Friday, February 3, 2017

Totoro in the Rain Afghan--Free Graph!

When I crocheted a Corner-to-Corner Baby Owl Blanket for one sister's baby a couple of years ago, it inspired me to crochet something special for my other sister.  The owl's big round eyes reminded me of one of our favorite movie characters, the Totoro.  I looked for patterns, but didn't find one that was quite what I had in mind, so I made my own.

I had help, of course.  I consulted these designs from Simpelway and Strepie93 on Deviant Art, combined my favorite features from both, made some other adjustments, and hand-drew this graph.  Then I rounded up some yarn, and started crocheting.
I'd made a good start when the summer came, and I wasn't in the mood for sitting under a growing blanket.  So I used the same pattern and some waste canvas to cross stitch a onesie for my nephew.  Then I finished the afghan in the autumn.

Crochet hints:
  • If you've never done a C2C project, try the technique on a smaller pattern first, one with fewer color changes.  
Here are a couple of videos on C2C crochet: 
How to Crochet a Corner to Corner (C2C) Graphgan
Color Change on a C2C Crochet Graphgan 
And a non-video tutorial with lots of pictures:
C2C (Corner to Corner) Tutorial  
  •  Determine your own gauge. I used my favorite I (5.5mm) hook, and worsted yarn.  With 3 dc in each square, my squares came out at about one inch (2.5 cm) per side.  But yours will probably be different.  Crochet a few squares, measure them, then decide how big you want your blanket to be.  Change hooks if you want a different size blanket.  The graph is 55 squares tall, 47 squares wide.
  •  Now pull your sample squares out.  How much yarn did you use for each square?  Use this information to determine your yarn requirements.  I used two skeins of the background color, the light gray, and the belly color.  One was enough for the other colors.  
  • Also use this information to make color management easier.  I found the length of yarn I needed for each raindrop, cut those lengths, and wound each around a clothespin.  After crocheting one square, I would clip the pin to the area, so the yarn was ready when I needed that color again.  (It turned out that the scrap yarn I was using for raindrops was only long enough for 22 raindrops, not 23.  So I edited my copy of the graph before beginning.)  There was plenty of tangling with the large-area colors; having the small ones contained was wonderful.
  • Divide the large-area color yarns into 2 or 4 balls, so you can work one on one side and not have to cut it when you get to the other side.
  • Most of the small-area colors were yarns I had on hand, and the black and bright red yarns were thinner than the rest.  So I made each of those squares with 4 dc instead of 3, and they fit fine. 
  • Keep paying attention!  At the beginning of a project like this, I'm excited to change colors, and careful to mark what I've done.  Toward the end, I'm excited to eliminate colors from the tangle.  Hurrying to finish this one, I made some mistakes following my own pattern.  Oops!  I'll attribute the raindrops' levitation to the power of the Totoro's grin.  But you can avoid (or fix) things like that by checking each diagonal carefully before you finish.
  • A round or two of sc is a great way to finish a C2C afghan.  Instructions for my Acorn Border are now available.  
I'd love to see what you make with the Totoro in the Rain graph! 

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