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crocheted giraffe motif

I first saw this amazing realistic giraffe pattern on Pinterest last year, but the pin was linked to an illegal pattern-sharing site, with no credit to the original designer (a pet peeve of mine). After searching through several pages of results on Google’s Search by Imagesee my tutorial post for instructions! – I eventually managed to find the original Japanese page, hidden among many Russian and Italian pattern-sharing sites.

But – good news – since then, a ravelry page has popped up for the designer, Chinami Horiba, so you can see all her pretty patterns without having to navigate her Japanese site. (She has lots more of these shaped motifs as well as more traditionally-shaped doily designs.)

giraffe by chi-sa-ko
Chinami Horiba (aka chi-sa-ko)’s giraffe and chart – I’ve blurred the chart intentionally! – please visit her site for the pattern if you’d like to crochet this giraffe.

I’d never seen anything like this before! I’m not even sure what this would be called – it’s not a doily; it’s too lacy for a typical applique; it’s not a toy… (Does this technique for making lacy 2D motifs have a name? Let me know in the comments if it does, and I’ll update this post – it’d be nice to know in case anyone wants to search for more of this type of pattern.)

Even when you know hundreds of techniques, there’s always something new to learn, so I couldn’t resist grabbing some yellow yarn immediately and having a go to see how it works. Crochet charts are just magic; I followed the chart and made a perfect giraffe without needing to know a word of Japanese.

mystery stitch 1

I did get a bit stuck when there was a stitch I didn’t understand: it looks like a Y-shaped treble crochet, with two tops and only one bottom. A V-shape would have been obvious, but a Y? I decided it must mean a tr with a dc worked into the side to form the second top line of the Y. It looks right, so I think that must be what was intended.

mystery stitch 2And there was one other stitch I couldn’t understand from the diagram: the bobble at the end of the tail. I decided to go with a 3 hdc bobble, but now I look again it looks more like an hdc on the right (or an arrow? maybe it’s a long pulled-up loop?), and then a 2hdc bobble. No idea what the black triangle means. (ETA: arrowheads in a chart mean ‘start’ or ‘end’.) Still, my bobble is close enough.

I crocheted my giraffe with worsted weight acrylic and an E hook (I didn’t have a more appropriate yarn to hand), so it was fairly stiff and sturdy to begin with. The bottoms of the legs wanted to curl up though, so I stiffened the finished piece with a mixture of white glue and water, pinned it to shape and let it dry.

crocheted giraffe
Better too many pins than too few!

And here’s the result:

crocheted giraffe
Now isn’t that clever? (btw I’m left-handed, so my giraffe faces the opposite way – the crossed tr and dtr stitches didn’t lie nicely if my giraffe faced left.)

Crochet is so versatile because there’s only ever one live stitch, so you can turn or rotate the work to any angle and insert your hook anywhere to begin the next stitch. That versatility is what allows us to easily create amazing shapes like this giraffe. Well, I say ‘easily’, but that’s when you have a charted pattern to follow – I’m sure it’s a challenge to develop patterns like this, and almost impossible to write a written pattern that clearly describes where to go next after you complete each stitch.

I’m going to try to resist that design challenge, but, who knows, I may be able to take elements of this technique to incorporate into future designs; it’s already given me some technique ideas. That’s why I always like to keep learning – you never know when something will spark new inspiration!


  1. John said

    June, I’m a cameleopardalisophile. That just means I like giraffes a lot. 😀 And I’m a textile artist.

    Your blog from a long time ago and the feedback from folks got me eager to create one of these beauties. I noticed a while ago that there are lots of tatting patterns in Japanese books that are 2D animals, but not as many crochet. Glad to learn of a source from one of your commenters. I’ll post my creation on Ravelry (RenaissanceManOhio) when I get it done. I found a YouTube video about the Y stitch, but it’s for Righties. 🙁

    Thank you for the inspiration.

