A crochet plushie creator delighted Studio Ghibli fans when she finally unveiled her giant crochet Totoro, the adorable character from the 1988 animated film “My Neighbor Totoro.”
For weeks, Julia Tachibana had been updating her followers with the progress of her human-sized Totoro made in the style of amigurumi, the Japanese art of crocheting stuffed creatures.
In July, she announced the completion of her Totoro with a photoshoot complete with a fake magazine cover, which she shared on her Instagram account @tachoflove.
The images show Tachibana happily posing and interacting with her mesmerizing creation, which is nearly as tall as her.
Tachibana, who is currently teaching English and design at an international school in Japan, tells NextShark that she learned the basics of crochet from her mother when she was still in elementary school, but learned about amigurumi some 10 years ago.
“I bought a kit by Lucy Collin on how to make Star Wars characters because they were adorable and I’d never seen anything like them,” she notes. “I’ve been hooked since (pun not intended, but it works!).”
According to Tachibana, one of her notable creations is a huge BB-8, the lovable droid from “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” which she created several years ago.
“My nephew was born and as he started to walk, I thought, how cute would it [be to] make one his size and have him pose by it?” she shares. “That sparked my curiosity regarding jumbo amigurumi creations.”
The idea to make a giant Totoro came from a fellow crochet enthusiast: “My other maker friend and I have started a tradition where we share our makes and trade in the summers when I’m back in the Bay Area, and he said he wanted a giant Totoro.”
As Tachibana worked on the Totoro project, she would share images of her progress on Instagram, to the delight of her followers.
Her posts, through the use of hashtags, managed to reach fellow creator Petr Medek from the Czech Republic, who happened to be the creator of the Totoro crochet pattern.
“He reached out, saying he had never seen someone attempt his pattern in this size and that he’d be more than happy to help,” says Tachibana. “The stuffing process was the most difficult part, and he gave me his advice on how many pounds to use. Petr is incredibly detailed and on point with his calculations! It’s been fun chatting with him and picking his brain about design in general.”
Tachibana says her Totoro would not have been possible without Medek’s help and guidance.
She was able to complete the project in a couple of weeks, which she shares mostly involved “going back to the store for more yarn, waiting for materials like my polyfill and the jumbo eyes to arrive in the mail.”
“Honestly, jumbo crochet works up more quickly than people think,” she reveals. “I’d say working on micro crochet actually takes longer because the stitches are so minuscule. If I had all the materials ready to go, I could probably whip it up in about two whole days. I do work quickly, though! I timed myself on just one arm, and it took 12 minutes!”
Tachibana spent nearly $350 in total for the materials, which she admits was “absolutely bonkers.”
“I don’t regret it. Some people invest in nice clothes, jewelry, cars, etc. I invest in… yarn,” she adds.
In response to requests from her Instagram followers, Tachibana shared a helpful guide on how they can create their own crochet Totoro, complete with the link to Medek’s pattern.
It appears fans of her work have a lot to look forward to, as she shares with us her future plans: “I’d love to design a pop-up museum/event in the future where people can come in and pose with different giant amigurumi creations. I’d love to promote Japanese culture through it and just continue to spread joy! There is something so wonderful about seeing recognizable items in a squishy, life-size form!”
She admits that she has thought about making a living off of her crochet crafts, but since she also enjoys teaching, her plans to own a little shop where she can sell her creations will have to wait for now.
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