Friday, April 29, 2011

Totoro for the Masses

King of the Forest Pattern


The Really Big Totoro

Designed by Robin Zillman Jacobson

    Here is the exact pattern I used to knit this giant sized Totoro for my daughter. One of the things that most bothers me about many of the knitting patterns in magazines is a lack of consistency. If you follow the pattern to the letter and knit every stitch as written then you should get something that looks just like the picture, right? I took notes the whole time I was knitting this and I can promise that if you can get gauge, and use the same yarn, you'll get a big fluffy Totoro just like in the picture.

Skill Level: Medium

Size: Large

Finished Height: 22"

Finished Width: 25"


3 skeins of Homespun from Lion Brand (98% Acrylic, 2% Polyester; 185 yds/169 m) in color 312 Edwardian, and 1 skein of Homespun from Lion Brand in color 300 Hepple White (5)

Small amount of smooth black yarn for embroidering eyes and nose. (I used Lamb's Pride Worsted in Black)

Size 8 (5.0 mm) 24" circular needle, or size to obtain gauge.

Size 8 (5.0 mm) set of double point needles.

4 stitch markers.

Tapestry Needle

3 - 20oz bags of Fiberfill.

Gauge: 16 ½ sts and 24 rows = 4" in St st.

Note: The yarn Ryan, my daughter, chose is a fluffy, very soft, boucle' yarn in a bulky weight. It is knitted at a very firm gauge so the stuffing doesn't poke out, but this yarn is a little difficult to work. It splits like mad and has no give at all. For an easier to knit version I would try Lamb's Pride Bulky by Brown Sheep.



CO 20 sts on circular needle. The bottom is worked back and forth in Stockinette Stitch.

Row 1 (WS): Purl

Row 2 (RS): K1, M1, Knit to last stitch, M1, K1.

Repeat last 2 rows until you have 48 sts.

Work in St st 14 rows ending on a WS row.


Turn to right side.

K 48, PM (this marker will become to beginning of the round, Marker 1), Pick up and knit 14 sts along strait edge and then pick up and knit 28 sts along edge of increase rows, PM, Pick up and knit 20sts, PM, Pick up and knit 28 sts along edge of increase rows and 14 sts along strait edge, PM. (152 sts)

Knit for 13".


Round 1: SSK, K to 2 sts before 2nd marker, K2tog, slip marker, K to 3rd marker, slip marker, SSK, K to 2 sts before 4th M, K2tog, slip marker, k to end of round.

Round 2: Knit all sts slipping markers as you come to them.

Repeat these 2 rounds until 24 sts remain between 1st and 2nd marker. (116 sts)

Nose decreases, to be worked at the same time as head shaping. After the 4th marker, K 22 sts, K2tog, SSK, K 22. (110 sts)

Decrease 2 sts every round 12 times, until 20 sts remain between Marker 4 and Marker 1.

Switch to double point needles when necessary.

Continue rounds 1 and 2 until only 2 sts remain between markers 1 and 2. (44 sts)

Place 22 sts on each of 2 double points. Stuff the body, you'll need a lot of stuffing at this point. Kitchener stitch the head closed. Weave in ends.



CO 16 sts. Divide sts 4 per needle. Join in the round.

Knit 4 rounds.

*K1, M1, K6, M1,K1*, repeat. (20 sts)

Knit 1 round.

*K1, M1, K8, M1, K1*, repeat. (24 sts)

Knit 3 rounds.

*SSK, K8, K2tog*, repeat.

Knit 3 rounds.

*SSK, K6, K2tog*, repeat.

Knit 3 rounds.

Continue decreasing in pattern until 4 sts remains. Using a tapestry needle, thread through sts, BO.

Sew ears to top of head over the points left by Kitchener stitching the head.

Hint: This yarn is a right screaming pain in the arse to sew with. You might try using a smooth yarn in a similar color for sewing the arms and ears in place.


CO 32 sts. Divide sts evenly on to 4 double points. Join in the round.

Knit for 6".

Decrease rounds.

Round 1: *K1, SSK, knit to last 3 sts on next needle, K2tog, K1.* Repeat.

Round 2: Knit.

Repeat these 2 rounds 3 times. (20 sts)

Then repeat only round 1, 3 times. (8 sts)

BO by passing tail through all sts. Weave in end.

Stuff lightly and sew in place on body, about an inch below where the decreases start for the head. Exact placement is less important than making sure both arms are at the same height.


In white, CO 20 sts on circular needle. The tummy and eyes are worked back and forth in Stockinette Stitch.

Row 1: Purl

Row 2: K1, M1, K to last st, M1, K1.

Repeat these 2 rows 5 times. (30 sts)

Row 1 & 3: Purl

Row 2: Knit

Row 4: K1, M1, K to last st, M1, K1.

Repeat these 4 rows 5 times. (40 sts)

Knit 10 rows.

Row 1: K1, SSK, knit to last 3 sts on next needle, K2tog, K1.

Row 2 & 4: Purl.

Row 3: Knit

Repeat decrease rows until 30 sts remain. Then repeat only rows 1 and 2 until 20 sts remain.

Next row: P1, P2tog, P to last 3 sts, P2tog, P1.

Repeat Row 1. (16 sts)


Sew tummy to front of body placing the bottom edge 1" above the base of the body.

