“Isn’t the granny square a bit dated and boringly basic? Far from it! The granny square is the foundation upon which unlimited new and exciting designs can be created.” – Margaret Hubert, The Granny Square Book
After sharing an interview with Snapdragon Brand, a comfy fashion line with prints designed from granny squares, I got to thinking about all of the different posts I’ve done on granny square crochet over the years. I thought it would be fun to round them all up in one place as a go-to resource for all things granny!
How to Crochet a Granny Square
The granny square is one of the most classic designs in crochet. There are many variations on it but when people refer to it, the first thing that comes to mind is the classic granny square crochet pattern. This pattern is worked in the round using double crochet stitches. I’ve also shared how to make a two-tone granny square.
Purists will say that this is the only pattern that is actually a granny square, while people at the other end of the spectrum will call any crochet square a granny square. In the middle are a majority of people who will say that variations on this classic design (such as a flower built into this style of granny square) is a granny square, whereas other squares (such as a square built using rows of single crochet) is not a granny square.
Whatever you call them, once you know how to crochet squares, you will want to learn how to join them. There are many methods of joining crochet motifs, including the option to join as you go. Moogly has a great roundup of 12 ways to join granny squares.
We will look at crochet granny square patterns (and projects built from them) below. But first …
Why Is it Called a Granny Square?
Laurie Balbo wrote an article for Green Prophet about Afghans for Afghans, a charity crochet project that accepts knit and crochet blankets for people in the Middle East. In her article, she muses upon why afghans are called afghans and through research finds out that indeed it is because of the people of Afghanistan. First Balbo explains that the word itself dates back to the eighteenth century when it was first used to refer to the people living in a specific area of Afghanistan. She goes on to explain:
“That country is known for its distinctive textiles, colorful carpets and lustrous karakul wool, so it’s sort of logical that “afghan” was picked up to refer to knitted or crocheted blankets. The word went mainstream in America in the early 1800′s, describing blankets and shawls made from multi-hued yarn.”
She notes that the colorful style of the granny square blanket especially resembled “a particular type of colorful Colonial-era rug brought over from England, by way of the Middle East” and could be a link to why the granny square blanket is often called an afghan. Possibly – it’s just one theory.
In passing Balbo also mentions that the scrap yarn blankets that people were crocheting, especially popular in the middle of the twentieth century, were named “granny squares” because it was common for “granny” to be the person making these. I don’t know if that’s true. It sounds a little fishy to me in a way, one of those things that buys too much into the stereotypes of crochet. But it could be true.
“Granny and I have had an interesting relationship. I’m not going to pretend to be one of those crocheters who has always been enchanted by granny squares. For most of my life, granny squares were associated with tacky couches covered in clear plastic, saggy nylons, and the smell of mothballs. … It hasn’t been until recently that I’ve see the versatility in this classic shape, the vibrant color potential, and how fashionable granny squares can be. Granny’s everywhere, y’all, and she’s staying out late!” – from a book review by Art, Like Bread of Margaret Hubert’s The Granny Square Book.
Why Are There So Many Granny Square Blankets on TV?
Have you ever noticed that when you spot crochet on TV it’s often in the form of a granny square blanket on a sofa? There’s an article by Laura Bradley over on Slate.com about the history of the granny blanket as a popular item in the background on TV shows. I will say it’s a bit offensive – it says that all granny square blankets look the same and calls them “weird” and “objectively unattractive” but that aside there is some really great fun information in this article. One fun fact is that the infamous granny blanket on the show Roseanne actually had to be stitched to the couch on set so it wouldn’t get stolen. This article says that the granny square blanket can be spotted on Taxi (perhaps the earliest TV show to feature it), Mad Men, Always Sunny in Philadelphia, Big Bang Theory and Jane the Virgin. I love spotting crochet on TV and in movies and have seen it in so many shows! It’s especially common to see on documentary-style reality tv!
