So last week over on The Whimsical Hen, I wrote a post about crochet and granny squares. You can follow the link to read that before continuing, or just jump right in!
I love creating cozy spaces in my home. I’m a sucker for a chair in a corner where I can curl up to read or crochet – a nap may or may not be involved. For me, a crochet blanket draped across the back of a sofa or across the arm of a chair is an invitation to have a seat and get comfy.
I have made blankets for many members of my family but not really for myself. Beginning this year, that is a situation that is going to change. I am tired of collecting pictures and patterns which leads to dreaming, longing, and yarn “shopping” but no tangible item for me snuggle with in one of my cozy corners.
Granny Squares Rock!
Often the traditional granny square is one of the first things a crocheter learns. It is a simple repetitive pattern that can be made with scraps or a carefully orchestrated selection of yarn. These squares are portable, fun and can be made in any size and configuration desired. To me, these blankets are the ultimate snuggly, don’t have to worry about using it, tangible sign of love. Someone spent a really long time stitching the squares and then putting them all together. It was a labor of love.
For so many people in the noncrochet world, blankets are things made by grannies in bold colors and often with stiff acrylic yarn. They are deeply sentimental items that are guaranteed to survive for generations. Use them, love them, don’t worry about hurting them. They were made to be used.
Today we are fortunate to have a variety of yarn from all different sources and price points. Washability is a key factor if children or pets are involved. A washable wool is my favorite yarn to use. I prefer yarn that comes from an animal or a plant over all acrylic, but that is personal preference. There is certainly a cost factor involved and I carefully consider the recipient before spending money on a natural fiber blanket. If I fear it is going in a hot wash or the dryer, I use acrylic. I want them to enjoy it without fear of ruining it. For my home where I know how to care for wool, I will choose 100% wool for winter throws and cotton or cotton/linen blends for summer.
While I do think it is important to be mindful of where products are made and how they are made, I understand the economy as well. We will be on a fixed income in a few years and my yarn buy abilities will likely change dramatically.
Say “Granny square blanket” and this is what most folks have in mind. You will find a blanket like this adorning furniture in so many television shows and movies. This particular one is a replica from the original Roseanne show. The reason these blankets were so colorful was because in thriftier times, every inch of yarn needed to be used for something. Rather than stashing odd bits and bobs of yarn like I do today, they were crocheted together and then bordered in black. It is the crochet equivalent of a crazy quilt.
Granny squares are not only used for blankets but also for clothes. Check out Paul McCartney’s nifty vest.
And what about this ensemble from fashion week spring 2019?
This image from Dolce & Gabbana has been making the rounds on social media. Like it or hate it, the granny square is an iconic part of our lives.
21st Century Crochet
Back in 2005, the knitting revival was in full swing with celebrities knitting and proudly doing so in public, carrying their projects in trendy bags. Suddenly, those of us who had been doing it before it was cool, were no longer weirdos. Crocheters don’t ever want to be left out of the spotlight and fight hard for their fair share of recognition.
The irony of this is that the Craft Yarn Council of America reports in a survey taken in 2014 that 48% primarily crochet, 32% primarily knit, and 20% do both. This is just from a survey taken by folks who chose to do so. The actual numbers are likely much higher. You can read the rest of the information by following the link.
Crochet deserves to be appreciated both in historical context as well as a modern form of artistic and creative expression. Whether you like your crochet traditional or modern and wild, there is something for everyone’s taste.
Modern Take On A Classic
I simply adore scrolling through Instagram or Pinterest and finding images of crochet blankets all folded and neatly stacked in a vintage cupboard. The colors and textures make my heart skip a beat.
Speaking of heart beat skipping beauty, feast your eyes here.
This is the work of Sandra Eng, a crochet designer and Psychologist from Minneapolis, Minnesota. You can find her on Instagram as @mobiusgirl, MobiusGirl Crochet Design on Facebook, and her blog MobiusGirl Design. She has an Etsy shop, is on Ravelry and has a book, Kaleidoscope available on Amazon. Sandra kindly sent me this gorgeous photo for use in this post. Her work is just one of many examples of the gorgeous modern take on a traditional square motif.
Many people would put these squares in the same category as granny squares. Truly the only thing they have in common is that each one is a small, modular piece of what will become something larger; and they are all made up of several colors. Beyond that each one of these is truly a work of art in and of itself.
I have tried to design one of these types of squares. Now, granted I didn’t try really hard, but I have tried. And I have failed. Rather, I stopped trying. Even the most simplistic square requires math and a knowledge of what crochet stitches will and will not do, not to mention color theory and the craftsmanship of knowing how to create something of beauty. It is no small feat.
In the future, when you think of granny squares, I hope your reaction is now one of awe and amazement at the wonderful possibilities awaiting you when you pick up a hook and some yarn.
I teach a class called Doodling With Yarn. Next time I’m going to show you some of my wild crochet doodles and explain how you can doodle with yarn too!
Until then, keep on hooking!