My Totoro Jumper

Lj standing wearing a totoro tummy T-shirt jumper holding an umbrella and a 3d printed leaf in her hair

A wee while ago i spoke about wanting to make a totoro themed jumper for wearing to the totoro stage show down at the Barbican in London. I had a few ideas for how it was going to look, but my heart was with the totoro belly jumper. I am so glad i did as I ADORE this baby!

a close up of Lj's totoro knitted tshirt

How did i make it. Good question, i used many reference pictures for the Swiss darning, and a pattern i had used previously that was simple enough to take such a big image and i knew that i would wear and that would fit me.

Firstly the yarn i used was West Yorkshire spinners ColourLab DK in the colourway Storm Grey, and then the cream was a skein of 100% superwash merino undyed yarn i had in my dye stash. I know for certain that if i was to buy yarn for this project i would have bought a ball of cream ColourLab or kept the two colours the same fibre content (or close). The reason being is the cream stomach was done with intarsia, and due to the smooth nature of the merino and the sticky of the Colourlab it didnt give the cleanest of joins. It looks fine now that its blocked, and im really grateful i didnt have to buy any new yarn (both were in my stash) but if i was to make another or if you would like to make one i would keep that in mind, it just makes life easier.

The main pattern used was the Rift Tee by Jacqueline Cieslak (see my first one here). It’s a fantastically written and super comfy plain tee. I wear my green one loads as a throw on when the weather is a bit chilly, or if im away to the swimming pool and i dont want folks to know i have my dookers on and not my bra (dookers = swimming costume in Doric)

Lj bending forward wearing her knitted totoro jumper showing off a green 3d printed leaf in her hair

Im not really sure where to start with how i started this. The cream stomach was knit in using intarsia which was fiddly but i think looks really clean. The grey little eyebrow shapes were swiss darned on afterwards. Again super fiddly until i got the hang of it. But worth it. The pattern is written bottom up, and because i really didnt want to figure out how to cast on for k intarsia on a twisted rib, i kept the cast on all grey and started the cream on the first row . Once i was up onto the flat stockinette stitch i started with my intarisa.

The changed i made to the pattern were mainly that you knit the front and back hem separately then join to knit in the round with the back hem being longer (so work more ribbing) I thought it would be easier (and it was) to knit the front and back separate, which is easy done with this pattern and just go straight up to the shoulder cast off to join. This also makes the intarsia possible as i could not figure out how to work all the yarn in the round. Is it possible? Then join the front and back together using mattress stitch and then go on to work the neck and sleeve rib as written in the pattern. This means that when the pattern speaks about an under arm tab, you just ignore that. Its not important to the construction, it just means that the decorative stitches up the sides are continued nicely. So yeah you just end up knitting two big squares until the neck shaping. Which is a winner in my

Lj standing on one leg wearing a totoro tummy T-shirt jumper holding an umbrella and a 3d printed leaf in her hair

Once i had knit the Tee, as i mentioned before, i wanted to swiss darn the little eyebrow shapes onto the cream. I really struggled with what stitch i was moving onto next, so ended up using a water soluble dress making pen i had to colour in the stitches that i was darning over. This made the job a million times easier. 10/10 would recommend. I do wish i had spaced the bottom row of eyebrows better, they could have been pushed out to the side, but i was completely doing this by eye so im not too mad at myself.

So thats it finished. I gave it a good wet block and its ready for its trip down to London. What do you think? Would you make and wear something like this? And the main question is….will i be the biggest nerd there? If i get some pictures while im there i will upload them to a future post.

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