Monday, January 14, 2008

Avatar: The Four Elements

Avatar: The Four Elements
An Avatar: The Last Airbender blanket


Because I figure if you have an all-consuming, unnatural obsession that pretty much takes over your life with little remorse for its own part... well, you might as well be productive about this, right?









CLICK FOR A BIGGER PICTURE.

Click for details of each nation square:
Water
Earth
Fire
Air

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Pattern:

Make sure to read through all instructions before starting!

Skill Level: Intermediate

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Materials:
Crochet hook – Size K (6.5mm)
Yarn needle

Square Background colors:

Yards = Approx. 546 of each (1.5 skeins, 7 oz.)
Red Heart Ltd. Super Saver Solids
- Ranch Red (fire)
- Frosty Green (earth)
- Lt. Blue (water)
- Aran (air)

Square Foreground colors:

Yards = Appox. 473 of each (1.3 skeins, 7 oz.)
Red Heart Ltd. Super Saver Solids
- Black (fire)
- Coffee (earth)
- Windsor Blue (water)
Red Heart Ltd. Super Saver Multi
- Grey Heather (air)

For the borders connecting all four squares:
Red Heart Ltd. Super Saver Solids
- Buff, 728 yards (2 skeins, 7 oz.)
- Café, 364 yards (1 skein, 7 oz.), or one additional skein of Buff

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Gauge: 14 scs/14rows = 4 inches
Note: Exactly matching the gauge is not critical since this uses charts based on numbers of stitches, rather than any sort of dimensional measurements.

Finished blanket size: Approx. 72 x 72 in.
Size of each nation square: Approx. 31 x 31 in.

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Abbreviations:
BG = background
ch = chain
cl st = cluster stitch (YO, insert hook in stitch, pull through, YO, insert hook in stitch, pull through (5 loops on hook), YO, pull through all loops)
dc = double crochet (YO, insert hook in stitch, pull through, YO, pull through 2 loops on hook, YO, pull through remaining 2 loops on hook)
FG = foreground
hdc = half-double crochet (YO, insert hook in stitch, pull through, YO pull through all loops on hook)
Rnd(s) = round(s)
sc(s) = single crochet(s)
sp(s) = space(s)
st(s) = stitch(es)
YO = yarn over

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Each nation square of the blanket (Water, Earth, Fire, Air) will be completed separately then joined together at the end. You will be working with two colors at the same time – the foreground color (for the actual design on the chart), and the background color.

Download the charts here (rightclick and save as):

Air.pdf
Earth.pdf
Fire.pdf
Water.pdf

On the chart:
1 white box = 1 sc in BG color
1 grey box = 1 cluster stitch in FG color


Do not break the yarn to change colors! Instead, you will be carrying both colors through the entire time, crocheting one color around the strand of the other. The outside color will be the visible color; the strand of the color running through the crocheted rows will be hidden (it will, however, peek through the spaces, which creates a nice visual texture). This way it will be simple to switch between BG and FG when you need to.

You’ll need to carry the second color through the entire square, even through large patches of only the BG color where the second color is not needed, in order to keep the same thickness throughout.

To change colors, see how the air FG color is carried through the middle:

And you just crochet around that middle color:



To switch, when you begin a sc or cluster st, just grab the opposite color and continue with the pattern.

Note: You’ll probably have to tug the inside strand along as you go, so that it doesn’t bunch up in the spaces.

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To begin a square:
ch 95 in BG color, turn, sc the entire way across (94 stitches).
This is row 1.
ch 1, turn
1 sc in BG color; attach FG color with 1 slip stitch; continue with BG color scs

Then work the rows according to the chart. At the end of each row, ch 1 and turn. Make sure you are single crocheting with the BG color in the white boxes, and using the cluster stitch with the FG color on the grey boxes. Pay attention to whether you are working on the front or back side of the project as well, since you’ll be turning it back and forth, and you do have to account for that while working the squares. (So, for instance, if you work row 1 by reading the chart from left to right, you'll end the row on the right side. When you turn the work, you'll still be at the right side, so you'll have to work row 2 by reading the chart from right to left. And so on and so forth.)