Celebrating the Granny Square
Did you know that the granny square has its own day? Granny Square Day was launched in August 2014 by Suregal27. On this day, everyone is invited to post a clear, cropped photo of a single crochet granny square on Instagram. The idea is that each square should look like its own block in a blanket. Anyone who wishes to is welcome to use those photos to create their own virtual “blankets” or collages of the squares. People come up with so many creative combinations. Many people use their digital images to create physical objects like posters and coffee mugs.
In addition to this annual celebration, you can enjoy sharing granny squares on Instagram all year long using the hashtag #grannysquaresrock. If you ever looking for some granny square inspiration, this is a great place to start! Other popular hashtags are #grannysquare, #grannysquares and #grannysquareblankets.
“Injecting each granny square with a rush of bold colors makes my heart skip a beat with each stitch made, the more colors the merrier. I just adore granny squares!” – quote by Sarah London in an interview in the November / December 2011 issue of Crochet Today! written up by Carrie Melago
What To Do with Crochet Granny Squares
So, you’ve made some granny squares, what can you do with them? Pretty much anything! In my article 20 things you can do with a granny square, I shared people’s varied opinions on this classic motif. I showed how granny squares can be made very large and used as is to make blankets, rugs, clocks, envelopes, stool covers and more. I also showed examples of combining multiple squares together to create cowls, scarves, coasters and more. Granny squares of the same size can be combined as can granny squares in different sizes. You can also add additional stitches to granny squares to make items of all shapes and sizes – fingerless gloves, slippers, you name it. Basically, once you have learned how to crochet a granny square, the opportunities are endless for what to do with the knowledge!
Granny Square Crochet Patterns
As mentioned before, the classic granny square has many variations. Here are some of my favorite crochet square patterns. (Note that these are just for individual squares; see complete projects in the section below.)
Variations on Classic Crochet Granny Square
These crochet patterns are very similar to the classic granny square but each has their own twist:
Granny with a Twist by The Adventures of The Gingerbread Lady is almost exactly like the classic crochet granny square. You have to look close to see that there’s a small variation in round 3 of the granny square that creates a slightly different non-square design inside the square.
This variation on the classic crochet granny square begins with the same two rounds and then using single crochet stitches to make a denser square.
This free crochet square pattern begins with a circle, incorporates some textured popcorn stitches and then becomes a traditional granny square towards the outer rounds. It is by Marie of Underground Crafter and is shared on the Stitch & Unwind website.
Crochet Flower Square Patterns
One of the most popular variations on the granny square is to incorporate a flower into the center of the design. These flower squares are then combined to make blankets and other crochet projects. Here are some of my favorite crochet flower square patterns:
Tropical Delight Square free crochet pattern, designed by Susan Stevens for the Ravelry Block-a-Month CAL, shared by Laurel’s Place. This is a great example of a large crochet square with a three-dimensional flower popping out of the center.
Whimsical Penny’s Merry-Go-Round is a free crochet square pattern by Simply Collectible that incorporates a 7.5″ flower into the center of a large 12″ square. The flower is made using bobble stitches that protrude slightly off of the fabric. The square incorporates more interesting stitches including split single crochet.
This “Babouska Rose” floral granny square crochet pattern is free from Little Treasures who shows us how to read a crochet symbol chart in the process of sharing the pattern. This is actually part of her series on how to read granny square charts.
Bloom is a simple 6 round floral granny square crochet pattern free from Made with Loops. The design was inspired by a cotton yarn of the same name but of course it can be worked in other yarn types as well. This is an almost retro-style fun flower inside of a small square. Made with Loops also has a spring flower crochet square pattern that is flat, rather than three-dimensional.
“Heart of a Petal” is a 6″ crochet flower square pattern free from Aurora Suominen. It uses a technique to “catch a stitch”; she has linked to a video that teaches you how to do this, so this square might give you a chance to learn something new!
Other Granny Square Crochet Patterns
Repeat Crafter Me has some really fun crochet granny square patterns including this monster granny square! She shares the basic pattern for the design but offers you a variety of different options to make monsters in your own style – with or without horns, one eye or two, etc.
