Crocheting Blog

What Is a Graphghan (+ How Do You Make One)?

Graphghans are a hot trend right now in crochet! Put very simply, a graphghan is an afghan, or blanket, made by following a chart in the form of a graph. They look complicated but there are ways to make them that are easier than you might think.

Graphghans and how to make them Craftsy

Graphghans and how to make them Craftsy

There are a few ways to make graphghans, and you can choose from three main methods of making a crochet graphghan if you’re inspired by some of the gorgeous projects pictured above.

In this post, I’ll review each method and provide examples from talented independent designers that will get you started on the road to making your own graphghan.

The simplest graphghan method: pixel crochet

If you have ever done cross-stitch or tapestry crochet, you will know that the charts all come as graphs. Each square shows you which color of thread or yarn to use. As you work away, the picture starts to come to life.

You can adapt this graph-design technique to crochet using granny squares, although you need a much smaller and simpler design. Take this Granny Square Fox Blanket (a free pattern!) from Craftsy designer Cheeky Garden for example:

Granny square fox blanket graphghan

Here’s another example from Wistfully Woollen. This gorgeous Pixel Owl Granny Square Blanket uses more colors and is bigger. It would take more time than the cute fox blanket but wouldn’t be a whole lot more complicated to make.

Pixel Owl Granny Square crochet graphghan

Below is a similar technique but a completely different look from Craftsy designer Susan Carlson AKA Felted Button. The Painted Pixels Blanket is a beautiful design with textured flowers arranged in a rainbow gradient. Of course, you could arrange the colors in any order to create a recognizable design.

Felted button pixel graphghan

Making your own pixel graphghan design at home

You can easily think up your own design for a crochet graphghan using the pixel technique. All you need is a sheet of graph paper with ½” squares and some colored pens or pencils. Just have fun creating your design! Try making a heart, a face or a flower and see how it looks. 

When you are ready to make your afghan design:

  • Crochet a swatch of the motif you want to use. This can be a simple as a classic granny square, or it can be a more complex design. Measure its length and its width, which should be the same.
  • Work out the size of afghan you would like. So, do you want a blanket that is 5 feet square, or one to fit a king-sized bed?
  • Divide the total length of your planned afghan by the length of your motif. This gives you how many squares you need along the long side. Then do the same with the width of your planned afghan to know how many squares you need along the short side. 
  • Outline this onto your graph paper and draw designs inside that outline, using one square of the graph paper for one motif. Keep the colors fairly simple — maybe five or six colors at most.
  • Add up how many square motifs of each color you need, then make them! (This step will take the longest.)
  • Join the motifs together using your graph chart as a guide.

Making a corner-to-corner graphghan

Using the pixel motif technique to create a blanket does have its limitations: You can only do very simple designs because the blanket would just be too large if it was more complicated. Just think how HUGE a blanket would be using a complex design.

corner to corner crochet tutorial for graphghan

You can make more elaborate designs if you use the corner-to-corner technique to crochet your afghan. This is a really easy technique to learn. Kathryn Vercillo, another Craftsy crochet bloggers, produced a fabulous photo tutorial on the technique here.

The cool think about C2C crochet is that each of the little squares within it can be made in a different color. And you can follow a graph to make some wonderful graphghans. 

I would recommend starting with a two-color design unless you have already done quite a bit of C2C crochet. Once you have some experience, you can move on to even more elaborate designs.

Here are a few corner-to-corner crochet graphghan patterns to try

One of the simplest is from designer Creative Explorer. This simple silhouette of a schnauzer dog is made in just two colors and makes a very practical dog blanket or throw for dog lovers. Get the pattern here.

Schnauzer graphgan pattern

A larger example of a two color design comes from Craftsy designer Chace Goods and features another silhouette, this time of beautiful wild deer.

Deer afghan C2C graphghan

Some of the most stunning C2C graphghans are by designer Two Magic Pixels, who has over 280 designs in the Craftsy pattern marketplace. And, very impressively, all of the designs are shown as completed crocheted afghans. Above are just four examples of the different styles.

Patterns C2c grapghghan two  magic pixels

The photographs (of the Sugar Skull Graph, shown below) also show clearly how the graph provided corresponds with the final C2C crochet:

Sugar skull C2c grapghghan two  magic pixels

These patterns come with details of how many colors you need — but not all come with fully written,row-by-row instructions, so these are probably something to move onto once you are really comfortable with the C2C crochet technique and reading charts.

Tapestry crochet graphghans

Finally, let’s take a quick look at the most advanced technique that you can use when making a crochet graphghan: tapestry crochet. A while ago now I wrote a tutorial for the Craftsy Crochet Blog about simple tapestry crochet colorwork.

If you become really hooked on tapestry crochet, you can use graphs produced for other techniques to make very intricate crochet graphghans. 

Knitting and crochet designer Pattern World has several designs for cute baby graphghans featuring cartoon characters. These are worked in rows, changing color and then carrying the yarn and crocheting over it as you go. You can also use the graphs to knit blankets using the intarsia technique.

Graphghan baby blankets PatternWorld

Here’s a gorgeous design from Craftsy designer Blue Eyes Creations, whose pattern for the Fall Owl has the graph to follow and full written instructions on making the afghan.

Fall Owl graphghan

A note about choosing patterns for graphghans

All of the examples that I’ve shown in this post are from reputable designs who show the finished crocheted afghan made from their design. I think this is really important. It’s relatively easy to produce a digital chart for a graphghan design — but if its not been tested by actually making the blanket, there is no way of knowing that it actually works. I would hate to invest hours and hours of time to making a blanket only to discover a glitch.

Designing your own graphghan using C2C or tapestry crochet

Once you have a couple of graphghans completed, there is no reason you can’t put your own designs on graph paper and produce your own design in a crocheted blanket. Instead of each square on the chart corresponding to a motif as in pixel crochet, each one represents either a C2C block or an individual stitch.

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3 Comments

Barbara E Wadel

Oh my goodness, yes I love these. I may have my Grandson pixel me out a couple for my granddaughters. I am sure the would love them. Thanks for sharing this.

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Elizabeth Bodner

Great transition from granny square and cross stitch. Can’t wait to try a sample….

Reply
Dee

Does going back and forth following the up and down arrow method mean turning your work? For some reason I can’t seem to wrap my head around this part.

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