The Secret to Great Granny Squares

The Secret to Great Granny Squares

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Grannies, aka granny squares, are the epitome of the awesomeness that is crochet.  They can be big and bulky, fun and quirky and even sleek and elegant.  I remember the first time I saw a granny square.  It was one my sister made.  She signed up for a beginning crochet class at the local library the summer she was 10 years old.  Once a week that summer she rode her bike back and forth to the library to learn the craft.  One of the items she made was an afghan for her bed.  The afghan was a giant, purple and white granny square.  I loved it.  And in true big sister fashion, she shared with me the skills she had learned.  We had some challenges, one was our age and two, she’s a lefty and I am a righty.  While I managed to learn the basics I never really did much with crochet back then.  Over the next couple of years my sister’s interest in crochet faded.  Fast forward 40+ years and I’m crocheting constantly now.  And I have never forgotten that amazing gigantic purple granny square.

So what is the secret to great grannies?

1.       The beginning.  My preferred method is to use a magic circle/adjustable loop to start a granny.  This method allows you to pull the center tight.  Unless, of course, you want a space in the middle then, by all means, start your granny with a joined loop of starting chains.  It is your granny so start it the way you like for the look you want!

The granny on the right was started with the magic circle/adjustable loop method.  The granny on the left was started with chaining four and then joined to form a ring.  Neither have been blocked.secret-to-great-granny-squares-crochet-by-darleen-hopkins-2

2.       Yarn and hook selection.  While granny squares are versatile and look great in any yarn or thread, it is important to always work with a hook that is appropriate for your yarn.  If your hook is too small for the yarn, your granny might cup, curl or lose the defining spaces.  If it is too big, your granny may be floppy, sloppy, or be too holey.  You also want to use a yarn that is appropriate for the project.  If you are making a scarf or a baby blanket, use yarn dk to aran weight.  If you are using your grannies in a dressy headband, you may want to use thinner, delicate yarns like fingering or lace weight.

The granny in the middle was crocheted with the yarn label’s recommended hook size.  The granny on the left was crocheted with a smaller hook while the on the granny on the right was crocheted with a larger hook.  Neither have been blocked.

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3.       Color selection.  Ahhh, this is where the granny square shines.  There are infinite possibilities for the colors of your granny.  Use up scraps and make each round a different color.

*TIP! Vary the corner where you add and end your new yarn.  This will prevent all the ends from being woven in at the same location.

So how do you know which colors work well together?  Some people are gifted with an innate ability to blend colors.  Other people need assistance.  If you feel you are one of those who needs help grouping colors together, try what I do…learn by what others have done! No need to reinvent the (color) wheel.  Take a look at other crocheted projects and see what color combinations appeal to you.  Find something you like and make note of it. Find something you don’t like and make note of that too so you don’t make the same mistake.

Dora's UnSquared Granny Scarf, crochet

Dora’s UnSquared Granny Scarf.  She used up three different color changing balls of yarn (Boreal in Fireweed, Beaver and Taiga).  Every other round is solid off-white to tie it all together.  Perfect!  Ravelry members can view her project here.

Another option to use are free online sources.  Do an internet search for “color wheel” and you will find a number of sites dedicated to helping you select colors that look great together.  A couple combinations are contrasting colors; opposites sides of the color wheel, monochromatic colors; different values of the same color, and analogous; colors that are adjacent on the color wheel.  The better you understand the color wheel, the easier it will be for you to visualize colors for your projects.  Once you select the colors you like, do an internet search for “random stripe generator”.  There are a number of these available online for free.  Some are simple and some are complex.  Play with them and get some ideas of how you want to space out your selected colors.

Last, in regards to color, remember to have fun with it.  If you are making a project with a number of grannies, make each granny slightly different.  For example, maybe you picked out four analogous colors for a granny square blanket.  One option is to make a number of small grannies, randomly using only three of the selected four colors for each square and then stitch them all together.  If you are staying within the same color scheme, the squares do not have to be identical to work well together.

4.       Blocking.  Yes, this is an important step and should not be overlooked.  You should block your grannies.  This will give them shape.  And if you are joining grannies together, you want them to be consistent in size.  This will make it a lot easier to join.  A simple way to block your grannies is to block them all together, one on top of the other.  And remember, always block your squares with a method that is appropriate for your yarn.

*TIP! Measure the distance between your blocking pins for a perfect square.

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Get creative.  You can make so many different things with the simple granny square.  Whether you choose to make one gigantic granny square or join many grannies together, the possibilities are endless. Make a pillow, an afghan, a scarf, a blanket edging, a headband, a bag, a belt or a baby blanket. Who knew you could make so many beautiful items out of something so simple?