  2. Myrian Primera said

    Thank you for the tips on the instructions. I did not know where to start at. I have done her Red Riding hood and wolf pattern and did not have any trouble following. The Giraffe on the other hand is a little awkward. Question for you are the legs done after the body or as you go can’t wrap my head around that part.

    • June said

      It’s all worked in one piece, from nose to tail! When you get to the legs you’ll see how it works 🙂

  3. Joy Norris said

    Could you give the instructions on how to make an easy heart crochet pattern>

  4. bell said

    Hello, could You, please tell me, where should I start this crochet pattern? I’m very beiginner, but I realy need to do a giraffe for my friend. I understand a meaning of signs on this chart, but from where it is start? (Sorry for my English) 😉

  5. Julia said

    Hi June. Thanks so much for your post about this! My niece loves giraffes and I think she’ll really like this.
    I’m wondering if you can help clarify what to do at the crossed stitches on the front and back legs? Are they crossed triple crochets? Or are they attached somehow? I fumbled my way through and it looked ok but then I got confused by the last one on the back leg as it looks a little different from the others. Maybe the others are crossed dc and the last is the only triple one? Anyway, thank you in advance for any help you can give on this. 🙂

  6. Emma said

    This is such a cool pattern – love it. And since im expecting a baby soon, would love to crochet to pop on a fleecy blanket. however….where on earth do i start with the pattern. i read above the triangle means fasten off. where do i start off and in which direction? any pointers would be great 🙂

    emma x

    • June said

      Emma, there’s a circle with a Japanese character at the tip of the nose – I made a magic ring as that circle. From there it’s all pretty straightforward – and if you get stuck, just look for the chain that starts each new row as a clue to get back on track 🙂

      • Shoshana said

        Hey, just wanted to check – could the symbol in the giraffe’s nose be a back post double crochet symbol and not a Japanese character? Thanks so much for all your hard work and for posting this, I would have spent so many hours trying to puzzle this thing out :).

  7. robynlicious said

    That mysterious Y stitch is called a Y stitch and is worked exactly as you figured. I’m surprized you haven’t encountered it before!

    I have a whole book of these kinds of doilies. It’s a Japanese book, 100 Lacework Design Doily. There are lots of foods, animals, and some lacy doilies/motifs. [ISBN 978-4-02-190457-8 — see cover of book]

    • June said

      2nd mystery solved, thank you!

      Now if someone can just confirm what the tail bobble instructions mean, the whole pattern will be easy for everyone to follow in future 🙂

  8. Laura said

    Now I know why I like you so much —- you are another lefty, like me.

    The giraffe is really amazing. Now I have to start thinking about how I could incorporate something like that into my designs.

    Thanks so much for sharing your finding.

  9. Chrisie said

    That’s really cool! Thanks for sharing! I love giraffes. 🙂

  10. beva said

    I really love this pattern.
    Black triangle usually means to fasten off.

    • June said

      Aha, thank you! That’s one mystery solved 🙂

  11. becky said

    I just made one too 😀 i need to starch it, but it turned out that was a quick fun project 😀

  12. Diane said

    I don’t do Japanese,Is there an English translation for this giraffe. I would love to make this for my granddaughter. She loves giraffes. I clicked on tutorial help for this pattern but I didn’t see anything for help with it.
    Thanking you in advance for any help you give me.

    • June said

      Diane, as I said in the post, there’s no need to know any Japanese – the pattern is entirely charted, and crochet symbol charts are the same in every language! All you need to do is follow the symbols.

      If you’re unfamiliar with charted stitch diagrams for crochet, find a pattern that includes both written and charted instructions (for example, all my PlanetJune Accessories patterns for lacey scarves, wraps, shawls, rugs, etc include both – although you don’t have to use one of my designs!), then you can follow along with the written instructions if anything is unclear. Soon you’ll understand the diagrams without needing to refer to the text 🙂

  13. DZKat said

    Love this !! Thanks so much for blogging about it !

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