MandaLynn’s Crochet Treasures came up with this innovative design for a granny square with a rocker hand and some variations. It is a free crochet pattern.
Granny Square Crochet Projects
In addition to crochet patterns for individual granny squares, there are some wonderful crochet patterns for projects made using crochet granny squares. Here are some of my favorites:
Granny Square Blanket Crochet Patterns
Blankets are one of the most popular projects for granny squares. You can make a super large granny square for a blanket, which is something I do all of the time. I almost always have a large granny square blanket on my hook; read about one special granny square blanket here. However, there are also so many different ways to combine granny squares to make blankets. Here are some of my favorite crochet granny square blanket patterns:
The 9-Patch Blanket free crochet pattern by Marie of Underground Crafter is based on the 9-patch design from quilting. She shares, “I designed the blanket with 5 variations on the traditional granny square pattern, and then arranged these variations into 3 different 9-patch groups.”
The very first post on Laurel’s Place blog was her tutorial for a floral crochet granny square blanket. She shows step-by-step photos of how to make the square. Then she pulls it all together with a block stitch border, which is actually another name for the granny square stripe! Laurel’s Place also has other free granny square crochet pattern including a cute crochet car seat blanket that uses classic granny squares.
Drop in the Pond is a free crochet lap blanket pattern from Elizabeth Ham that you can get as a Ravelry download. It has a classic granny square at the center and then uses a ripple crochet variation on the granny stripe to create the rest of the design. Stunning!
This design, a free Ravelry blanket pattern from Allison Haas, combines colorful granny squares of different sizes into one unique afghan. This is a great example of how the classic granny square can be worked in different sizes and colors to create a one-of-a-kind design.
Other Granny Square Crochet Patterns
And here are some other things that you can make with crochet granny squares:
Holly Pips has a cute tutorial for making simple two-round granny squares and joining them to create a crochet cushion. The same idea could be used to make a colorful blanket, scarf or shawl.
This crochet pillow free pattern from Rescued Paw uses a variation on the granny square in mostly neutral colors to make a chic cushion.
Meet Me At Mike’s says that this is the world’s easiest tea cosy to make. It’s basically two crochet granny squares that are stitched together with a few minor additions. The full tutorial for this granny square tea cosy is offered for free.
Hello Hart suggests using crochet granny squares to upcycle old containers into fresh new storage. Just join some granny squares and add some borders and stitch it together to create your jar cozies. Use them to hold your crochet hooks, pencils and so much more!
This vintage granny bonnet is a free crochet pattern inspired by vintage designs and built around the basic granny square. It is from Fiber Flux.
Creative Jewish Mom has a crochet pattern for sale for a granny square scarf. At first glance, it looks like it’s just simple granny squares stitched one atop the other. However, when you look more closely, you see that she’s offered a unique variation on the classic granny square.
This crochet granny squares skirt free pattern from Handmade by Carolyn is one of three granny square skirts in the roundup of 20 most popular free crochet skirt patterns. You will also find some great granny square skirts in my roundup of 100 Unique Crochet Skirts.
Looking for even more crochet square patterns? Here are additional articles:
- 40+ crochet blocks and squares including patterns that are free and for sale, for individual squares as well as projects
- 21 crochet motif patterns, including granny squares as well as hearts and more
- 10 more crochet patterns for blocks and squares
- 20 best free crochet motif patterns including squares
Granny Square Crochet Books
You will find an amazing array of crochet granny square books on the market. Some show you how to make different squares while others provide instructions for projects made using squares; many do both. Here are some of my favorite crochet granny square books.
Shelley Husband of Spincushions has created so many different granny square patterns. She has collected these into crochet ebooks. My favorite is Flowers Abound, which is 20 6″ crochet square patterns for floral granny squares. She also has granny squares for beginners, “More Than a Granny” 1 and 2 and several books of patterns that were originally CAL projects.