When you’ve finished a square, finish off only the BG color and weave in end. Use the FG color to make a clean, exterior edge for each square:

Edge:
1. hdc around all four sides of the square. (For this first row, instead of going in the v’s on the top and bottom of the square, I dipped down into the first row of spaces in order to make the edging stronger)
Row 1 corners: hdc 3 times in the corner st

2. dc, ch 1, skip next st, dc, ch1, skip next st – repeat all the way around
Row 2 corners: dc in corner st, ch 3, dc in same st

3. hdc around
Row 3 corners: dip down to hdc 3 times in the corner space of the
first row. This makes the edge a bit stronger, as well as allowing
the corners to look cleaner.

Break yarn and weave in end.

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To join it all together:
Once all four squares are done (which is no small feat, so go you!) it’s time to join them all together. You’ll first connect them vertically (Water on top of Air; Earth on top of Fire), and then horizontally (Water&Air on the left side, Earth&Fire on the right side).




Vertically:

First, join Water to Air, and Earth to Fire with that middle border. With the Buff color, sc 5 rows at the bottoms of the Water and Earth squares, and 5 rows to the top of the Air and Fire squares. Carry a second color through the borders as well so that, as stated above regarding the regular nation squares, the same thickness can be maintained throughout the blanket. I carried my leftover Aran through (you should have about half a skein left, which is plenty).

You’ll need to join them by sewing. The best method I found was the mattress stitch. It will leave a seam on the back, but the front will be wonderfully invisible, which is the important part.


With the right sides facing up, line up the bottom of Water with the top of Air. Make sure they’re facing the right ways! This is an in-progress picture of sewing Water and Air together:





To begin sewing, thread the yarn needle with a long strand of yarn and insert the needle in the bottommost space on the left side (in these pictures, the Water square), and then through the bottommost space on the right side (the Air square). Pull these tightly closed.

Stitching up the seam will be done by simply threading the yarn back and forth between the posts of the crochet stitches.

First the left one:



And pull the yarn through (it doesn’t have to be tight just yet):



Then insert the needle through the corresponding post on the opposite side and pull through:



When you have a few threaded stitches, pull the yarn up and away from you so that the stitches come together and close tightly. I found that it works best if you do this in intervals of 4 or 6 stitches.





Do this the whole way up the seam, and end it by connecting the top two corners the same way you started it.

Repeat this to connect the Earth and Fire squares.

Ta-da! Once you get the hang of it, this is not difficult at all and goes rather fast. If you’re confused, I’d recommend watching the video of it on knittinghelp.com (on this page, the video called "mattress stitch" under the Finishing section). They show how to do this for knitting, but it’s by watching this that I was able to understand the principle and adapt it to work here.

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Horizontally:

Now you have Water and Air joined, and Earth and Fire joined. It’s time to connect these two pieces together, which will be done exactly the same way. Right sides facing up, Sc 5 rows on the right side of the Water&Air piece, and sc 5 rows on the left side of the Earth&Fire piece. Again, carry your leftover Aran yarn through the middle.

You’ll notice in the pictures of my finished blanket, in this joining border I added rows of a dark brown (Café) colored yarn mostly to make this neutral border more interesting! (You don’t have to do this if you don’t want to, this is your blanket, so it’s up to you… if you choose not to do this, you’ll need to buy 3 skeins of Buff instead of 2) So for each of these sides, do: 2 sc rows of Buff, 1 sc row of Café, 2 sc rows of Buff.

Join each side together with the mattress stitch, as described above, using the Buff color.

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Exterior Border:

You’ve reached the last step, yay! With the right side facing, you’ll crochet around the entire blanket to complete a nice exterior border. Join with Buff in any corner, and then do so in the following:

1 Rnd each of:

sc in Buff
dc Buff
sc Buff
dc Café
sc Buff
dc Buff
sc Buff

To go around the corners for this: sc (or dc, depending on the row you’re on) 3 times in the corner stitch before moving on. Again, run your extra Aran through the middle.

