Is Starshower the new Honey Cowl? Only time will tell (but it looks good).

To Keep You Busy (While I Make Granny Squares)

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Dear Ann,
While I work out my granny square Problem (the family has scheduled an intervention), I have a knitting recipe to share.
But first, an Aside. I am perpetually puzzled by people who feel very strongly that knitting is good and crochet is bad, or vice versa. I do find my own (now, obviously, resolved) resistance to crochet amusing, and have wondered where it came from, but I never found crochet “ugly”, at least not as a category. (Specific examples of crochet, like specific examples of anything, can be D.I.R.E.) For me, avoiding crochet was just the flip side of loving the familiar motions of knitting. I will never run out of new stuff to knit, so why confuse myself learning that digging, spaghetti-twirling, manic–but most of all, unfamiliar– motion of crochet?
Due to the indelible imprint on my adolescent brain of the acrylic granny-square vests that all the cool chicks wore in 1974, however, I’ve always loved granny squares. (Stitchy has documented everything I wore as a teenager; scroll down for proof that in My Day, to be cute, you had to be really, really cute– just to be visible above the glare of the clothes.) I have long harbored a vague plan to lure a crochet practitioner into swapping me a granny square throw for knitting, quilting, or my offspring. When I learned that the fabulous Lisa Daehlin was teaching a class on the technique, it all came together for me, and now I can save that big knitting swap for the day I meet a tatter.
Nobody batted an eye at the quilting, or even my Weavette Period, but crochet? Now that’s controversial. That’s going too far. If knitting were running for president, I’d be kicked off the campaign staff. I’d be sitting on the sidelines with Samantha and Geraldine, moping. (I’d teach them how to knit.) Anyhoo. Let’s get to the recipe.
Log Cabin Recipe #4006 (But Who’s Counting)
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This recipe came about when I was Reviewing the Stash one day, and I got an email from NYC’s group of Afghans for Afghans knitters, inviting me to their meetings. I had 3 bags of Liberty-sale Rowanspun DK that had been sitting on the shelf since 2004, and still hadn’t knit themselves into 3 sweaters. I thought, wow, wouldn’t a gray, lavender and navy log cabin look great? Wouldn’t it be great if there were 9 or so strong garter stitchers to work on it with me? And wouldn’t it be even more great if I could tell them all exactly what to knit and exactly how we were going to join the squares in a way that I have never seen squares joined before? And wouldn’t it be great if we then sent one or two blankets like this to Afghanistan, where the people know a fine textile when they see it, and could use the warmth?
And they said OK. The recipe and the yarn have been distributed to volunteers. By April 5, there will be 10 or 20 squares like this, and the Amazing Unprecedented Joining Experiment will begin, so stay tuned for that. (I cannot tell you now because if it doesn’t work when we try it, we will not speak of it again. It never happened, OK?)
For now, if you would like to knit along with us (either for afghansforafghans.org, or afghanforyourlivingroom.org), here’s how to make the squares. Two skeins makes 2 squares. (The mate to the pictured square will have a lavender center and gray sides; we’re saving the bag of navy for the Amazing Unprecedented etc.)
A Little Square I Call ’24’
Since we will be sewing these squares together for the blanket, gauge is very important for us. If you are knitting the whole blanket yourself, get what you get and don’t get upset (just be consistent). My gauge in the sample square is 22sts and 44 rows (22 garter ridges) = 4 inches/10 cm. This yields a square that is 13 inches x 13 inches.
(The Rowanspun DK label recommends a US 6-7 needle to get the slightly larger gauge of 20-21 stitches over 4 inches. I had to use a US 4 to get 22 stitches=4 inches. I’m a loose knitter, so non-loose knitters can probably get my gauge with a 5 or 6.)
Strip 1 (Center Patch):
Cast on 24 stitches in Color A (each knitter will have 2 colors and they can get at least two squares out of it if they use a color as A in the first square and B in the second square).
Knit 24 garter stitch ridges and bind off on the right side, leaving the last stitch live. Cut A.
Strip 2: Turn the work one turn to the right so that the left edge of the the square you just knit is now the top of the work. Using Color B, pick up 24 stitches, one in each garter ridge. This will give you 25 stitches.
On the first row (WS), knit across to the last 2 stitches and knit these 2 stitches together. (24 sts)
Continue working in garter stitch until you have 24 garter ridges. Bind off on the RS, again leaving the last stitch live.
Strip 3: Turn the work one turn to the right so that the cast-on edge of the center patch is now at the top of the work.
Pick up 48 stitches, one in each garter ridge and one in each stitch on the cast-on edge. This will give you 49 stitches.
On the first row (WS), knit across to the last 2 stitches and knit these 2 stitches together. (48 sts)
Continue working in garter stitch until you have 24 garter ridges. Bind off on the RS, again leaving the last stitch live.
Strip 4: Turn the work one turn to the right so that the right edge of the center patch is now at the top of the work. Pick up 48 stitches, one in each garter ridge. This will give you 49 stitches.
On the first row (WS), knit across to the last 2 stitches and knit these 2 stitches together. (48 sts)
Continue working in garter stitch until you have 24 garter ridges. Bind off on the RS, again leaving the last stitch live.
Strip 5: Turn the work one turn to the right so that the bound-off edge of the center patch is now at the top of the work. Pick up 72 stitches, one in each garter ridge and one in each stitch on the bound-off edge. This will give you 73 stitches.
On the first row (WS), knit across to the last 2 stitches and knit these 2 stitches together. (72 sts)
Continue working in garter stitch until you have 24 garter ridges. Bind off all stitches on the RS and cut B.
Finishing: Weave in ends. You knew that.
Love, Kay

