Crochet Granny Squares Tips and Variations

Tips and Tails

Crochet Granny Squares work up quickly, but weaving in all the ends does take time. There’s no convenient way to work over ends, because you’re never making more than three adjacent stitches, not enough to cover a tail. It’s a good idea to get into the habit of working in ends after completing each square, rather than waiting to do them all at the end, which can be a daunting task.

When joining yarn for new rounds, choose different corners, instead of staying at the same corner, so that you have fresh stitches to work into when weaving in tails. Of course, you don’t have to change color every round. Another way to emphasize and balance colors is to work more than one round in the same color, or to return to a color already used, as in our first sample.

Granny-Square-Rectangle

Adventurous crochet designers may want to riff on the basic granny square. In this rectangular granny (inspired by a design by Sue Rivers at www.crochetagain.wordpress.com),I decided to go far afield with colors, rather than sticking with conventional granny colors. I used a multicolored yarn for the first round to highlight the center, a related tone for the second round, a strongly contrasting color for the third and fourth rounds, and an off-white border to give it a nice frame. So long as you maintain a good balance of color intensity, the sky’s the limit!

Let’s Crochet a Granny Square!

Let’s look at the basic granny, how it interacts with color, and some of the interesting ways it can be reinvented.

Granny Square Pattern

Ch 5, sl st in first ch to form a ring.

Rnd 1: Working in ring, ch 3, 2 dc, (ch 3, 3 dc) 3 times, ch 3, sl st to top of beg ch-3. Fasten off.

In this first round, the corners of the square are established with ch-3 spaces between four groups of 3 dc. For this granny, the yarn will be broken off at the ends of each round, in order to have clean color changes.

For Round 2, pick your next color and work as follows:

Rnd 2: Join yarn with a sl st in any ch-3 sp, ch 3, 2 dc in same ch-3 sp, *sk 3 dc, (3 dc, ch 3, 3 dc) in next ch-3 sp, rep from * 3 times, 3 dc in same first ch-3 sp, ch 3, sl st in top of beg ch-3, end off.

Round 2 establishes the corners: work (3 dc, ch 3, 3 dc) in the ch-3 corners of the previous round. Now choose your next color and work Round 3.

Rnd 3: Join yarn in any ch-3 sp, ch 3, 2 dc in same ch-3 sp, *sk 3 dc, 3 dc between next 2 groups of 3 dc**, (3 dc, ch 3, 3 dc) in next ch-3 sp, rep from * 3 more times, ending last rep at **, 3 dc in first ch-3 sp, ch 3, sl st in top of beg ch-3.

After working Round 3, you can see that the corners are continued as before, and newly added groups of dc stitches are worked between the 3-dc groups of the previous round. Note that you do not chain before or after the 3-dc groups worked in between the corners. This pattern continues as we enlarge the square in Round 4.

Rnd 4: Join yarn in any ch-3 sp, ch 3, 2 dc in same ch-3 sp,* (sk 3 dc, 3 dc between next 2 groups of 3 dc) twice**, (3 dc, ch 3, 3 dc) in next ch-3 sp, rep from * 3 more times, ending last rep at **, 3 dc in first ch-3 sp, ch 3, sl st in top of beg ch-3.

Now, continue adding as many rounds as you like. To add more rounds, repeat Round 4, working the corners in the same way, and adding groups of 3 dc between groups of the previous round; the word “twice” that appears before the double asterisk would, in the next round, become three times, in the one after four times, and so on, for as many rounds as you like.

Note that in the sample, I placed the brightest color at the center and more muted colors in subsequent rounds.

A Variation

When I worked this pattern in a granny using worsted-weight yarn, it didn’t lie as flat as I liked, so I reworked it with a slight, often-used variation: insert a ch-1 is between the 3-dc groups worked between the corners.

Ch 5, sl st in first ch to form ring.

Rnd 1: Working in ring, ch 3, 2 dc, (ch 3, 3 dc) 3 times, ch 3, sl st in top of beg ch-3, fasten off.

Rnd 2: Join new color in any ch-3 sp, ch 3, 2 dc in same ch-3 sp, *ch 1, sk 3 dc, (3 dc, ch 3, 3 dc) in next ch-3 sp, rep from * 3 times, ch 1, 3 dc in same first ch-3 sp, ch 3, sl st in top of beg ch-3, fasten off. Change color for next rnd.

