  While I am being remunerated for providing this review, my opinions expressed here remain independent and honest.
Three skeins of Amigurumi yarn arranged in an inverted triangle.  The two top corners have Amigurumi yarn in Bumble Bee colour: a combination of yellow, black, silver and white.  The bottom point has Mermaid colour: a combination of teal, peach, red and purple.  The labels are white with red edges and a Red Heart logo. Each label had a photograph of a knitted amigurumi project - two bees on Bumble Bee and two Mermaid dolls on Mermaid variety.
Red Heart Amigurumi
'Bumble Bee' & 'Mermaid'

RedHeart’s Amigurumi is a super fine (CYC #1*), 100% acrylic especially designed for projects needing small amounts of yarn in each colour like toys and amigurumi.  Each 100 gram ‘cake’ consists of 4 solid colour blocks with 25 g (54.6 metres) of each colour. Use it as a self-striping yarn for colour blocked projects or use each colour separately. It’s like 4 mini-skeins in one!

Amigurumi is convenient for collecting different colours in small amounts and if you need confidence combining colours, the work has all been done for you in one skein. The ‘cakes’ were surprisingly flat– all the better to see all the colours (and easier to post).  One skein of every colour variety would give you around 20 different colours.

Three flat cakes of Amigurumi yarn stacked together for postage withe a rule underneath to show how flat they are.
The 'cakes' were very flat.

My first impression of the yarn was amazement – it felt so soft!  It is much easier on the hands than 4-ply cottons which don’t have as much ‘give’.  If you have been avoiding amigurumi projects because cotton is too tight or rough, Amigurumi might be your perfect alternative.

I wonder whether this yarn is aimed at younger people because I had a lot of trouble with the teeny tiny writing on the label. Even with my reading glasses, I had to reach for my magnifying glass as well. This probably tells you more about my failing eyesight than the product! 

I suppose crocheters who make tiny amigurumi projects in fine yarn can also read small text however I was impressed that it was multi-lingual (English, French and Spanish). All the necessary technical information is there including lot numbers.  (I am very dubious of yarns that do not have lot numbers.)

The team at American Yarns are yarn crafters themselves. They know the importance of matching dye lots when preparing your orders.  I received 2 skeins of ‘Bumble Bee’ and 1 skein of ‘Mermaid’ to try.  For each colour variety, Red Heart provides a free amigurumi pattern in either knit or crochet on its website. Guess which ones I chose (crochet of course)!

Each cake has ample yarn to make two amigurumi toys. The catchphrase is “each one makes two.”  I made two bumble bees per the pattern and I reckon I could get a third bee out of the remaining yarn.

Side views of the two bees. The yellow-faced, white-winged bee on the left and black-faced, silver-winged bee on the right, facing each other.
'Henry & Honey Bumblebee'
Pattern designed by Michelle Wilcox and published by Red Heart 2018
Crocheted by Jodiebodie!

This is the first time I’ve ever used a 4-ply weight yarn in acrylic because most Australian shops only stock 4-ply weights in cotton or wool.  This is part of the reason Pauline, a fellow crocheter, started American Yarns – to make these yarns available in Australia and give Australian yarn crafters more choice, especially those with allergies to natural fibres.

The softness of this yarn was quite surprising for an acrylic. It’s loose, triple-plied acrylic fibres made it ‘lofty’. When pulling the yarn through stitches, it became thinner under tension but when the stitch was done, the fibres sprung back to their original thickness, covering up any gaps in the stitches, making the fabric more solid – perfect for preventing the stuffing from leaking out of toys etc.  I didn’t need to crochet as tightly as I was used to doing with fine cottons and my hands were happier.

My tension square used the ‘silver’ yarn. It’s smooth sheen slips nicely through stitches and from the hook – once my tension was correct.

At first, I got very frustrated because the yarn kept splitting – partly because my hands weren’t used to working acrylic with my thin steel hook so my tension was too tight, and partly because of the loose, S-twist of the yarn. 

