DIY

How to Crochet a Granny Square Afghan

article image
PHOTO: MOTHER EARTH NEWS STAFF
Make a colorful afghan to curl up in on chilly winter nights.

Click on the Image Gallery for step-by-step diagrams.

Outside, snow is swirling to theground,adding an unknown number of inches tothe
crusty snow left over from the last
storm.Wrapped in my shawl, I collect anotherarmful
of wood for the hungry stove, and
wonder if you’re
enjoying the shawl you
made from last issue’s
pattern. Hopefully,
it has started to become a
part
of youreveryday life.
You’ve probably even discovered
some new uses for
it that I hadn’t mentioned. I’m sure you feel proud of your
ac
complishment, so let’s forge ahead andmake a new project…

Now that you have the tools, ability, and most important,
the confidence to create more handwork, I want to share a
pattern with you that boasts versatility. This one pattern
can be used to create endless variations. After all, when
you decorate with crocheted items, there are no rules; your
imagination is the only limitation. So be daring: try
different color combinations and make different sizes. Your
hook flies, the colors blend, and the thread melds into a
beautiful new creation. Once you get started making
homespun items, your house will never look the same.

Arranging these handmade pieces throughout your home will
not only give it a warm and welcome feeling, but will
literally keep your family and friends warm. As you add
your creations to a plain room, you can watch the room
transform into a country garden of simple elegance. Just by
using the colors of your choice, you can actually change a
room’s atmosphere-you may even find your mood uplifting as
you enter a room.

What better way to start adding colorful accents to your
home than with a beautiful afghan? This colorful blanket,
fashioned from yarn, is crocheted or knitted from strips or
squares. The most traditional version is the granny-square
afghan. It’s easy to do, but gives a finished look that
will leave people raving. Make one to throw on the back of
your couch so you can wrap it around yourself while
watching a movie or reading a good book. Or leave it folded
at the end of your bed so you’ll be ready when you need
some extra warmth on frosty evenings.

One of the best parts about crocheting an afghan is that
you can pass it down through generations-unless of course
your afghan meets the same fate of the one I made over 20
years ago. My daughters’ old tom cat (appropriately named
“Tom”) would frequently pull the black, red, orange, and
yellow afghan off the back of the couch, curl up in it, and
fall right asleep. One morning I took it up to refold it
and found several gnawed holes. Although I repaired it, he
found it and took his teeth and claws to it again. For the
next few weeks, no matter where I put the ill-fated afghan,
Tom would find the darn thing-until there was no mending
left to do. The reason for this afghan obsession evades me;
I’m just thankful that Tom only craved this one project,
since all the other crocheted items are left untouched.

Pillows are another colorful addition to any room. Toss
them on chairs, couches, and the family room floor (kids
love hanging out on giant floor pillows). Covering couch
pillows that have seen better days is a good way to bring
new life to those you thought were ready for the dump. And
don’t forget the bedroom; to me, a bouquet of crocheted
pillows displayed on a bed is like having a summer garden
year-round.

Perk up your kitchen with bright coasters, pot holders,
placemats, and chair pads. One granny square makes a
coaster, two squares (with quilted material sandwiched in
between for padding) makes a pot holder, 12 small squares
sewn together will make useful placemats, nine medium-size
squares will make durable chair pads for your kitchen
chairs. How about a welcome mat or scatter rug? Use two or
three strands of four-ply yarn held together to make a
thick, heavy rug. Working with several different colors
held together gives a tweed-type look. Sew a piece of heavy
burlap on your rug to make it more durable, and then glue
some rubber strips on the bottom to make the rug nonskid.
By using coordinating colors, you’ll pull your new
accessories together for a finished look.

You can either make colorful granny squares by using a
different color for each round or by using three different
colors for the first three rounds and same color for every
fourth round. For example, use three vibrant colors for the
first three rounds and then black for the fourth. Using
black for your background will make the colors even more
striking; using a different color for every round will
create a virtual rainbow. Or work round after round with
one color until you’re bored with it, then change to
whatever new color inspires you. You can make the afghan as
large as you like; just keep crocheting until you feel the
size is right.

My Gramma kept an old steamer trunk filled with granny
squares. As a child, I would often spend some of my summer
vacation with her. When I was bored, Gramma would send me
to her “treasure chest” (that’s what she called her steamer
trunk), and I would pick out “grannies” and spend hours
making different projects. Soon the day was spent and it
would be time to fix supper. There never seemed to be a
lack of things to do at Gramma’s, and I always had
something that I made to bring home with me. As I got
older, Gramma showed me how to make my own grannies. That’s
when I began my “treasure chest:” I don’t have a steamer
trunk yet, but I do have my own version: a wicker laundry
basket. My daughters, Delilah and Violet, are competent
granny-square makers too, and we are constantly making more
grannies to replace used ones, so we always have a
substantial supply on-hand.