Rnd 3: Join new color in any ch-3 sp, ch 3, 2 dc in same ch-3 sp *sk 3 dc, 3 dc between next 2 groups of 3 dc**, (3 dc, ch 3, 3 dc) in next ch-3 sp, rep from * 3 more times, ending last rep at **, 3 dc in first ch-3 sp, ch 3, sl st in top of beg ch-, fasten off.

Rnd 4: Join new color in any ch-3 sp, ch 3, 2 dc in same ch-3 sp,* (sk 3 dc, 3 dc between next 2 groups of 3 dc) twice**, (3 dc, ch 3, 3 dc) in next ch-3 sp, rep from * 3 more times, ending last rep at **, 3 dc in first ch-3 sp, ch 3, sl st in top of beg ch-3.

Granny-Square-Mitered-Square

Mitred Granny

Another variation I found is the mitred granny (inspired again by a design by Sue Rivers), with a pattern for it below. I chose a cream-colored final round, something I’ve seen quite often on modern grannies. I love the offcenter effect, as well as how the colorful smaller granny shines out from the surrounding white.

Mitred Granny Square Pattern

Shell: 3 dc

Rnd 1: Ch 4, 2 dc in 4th ch from hook, (ch 3, shell in same ch) 3 times, ch 3, sl st in top of beg ch-3. Fasten off. Change color.

Rnd 2: Join new color with a sl st in any ch-3 sp, ch 3, 2 dc in same ch-3 sp, [(shell, ch-3, shell) in next ch-3 sp] 3 times, shell in same ch-3 sp as starting ch 3, sl st in top of beg ch-3. Fasten off.

Rnd 3 (half round): Join new color with a sl st in any ch-3 sp, 2 dc in same ch-3 sp, shell between next 2 shells, (shell, ch 3, shell) in next ch 3 sp, shell between next 2 shells, shell in next ch-3 sp, turn.

Rnd 4 (half round): Ch 3, shell between first 2 shells, shell between next 2 shells, (shell ch 3, shell) in next ch-3 sp, (shell between next 2 shells) twice, sk 2 dc, dc in tch. Fasten off.

Rnd 5 (half round): Join new color with a sl st, ch 3, (shell between next 2 shells) twice, (shell, ch 3, shell) in next ch-3 sp, (shell between next 2 shells), shell in next ch-3 sp, turn.

Rnd 6 (half shell): Ch 3, (shell between next 2 shells) 3 times, (shell, ch 3, shell) in next ch-3 sp, (shell between next 2 shells) twice, shell in next ch-3 sp, turn.

Rnd 7: Ch 3, 2 dc in same st, [(shell between next 2 shells) 3 times, (shell, ch-3**, shell) in next ch-3 sp] 3 times ending last rep at **, sl st in top of beg ch-3.

Granny-Squares-Color-Change-Up

Color Play

Ready to make your own granny afghan out of your scrap yarn? If you keep in mind certain guidelines, you can achieve great results and have a blast with color. Here are some suggestions for organizing your stash yarn balls for an awesome granny throw:

  • Sort out the balls you want to use according to the intensity of color, from very bright to more muted and darker tones.
  • Select different combinations for various squares, beginning with your brightest tones, and balancing them with gentler, more muted tones. (If you use all bright colors, they’ll fight each other.)
  • Mix different intensities in each square and distribute the most intense colors all over the throw, so they don’t pop too much in one area.
  • Give each color a chance to be featured at the center.
  • Think about how you want to frame the squares, and whether you want a consistent frame around them all.

For these color-play versions, I worked with four colors of worsted weight. I used charcoal gray for the outer border, echoing the traditional look, but softening it somewhat. I used two bright colors—orange and turquoise—and a muted green. I changed the placement of the other three colors for each of the squares; note that the most intense color pops wherever it’s placed.

Granny-Squares-Ella-Slippers

Mixing Stitches

In my design for the Ella Slippers, I used yet another variation: the traditional rounds of dc groups are alternated with a round of sc separated by ch-3 spaces, allowing for a subtle layer of color variation.

No doubt you’ll encounter many more variations on the granny theme. Crocheters have not tired of it and still love using up their ends and exploring color with grannies, while reinterpreting the basic shape.

Enjoy your own exploration!
Dora

Excerpted from Crochetscene 2014. Enjoy more patterns from this issue: Livvie Vest, Ava Skirt, Lottie Top, Trixie Tunic, Delia Bag, and the Trudi Scarf.

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