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33 Comments

33 Comments

  1. Is lavender and gray the new pink and brown?

  2. I love knitting and crochet! I say embrace the granny square love!

  3. You won’t catch me hating on crochet. But I can’t do it without looking so it’s a lot slower process. Knitting, on the other hand…

  4. No, they weren’t vests, they were SHRINKS!
    Mum made me two or three….I liked the red white and blue one best!

  5. I love the garter stitch. Maybe I’ll do some work on my sock yarn Moderne Baby Blanket to get in some of that oh so wonderful garter stitch action.

  6. Have you seen the Granddaughter Socks (http://www.interweaveknits.com/freepatterns/more_patterns.asp)? This was my first try at granny squares – it’s fun! I just need to finish…the…second…sock…soon!

  7. I love that you’re back to another group blanket project. I think A4A heart heart KG.

  8. Very nice, indeed. But isn’t it possible to make it completely symmetrical, with all the outside pieces the same? Seems to me one could do that — but maybe you don’t want to!

  9. Just remember that while you love the granny square vest, there are plenty of us who had to wear the granny square vest hand-me-downs! Not nearly so cool in the eighties. (C’mon. I can’t be the only one.)

  10. I, for one, love both knitting and crochtet….I do both and I love them. I have friends who do both also…the two crafts are not interchangeable, and they are both great for different things. I really don’t understand where all this knit vs. crochet energy comes from, anyway!

  11. I, for one, love both knitting and crochtet….I do both and I love them. I have friends who do both also…the two crafts are not interchangeable, and they are both great for different things. I really don’t understand where all this knit vs. crochet energy comes from, anyway!

  12. You ain’t kiddin’ – I remember dresses from junior high that make me squint just thinking about them. Ow.

  13. I also love knit and crochet for different reasons. For me it’s about mood. It can also be about speed, as crochet goes a lot faster. To each his own, no?
    By the way, Kay, thanks for the cool log cabin, my heart fluttered when I got home, tuned in, and saw its gorgeous face…
    …And don’t worry about the intervention. ‘Cos Kay, honey, I’m baking a big ole’ carrot cake for you right now with a crochet hook and a couple o’ balls o’ yarn inside it, to smuggle into you when they take you to crocheting rehab. (“Cro-Hab”)…Cream cheese icing, or plain?
    LoveDiane

  14. “Since we will be sewing these squares together for the blanket, gauge is very important for us.”
    Bwahahaha! You are very smart to be the one running the project; that means that you get to set the gauge and everyone else has to dance to your tune. I have a similar project going with some friends, and I guess gauge matching is harder than I thought! But I set it up, so I have no worries, until I have to put all those squares together…

  15. Thank you for another pattern, I love this :) Crochet is a piece o’ cake!

  16. So, is this a call to arms, does it have to be the same yarn, or can we stash bust?

  17. Okay,so how does one learn to seam garter pieces together? It’s totally different from stockinette, and online I can’t find it anywhere. (actually, Knitty did a great article, but only on the “keeping your ducks in a row” side by side pieces.) If I can finish this object for a 5 year old, I’d love to (attempt to) make a square to the specified gauge!

  18. I am still struggling with crochet. I can manage a 20ft wool worm, but have yet to find a practical use for it! I am due to recieve instruction in a couple of weeks time when a crochet hook wielding friend comes to stay :0

  19. Love that square! Love the colours. Onto the great knit / crochet debate, I saw THE most impressive handmade garment ever at the Ally Pally show a few years ago – it was a crocheted top so amazing I stopped and stared for as long as I thought polite at the diminutive Japanese lady wearing it. So amazing I can’t even quite describe it now, but it was neutral greys, creams and black, sort of ‘netty’ (ha! being crocheted), and amazingly, totally fabulous. More amazingly beautiful than ANY knitting I have ever seen, and as you know I have seen a lot of knitting. Sadly, I was at Ally Pally to work and wasn’t able to run over and accost the poor woman with blatherings about how amazing her top was, and I didn’t see her again later on when I had more time.
    Um. That turned into more of a random story than insightful musings on the Great Debate. OK. Lets say, I have seen some HIDEOUS crochet around the world, and I have seen (frequently), HIDEOUS knitting too. Horrible, ugly examples of both genres. There are ugly paintings and ugly sewn garments, as well as exquisite examples of both. Anyone who says ‘I hate …blah…’ without a sound and thought out critically rationalised reason to justify said ‘I hate’ statement (ie. just saying ‘well I can’t do it’ or ‘I don’t like it’ doesn’t cut the mustard) is guilty of prejudice, pure and simple. And not thinking, and as you know I am all for people actually USING their brains.
    And now I sound just like my college lecturer. I must be getting old.

