Great Owl Crochet-Along - Bits & Pieces

We've talked about the two main things your going to need for the Great Owl Crochet-Along: yarn and a trusty hook. But if you've already peeked at the pattern, you know that there are a few more items on the shopping list. So, while we wait for the big kick-off, let's take a look at these items:

No... not the kind you put in your turkey... I'm talking about something soft to pack into your owl. There are so many brands out there and so many different kinds of fibers available - it can seriously make your head spin.

For my part, I'm a Fairfield Poly-fil kind of gal. The Fairfield site gives the following specifications on the stuff:
  • 100% Polyester
  • Non-Allergenic
  • Washable
  • America's best selling polyester fiberfill
  • Does not shift or bunch
  • Available in many package sizes
There are a couple of reasons that I use Fairfield -- first, it's readily available at almost every craft store. Second, I like the texture of the polyester fill. It's very smooth and silky where I have found some other brands to feel kind of jagged. Third, I like that it doesn't bunch up. I've used some other fibers (including natural ones) that -- after some regular love -- feel like they have little wads inside them instead of one, smooth filling.

Now I know there are a lot of folks who swear by natural fibers and I'd live to get your experiences too -- so please give me a shout in the comments!

Yarn Needle
When it comes to yarn needles, I'm all for the 2" (5.08 cm) steel tapestry needles like the one shown on the right. On the negative side, they're harder to thread with a bulkier yarn. But because they have such a small eye, tapestry needles won't disrupt your stitches like one of the big-eyed plastic needles (shown on the left).

Another added bonus for using the steel tapestry needles is the breakage factor. Because amigurumi crochet uses some pretty dense stitches, it sometimes gets tough to poke through multiple layers (for example, where the owl's eyes are sewn to the head). Add to it that I like to keep my stitches on the surface of the project as opposed to going all the way through (more about this once we get into the project) and you're looking at a recipe for plastic needle disaster.

Whichever way you decide to go, Susan Bates brand (available from most craft sellers) offers the goods.

Stitch Marker
Your stitch marker can be as fancy or as utilitarian as you want it to be -- but in amigurumi crochet, you absolutely MUST have one. Almost anyone who sells knitting needles or crochet hooks also offers a package of cheap plastic split ring stitch markers and I've found these to work well.

If you are going to shop for stitch markers, make sure you get the SPLIT RING variety. The other option is a stitch marker that makes a complete circle and is used in knitting. This will NOT work on your amigurumi project unless you want to go through with pliers and cut them out when you're all done.

If you don't want to invest in stitch markers (and there really is no reason to), you can also use a paperclip, safety pin, or just about anything else that you can easily work in and out of a loop of yarn. One caution on these options though -- paperclips and safety pins have rough edges and can snag your project --  so be careful!

Just like with everything else, I have broken LOTS of my plastic stitch markers (I suspect that's why they give you so many). After my third or fourth package of stitch markers, I found it was more economical to buy some removable metal stitch markers like these. Trust me when I tell you that if you're going to be doing a lot of amigurumi, this is a worthwhile investment!

I think that should about wrap up the shopping list for your owl project, but stay tuned for a special bonus post from Clara of 6060 on how to select eyes for your amigurumi. Even though eyes are not on the official shopping list, I know some of you may want to use pre-made eyes instead of sewing them, so we'll make sure that base is covered too. See you soon!

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