Figure Instructions (refer to Image Gallery for diagrams)

Figures 1, 2, 3: Rnd 1: ch 6, join last ch to first with a
slip stitch to form a ring. Ch 3 to count as first dc, work
2 more do in ring, ch 2 for corner. Figure 4: Work 3 dc, ch
2, until you have a total of 4 groups. Join with sl st into
top of starting ch 3 Figure 5: Rnd 2: Join new color in any
ch 2 corner space. Ch 3 for first dc. Note: To continue
working with the same color, sl st over the 3 do and in the
ch-2 corner, then ch-3 for first dc. Figure 6: In same
corner, work 2 dc, ch 2 3 dc. *Ch 1, in next ch 2 corner
space work 3 dc, ch 2, 3 do to make another corner. Repeat
from ” twice more, ch 1, join with sl st into top of
starting ch 3. Figure 7: Rnd 3: Join new color in any ch 2
corner (or if using the same color, sl st to the ch 2
corner space.) Ch 3 for first dc, 2 dc, ch 2, 3 do for
corner. Ch 1, work 3 do in ch 1 space, ch 1, work another
corner as before. Continue around the squares in this
fashion until all four sides are completed. Join with sl st
into top of starting ch 3. You’ve completed three rounds.

You can involve your own kids by letting them sew squares
together. Just give them the basic directions and then let
them create. You may be surprised at the original
inventions they come up with. My sons, Alexander and
Demetrius, made wonderful presents for Grandparent’s Day.
Alexander made an eyeglass case for his Grampa, using four
squares and some felt as lining. Demetrius used two
squares, felt for lining, and polyfill stuffing to create a
pincushion for Gramma. Of course their grandparents were
delighted and gushed over the boys’ accomplishments.

You can ask your whole family to participate in the crochet
projects you embark on. Choosing colors is enjoyable, and
even more so when it’s a family decision (especially if it
will be used in the family room). Select yarn in your
children’s favorite colors and make an afghan with matching
pillows. Your labor of love will be a special keepsake for
years to come.

GIANT GRANNY-SQUARE AFGHAN

Size: About 60″ square.

Materials:
•4 ply worsted weight yarn
• 3 skeins black
• 2 skeins each: white, dark red, royal blue, forest
green, sunny yellow, deep purple, and lavender
Size I aluminum crochet hook

Color Pattern

Rod 1 through 6: Arranging colors as
desired, work each round in a different bright color.
Rnds 7 and 8: Work in black. •Rnd
9:
Work in white.
Rnds 10 and 11:
Work in black.
Rnds 12-23: Work each round
in a different bright color.
Rnds 24-28:
Repeat rounds 7 through 11.
Rnds 29-40:
Work each round in a different bright color.
Rnds
41-45:
Repeat rounds 7 through 11.

AFGHAN:
Ch 6,
join with sl st to form ring.
Rnd
1:
Ch 3 for first dc, work 2 do in ring, ch 2 for
corner, (3 do in ring, ch 2) 3 times, join with sl st to
top of starting chi. Cut yarn.
Rnd 2: Join
new color in any ch 2 corner, ch 3 for first dc, in same
space work 2 dc, ch 2, 3 do for starting corner, ch 1, (in
next ch 2 space work 3 dc, ch 2, 3 dc, ch 1) 3 times, join
with sl st to top of turning ch. Cut yarn.
Rnd
3:
Join new color in any ch 2 corner, ch 3 for
first dc, work 2 dc, ch 2, 3 do in same space, * ch 1, 3 do
in next ch1 space, ch 1, in corner work 3 dc, ch 2, 3 dc;
repeat from * 2 times more, end ch 1, 3 do in next ch 1
space, ch 1, join with sl st to top of starting ch 3. Cut
yarn.
Rnd 4: Join new color in any ch-2
corner, ch 3 for first dc, in same space work 2 dc, ch 2, 3
dc, *(chi, 3 do in next ch 1 space) 2 times, ch 1, in
corner work 3 dc, ch 2, 3 dc; repeat from * 2 times more,
end (ch 1, do in next ch 1 space) 2 times, ch 1, join with
sl st to top of starting ch. Cut yarn.
Rnd
5:
Join new color in any ch 2 corner, ch 3 for
first dc, in same space work 2 dc, ch 2, 3 dc, *ch 1, work
3 dc, in next ch 1 space; repeat from * to next corner, ch
1, in corner work 3 dc,ch 2, 3 dc. Continue around in this
pattern, join with sl st to top of starting ch 3.
Rnds 6-45: Following color pattern,
continue working as established, having one more 3 do group
between corners on each round.

