First Crochet Granny Squares
Crochet granny squares—their popularity never fades, but crochet designers’ ingenuity continues to amaze me. From using the granny stitch to create an incredible retro sweater to highlighting a large granny square as a design element, crochet granny squares still create beautiful and modern designs.
Dora Ohrenstein used granny squares to create a pair of fantastic slippers for Crochetscene 2014. Here she is to tell us more about the history of granny squares.
Granny squares—folks tend to love them or loathe them. I waver between the two extremes myself. When the colors of the square motifs really glow, they can be luscious. But when there’s too much of a good thing, we may get granny overload. The granny square has been popular for a long time, and as an avid crochet historian, I wondered just how far back it could be traced.
The Woman’s Day Book of Granny Squares (Fawcett, 1975), a collection of granny-based designs, notes that grannies have been around for “as long as anyone can remember . . . Making colorful afghans by joining small squares,” the book’s introduction states, “is one of the most traditional and American forms of crochet.” So strongly was this style of crochet identified with the United States that in Europe, say the book’s editors, it was called American crochet. They attribute the popularity of grannies to their portability, simplicity, and the fact that they’re excellent vehicles for using up scraps of yarn and for experimenting with color combinations.
“A pile of squares is like the elements of a collage,” the editors write. “Squares can be shuffled and manipulated until the arrangement satisfies your most demanding sense of design and color.”
Surely, the combination of simplicity and the seductive power of color exploration is what keeps granny squares ever dear to the hearts of crocheters. Fleisher’s Afghans (1930; Iva Rose Vintage Reproductions, 2008) includes an example of an afghan with multicolored squares in bright colors with a black border around each of the squares and the entire afghan. No doubt, in the Depression era, patterns that allowed people to use scrap yarns to create a lively home decor item were very welcome. The ubiquitous black border serves as a unifying feature that can tie many colors together.
The granny square remains a staple of many a pattern book and magazine, sometimes morphing into related shapes that feed its continued evolution.—Dora Ohrenstein, Crochetscene 2014
I’m inspired! I think it’s time to crochet a few granny squares. And I am in absolute love with the granny square inspired Delia Bag. Check out all of the granny square patterns and order or downloadCrochetscene 2014.
P.S. Vote in the comments, are you a lover of the granny square or have you never been able to understand the popularity of this traditional stitch.