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

 

Eyes, Getting them Right, Part III, Crocheted Eyes

Part III in Eyes, Getting them Right

Capturing the right eye look for your crocheted creation may be as easy as  baby safe yarn stitched eyes or cute button eyes.  Or it may require something a little bit more than either of these.  For those times when you need just a little bit more, crocheted eyes are the solution.  And, just like anything you make with yarn, your possibilities are endless.

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P1010779 (1000x997)Mix it Up! Patterns will include instructions on how to make crocheted eyes.  But once you have made a couple, mix and match different eyes with different patterns for an endless variety of options.  My Kissy! Kissy! Fish Face pattern comes with instructions for 2 different eye options.  Same basic pattern but look at how different the two fish are with a small change in the eyes.

P1020025 (809x1000)Add Twinkle!  Probably my favorite part about crocheted eyes is the option to add a little twinkle to the eye.  With the tiniest amount of white yarn, your eyes go from bland to laughing eyes.  And you can use this twinkle to have the eyes looking in one direction.  I use the beginning tail (white) and make two tiny stitches at about a 120 degree angle.  The result is adorable.  He can look up, down, to the side or cross-eyed with this technique.  You do have to be careful.  If the twinkle in both eyes isn’t lined up just right, your critter will look “off”.

P1010130 (1000x1000)P1010663 (500x500)Crocheted Skull Hat100_6647 (550x371)Explore your Options! With crocheted eyes, you are only limited by your imagination.  Keep a folder-physical or virtual-of all your different eye patterns.  After you have a collection, start exploring.  Mix and match or come up with something totally new and unique.

Pros: Endless possibilities!

Cons: Takes a little longer to do and you may need to follow a pattern to get the right look.

IN SUMMARY

Whichever eye option you chose, make sure you do the following:

  • Keep the eyes even.  You want your hat/doll/whatever you are making to be silly, not odd-looking.  I always add 1 eye, then follow the same round/row to the spot where the next eye should be.  Also, I don’t work in the ends until I am certain the placement is correct.
  • For hats, eyes placed closer together is better than farther apart.  Hats will stretch when worn thereby adjusting the placement of the eyes.  Try the hat on before committing to the final placement (ie working in all ends).
  • Have fun with it!