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Guide to Reading Japanese Patterns
anime: FT levy
aspettame wrote in weloveamigurumi
Just thought I'd make a guide on reading Japanese amigurumi patterns to complement this awesome guide, which I've seen linked a couple of times, since it isn't amigurumi-specific and hence didn't include some of the stitches commonly used to make amis. I am of the (very biased!) view that Japanese amis are some of the awesomest things ever, so I think it would be wonderful if others could learn how to read these patterns too. :)

Do keep in mind that while I've only been working from these patterns, I'm still kind of new to this, so for those who have experience with these patterns (and in Japanese), if I've missed out something or got something wrong somewhere, please feel free to correct me! :) Now that's out of the way, let's get started!

*This guide uses US stitch-terminology.

Japanese ami patterns usually look like this:

You may also see a stitch-counting guide at the side of the pattern, which shows how many stitches you should have in each row. It also tells you how many stitches to increase or decrease and when to keep the number of stitches constant, so you don't have to waste time counting the number of stitches in the pattern.


There's a whole list on a Japanese-English lexicon here which was posted up sometime back.

Patterns read anti-clockwise, so the stitch on the left of the row number is the starting stitch of the row, and the last stitch of each row is on the right of the row number. Do note that the circle highlighted in red refers to the magic ring that you start from, and the first row consists of the six stitches you started off with. Also, there may be patterns that require you to chain six stitches instead of creating a magic ring with six stitches, and when this happens, there is no Japanese character (pronounced "wa", meaning circle) in the middle of the circle.

After a couple of rows, probably to save space, the first few and the last few stitches of the pattern will be shown as a rough guide. The stitches marked out in blue correspond to each other, showing where the guide ends and the rest of the pattern is not shown. When you decrease, eg. in row 6, simply follow the pattern shown for the first 5 stitches (sc, sc, sc, dec) and apply it to the rest of the row.

*The method of starting a new row here is actually a slip stitch followed by a chain stitch, but I'm not sure why they would do this, because I've tried it and it forms a visible line of different stitches (and causes my teddy bears to look like brain-surgery patients!). There are certain patterns where they call for both this method and the usual way of starting a new row (ie., crocheting the first stitch of the new row instead of doing slst+ch first), but I haven't tried that so I don't know the difference. If anyone could shed light on this issue, that would be great as I'm personally quite curious about it.

At the end of the pattern, you should have the number of stitches as stated. Sometimes the instructions will call for you to stuff the part and sew it up.

That's pretty much it, I think. There's stuff I can't really explain here, but which is also quite secondary (e.g. stitching the parts at certain positions - it's pretty commonsensical and you could probably easily figure it out yourself). Hopefully I haven't missed out anything. If there's anything you need clarification on or anything I missed out do tell me. Happy ami-making! :)

Credits: The pattern scan used in this guide was taken from: ちいさなかわいいあみぐるみと小物 (Small and cute amigurumi and komono), ISBN 978-4-8347-2761-6.

*Updated 06/07/2010

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This is awesome! Putting into mems.

Thank you!

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thank you - this is great!

Thanks for this :) When I did my first ami from a Japanese pattern, I was wreaking my brain trying to reach back and remember what the Chinese characters meant XD

Lol well I use Chinese in my daily life so it certainly helped A LOT. I had more trouble translating the stitch terminology to English tbh.

This is soooo awesome and I'm memorying it right away!

Thank you! Have fun! :)

Thank you so much for this! I've been wanting to try a Japanese pattern, but they were kind of scary looking! You've removed the fear and I actually understand what you've written!

You rock!


I'm glad it helped! Enjoy the awesome feeling of conquering your first Japanese pattern! :)

Thanks for posting this! I had them mostly figured out except for the kanji, I often had to match the part symbols from the chart to the stitch count table! O_O

Also just wondering if there's a reason why you made this post friends-only? Would you consider unlocking it so that the world can see and the search engines can index it? =)

You're welcome. :) I put in the romaji just so you could put words to the kanji, which might hopefully make it easier to remember?

I made it friends-only because I scanned the pictures from one of my own book. I'll credit the book later when I've access to it so I can unlock the entry. :)

omg thank you so much!
even though my boyfriend is majoring in japanese language.. he doesnt know essentials like stuff for my crocheting! boys right? hehehe :)

Haha you're welcome! I think it's just really the body parts you need to know actually! Lol. I know Chinese too, so that really helped with the kanji when I first started.

Thanks for the great guide! I bought a few ami patterns from Etsy using these kinds of diagrams, but have been leery of trying them out since I'm used to written patterns. This will be a great help!

Glad to be of help! Have fun making them. :)

Thank you so much! I was prepared to bust out the kanji dictionary at some point but you've saved me some time and effort! I really appreciate it!

need a little bit of help

i was wondering if you could help me with #4 and #5?
how it goes outside of the circle, but doesn't complete the full circle, does that mean it's just going back on itself?

thanks in advance!

Re: need a little bit of help

I'm not really sure what you mean by going outside of the circle, and I haven't really been making amis for sometime, but I think it goes like this:

You start off by making two circles and when you've completed the 5th row, you join the two circles together at the highlighted stitches. For the 6th row, you would work them as one whole piece.

Hope that helps! If not there are other experts here who, I'm sure, will be able to help you better. :)

Thanks for the explanation. I had already understood some patterns but I failed to dicrease and incrase .... Thanks again!

Just used your guide,

so helpful!!!

i found your notes very helpful as far as symmetrical forms go, but i am trying to make a seagull from this url: (you need a japanese language pack installed to open it) and i cannot for the life of me figure out how to make the body. the head is easy enough since it is a ball but the body has to increase on one side to make the tail part and the chart is not very clear to me. have you ever run into a problem like this or have any idea how to fix it? thank you so much for your help!

Well, I've never actually done one of these asymmetrical things before. I think what you do is you shift your stitch marker six stitches forward, but for those six stitches that are missing, you continue making them. Hopefully it works, so give it a go and give me a yell if it doesn't work! :)

chain/ slip stitch row start

I think you read the pattern a little off, because for all Japanese patterns I've used like this the chain stitch starts a new row, and the slip stitch ends it. So for example the last stitch in row ten is a slip stitch, and then you start row eleven with a chain stitch.

Don't know if you were still curious about that but I thought I'd post this anyways :)

By the way, this guide was really helpful!

Re: chain/ slip stitch row start

Oh yeah I got that bit wrong. Thanks for correcting me on that. Have you noticed that there is a different "look" on it though, as compared to simply going into a new row with a single crochet?

Re: chain/ slip stitch row start

Yeah I have, it does look different. I have noticed that it makes the rounds a bit more even though, because with a SC starting the next round there's a bit of a height difference between the two. Maybe that's why they use it?

i just happen to know that this method (instead of just working continuous rounds) helps make color changes seamless :) instead of the odd step-like stripes.


thanks so much for this! I have a question though if you could help?

I just need a small clarification on the first step of starting the head of a hello kitty pattern. There's no 'wa' symbol so it seems you don't do the magic circle, just chain 8. Then it says to single crochet around but you're supposed to end up with 18 sts at the end but I only have 16...:o

It would help to see the pattern described, but maybe you overlooked two increases somewhere in the row.

If everything fails, it's not too bad to improvise and just add two stitches - somewhere symmetrically : 3

i found a japeneese favor hello kitty key chain pattern.can someone PLEASE help>me and my 3 grandaughters would appreciate it.

Basic stiches names

I have a faded pattern and Japanese instructions to it, which I would love to understand. Could you translate to Japanese terms like single crochet, double crochet etc, so I could understand what"s written there? Please... :)

What does the toted lines mean on baby favor hello kitty means?

Sorry for the misspelled words.I will redo it.What does dotted lines on the Baby favor hello kitty chart means.That is where I am having problems at.

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