Finally, once that is completed, cut the Buff and Aran yarns and weave in ends. Join the Café color in any corner and do the edging the same as you did for each individual square (the list of 3-numbered rows described above, just after the completion of a square).


AND YOU’RE DONE!


Go buy yourself a well-deserved latte… then sit back, curl up with your new blanket, and bask in the Avatar love.

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Tips:

I’d recommend forming the Earth square first because the design is the simplest, and it starts out completely symmetrical.

At the beginning of each nation square, it will start to buckle and curl as you start to put in the cluster stitches (because these take up more room than a sc). But don’t worry about it, and just keep going; it will work itself out as you progress.

Print out each pdf and mark off the rows as you do them. It makes things much easier, trust me!

Since I used cheap acrylic yarn, the project turns out not as comfy as you might like a blanket to be (if you are one of those lucky ones who are not on a budget, you may prefer to use a higher quality yarn). However, you can easily soften up the completed project by rinsing it thoroughly with some water and putting it in the dryer with a dryer sheet (or run it through the washing machine with some fabric softener). I did this separately with each square as I finished them. Then when the blanket was done I just rinsed the borders and put it in the dryer in order to soften up those parts up. This trick also helped to take out any extra curling the edges of each square might have.

And this one last, very crucial tip: Make sure to watch your Avatar DVDs while working on this blanket. On repeat. For several hours at a time. …Or, you should watch them even when you’re not working on this blanket, really.


And remember to HAVE FUN.


Avatar: The Last Airbender is (c) Viacom, Nickelodeon, Mike & Bryan, etc etc.

66 comments:

Crys said...

OMG it looks so awesome! I loves it, and I'm not even into Avatar! I have a bit of a crush on you now (like I didn't before).

Xandra Gregory said...

This is freakin' awesome! I so want to start on this (if only I didn't have eighty bazillion other projects unfinished, including a poncho for my daughter that needs to be finished before she grows out of it and I have to add even more rows!).

Question, though - can you explain why you used cluster stitches for the foreground stitches? I'm thinking of adapting it to substitute the foreground colors with one of the funky textured scarf yarns. Do the cluster stitches make the pattern less pixelated?

But an awesome job all around!

CopperScaleDragon said...

This is so perfect for me to make my son! He is a big fan of the series and I have been looking for something really special for him!!!!!!

This is an incredibly well written pattern and tutorial, by the way.

THANKS!!!!!

Jane

Anonymous said...

Okay, this is fantastic, and I would like to put it on my list of projects to do. However, for some reason I seem to be unable to download the charts. Is there any other way I could get them?

chocoholicgrl91 said...

Oh, it's amazing! I saw this on LJ...I know my mom's crocheted before, I wonder if I could get her to help me make this. I've never done it before in my life, but that thing looks massive and warm.

Kim said...

<3333 Crys

xandra... I did the foreground in cluster stitches because it made the lines so much cleaner and more solid. When I first experimented with how to actually crochet the squares, I did it all sc at first... but yes, using your wording, it was pretty pixel-y because the two different colors of yarn kinda ran into each other at the edges of the stitches. The cluster stitch fixes that problem. Plus, it's thick enough to pop the foreground out JUST a little bit, and provides a different texture than an sc, which makes it more interesting to look at than had the entire thing just been sc. :)

copperscaledragon, glad you like the pattern! I was stressing out about whether or not it was actually readable to somebody other than me... hahah.

Anon... replied to your comment on LJ. :)

chocoholic... you should try it! :) Once you get the hang of how to do it, it's not hard or anything. Something like this just takes patience, though. But you just need to take it one row at a time, and let it get done when it gets done. :D

Kimberly Ann said...

