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Topic: Granny mystery  (Read 1830 times)
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veggiechef
« on: June 13, 2010 03:27:45 PM »

So, why do they call it a granny square, and when did it come to be?  I know they were ubiquitous in the '60s and '70s, but who made the first one? And why name it that?

I'm just a crochet geek, and I like to learn useless trivia.  Grin Grin Grin Grin Grin

~Joanie
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kiewiet
« Reply #1 on: June 16, 2010 12:47:02 AM »

I've often wondered about it. I know they were made in Victorian times and being a fairly easy pattern I think they may go back to the start of crochet,whenever that may be Wink!  I know that crochet became popular in the 18th century and was also refered to as "shepherds knitting" but who knows what went before?

I thought as a child that the squares were called granny squares because old grannies with poor eyesight could make them easily Cheesy. They are also so useful to use up all the bits of yarn left over from other projects - a very frugal and "granny-ish" thing to do in my mind. The local old-age home near my house always had rows of elderly ladies rocking on the front verandah crocheting and gossiping! Goodness knows what became of all those squares they made! I know they were a better source of news than the newspaper Cheesy
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Lilley
« Reply #2 on: June 19, 2010 12:32:19 PM »

I have no idea but I'd love to know.  I've recently rediscovered the granny square bug and can't stop making them!  I've been putting this bug to use though and am making a big blanket for my brother and his soon to be wife as a wedding gift.
kiewiet I love your theories for the granny square name!
Vicki x
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SylvChezPlum
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« Reply #3 on: June 20, 2010 05:53:53 AM »

I'm in love with granny squares and preparing an ebook project around them... so I'd be greatly interested in any info regarding that !! (I have tons of books on the subject, but have yet to start reading them.. have been too busy crocheting new granny-square inspired projects so far... ! )

Hitting the "notify" button  :-P
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michelleandherguitar
« Reply #4 on: July 23, 2010 11:06:24 PM »

I found this thread, and as a junkie for useless facts, I couldn't resist!

A little bit of research led me to http://www.squidoo.com/learn-to-do-granny-square-crochet, which says that the early granny squares were adapted from more complex and intricate patterns from Europe when settlers came to the new world. According to this source, granny squares were designed to be simple and useful, because that was what was necessary for that time.

Also, according to this site: http://page63.blogspot.com/2010/04/history-of-granny-square.html, in the Victorian era, they were known as "Patchwork Squares." I couldn't find any more info about why they're now called Granny Squares.

Using my University's Library website and JSTOR, I found an article with an...interesting quote about Victorian abortions: "Abortion was often done by a woman who goes under some such name as "granny" or some other colloquial name and who uses crochet hooks generally or a knitting needle." I'm not saying it could be related to the topic at hand or not, but that is the earliest connection I could find between crochet and the word "granny." Make of it what you will, I just thought it might be something interesting to think about. The article was Women and Abortion in Victorian and Edwardian England by Patricia Knight, if anyone wants to look it up.

This is where I might have struck gold, though:

I found another article in a publication called The Decorator and Furnisher, published in 1889 that describes what might be the burgeoning granny square. It's a Dear-Abby type article, and the reader sent in a question inquiring about a new way to crochet table covers, quilts, and pillows. The reader says she has heard of a type of crochet which she calls "the daisy device," (get ready for this quote; it's a long one)

"we will simply say "the daisy" device in crochet is begun in the center of the daisy with a chain of twelve or more stitches, the chain joined, and worked on the ring thus formed is a row in long or tripple crochet stitches, each long stitch divided by a chain stitch. Then worked in the little circular mat thus perfected is a succession of loops about an inch in length in chain stitch, and as each loop is made the work is turned, and in each Stitch of the chain up to the central stitch is worked a long stitch; in the central stitch is worked five long stitches, and a single stitch in each chain, stitch continued to the last stitch in the loops. This gives a petal-like effect to the work, and when all the loops are finished the effect is that of a field daisy, each successive loop slightly overlapping the preceeding. Hence the name given to the pattern of the work; A chain is now worked all around joining the petals; and the corners are filled in with the trefoil pattern, or otherwise, to form squares. The squares are then sewed together, and lace of daisy pattern borders the spread."


It's a lot to read through and make sense of, but it basically states that a big fancy square is made with the design of a daisy in the center. The reader asks the writers their opinion on this form of crochet, and they present "an idea of our own in the matter of the crochet lace set, is in patterns of small blocks or squares about eight inches each way...these joined alternately for the coverlet and pillow spreads, and finished with a border to match the design." Unfortunately there wasn't an illustration to go along with this article, but that sounds like it could be a starting step for granny square designs. These fancy-shmancy daisy squares could be part of what influenced settlers over in America around that time to make simple, yet effective crochet squares.

Whew. That was quite a bit of research. Smiley I tend to go a bit overboard when I find something really interesting. *^_^*

Interesting side note: In my search, I found an article about women in rural Andalusia, Spain. Quote: "Creating marvels with a crochet hook or knitting needles is a ground on which they can compete with or outdo city women." Not-for-nothin', but I thought that was a neat little tidbit of info. I don't know about you guys, but I can relate to that sentiment. Don't we all feel like our handmade items are far superior than to those store-bought, mass-market products? Smiley
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« Reply #5 on: July 24, 2010 01:15:11 PM »

Wow, so cool !i'll take the time to re read all that later when I have time but sound cool ! :-D

Thanks for sharing !
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« Reply #6 on: August 09, 2010 08:13:21 PM »

In my book, The Great Granny Crochet Book circa 1979, it says that in Europe "the technique of making granny squares is called "American crochet."
It doesn't give a date for when they were begun in the United States, but that the thrifty women of this country used up every scrap and were able to take the work with them anywhere. 

My two cents... Cheesy
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michelleandherguitar
« Reply #7 on: August 09, 2010 09:09:57 PM »

That's interesting. I thought the only difference between American crochet and European crochet were the terms. Thanks for info, Kittymom13! Cheesy
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« Reply #8 on: August 13, 2010 02:38:23 AM »

I agree michelleandherguitar i allways feel even if it takes a long time and even if it costs a little ore it is well worth it 'cause it'll far outlast store bought Smiley
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SylvChezPlum
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« Reply #9 on: August 14, 2010 12:37:56 PM »

In my book, The Great Granny Crochet Book circa 1979, it says that in Europe "the technique of making granny squares is called "American crochet."
D


I am french, and I've seen granny squares refered to as "carrs old america" (= old america squares) in some french crochet books. Not old ones mind you, I think it was a translation of a current american crochet book by Erika Knight.

Still, I find it interesting, and wonder if many people would call them that way here in France. :-P
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