Using dark grey, duplicate stitch the chevrons at the top of the tummy piece. Work 3 chevrons in the top row and 4 chevrons in the next row.

Note: Sounds simple enough to do right? Not so my friend. The stitches are hard to see and the yarn does not lend itself to embroidery at all. What I did was draw on my chevrons freehand with a water soluble marker in a light orange color. I had to wash off the chevrons a couple of times before I had the proportions I wanted and then I went about doing the duplicate stitch. The edges ended up a bit jagged and it didn't come out a smooth a texture as I would have liked but I'm happier with the look of it than I would have been if I'd tried to use a different yarn. You might try a satin stitch to fill in the outlines of the chevrons instead. I would have but my satin stitch is even worse looking than my duplicate stitch.



Note: I knitted the eyes and they came out a little thick and look a bit like Gir from Invader Zim. This may also be due to a lack of skill at embroidering on the pupils.

You may consider cutting out a piece of felt in white for the eyes or embroidering them on using satin stitch. Here is the knitted version.

CO 4 sts.

Row 1: Purl

Row 2: K1, M1, K2, M1, K1. (6 sts)

Row 3: Purl

Row 4: K

Row 5: P

Row 6: K

Row 7: P

Row 8: K1, SSK, K2tog, K1

Row 9: P1, P2tog, P1

BO last 3 sts.

The eyes form a very slight tear drop shape, sew them on point side down on either side, and slightly below the point of the nose.

Using a small amount of black yarn embroider pupils in center of the eye.


Totoro's nose is more of a sidewise oval than a typical cat nose. Using black yarn satin stitch a 1 ½" wide by ¾" high oval across the tip of the nose.

Embroider a small circle for the mouth between the nose and the top of the tummy.

Have every member of your household pose for pictures with the big cool stuffy, including your cat. Enjoy.


Acornbud said...

Thanks for sharing! He is so cute and large:)

Anonymous said...

Truly wondrous and you are amazingly generous...thank you

Anonymous said...

Thank you so so much for sharing this. I recently was watching Toy Story 3 which features a big Totoro much like your's and was wishing for a Totoro of my own. Wish granted thanks to you! Awesome!

Melanie said...

Thank you for sharing! I have to make it. My daughter is going to go ape over this.

Sue said...

Thank you, I love big cuddly toys. I'll definitely make this.

Offbeat Nails said...

This part of your patter is confusing:


CO 20 sts on circular needle. The bottom is worked back and forth in Stockinette Stitch.

Row 1 (WS): Purl

Row 2 (RS): K1, M1, Knit to last stitch, M1, K1.

Repeat last 2 rows until you have 48 sts.

Work in St st 14 rows ending on a WS row.

The Way you begin the work set it up so all even numbered rows are RS and all odd numbered WS, which makes doing the 14 rows ST st ending on WS impossible. Could you please tell me what I should do at this point, either stop at the 14th rows and continue on with the pattern, or add a 15th row before continuing?

jennyrepsher said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Aloha Robin! Thank you for writing such a wonderful blog! I have learned so much! I have always, always wanted to knit a Totoro and a big ginned toy knitter. Could you explain just a little more how to pick up the stitches? Do I simplyy pick up the stitches around the shape of the fabric? Thank you again! I hope to one day be a REAL Totoro knitter because of this super cute pattern!
Victoria. Hawaii

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for this pattern, which I finished last night for my son. He absolutely loves it.

Unknown said...

I'm fairly new to knitting, and I'm curious as to how you knit RS & WS on circular needles.

Anonymous said...

I am trying to knit Totoro and am having problems understanding the Head part. Where do I start the nose decrease part. Do I start it with the first Round on the Head decrease part of after the Head decrease part and where do I start the Decrease 2sts every round 12 times, until 20sts remain between Marker 4 and 1.
Need you help big time here.
My email address is

Matachupi said...

Just amazing!! i love ir!!

Anonymous said...

Hi Robin,

I have exactly the same problem that the previous Anonymous' comment about where to start the nose decreases. Could you please clarify?

Thank you!

Beverley said...

Thank you for this! My daughter is really looking forward to him being finished (although I expect she doesn't realise it's probably going to take more than a few hours!!!) ;-)

Alex said...

Hi Robin,

Great pattern. ^_^ I'm really having a ball making it. I am a fairly new knitter, so I am also confused about where to start the nose. So I have done the 2 rounds until there are 116 sts. Do I just do the nose decrease for 3 rounds? Also for the "Decrease 2 sts every round 12 times, until 20sts remain between Marker 4 and Marker 1" where should the decreases be made? Please help. Thanks. said...

Lovely pattern. I keep it for next Winter when I have more time for knitting. I am a great Totoro's fan and in France one donesn't find any pattern like yours.

Anonymous said...

I’ve knitted the bottom, confusing... why number odd rows even? Then, why say ‘knit 48 sts’ when that is the whole row? (I thought I must have missed some cast on sts).
I’m continuing, but then I see I have to pick up stitches, I’m assuming it is from the whole outer edge to create a cup shape?

Anonymous said...

this pattern is incredibly difficult to understand at first glance but after a while of googling all the terms it is rather simple to do. i hope to get this done before my little sisters birthday as she is totoro obsessed! :-)