Why are crochet granny squares called crochet granny squares?
I’ve been a little obsessed with grannies lately, and I’ve done some reading into the background of this lovely motif.
In case you’re not familiar with the motif, a granny square (sometimes!) looks like this:
There are about a million variations, but that’s the traditional one: five-ish rounds of double crochet clusters worked into chain spaces. If you’ve every picked up a crochet hook, you’ve probably at least thought about crocheting a granny.
They’re called crochet granny squares only in part because grandmothers like to crochet them. There’s a lot of other reasons as well.
You can use small amounts of yarn, and combine different colours to great effect. This is perfect for thrifty crocheters trying to use up ends… which means they’re great stashbusters too! Stash is pretty inevitable with this hobby, and granny squares are a lovely way to get the issue at least a little under control.
Granny squares, or granny hexagons? How about granny stripes, granny triangles, or a granny poncho? Heck, you could crochet granny squares for your whole life and never run out of variations and ideas.
Granny squares are perhaps the only crochet motif that’s recognisable as such to a non-crocheter. (Everything else tends to get lumped in as “knitting!). Granny squares are very popular as TV set dressing, in part because they break up blocks of colour. Because they’re in popular culture more than any other form of crochet, granny squares have to have a name… and we call them grannies.
A pattern for what is now called crochet granny square first appeared in print in 1897! Weldon’s Practical Needlework featured a pattern for the “Patchwork Square”, suggesting it is a good way to use up leftover yarn, and the patches can be sewed together into a blanket. That’s advise which is still good today.
Close your eyes and pick up your granny square. Can you feel the pattern? The chain spaces make holes you can feel with your fingers, and it’s pretty easy to count rows. For a “granny” with failing eyesight (or me, crocheting in a dimly lit bar) the ability to feel, rather than see the pattern is a real advantage.
I’ll leave you with this delightful song: granny squares!
Creative Crochet Projects is a fast, fun book of delightful patterns which are accessible to beginning crocheters (and a treat for more advanced hookers).
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