Hi, I have a question (likely silly, but here goes): Because the piece is worked both across the right side and the wrong side, do you need to account for that when reading the pattern? I ask because I started the first three rows of FG color in the Air pattern, and my FG rows don't line up with yours. I wonder if I need to read the pattern with front and back in mind too.
Thanks!

Kim said...

Hi Kimberly - not a silly question! Yes, the pattern is worked from both sides, and you do have to account for that while working the squares. So, for instance, if you work row 1 by reading the chart from left to right, you'll end the row on the right side. So when you turn the work, you'll still be at the right side, so you'll have to work row 2 by reading the chart from right to left. And so on and so forth.

That's mostly why I suggested doing the earth square first, because the FG is completely symmetrical for the first third of it, so you don't have to worry about the right side/wrong side until you get to the spiral.

Thanks for bringing this to my attention... I'll add that to the pattern for clarification.

And please let me know if you have any more questions! You're the first person (to my knowledge) to have started this project, so I'm quite excited! :D

Br. Mark said...

Wow Kim. You are amazing. I am so proud of you. I never thought to do what you have done. Please keep me posted on other patterns. God bless.

Anonymous said...

I stumbled across this in your LJ, randomly lurking and since yu don't allow anon comments over there, I thought I'd come here and let you know about the LJ community fandom_knit. They're open to crocheters over there too and they'd go nuts if you posted something like this!

Kim said...

Oh yeah? I'll check it out, thanks!

Megalion said...

I'm so glad you went to fandom_knit!

I do love Avatar and have been watching the seasons finally (late discovery for me).

I second other people's "wanting to do it but already having a list of things to do".

Have you put this on Ravelry yet as a pattern by your design? I could queue it then *hint hint* :D

Thanks for the explanation of why you used Red Heart. Did it really make it softer?

Kim said...

Yes, it's already on Ravelry under this username.

And yes the dryer trick really does work. :D

Luten said...

dont you sell it .-.?

Kim said...

This thing took a hundred hours to make. Would YOU want to buy a $500 blanket? lol.

Megalion said...

Aye Kim! And I don't think I'd even sell it for $500 if it was me.

Kim said...

I know, if there was a realistic way I could mass produce and sell them, I would! That's why I provided a pattern... so that anyone who really wanted one could just make it themselves. :)

Megalion said...

But then you'd run into licensing issues... and I do believe Nickelodeon is very jealous of all their nickels...

I feel guilty even watching Avatar because of how awful they are to the writers that bring us such a great show!

Kim said...

Right, and I was worried about even just posting it publicly for the copyright reasons. But because I added at the bottom that Avatar is copyright Nickelodeon, etc, and I'm not making any money off it, I think it's okay.

I know, it would be nice if the whole thing would just end soon, and they gave the creative people their due. :( Artists always get the short end of the proverbial stick.

Megalion said...

Agreed but it isn't likely that any outcome will include letting reality & animation writers join the guild. That's one of the points that the WGA keeps giving up in the negotiation attempts.

I used to buy Spongebob themed things... not anymore since I read that about Nickelodeon.

Kaits said...

This is really gorgeous. Thank you for sharing it!

I love to crochet, but i'm not very good at it. I do have a good friend who is though. I'm thinking I might show this to her. Her boys LOVE Avatar. (And maybe i could weasle my way into getting on too!:P)

Kim said...

Kaits - sounds like a plan! Glad you like it and thanks so much for the comment :)

Biz said...

THIS. IS. INCREDIBLE.
Just have to say how awesome this is and how cool that you put so much work into it and it turned out gorgeous! I know that I have to make one of these for my son. He is an Avatar nut!
Thanks again!

biz

Kim said...

Biz - thanks for the comment! Happy you like it :D

Gina said...

Absolutely amazing. No other words for your master piece. Supurb job!

Kim said...

Thanks Gina!

Karina said...

And I suddenly wish I had learned to crochet instead of knit, haha. Somehow I just couldn't get the hang of it.

Kim said...

Karina - haha! Well you could always try to learn again, one day, and then come back to this. :) I personally think crochet is easier to understand than knitting, but I enjoy both.

