Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Darwin’s Granny Squares

Americana Jumper from Crochet World, April 1979

One Piece at a Time
By Jean G. Caprera

In her rocking chair the little gray haired woman peacefully swayed back and forth, the rhythm of the motion keeping time to the pace of her crochet hook.
Little did she know that the Crochet Hook Murderer was about to strike!
If this description matches your own notion of the average crocheter, then you are sadly out of step with modern times. Today’s woman crochets, not out of boredom, but rather from the stimulation of creativity; not solely as a consequence of economic necessity, but rather because of her need to express individuality.
Sadly, Jean wasn’t writing a blood-curdling crochet murder mystery. Instead, she penned the very first granny square infomercial. It’s so sad when crocheters sell out.
The concept that crocheted needlework belongs exclusively to the belief that the “Granny” is limited to use in afghans. Crocheting has become fashionable, and it thus should come as no surprise that the traditional piecework of “Grannying” should evolve into a more versatile product in keeping with these social changes.
I suspect Jean’s grasp of fashion is as shaky as her grammar.

However, she’s right about the evolution of “Grannying.” Crochet anthropologists have confirmed that this jumper is the missing link between blood-soaked afghans and scarlet women.
For the uninitiated, perhaps a few words of clarification as to what is meant by the term “Granny square”... First of all, the word “square” is itself an inaccuracy. The Granny can be a rectangle, hexagon, octagon, circle or even a combination of various forms.
Unfortunately, this pattern will feature “squares” instead of these intriguing alternatives. I hate to say it, but I think Jean is a “Granny” tease.
It can be a multi-hued blend or a single color pattern. It can be individual strips or delicate lacy insertions, but the one unique quality about “Grannying” which marks its popularity in this fast-paced world is its potential for being done one piece at a time!

Those odd moments... While waiting for your doctor or dentist... While patiently sitting at the bus stop…While enduring a long-winded telephone call... are all perfect opportunities for piece-work crochet. “Grannying” lends itself easily to these otherwise wasted minutes since small amounts of wool can be conveniently carried and the pattern is very often repetitive.
Repetitive stress injuries were diagnosed with growing frequency in the late 1970s. I’m not saying Jean was responsible… I’m merely implying it.
Recently, I was summoned for one month of grand jury duty. Piecework crochet proved to be the perfect solution for those idle minutes between cases which could have turned to boredom.
Law and Order: Special Crocheters Unit!

No? How about Law and Order: Crochet Intent?
Now I wish to share my enthusiasm for this special crochet with you. The pattern I have selected for this issue is a jumper designed for those chilly days of spring and fall. Because of its color choice (red and blue), I have named it “The Americana Jumper”.
In this case, jumper doesn’t mean a sweater made by Mrs. Weasley nor a suicidal Harry Potter fan. A jumper, according to the Random House Dictionary, can also be “a one-piece, sleeveless dress, or a skirt with ...a complete or partial bodice, usually worn over a blouse by women and children.”

Except this jumper actually has sleeves. My God, this means I’ve discovered the American missing link in the evolution of England’s prim pinafores into Australian groovy grannies!

I await my Nobel Prize in Crochology.

For the complete pattern (and more snark!)

(Rated “I” – Intermediate)
As opposed to “I” for Interesting.
NOTE: Yarn requirement based on small to medium size. Large may require an additional skein or two of each color.

Approx. 3 (4 oz. 4-ply) skeins of red.
Approx. 5 (4 oz. 4-ply) skeins of blue.
Be sure to choose colours that won’t evolve over time into Jack the Ripper Red and Heart of Darkness Blue.
Small – 32” bust; Size G hook to produce 4¼” square
Medium – 35” bust; Size H hook to produce 3½” square
Large – 37” bust; Size I hook to produce 3¾” square
Busts were much smaller in the 1970s than they are now. For instance, iconic pin up Farrah Fawcett was considered a triple D cup in 1976.

Or so my big brother insisted.

RND 1: With blue, ch 4, sl st in first ch to form ring, ch 1, 8 sc into ring. Sl st in first sc made.

RND 2: Pull up loop on hook to approximately ¾”. * Yarn over, pull up loop in first sc to approximately ¾”; repeat this 4 times in the same sc. Then yarn over and through all 9 loops on hook, ch 1 tightly to fasten st, ch 3. In next sc, repeat from * until 8 puffs sts made. Cut and fasten off blue.

RND 3: With red, sl st in any space between puff stitch, ch 3. In the same space, 2 dc, ch 2, 3 dc, ch 1. This will be a corner for the square. In next space, 3 dc, ch 1. Then repeat instructions for the corner (except future corners will be 3 dc, ch 2, 3 dc). Continue in each space until you have completed four corners and four sides.

Sl st in top of ch 3 which marked the beginning of the round and leave a 10” length of yarn, after fastening off, to be used for sewing together.

My goodness, it looks like a granny square sweater for The Incredible Hulk.

Then again, the Hulk did need a lot of new tops during the 1970s.
Complete a total of 44 squares. Ten of these will be used for the sleeves. Following diagram above, assemble squares, sewing shoulder seams.

Assemble 5 squares in a row to be used for sleeves: sew these into place at armhole of garment, matching the squares of the sleeves to the squares of the jumper.
For heavens sake, crocheters can be trusted to attach a simple sleeve onto a jumper without a diagram!

Or not.
ROW 1: Beginning at the bottom of the assembled garment, with red, sc in each dc, 1 sc in each space, working 1 sc in each of the joining corner spaces. To obtain a well-rounded edge to the garment, work 3 sc in the spaces at both bottom corners and neckline corner. Join with sl st to first sc in round. Ch 1, turn.

ROW 2: Sc in each sc (repeating the 3 sc in the bottom edging). * At points indicated by X in the diagram, crochet a chain approximately 10” long, sc in each chain and continue sc around garment until next marker, repeat from *. Join with sl st to first sc in round. Fasten off.
Alas, the development of crochet laced bodices were an evolutionary dead end in granny square fashion. Moreover, wearing one would also prevent your genes from being passed onto future generations.
ROW 3: Attach blue to second sc in bottom corner, dc in each sc across, ending at 2nd sc at other end of bottom section. Join this section together to form circular skirt by sl st last dc to first dc, ch 3, turn.

ROW 4: DC in each dc; join with sl st. Fasten off blue.

ROW 5: With red, sc in each dc across, join, ch 1, turn.

ROW 6: Repeat row 5, then fasten off red.

ROW 7: Measure width of skirt at this time. If it is not wide enough for your hip measurement, increase hook size – G to H; H to I; I to J.

Join blue, dc in each sc, join, ch 3, turn. Continue with blue until desired length of skirt is reached.
The longer the better! After all, floor length grannies are super sexy.

Click here for the printable pattern.


  1. I can't believe I'm saying this, but the long dress is actually kinda cute.

  2. I'd have to agree. Scary, eh? (new colors, different stitch. perfect)

  3. WOW that floor lentgh dress is a show-stopper. What a halloween costume that would make!

  4. Clearly the people have spoken! Before the year is out, I will post the pattern for that floor length granny dress.

    But that means one of you (Anony, Anony 2, or Christine) now have to make it! And send me pictures.