The most common way to work with the granny square is to join square modules of equal size (see Drawing 3), or to join granny variations, units made in triangles, pentagons, hexagons, or octagons (see Drawing 4)—it is a simple buildingblock technique.

There are other exciting ways to build a large piece from the individual granny squares. One is to combine units of different sizes and shapes in one design (see Drawing 5). Another is to combine granny squares with solid crochet in strips or shaped sections (see Drawing 6). This technique was used for such items as the Out-of-the-Ordinary Crib Afghan and the Out-of-the-Blue Jacket (directions in future posts)


When you make granny square clothes designed around the building-block technique, you run up against the problem that the grannies, joined, end up as a large square or rectangle, and the human body is neither. If you’re making the sort of garment where precise sizing and shaping isn’t critical, plan it this way: decide on the area that must fit. In a sweater, for example, it might be around the bustline. Divide the measurement by the number of units you would like to cover that area; say the bust measurement is 32″ and you would like the sweater 8 units around—4 across the front of the sweater and 4 across the back. Divide 32″ by 8 for a module size of 4″. If you prefer a sweater to fit loosely, this is the unit size you’ll make. If you want a clingy sweater, subtract 1/2″ from 4″ and make each granny square 3 1/2″ by 3 1/2″. Incidentally, that 1/2″ is a pretty reliable “stretch” allowance for any granny.

Caution: Once you decide the size of the module, you’re stuck with it, and every other measurement must be a multiple of it. The opening of the sweater can only fall at the edge of a module, so the armhole or neckline edge may fall a little lower or higher than you want it.

The obvious and correct conclusion to draw about these sizing and shaping limitations is that the building-block technique, used alone, does not lend itself to making clothes that curve around the body. You can moderate the limitations by using tapered modules in areas of a garment where you would like an increase in fullness or snugness: to enlarge a module, use a taller stitch (a double crochet is longer than a half double crochet), a larger hook or a thicker material on one or more rounds or even sides of the module. To reduce the module, use the shortest stitch, a smaller hook or thinner material on one or more rounds of the module. To produce some tapered modules, we used one hook on half of each round of the module, a smaller size hook on the other half of each round to produce a “square” that looks like Drawing 7. With such tricks at your disposal, you can do a certain amount of fitting but still may not be able to size your module exactly. In this case, always crochet the module smaller, for granny modules, like all crocheting, stretch easily.

Another way to design fitted clothing is to combine grannies with regular crochet and use the regular crochet to achieve the crucial shaping and fit. Look at the starting difference in the shape of the items in Drawing 8. The gussets of regular crochet (rows of single or double crochet or rows of shells) give the granny square vest the necessary fullness through the bust without sacrificing the snug fit at the waist. The panels of regular crochet in the skirt permit it to hug the waist and hips, but flair out gracefully at the bottom.

When you plan your own design for a fitted outfit, decide where the shaping is critical and plan the regular crochet in that area. For example, if you would like a sweater to stop exactly at your waist and you do not want it loose around the bottom, let the last granny squares stop above the waist and single-crochet a waistband to cover the distance between the lower units and waist. Then ease the granny squares onto the waistband when you sew the units together.

If you want a garment to fit very precisely or have a very specific shape, here’s still another way to do it: treat the joined grannies like fabric. Pin a paper pattern for whatever you are making on the joined granny units. Handling the joined grannies on the sewing machine like knit fabric, run two rows of machine stitching around outer edge of pattern to prevent raveling. Next, cut outside the stitching line. Treat the parts like regular pattern pieces, pinning and stitching them together. If the shaped section is located along an outer edge of the garment— the neckline, perhaps—finish the edge with single or double crochet stitches, worked over the line of machine stitching and the new edge.

coming next – how to join granny squares

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  1. beth February 24, 2011
  2. Andi September 18, 2014

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