Happy Crocheting!
Darleen

PS: Once you’ve mastered the Granny Square, have some fun and try patterns that use the iconic granny formula but mix it up a little.

Tea-for-Me-Mug-Cozy-crochet-pattern-by-Darleen-Hopkins-squareCrochet-pattern-UNsquared-Granny-Super-ScarfAlien baby lovey crochet pattern

 

New Pattern Alert! Textured Christmas Tree Pillow

Textured Christmas Tree Pillow crochet pattern now available!

Textured-Christmas-Tree-pillow-crochet-pattern-by-Darleen-Hopkins-webThe Textured Christmas Tree Pillow crochet pattern is now available.   This is the second tree shaped pillow pattern in the Christmas Tree Pillows set. The pattern is written for heavy worsted, aran weight yarn.  I used Lion Brand’s Vanna’s Choice for the sample.  Adjusting the yarn will result in a different sized pillow.  Just be sure to use a hook that yields a tight stitch.  You don’t want stuffing creeping out of your pillows.

You can find out more about the pattern here: Textured Christmas Tree Pillow Pattern

Check out the set here: Christmas Tree Pillows

Crochet pattern for Christmas Tree Pillows, set by Darleen Hopkins

This pattern is included in my Buy 2, Get a 3rd for FREE sale! No coupon needed, Ravelry will automatically deduct the lowest priced pattern from your purchase.

Happy Crocheting and Happy Holidays!

Christmas stocking crochet pattern by Darleen Hopkins

New Pattern Alert! Striped Christmas Tree Pillow

Striped Christmas Tree Pillow crochet pattern now available!

Striped Christmas Tree Pillow crochet pattern by Darleen HopkinsThe Striped Christmas Tree Pillow crochet pattern is now available.   This is the first of at least two Christmas Tree pillow patterns.  I hope to share the second one with you soon. The pattern is written for heavy worsted, aran weight yarn.  I used Lion Brand’s Vanna’s Choice for the sample.  Adjusting the yarn will yield different sized pillows.  Just be sure to use a hook that yields a tight stitch.  You don’t want stuffing creeping out of your pillows.  This pillow also looks great crocheted in one color and decorated with buttons.  OR for a large pillow, crochet with two strands held together.

You can find out more about the pattern here: Striped Christmas Tree Pillow Pattern

This pattern is included in my Buy 2, Get a 3rd for FREE sale! No coupon needed, Ravelry will automatically deduct the lowest priced pattern from your purchase.

Happy Crocheting and Happy Holidays!

Christmas stocking crochet pattern by Darleen Hopkins

New Pattern Alert! Harvest Corn Pillows

Harvest Corn Pillows (candy corn) crochet pattern now available!

candy corn crochet pattern by Darleen HopkinsThe Harvest Corn Pillow crochet pattern is now available.  I’m really excited to FINALLY share this pattern with you.  I added the design to my “designs to do list” in February, 2016, and made the first sample in June, 2016 on our road trip out west.  But I wasn’t happy with the way the sample turned out.  The shaping wasn’t true to candy corn’s actual shape.  So the design sat. And sat. And sat until last month when I decided it was time to rework the sample and figure out how to make it look like real candy corn.  And I’m really glad I did because I LOVE these pillows!!  They add a little whimsy to fall decorating and something different from the usual items you see in every store.  The pattern includes two different sized pillows and is written for heavy worsted, aran weight yarn.  I used Lion Brand’s Vanna’s Choice for the samples and went with a rustic color combination.  However, if traditional candy corn is more your thing, then by all means, break out the bright orange, bright yellow and crisp white and make some pillows that look good enough to eat.  Adjusting the yarn will yield different sized pillows.  Just be sure to use a hook that yields a tight stitch.  You don’t want stuffing creeping out of your pillows.

You can find out more about the pattern here: Harvest Corn Pillows

This pattern is included in my Buy 2, Get a 3rd for FREE sale! No coupon needed, Ravelry will automatically deduct the lowest priced pattern from your purchase.

Happy Crocheting and Happy Fall!

Eyeball-Collection

Stash Bust Update, Second Quarter, 2018

Busting out some stash at a snail’s pace.