Finishing:
When desired size is reached, cut yarn, fasten off and
weave in all loose ends.

GRANNY’S BABY AFGHAN

Size: Approximately 39″ square

Materials:

•3 ply baby yarn
•4 skeins yellow
•3 skeins each pastel blue
and peach
•2 skeins lilac
•1 skein white
•Aluminum crochet
hook, size D

Starting at center with first color, ch 4, join with sl st
in first ch to form ring.

Work in same fashion as for the basic granny square,
changing colors as desired, until you have approximately a
39″ square.

Finishing: When desired size is reached,
cut yarn, fasten off, and weave in all loose ends.

Fringe: Cut four 6″ lengths of yarn, fold
in half. Draw fold through each ch 1 and corner space of
afghan. Bring ends through loop and tighten. Repeat fringe
in each across. Trim ends evenly.

KEEPSAKE-SQUARES AFGHAN

Size: Adjustable

Materials:

•4-ply worsted weight yarn
•12 or more ounces of black

Assorted colors for multicolored squares
•Aluminum crochet
hook, size H

Granny Square:

Make desired amount of squares, changing colors for each
round. For a classic multicolored afghan, use black for rnd
4 throughout.

Ch 6, join with sl st to form ring.

Rnd 1: Ch 3 for first dc, 2 do in ring, ch
2, (3 do in ring, ch 2) 3 times. Join to top of ch 3. Cut
yarn.
Rnd 2: Join new color in any ch 2
space, ch 3 for first dc, in same space work 2 dc, ch 2, 3
dc, (ch 1, in next corner work 3 dc, ch 2, 3 dc) 3 times,
ch 1, join to top of starting ch. Cut yarn.
Rnd
3:
Join new color in any corner, ch 3 for first
dc, in same space work 2 dc, ch 2, 3 dc, *ch 1, 3 do in
next ch 2 space, in corner work 3 dc, ch 2, 3 dc; repeat
from * 2 more times, end ch 1, 3 do in next ch 2 space, ch
1, join to top of starting ch. Cut yarn.
Rnd
4:
Join new color in corner, ch 3, for first dc,
in same space work 2 dc, ch 2, 3 dc, *(ch 1, 3 do in next
ch 1 space) 2 times, ch 1, in corner work 3 dc, ch 2, 3 dc;
repeat from * 2 more times, end (ch 1, 3 do in next ch 1
space) 2 times, ch 1, join to top of starting ch.

Finishing: Work in all loose ends using a
tapestry needle. Sew squares together working through one
or both loops as desired. For a smoother edge, work 2 rnds
of sc around entire afghan.

TIPS 

•Variegated yarn is a lot of fun to
work with when making the baby or the giant granny afghan.
The color changes for you as you work, which makes a nice
pattern without cutting and joining new colors.
•Put a drop
of clear fingernail polish on knots and let it dry in order
to seal them.
•For a more finished look, work a single
crochet evenly around the outside edge or work in double
crochet for a different look.
•For pillows and afghans, you
may add fringe at the corners or all the way around.
•Wash
your crocheted item using the directions on the label of
the skein of yarn.

Not Just for Winter

With Spring around the corner and warm weather on the way,
it’s a good time to mention that crocheting isn’t just for
winter. However, it isn’t the time to put away your crochet
hook; it’s time to learn how to make things with a finer
thread called “crochet cotton:” This cotton, which looks
like string and comes in a variety of colors, can be
purchased in different weights (which actually means that
they come in different plys, like yarn). So start thinking
about doing projects that you can easily carry along during
the busy summer months.

One of my favorite items to make is dishclothes (no
kidding!). When people hear that the colorful item that I’m
fashioning is a dishcloth, and will be used to wipe up pots
and pans, they say “What! It’s way too pretty to use for
something like that:” Well, maybe they think so, but I have
never owned a storebought dishcloth that lasted near as
long as my handmade ones. In fact, the storebought ones
usually end up thrown in our barn rag-bag. Handmade
dishclothes clean better and you may even find that you
don’t need to use brillo pads, which often take the finish
right off of your pans and kettles, and also hurt the
environment.

To make a dishcloth, use crochet cotton, a small size steel
or aluminum hook, and the exact same pattern for the granny
square listed in the article. Keep crocheting until the
square becomes whatever size you like.

In addition, you may want to make a bunch of small accent
doilies to place around your home. All you have to do is
sew a few small granny squares together so that they’ll fit
your end tables, or drape them gracefully on the back of a
couch or chair.