MomMartinelli said...

This is beautiful! I am definitely making one for my Avatar fans! :o)

CaryonF said...

Just finished watching the Avatar series finale :(... sniff sniff & was obsessed to find something I could make. of course after about hundreds of pages i found your design. YOU ROCK!!! You are so freaking talented you really need to market this! Thank you!!!!!!!!!!

Kim said...

MomMartinelli.... awesome! Look forward to seeing it ;)

caryonf... omg the finale was amazing, wasn't it? I'm still trying to get over the shock of how epic and awesome it was!

Celina said...

thank you so much for these charts. You have made my life SO much easier!

sanhita said...

It's beautiful!!

Nicole said...

i was wondering if on the pdf for the water symbol, you meant to have 95, instead of 94... and will it make a difference if it has 95 stitches instead of 94?

Kim said...

Nicole, no it should not make a difference. It was just how the water pattern worked out. I think that was the first square I did, so that's why it didn't quite match up with the others. But I don't notice a difference, and I think the blanket is so big anyway that the absence of just the one stitch length is incidental.

Luke said...

Thank you so much for posting those pictures! I wanted to get those element symbols tattooed onto my leg ever since I saw the first season of Avatar. Those are theee best since the pics are so big.

Thanks again
luke

Anonymous said...

Like Cry said this is and Awesome afghan...I would SO like to make this 4 my family....

But when I went 2 Save the pdf.'s ALL i got was a WHite screen.....and NO pattern...I'm hoping it's either something I did or that I could get U to send the patteren to me thru e-mail....I hope U can Help me .... I have my yarn and I'm setting on ready..(I dont ususally do that but I was So excited when I saw this pattern that I couldnt wait LOL)

Just in case here's my e-mail: brneysblu2@yahoo.com

iKniter said...

This is too cool! I have to make this for a friend who is Avatar obsessed!

Becca said...

I just wanted to tell you that I'm in the middle of this... it's taking forever, but my best friend and her kids are Avatar-obsessed but crochet-challenged. I think this is the biggest hand-made Christmas gift I've ever made! Hopefully I'll get it done before next Christmas. ;-) But kudos for a clear tutorial and awesome charts. It's all very well thought-out, and turning out beautifully (I'm halfway through Water and 3/4 through Earth).

tokyokitty161 said...

Hey there! I absolutely love this blanket!! I'm making one for my mom now and I was wondering exactly how you carry the FG color through the square. Maybe I just don't get it but do you carry it through the chain stitches too? Do you pull it through each stitch as you're doing the BG color? Maybe I'm just thick but this color changing is what's throwing me off...

Kim said...

tokyokitty: Glad you like it! No, you do not do it during the chain stitch. You attach the FG color as you start the first row of each square. Yes, you're right, you pull it through all the BG stitches. Just hold the FG color along with the BG color, and just make the crochet loop around the FG color, so that the FG color is in the middle of the BG crochet stitch. I'm not sure if I can explain it any clearer than the pictures and explanation in the pattern :/ Maybe you could try it with a swatch until you get used to it?? :)

Kestrel said...

*JAWDROP*

Holy OMG, this is the most amazing thing I have ever seen. Thank you so much for taking the time to post this pattern. I have no idea how to crochet (I'm a knitter) but I'm going to learn so I can make this sucker. GAH. it's SO COOL.

yshaool said...

Great project.
Inspiring...
Here is another
four elements project By the artist David Weitzman

Anonymous said...

I really want one...too bad I can't crochet!

Rosa said...

Fantastic! I recently got addicted to Avatar through netflix! Now I can't wait for Book 2 to arrive at my house!

Sage said...

Oh man I love this! Thank you so much for the pattern. Goddess Bless you
Sagewich aka Jeanie

4ofwands said...

Beautiful! Now if I only knew how to crochet!

Anque said...