Margaret Hubert is another awesome crochet designer who has done so many things with the granny square and has multiple books to show for it. The Granny Square Book is a great place to start, of course. Then try Granny Square Flowers and 10 Granny Squares, 30 Bags. The latter is one in a series of similar books (30 blankets, for example).
Granny Squares: 20 Crochet Projects With a Vintage Vibe by Susan Pinner is another great choice for a crochet granny square book as is her follow-up book: Granny Squares & Shapes: 20 crochet projects for you and your home.
100 Bright and Colorful Granny Squares by Leonie Morgan offers us a whopping 100 granny square patterns. Leonie Morgan has really shown how color can make any granny square stand out in a special way. She’s also shown how small variations in the stitch choices can lead to the creation of so many different designs.
Granny Square Love was one of the first crochet books I got featuring projects made with granny squares. I loved Sarah London’s color choices and contemporary designs – and I still do!
Granny Square Crochet by Catherine Hirst includes 35 different project patterns that incorporate contemporary variations on the granny square. If you are interested in making crochet items for the home and want to start with a granny square foundation then this is a good book to choose.
Granny Squares – Nanny Squares is a 1989 granny squares crochet book that shows you what people were making with the classic motif at that time.
99 Granny Squares to Crochet. You can’t go wrong with nearly 100 options for a crochet square pattern, can you? This book by Leisure Arts is another must-have for any crochet library owned by a granny square fan.
But you can get even more crochet square designs than that. Just look at Jan Eaton’s book 200 Crochet Blocks for Blankets, Throws and Afghans. This is a solid crochet book that you can turn to for patterns, ideas and project inspiration based on the granny square and it’s variations.
Granny Square Crochet Fashion
I love seeing crochet on the runway and it is often found in the form of the granny square. Here are some examples:
House of Holland created at least one collection entirely based on the granny square.
Moschino had terrific granny square crochet fashion in their Spring 2017 show.
Miu Miu had crochet vests on the runway in 2015.
J.W. Anderson had some unique granny square clothing for men on the Fall 2017 runway.
Coachella fashion often incorporates crochet and many times it is in the form of granny squares. This one was from Coachella 2016: granny square crochet two piece outfit shared on Instagram by @wearitnshareit
Mori Girls and Harajuku Girls often have crochet in their whimsical styles. This granny halter is just one example.
One of my all time favorite designer crochet items is this cashmere crochet motorcycle jacket by Christopher Kane. He has also done some cool stuff with incorporating a granny square print onto fabric.
Nasty Gal has sold some fun granny square crochet clothing.
ASOS has used granny squares in interesting ways for both clothing and accessories. I like this matching crop top tank and skirt.
Crochet fashion designer Celia B creates beautiful pieces that look so whimsical in photographs.
This fabulous crochet outfit has been spotted all over the internet but I haven’t been able to figure out where it originally came from. I shared it previously in my roundup of crochet shorts, where you’ll find a few other granny square shorts designs, too. It is also included in 100 Unique Crochet Shirts and Sweaters.
My very favorite granny square purse is this whimsical design by Katie Jones, a crochet fashion designer who has granny squares in some of her clothing as well. In fact, her Spring Summer 2015 collection was titled “Granny Takes a Trip”.
Granny Square Prints
The whole idea for this elaborate post on granny squares came after my interview with Snapdragon Brand, which uses crochet motifs to create fabric for clothing inspired by the granny square. Here are some other granny square prints:
These House of Holland Granny Square Tights were on the fashion runways in 2011. They don’t appear to be currently available; at the time they were sold by Peek Brooklyn. The leggings by Snapdragon are a great alternative, though!
Thornberry put some granny square fabric to work when making this great shirt! She explains all about how she made it in her post.
Peter Alexander used to sell crochet granny square print pajamas. They look super cozy, and I love the drawstring closure!
Look at this beautiful home! This photo was originally shared by MemeRose, although it no longer seems to be active on her site. It should definitely be shared! It’s bed linen and a granny square inspired rug from Heals.
