Granny Squares: A Brief Rant

September 20, 2012 at 9:33 am (Uncategorized)

I often feel like crocheting is the red-headed stepchild to knitting. Most of the samples in any given yarn store are knitted. When I go to a yarn store and browse the pattern books, there are binders full of lovely knit patterns and one for crochet containing ugly, bulky sweaters and amigurumi. If I set my default pattern page on Ravelry to knitting and crochet, the highlighted patterns are inevitably both knitted. 

I wonder if crochet (and the people who practice this art) aren’t in part responsible for the secondary treatment. It seems like every few days in the new patterns section of Ravelry, someone publishes a new granny square pattern. My beef with granny squares is this: every hooker, it seems, learned early on to make a basic 3-dc-cluster granny square, the style exemplified by afghans draped over backs of couches in the movies and rampant in any ’70s crochet publication. There is nothing original about them; sure, you might tweak beginning chain a bit or alter the number of stitches between clusters, but fundamentally, it is a granny square. Publishing a new basic granny square pattern is not an innovation.

Now, I recognize there is a lot you can do with a granny square, many different shapes and geometric designs within them, at least 99 of them, in fact, plus many more by independent designers. I am currently making a Latte Macchiato throw for my living room that features circle-in-a-square motifs. These add something new to the mix, and not all of them are even square. These are positive developments, something new to add, a way of updating a classic and keeping crochet fresh and original. There is something satisfying about a modular project where you can see the stack of motifs grow, validating your sense of accomplishment (see: hexipuff trend, Ravelry). 

I’m not even saying it’s time to retire the granny square; some of my favorite projects to see are scrapbusting granny blankets, with their riots of colors (and no doubt a billion ends to work under). What I am saying is that the basic granny square has been around a long time. The world does not need to keep re-issuing of the same pattern again and again. Change it up a bit. Or better yet, let’s work to move crochet past the perception of granny squares and amigurumi.

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