Just when I think things can’t get any busier, they do.  April, May and June 2018 have been nuts and I’m sure it is not going to slow down any in the very near future. That’s OK, because it is the nuttiness, the “life that happens”, that makes our time on this big blue marble an adventure.  Most of the past quarter’s busyness was good.  My oldest graduated high school and is preparing for his freshman year of college, my parents came for visit and were able to attend his graduation, my youngest is now driving,  we’ve had prom, college visits, awards night and all the other end-of-school year activities.  In addition, both mine and my husband’s jobs continue to grow and demand more of our time, my in-laws are moving out of their home where they have lived the past 30+ years and have needed some assistance and, just to make things interesting, I’ve decided that about 80% of the interior of our house needs to be painted.  Sprinkle in a two week vacation to the Pacific Coast, a trip we have been planning for at least two years, and you have a very busy second quarter.

My crocheting has taken a back seat to all of the items on the to-do list.  However, I was able to get a few projects completed and bust out some stash.  And I purchased ZERO yarn this past quarter (yay me!).

I mentioned above that my parents came for a visit.  They live in Florida but decided to rent an apartment this summer in upstate New York where my brother and sister live.  Since they will be “snowbirds”, I made the following potholder, Red Bird in the Snow Potholder by Doni Speigle, for them.  The pattern is adorable.  You can read my notes and suggestions on my Ravelry project page.
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Next, I finished up the UNsquared Granny, Tea for ME! mug cozy.  Love this.  It keeps my tea nice and hot.  Perfect for work.
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I also finished It’s Just a Granny throw blanket/baby blanket/lapghan.  This project was started in January.  I’m not 100% sure what I’m going to do with it.
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The next project was for charity.  I plan to write a post about it soon so I won’t go into much detail right now.  This is Chief and he was made for the Mother Bear Project.
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Another potholder and a couple dishcloths for The Snowbirds.  Flower Dishcloth by Lily / Sugar’n Cream.
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And last, another adorable potholder design by Doni Speigle called Dinnertime!.  This was for the May potholder exchange.  Once I have the time, I can think of a number of cat people, myself included, who would love one of these.
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It is already July and my crochet time for the last three weeks has been zip, zero, zilch.  I’m hopeful I will have a couple projects to share with you for third quarter 2018.  But if I’m too busy with life’s adventures to crochet much, that’s good too.

Happy Crocheting!
Darleen

Psst! Start now on your holiday crocheting!

Hot Pads Snowman Gingerbread Man Peppermint Facebook

New Pattern Alert! Mug Cozy, Tea for ME!

Tea-for-Me-individual-Mug-Cozy-crochet-pattern-by-Darleen-Hopkins-WEBI am happy to share with you the latest in my UNsquared Granny series, the Tea for ME! Mug Cozy. This adorable cozy is based on the traditional Granny Square motif with a twist-it isn’t square! Not even close. It is time to UNsquare those Grannies!! The fully written pattern is rated EASY with minimal shaping to create the domed cozy. Illustrative charts are also included.  The cozy is perfectly sized for an individual mug of tea, coffee or cocoa. It works up quick and would make a lovely Mother’s Day gift! Instructions and photo tutorial included for the super easy liner-minimal hand sewing required.
Find out more here: UNsquared Granny, Tea for ME! Mug Cozy

This pattern is included in my Buy 2, Get a 3rd for FREE sale! No coupon needed, Ravelry will automatically deduct the lowest priced pattern from your purchase.

Shells of Love baby blanket crochet pattern by Darleen Hopkins

 

Stash bust update, First Quarter, 2018

Busting out some stash

March Pot Luck2018 began with a post announcing my goal to reduce my yarn stash.  3 months have passed and I’ve made some progress.  A good bit of progress.  I gave away a full box of felted sweaters to someone on Ravelry.  I sold 16 hanks on eBay.  I gave away 2 skeins in my pot-holder swap group and donated almost 2 full boxes of yarn and misc. craft supplies to a local thrift store.  In addition, I completed 3 potholders, 2 scarves, 3 hats, 5 dryer balls and 1 votive cover.  My only yarn purchases were 2 teeny tiny skeins of cotton yarn as I needed them for one of the hats.  So, with all that, you would think I would only have about 8 boxes of yarn remaining, right? Nope. I have 10 boxes and at least 1 box worth of loose yarn that is not boxed up.  UGH. Apparently I significantly underestimated the amount of yarn I had scattered about the house and in project bags and such.  So, I DID clear out about 4 boxes worth, I just refilled those empty boxes with yarn that wasn’t boxed up. Oh well.  It is still progress and I’m happy to be reducing my stash.  I addition to the completed projects shown below, I have a few WIPS.  Hopefully they will be completed by June 1 and I can share photos in my next update.  Jan Pot Luck

Click on the photos for more information about each project. Patterns used are linked below.

UNsquared granny scarfFeb Pot LuckBentley #1

Bentley #2Bently#3yarnballs4Zinnia votive

 

Happy Crocheting all!!

 

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