  20. Could I humbly suggest that you post a warning before the acrylic granny square link that it could be hazardous to a person’s psyche? Man, I think I have to take a rest on the couch!!
    p.s. Love the new square.

  21. Yes, there is no point in preferring knitting over crochet (or vice versa) except for functional reasons such as suitability to a given project or ease of performance.
    So are you going to crochet those afghan squares together? I’ve always found that the most fun as well as attractive way to join afghan pieces. Garments, on the other hand, usually need the flexibility of a mattress-stitch seam.
    It’s all fiber, it’s all good. . .

  22. NO NO NO! Don’t forsake sharing the grannies!
    I have set aside my own grannies in order to spend more time with my knitting, and I need the inspiration to keep my grannies alive!
    Don’t throw grannies under the bus! ;-)

  23. I was one of those “cool chicks” too in 1974 – and my granny actually made my granny square vest! Red, white and blue…aah, good memories. I wish I loved crochet, but I cannot, for the life of me, love it or do it. Granny tried to teach me, but being handicapped (left-handed) I never was able to figure it out, nor she able to figure out how to teach me. So I myself will always prefer knitting. To each her own I guess.

  24. This is great! But a question. What do you do with the last live stitch after you’ve bound off? When it became the first “pick-upped” stitch it left a little mark of the previously used yarn on the first row. Is this what is intended? On the LC, I’ve been killing that stitch, cutting the yarn, and then beginning to pick-up. Am I missing something? Thanks!

  25. This is great! But a question. What do you do with the last live stitch after you’ve bound off? When it became the first “pick-upped” stitch it left a little mark of the previously used yarn on the first row. Is this what is intended? On the LC, I’ve been killing that stitch, cutting the yarn, and then beginning to pick-up. Am I missing something? Thanks!

  26. Oh, dear God!
    You threw me back ‘x’ decades to those heady, hormonal days of my childhood with the crocheted tank top. Mine was in purple, or may be dark blue, in aranish weight 100% non natural 100% petroleum based yarn. It was crochet with love by my great Aunt Mary’s (very popular lady) best friend, Doris, for three very ungratful sisters who I don’t think ever wore their tank tops.
    Even today I was discussing crocet at my LYS and had a mental picture but this, I peeked at the link, took me right back. I was there, I wore the flared trousers and broad shoes (no platforms for us) and had the dorky hair to go with it all. There are even pictures, luckily I have control over the pictures!
    I’ve just realised that my hairstyle today is not too dis-similar, just a bit greyer at the temples
    Roll on the 70’s!

  27. I tat. I also know several women that tat in my Lafayette Lacers group. Have you ever looked up the IOLI? http://www.internationaloldlacers.org/

  28. Yes I had a crocheted vest or three made by my very own granny. I also had a white crocheted formal which I wore to my pledge formal in the 70s. She made a slip to go under so it was not Xrated. She also knit a christening gown for my babies which I treasure. Thanks for the memories.

  29. Thank you, Kay. This is just what I needed, and just what my brain was trying to get me to think of, for my collection of blues, greens, and purples that are waiting to be a blanket for A4A. I’m starting today.

  30. The people who say that all crochet is ugly make me sad. And also a little bit angry. I’ve seen ugly crochet, sure. I’m sure that I’ve MADE ugly crochet. I’ve also seen gorgeous crochet. But let’s face it…there’s some pretty awful knitted stuff out there too. Glass houses and all that. >:-|

  31. Goodness, I just don’t quite understand the knitting vs. crochet mindset. Either can be wonderful or either can be awful. It all depends upon who is wielding hook or needles and his or her personal level of taste. I do both. I like both. I’ve probably made bad knitting and bad crochet, but I’ve also made some pretty wonderful stuff, if I do say so myself. Enjoy your art — just don’t diss on someone else’s.

  32. I love the purple and gray combo. I recently made a Calorimetry and a set of fingerless gloves in that colorway.
    I’ve been a tatter for about 20 years now, I also learned to crochet in the 70’s from my mom who made several crocheted vests, hats etc. Next time you are in Omaha, look up the Omaha Shuttlebugs or the Lincoln Lacemakers. Lots of tatters who I’m sure would would be able to hook you up. Yes, I’m a tatting and bobbin lace pusher.

  33. A loose knitter and a hooker? Me too. Wanna party at my place? ;)