Good to know rules; fun to break them

By Ardeana Hamlin, BDN Staff
Posted May 11, 2009, at 5:23 p.m.

The fact that I am a grammy has nothing to do with the fact that one of my recent projects was crocheting granny squares for an afghan. I began crocheting the granny squares at least a year ago. All I know for sure is that one rainy day, I discovered a stack of granny squares in the picnic basket that lives under a chair in the middle room where, apparently, I had put them for safekeeping many months ago.

Along with the squares, I found little balls of yarn left over from this pair of socks or that cap, even scriddles of yarn I’d found at yard sales or thrift shops, yarn I lugged home knowing I’d put it to good use sooner or later. In this case, much later.

This is not the first granny square afghan I have crocheted. The first one I made was in 1966, three years before I was a mother, let alone a grammy.

I’m not sure how many granny square afghans I’ve crocheted since that first one, but I’d guess five or six, including the one that is a single, huge granny square. I got going around and around on that baby and somehow I just couldn’t stop. Maybe it was all those different shades of mauve and lavender mixed up with yarn the color of fog and the fluffy violet mohair that made me want to keep working all those rounds. I remember feeling as I fashioned the afghan as if I were enveloped in a purplish dream.

Granny squares generally require that one follow certain rules. Chain 4 and form a circle. Chain 3 to serve as the first double-crochet, make 2 double-crochets in the circle, chain 3, and make 3 double-crochets, etc., until you have four 3-double-crochet entities separated by chain-3 spaces. Go on to the next round. Easy as pie.

All the rounds can be one color or each round can be a different color. I did a different color on each round, with the last done in the traditional black. Usually, and one might say, sensibly, the yarn is all the same fiber — wool, cotton, mohair, synthetic. Well, almost immediately I began to break that rule. Maybe that’s part of being a grammy — old enough to dispense with a rule and hang the consequences.

You see, instead of using yarn of all the same fiber, I mixed it up. I made squares with a cotton center, an eyelash yarn round, a Lopi wool round, a mohair round and finally the black round — in (dare I say this?) acrylic. Some squares are all wool and some are all synthetic fibers, or blends of the two. It seems to me, that all of this mixing of fibers is how life ought to be — different colors and textures all wound together to create a strong, beautiful, unpredictable whole.

I progressed to a point where I had about 16 more granny squares to make. As luck would have it, I ran out of little balls of leftover yarn and had to dip into what I have stashed away, grabbing a bit of brown alpaca, a snippet of what I thought was silk of variegated hue and a bit of ribbon yarn that looks like bird feathers after it is crocheted.

I sewed the squares together in groups of four. I sewed those groups into strips and sewed the strips together. Sewing the squares together was tedious. I could have opted to crochet the squares together, but that leaves a ridge on the reverse side, which I dislike. I could have chosen to connect the squares together as I crocheted, but that creates too many stress points where the weight of the afghan can cause wear and tear.

The granny square has been around since at least the late 1800s when it appeared in a Weldon and Co. publication. It was wildly popular in the 1970s, as an inventory of my stacks of old needlework magazines attests.

Some of the best Web sites devoted to the granny square are www.crochetcabana.com, which offers granny square tutorials; www.bevscountrycottage.com, which offers free granny square patterns; and www.purlbee.com, which offers granny square tutorials and free projects, and tutorials and projects in knitting, embroidery and patchwork.

As for my afghan, it was fun breaking the rules. Try it, you’ll like it.

Snippets

Mildred Cole Peladeau of Readfield will talk about her book, “Rug Hooking in Maine: 1838-1940,” at 2 p.m. Saturday, May 16, at the Bangor Public Library. Copies of Peladeau’s book will be available for purchase and signing. The public is invited to bring a rug for show-and-tell.

The Northeast Livestock Expo will take place Friday through Sunday, May 15-17, at the fairgrounds in Windsor. Visit fiber-producing animals, see demonstrations of spinning and other techniques in the fiber arts area. Yarn produced from cashmere goats, alpacas and sheep, and items fashioned from animal fibers will be available to pet and purchase. Visit www.northeastlivestockexpo.org to obtain more information.

Creature Feature II, a special small art sale, will be held 4-7 p.m. Friday, May 29, and 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday, May 30, in the lobby at The Grand in Ellsworth. Proceeds will benefit The Grand. To obtain more information, call Christina Heiniger at 994-2404.

http://bangordailynews.com/2009/05/11/living/good-to-know-rules-fun-to-break-them/ printed on August 20, 2014