I find that S-twisted yarns have a tendency to untwist with my crochet action.  I was hoping that a yarn especially designed for amigurumi would have a Z-twist.  This attribute might explain why each Amigurumi label depicted a knit ‘serving suggestion’ and not a crocheted one. I suspect this yarn is better suited to knitters than crocheters.

I also need to find a different hook. Red Heart’s free pattern recommends a 2.75 mm (US C-2) Susan Bates hook which is American (naturally).  I do not have one of those.  My hook was a 2.75 mm Boye anodised steel hook.

In the past I have come across online tribal debates comparing Boye versus Susan Bates.  If you have used either of these hooks, I’d love you to clarify: what are their pros and cons, which do you prefer and why, what’s the difference?

My Boye anodised hook occasionally caught fibres which split the yarn on the pulling through of the last two loops (of each stitch).  This was resolved by slowing down my final ‘pull-throughs’ and only pulling through one loop at a time instead of two.  Perhaps an in-line hook is better suited.  My bamboo hook’s head was the same diameter as the shaft but the mouth of it was too small and sharp for the lofty acrylic.  The acrylic did not slip as smoothly from the ‘grippy’ bamboo hook either.

Good news – American Yarns stocks both Boye and Susan Bates brands including in-line hooks. Put those on the list!

Be careful ripping back mistakes with Amigurumi.  Go slowly! It was mostly a smooth process but, because of my hook’s tendency to split the yarn, affected stitches would knot easily during ‘frogging’. Fortunately, scissors were unnecessary but they came close!

Reasons to recommend Amigurumi:
  • softness
  • colour variety
  • affordability
  • easy on hands because it’s lofty nature
    allows a looser working tension
    while maintaining a solid fabric
  • neither scratchy nor allergenic as wool
  • softer than many other acrylics on the market
  • good for knitters

To find out more about Red Heart yarns in Australia (along with other leading American Brands) contact the team at their online shop, American Yarns, Melbourne, Australia:

Top view of two bees facing the beehive candle. One can see the round shapes of the wings.

Your thoughts on Amigurumi?
Any preferences: Boye vs. Susan Bates?
Do share in the comments below.


American Yarns, online shop:
*Craft Yarn Council Standard Yarn Weight System:; Craft Yarn Council Yarn Standards; Craft Yarn Council, 3740 N. Josey Lane, Suite 152, Carrollton, TX 75007


  1. This is beautifully made.
    I have no idea what it is.
    Best regards, Irma

    1. Thank you Irma. It is a tricky guessing game. The mystery items are the little legs of the amigurumi bees.

      Dank je wel Irma. Het raadspel was een beetje moelijk. De zwarte crochet stukjes zijn de benen van de bijen. Ik hoop dat je een mooie dag hebben.

  2. I am loving your little bees. I am not a big amigurumi person, but love your little fellows. Great review on the yarn. Funny, I have not seen it here. And as for me the bigger the hook the better, I am a Clover fan. Hugs.

    1. Thanks Meredith. I'm enjoying their smiley faces on my windowsill. The Amigurumi yarn is a new release by Red Heart for this season so you are bound to come across it very soon.
      I haven't tried Clover hooks. Are they the ones with the 'soft touch' handles? If so, I'm interested to know how the handle material wears (if at all). I've seen some 'soft touch' compounds on other household items and they don't seem to survive our conditions too well - they perish after a few years.

  3. Replies
    1. Thanks, Cheryl. I'm quite taken with them myself. Just having a smiley face looking at me while I crochet makes the day happier. How can anyone be cranky with those cute smiles?

  4. How totally cute! You're the bees knees!

    1. Hahaha! I had a feeling you would enjoy the play on words. Actually, I chose the Bumble Bee yarn because I am a big fan of bees. They are so important for our survival but also fascinating. Maybe I will write another bee-centred blog post... I'm planning to play yarn chicken with the remaining yarn and to see if I can get hold of an in-line hook to do it. It will be interesting to compare the results. I wonder how it will affect my tension.

  5. The bees are adorable, not come across the yarn here.

    1. Thank you for the compliment Lorraine. Amigurumi yarn is a brand new release this season. American Yarns in Melbourne do take international orders. Have a look at the FAQ page on their website if you are interested: