There isn’t just one way to crochet an amigirumi. Some people prefer to crochet through both loops, others like to work into the back loops only, and still others prefer to have their pieces with the ‘wrong side’ facing out. In this post I compare the two methods of working in the back loop only (BLO) and working in both loops.
So what do BLO and both loops mean? What is the difference? The difference is in how you insert your hook into the stitch you are crocheting into.
When stitches are worked through both loops (indicated by the two black lines in the photo below), you insert your hook under the front AND back loop of the stitch you are crocheting into.
Back loop only (BLO):
On the other hand, when stitches are worked into the back loop (indicated by the single black line in the photo below), you insert your hook only under the back loop of the stitch you are crocheting into.
The differences between each method:
Texture and appearance:
This difference is probably the most obvious. When you work into the back loop only, the front loops remain on the surface of the fabric, creating ridges, or lines, at each round. These free front loops can be handy for counting rounds, attaching pieces, and placing stitch markers (for various reasons!). When working in both loops, the surface of the fabric is more uniform and less textured.
When working through both loops, no matter how soft your yarn is, your fabric can only be so soft because essentially when you touch the surface of the fabric you are feeling a bunch of knots. With BLO, however, you can touch the smooth font loops that lay on the surface of the fabric, over the knots. If you are using a nice soft yarn when working into the BLO, you can feel it!
Thickness and stretch:
While working into both loops creates a thicker, more stiff fabric, working into the BLO creates a thinner, more flexible fabric. Pieces that are made by working into both loops tend to hold their shape better and don’t stretch out as much. Pieces made by working into the BLO, on the other hand, are often more plush and squishy.
This is where you have to be careful when you are following a pattern: each method creates a different stitch height, and therefore creates a different shape in ami pieces. Working into the BLO creates a taller stitch, while working into both loops creates a shorter stitch. This difference is exaggerated when you start stuffing pieces because the BLO fabric stretches to be even taller. In the photo below, both pieces were made using the same pattern, yet the BLO piece is significantly taller.
You need to be aware of this when you want to make an amigurumi from a pattern using the opposite method than what the pattern specifies. Say you have a pattern that is made by crocheting into both loops, but you prefer BLO. The shape of your ami may look quite different from the sample in the pattern and you may need to make some adjustments, like decreasing the number of rounds, if you want it to look similar.
Which method should you use?:
There is no wrong way to make amigurumi – it is all a matter of preference! Both methods have their pros and cons, and it is up to you to decide which is your favourite. Some people don’t like the look of working into the BLO so only work into both loops, while others love how the exposed front loops look and prefer BLO. But it isn’t all about how an ami looks, one also needs to consider how enjoyable they are to make. Experiment with both methods and see which is the most fun for you.
Most designers work exclusively in one method or the another. For example, Stacey of FreshStitches prefers working into the BLO, while June of Planet June prefers working into both loops. Me? I am kind of on the fence, but I have my legs hanging way over into the BLO side.
I love the look of working through both loops – the surface is so smooth and uniform. For some patterns this method makes the ami look fabulous, but then I will think, “that looks like a lot of work to attach all those pieces.” The main reason I prefer BLO over both loops is the ease at which you can attach pieces. I think assembly is one of the hardest and least enjoyable parts of making amis, and I think many others will agree! It is so fun to make all the pieces, but then they sit around in a pile as you procrastinate attaching them all together. Your hobby shouldn’t feel like a chore! You crochet to relax and have fun, no? When I work into the BLO, I almost enjoy attaching pieces! It is a lot easier and faster because you can use the front loops that are free on the surface of the fabric to attach all the pieces. Plus, I love how easy it is to count rounds and attach stitch markers (which we all know I love!) using the front loops.
Within my patterns I mostly use BLO, but for some pieces within a pattern I will choose to use both loops. I like to make at least the main body BLO, not only for ease of attaching pieces, but also so that the body is soft and squishy – a big plus for large amis like my big bee Bobby! Also, I do find that I can crochet faster and more easily while working in the BLO, so for me it helps to use that method when making larger pieces. But, if I want a piece to have a smooth surface or a stiffer fabric, I will work into both loops. For example, Walden the Narwhal’s horn is made by working into both loops so that it holds its shape better, and Koko the Owl’s eye circles and beak are also made by working into both loops because I think they have a better shape and look that way.
All in all, I like to mix things up! While most of my amis and their pieces are BLO because I find it easier and more enjoyable to crochet, there are times I prefer to work into both loops. What is your preference?
Until next time,