Friday, 1 July 2011

The History of The Granny Square

Madonna Blue Granny Square Blanket Afghan

 

Have you ever wondered about the history of where the humble granny square? I have and do – I would also like to know where in the world it originates from. In my quest to find answers I haven’t found too many – but here are some things I did learn along the way. If you know anything else please do leave a comment.
 

Granny Square

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
A granny square worked in two colors and seven rounds. Cotton, 4mm crochet hook.
A granny square is a crochet technique for producing square fabric by working in rounds from the center outward. Granny squares are traditionally handmade. They resemble coarse lace. Although there is no theoretical limit to the maximum size of a granny square, crocheters usually create multiple small squares (called "motifs") and assemble the pieces to make clothing, purses, Afghan blankets, and other household textiles.
Granny square apparel is a cyclical fashion that peaked in the 1970s. As Stitch 'n Bitch series author Debbie Stoller describes:
If you grew up in the seventies, as I did, you might fear the granny square--if only because, for a while, clothing was made of nothing else. Granny square vests, granny square shorts, granny square hats. Heck, I bet there was some kid out there who was forced to go to school wearing granny square underwear.[1]
Although particular color and pattern schemes for granny squares change with time, this class of motif is a staple among crocheters. Multicolor granny squares are an effective way to use up small amounts of yarn left over from other projects and basic granny square motifs do not require advanced skills to execute.
  Click here to read the rest of the article at Wikipedia.
Retro Style 'Granny' Cushion Pillow Cover
 I was looking through a book I've got which is a reproduction of a number of crochet newsletters stuffed full of patterns from a company called Weldons from the mid 1800s. Right at the back, there's a pattern for "Patchwork Squares", which has a little blurb at the top describing how useful these are for using up scraps of yarn you might have, and how they're great for rugs, baby's blankets and the like. Breathless I turned the page to see if I could find an illustration and there, on the next page, was a handsome black and white engraving of... a granny square!
I'm so happy! Granny squares date back to at least Victorian times!

Click here to read more at sayraphimlothian.com

I had an email from Sayraphim a couple of days ago she said
“The book I found the info from is an English book and it's the earliest reference to the granny square I've found in print. But I found it weird that no one really has any info on it either.
I suspect people have been doing them for far longer, the same as no one really knows how long crochet has been around. The earliest references to it in books, again from Victorian England, were quite complicated published patterns which suggests that people already knew how to do the basics.”
So does the humble granny square originate from Europe? It would be great to hear what any of you may know about the history of the granny square.
 
 Gorgeous Vibrant Rainbow Granny Square Blanket FREE POSTAGE
Granny Squares are a crocheter's passport to 1970s boho-chic!
It turns out that making granny squares can be a little addictive. They're fast and fun to crochet -- so the squares start to pile up quickly. There are endless color and yarn weight combinations -- so they can be simple or complex, and can incorporate easy or challenging color combinations. And crocheting is very portable -- so it's easy to throw a project in a bag and head out the door.
Tonight, I'm meeting a crafting buddy at a coffeehouse for some public crocheting. It's a good way to spend a Friday night if you've retired from your disco days. I have, but now that I've rediscovered granny squares, I'm making all kinds of cool stuff for people to wear if they're looking for a touch of 70s bohemian. My current project is a shrug that utilizes space-dyed yarn to create color changes in your squares without switching yarns. The blocks are really gorgeous and I'll post a photo of the completed shrug shortly.
  Source - Denver Library click here to read more.
Multicoloured Magic Granny Square Scarf Wrap

Granny Square Cotton Halterneck Dress

Mirasol Magic Granny Square Blanket

11 comments:

The Blackwood Cottage said...

That is awesome info!!!!

Pammy Sue said...

I'm kinda loving that last variegated granny blanket...interesting.

Linda Gilbert said...

Thank you so much I found that really interesting -- All I can remember is my Grandma unravelling all the jumpers we had grown out of and making Granny Square blankets to keep us warm in the draughtiest, cold Victorian house with no central heating you can imagine!

Patrizia said...

I LOVE granny squares! Its a great way to get rid of any extra yearn hanging around & with all the beautiful colors of yarn sold today, you can make beautiful pieces. It never gets old, its fun & quick. Love it!

Catherine said...

Wow! The top/dress is absolutely fabulous! Serious case of the wanties here!! I have just discovered your blog through Ravelry and am very glad I did! Cx

Jo-anne "Blossy" said...

I love the look of that variegated blanket. I can just imagine something like that on my bed :)

Holly said...

I love that shrug! I have never heard of color space dyed yarn, very neat concept.

Morgan said...

Granny squares remain my favorite motif or giant square pattern. I love to craft with them and I make afghans with the solid squares all the time. In fact, I'm making one now! Great info!

Re Use said...

wow!!

katrina williams said...

According to a 1946 article attributed to the Oregon Worsted Company, the thrifty women of early America would carefully save scraps of yarn and fiber unraveled from old sweaters and socks. As these scraps accumulated, they were crocheted into small squares; the colors combined on the whim of the craftsman. The squares were then sewn together to make a blanket which was both functional and colorful. Because grandma was no longer up for manual labor, she was often the one to sew the squares together, thus they became GRANNY SQUARES

Ghislaine BRUNO said...

Thank you for the info. I found your article via Google because I was wondering too how old the granny square technique was.