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Friday, March 16, 2018

How to crochet a graphghan-with FAQs

I post a lot of graphs on this blog, some free, some paid, and the questions I get asked most is how to actually create the afghan from the graph.  I try to post general instructions on each graph because there are several ways to crochet from a graph.  There's the newer C2C (corner to corner) method (no, I do not have any c2c patterns, sorry, but if you try to use this black bear for a c2c let me know how it works out and I'll try to make some! It may make a decent lapghan), you could sc each graph square, or my favorite, 2 dc per graph square.  That seems to be the confusing one.  Most graphs aren't worked that way.

Take this black bear graph above as an example. I made this graph to make my brother a pillow for Christmas a couple years ago (see photo below), so the graph is small and perfect for a practice project. (larger graph below) By the way, he loved it.  He even asked for a second one to match so he could have one on each end of his couch!

tunisian crochet pillow
Even though this pillow is in the tunisian simple stitch and that post about tunisian crochet was a couple days ago, I'm showing you this picture because it's what I made from this graph (thanks for the photo, big brother! I should have taken one before I gave it to you!).

*(the pillow seen here was made with 1 tss (tunisian simple stitch) per graph square with a size J afghan hook-the kind with the stopper at the end (see "that post" linked above).

The first thing you do is to count the number of squares along the side where you'll begin.  Some people like to work from top down, some from bottom up, and sometimes I tell you to work it from the side to avoid color changes all happening in the same rows.  On this graph, no matter which way you do it, there are 50 squares.  Double that 50 to make 100 and add one more for turning.  If you don't add that one to your total starting chain, when you dc in the third chain from the hook to start the row, you'll end up a stitch short. So we chain 101 with our tan and then dc in the third chain from the hook. Dc in each chain to the end.

FAQ: Do I put 2 dc in each chain?
Only 1 dc in each chain, a lot of people email me saying they put 2 dc in each chain stitch and it doesn't look right.  You don't need to do that.  That's why you double the chain count.  If you put 2 dc in each chain, it will ruffle and try to corkscrew. 

Now you've done the first row of dc.  That means you've also done the first row of graph squares.

FAQ: Do I double the rows as well?
 No.  This will make the afghan twice as long as you want it to be and skew the design to be tall and skinny.

From the bottom (where I like to start) there are 3 rows of tan before any color changes.  Go ahead and work three rows, 1 dc in each dc, counting the beginning chain 3 as a stitch (off topic a bit, but I prefer to chain 2 at the beginning of a row.  3 chain stitches makes my ends loose and baggy-yuck).  Now you come to a color change row.  When I get to a color change row, I start from the right and count to the left.  This makes sense to me because as I look at the work I've crocheted so far, my hook is on the right and I'll be crocheting to the left.  Left handers will probably read the graph the other way unless otherwise told.  That's fine. So there are 20 graph squares of tan before changing to black.   That means 40 dc stitches. So I will chain 2 (or 3 if you prefer)and dc 39 more because the chain stitch counts as one. The next one counts as the rest of the first graph square on that row. Then there are 11 black squares.  So you'll crochet 22 black stitches. And 19 more tan squares makes 38 tan dc to finish off the row.

*updated to add: the next row will be read right to left. this is a symmetric design, but in order to get an even 50 graph squares, I had to have one more tan on one side than on the other. The second row I would make 34 dc in tan, then 30 black, and end with 36 tan. Then back to reading from right to left on the next row.

Tip: Leave the tan behind instead of crocheting over it (tapestry crochet) with the black.  Start a second strand on the other side of the bear. This means you won't see the tan through the black and you will keep a crisp picture.

Recap: 1. Count the number of graph squares and double it.
2. put only 1 dc in each chain, starting in the third chain from the hook.
3. Count out 2 dc stitches (counting the beginning chain three as a stitch) for each graph square, changing colors as the graph changes.

That's it!  Can you crochet this black bear graph from these instructions?  It's just a sample so it's no matter if it doesn't work out for you, it will give you a place to start.  Let me know if you have any questions, either in the comments below, or contact me at  Post a picture and let us see how you did!