These faux granny square peep toe high heel shoes were shared by Wicked Web. The granny inspiration isn’t as obvious as it is with many other designs but if you’re a crochet lover then you’ll see it!
You can see those granny squares even better on this sneaker that was a collaboration between ASOS and House of Holland.
Granny Square Art
This mixed media crochet art piece by Colette Gaiter called “With Minimal Concern for Safety“. It is made from “an afghan reconstituted from a recycled one and many of my photographs from recent years.”
CAFAM Granny Squared was a collaborative crochet art project by Yarnbombing LA. I was happy to be a part of this project built upon granny squares.
Crochet artist Renilde de Peuter is best known for her original potholder art but has also done work with crochet granny squares.
Sarah Applebaum is a crochet artist who creates slightly unnerving, super interesting art, often featuring the granny square.
This was one of my own first attempts to make multimedia granny square crochet art! It was just a start but it had the beginnings of a good idea.
WorkByKnight manipulates digital images to create collages that themselves become a different image, often a portrait. He has a series of work inspired by crochet granny squares. It includes this fox, a cute heart, a beautiful landscape and various portraits including those of John Lennon and Clint Eastwood. His portrait of Dame Edna includes more than 800 granny squares. He has won a $10,000 award for this work.
Luci Everett used watercolors and pencils to create this granny square inspired art print.
Polymer Clay Granny Squares
These are some different products people have created out of polymer clay after getting inspiration from the humble granny square.
Lisa Clarke of Polka Dot Cottage sells super cute handmade polymer clay crochet hooks including ones with a unique granny square design
Etsy’s AngelaDesign also uses Polymer clay. In the past, she created these granny square inspired Christmas tree ornaments!
Crocheters who really love the granny square motif might want to invest in these clay granny square stitch markers sold on Etsy by TheColorOfDreams
This is a compact mirror that has been embellished with clay designed to look a bit like watercolor granny squares. It is sold on Etsy by PolymerClayCreations.
Want to learn how to make polymer clay granny squares yourself. This tutorial sold by The Polka Dot Cottage will teach you all that you need to know.
And More About Granny Squares!
MountainGirlClothing upcycles crochet granny square blankets and turns them into crochet shrugs. You will also find a really stunning crochet coat upcycled from a granny square blanket in my roundup on upcycled crochett:
Beyond Granny Squares
The granny technique can be applied to making other shapes as well as to working in rows.
How to crochet a granny rectangle
You could take two crochet granny squares and stitch them together to create a rectangle. However, sometimes you want to just start and end with a rectangle. This is done by crocheting a chain and working a version of the granny stitch around both sides of the chain. The rectangle grows symmetrically from there. Learn how to crochet a granny rectangle.
ErinLindsey’s Pile of Yarn has a free crochet pattern for a granny rectangle blanket.
How to crochet a granny circle
The granny circle takes the basic idea of the granny square (the sets of three dc together) and works it in the round in a circle shape. Learn how to crochet a granny circle.
How to crochet a granny triangle
The triangle motif can be made granny-style in a couple of different ways. One option is to make a crochet granny triangle in the round. This is a great choice because it’s similar in approach to the square, circle and rectangle. Alternatively, you can crochet a granny triangle starting at the top and working down. This technique is explained well in the free crochet pattern by Anastacia Zittle for the half granny shawl, which is one of the 10 most popular free crochet shawl patterns.
How to crochet a granny hexagon
Hexagons are very popular motifs for crochet projects so of course there’s a design for a granny hexi. In fact, Fiber Flux shows you how to crochet a granny hexagon and then tie it with a ribbon to create a crochet butterfly!
How to crochet granny stripes
As we can see from these motifs, what many people consider to be inspired by a “granny square” is a design in which three dc stitches are world together into chain spaces from the row below. This same idea can be applied to working in rows, in a technique that most people call a granny stripe although it has other names including block stitch. Attic24’s Granny Stripe Blanket is the most popular crochet tutorial for this stitch.