Amazing! I absolutely adore it. I only wish I had found this a couple of years ago. The suspense waiting for the final episodes during the writer's strike was killing me! I wish I had thought to look up crochet patterns! I will definitely make one for my family and maybe even my little brother. Absolutely beautiful job. Thank you!

korepersephone said...

I'm so glad I know how to crochet! The pattern looked a little complicated before I started but I just finished the Earth square and it was actually really easy!

Thank you so much for making this pattern, I can't wait until its done! Time to work on the Water square next :D

Momwithahook said...

Soooo very cool. Just made an aang hat but this... This is tops! Gotta make this for my boys. (hubby and son)

Anonymous said...

can anybody explain how you carry the two colors throughout?? I'm so confused i dont' know how to wrap the outter color around the inner color...

Anonymous said...

Okay, here's what's got me reeling. I'm working on the Eath Kingdom symbol, and I've probably got half way through it about three times, before I messed up on counting, and this fourth time I've done it I got the counting right, but everything was reversed. I wanna know if you've got any good tips for keeping count, and does the row of 95 chain stitches count as the first row? I think that is how mine got reversed. This is something I really want to do, to add to my Avatar collection. Also, (this has nothing to do with the blanket) do you know how to crochet horns? I'm trying to make an Appa hat, and horns are the only thing I don't know how to make.

Anonymous said...

I have the same questions as above. Please help!

Kim said...

When I did this blanket, I printed out the pattern squares and crossed off each row as I completed it. This was the best way I found to keep count for this.

Row 1 = when you chain across and then sc back. Then you start row 2, and the right side of the square is facing you at this time. So for row 2, you read the chart right to left. For row 3, you'll turn the work and read the chart from left to right.

I have no idea how to make horns, I would just crochet a large circle, and then decrease steadily until it closes. You could probably google this for better advice.

Hope that helps.

Anonymous said...

I don't know what I'm doing wrong. I did exactly what you said in the comment above, but my symbol still comes out reversed or mirrored as some might say.

Anonymous said...

It helps some, but could you clarify: did you actually count by rows (1... 2... ect. all the way to 95) in your head, then cross off the entire row? Because I tried counting by two's, and I still ended up at 97 stitches at the end of row 2. I need help, and maybe part of it is that I don't know how to crochet very well.

Kim said...

In the beginning I probably ticked off notches on a piece of paper as I went, since the stitches are all one color. Later on it gets easier cause you can count in chunks because of the pattern.

If you're still having problems, I suggest you find someone who knows how to crochet, or go to your local knit/crochet shop, employees there are more often than not happy to help.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Kim! I'll try it.

Anonymous said...

Having some troubles none of the links are working and I would really like to try this pattern

Quin Jules said...

@^ Anon: She's got the patterns up and working on her other blog:
http://kimby77.wordpress.com/2008/01/15/avatar-the-four-elements/
:)

Lindsey Elza said...

Kim, I just recently started watching Avatar and it is what I do on my "breaks" from school work. And in order to feel productive when I watch it, I knit or crochet! So this is a fantastic project to take up! Thanks so much for being creative!!! The only issue, I can't see the images... I don't know if it is just the server I am using or what, its bazaar!

Kim said...

This is a new post with images that work. http://kimby77.wordpress.com/2008/01/15/avatar-the-four-elements/

Anonymous said...

Being in a fandom =/= obsessed.

Also, all of the images are broken. At least for me....

Setty Gallery said...

Gorgeous and very well written tutorial. I am a big fan of Avatar and jewelry. Thank you.

Astrid Goes For A Spin said...

Hi! I've been keeping an eye on this pattern and bought all the colors in Caron Simply Soft (which is turning out beautifully, by the way.) However, my question is: what software did you use to design the squares? I started tapestry crochet a little bit before I found this pattern and am looking for a way to make my own charts.

Thanks!

Other anonymous people who have questions: the way I'm keeping track of what I've done is to print the square and use a pen and a ruler to section out the graph into fives. After I do a section of a color, I highlight it.

Kim said...

I just used excel for the charts, nothing fancy!