When Autumn comes around, my mind turns to one thing - blankets. Mmmmm, blankets... I have a lot of blankets, of all sorts, but I am firm in the belief that no household could ever have too many. Blankets to picnic upon, throws to snuggle up in front of a movie in, spreads to beef up your bed when the cold gets into your bones, quilts to make your pull-out sofa bed the ultimate luxury when your best friend needs to crash.
One type of blanket that is as relaxing and pleasurable to make as it is to snuggle, is a crochet granny square blanket. These days I've been spending my evenings in front of endless re-runs of Friends feeling my heart swell as I throw another granny square onto a growing pile. The beauty of granny square blankets is that they can be as big or little, simple or complex, plain or colourful as you like. And you can pretty much use any yarn you want! Bearing in mind of course that you shouldn't mix different weights of yarn, and the finer your yarn, the smaller the squares, and the longer it will take for your blanket to grow.
I went for a lofty merino wool by Stitch and Story, which I used for my last crochet class at The Village Haberdashery (see my upcoming crochet classes here). The colours are hazy and dreamy, and due to the chunkiness of the yarn, each square is measuring up at approximately 8" square, so I'll have me a cosy lap blanket in no time.
You will need:
- A crochet hook - size indicated by the yarn you're using, check the information on the ball band
- 4 colours of yarn - how many balls of each colour will depend hugely on the weight of your yarn and how big you'd like your blanket, I like to start with a good armful of yarn, making sure that there's more where it came from if I run out!
- Thread snippers
*I have written out the instructions for this crochet pattern with a beginner in mind. We're not using crochet abbreviations, but we are using UK crochet terminology. This tutorial is veeerrrry photo-heavy, hopefully illustrating the techniques as clearly as possible!*
Making a magic loop
Wrap your yarn around your index and middle finger twice, with the tail poking off to the right.
From right to left, place your hook under both loops of yarn, and go to grab the length of yarn that is coming from the ball.
Bring the hooked yarn through both wrapped loops and out to the top.
Chain 1 by bringing the yarn (the strand coming from the ball, not the short stubby tail!) through the loop on your hook.
Now you can carefully slip the magic loop off your fingers, and chain 2 more.
We're now going to crochet 11 trebles into the magic loop to make the first round.
To make a treble crochet, yarn over...
Dive your crochet hook into the centre of the ring from front to back, and grab another loop of yarn and bring it back out to the front...
Yarn over and bring your yarn through the first 2 loops on your hook...
Yarn over again and bring it through the final 2 loops on your hook. And that little post right there is a treble stitch!
Make 10 more trebles into the magic circle - resulting in 11 trebles and your initial chain 3 post, which basically counts as a mock treble as you start a round. So, 12 stitches in total.
When you finish your final treble, place your hook into the top of your chain 3 post, yarn over and bring it through all loops on your hook in one fell swoop - this is called a slip stitch.
To fasten off your yarn ready to join a new colour, chain 1, snip the yarn and pull the yarn right through the loop.
Join your new colour yarn by putting your hook through 1 of the stitches and bringing the new colour from the back and out to the front as shown below.
A word about identifying "stitches": if you look at the outer edge of your work, you'll see what looks like a track of braids. The 2 strands of yarn that make up 1 braid, is your stitch. You want to be inserting your needle just under both of these strands when you're working new stitches.
Chain 3. Again, and as with the beginning of every round, this first chain 3 represents the first mock treble stitch.
Now work 1 treble crochet stitch into the same you started from.
Make 1 chain stitch, then 2 trebles into the next stitch. Continue like this working 2 trebles into each stitch of your first round with a chain 1 between each cluster of 2 trebles.
Close your round with a slip stitch when you get all the way back. Just as we had a total of 12 stitches in our first round, you should now have 24 trebles all around as we increase.
Snip your yarn and get ready to join your third colour.
Join your new colour in any of the chain 1 spaces (in between a cluster of 2 trebles), chain 1, and then work 2 trebles into that same space.
Chain 1, work 3 trebles in the next chain 1 space. Continue like this until you get back to the beginning of the round. Close the round with a slip stitch and fasten off your yarn.
We're now going to turn our little granny circle into a square! For the corners, we'll be using a double treble stitch, which is basically the same a regular treble, only we yarn over twice at the start...
So. Start by joining your border yarn in any one of the chain 1 spaces, and chain 4 (we need to chain more for a double treble as the stitch is taller).
Yarn over twice.
Dive your hook into the space and bring another loop of your yarn out to the front. You should have 4 loops on your hook.
Yarn over and bring it through the first 2 loops on your hook.
Yarn over and bring it through the next 2 loops...
Yarn over one last time and bring it through the final 2 loops on your hook.
Work 1 more double treble, chain 2 (this is the corner of your square), and work 3 more double trebles into that same space. You should now have a chain 4, 2 double trebles, chain 2 and 3 double trebles all in the one space.
Chain 1, move onto the next stitch and work 3 regular trebles, followed by a chain 1 and 3 more trebles in the next stitch. That's one corner and one side of your square done.
Now for the next corner - chain 1, 3 double trebles, chain 2, 3 double trebles, chain 1. Then continue with the next two clusters of 3 trebles (with a chain 1 always in between each cluster), and the next corner etc until you get back to the beginning of the round. Close with a slip stitch and fasten off your yarn. And that's your granny circle within a square done!
Now just keep on going until you have enough squares to make up your blanket!
Joining your squares together
To turn your many granny squares into one great big cosy blanket, the easiest way to go about it is to first figure out the layout. Then you can join all the squares in each row to form a bunch of strips, then join the strips to make it whole.
Start by taking two squares and placing them together, right sides facing:
Using the same colour yarn as your border (in my case white), tie a little knot in the top righthand corner - in the chain 2 space - to secure.
Insert your hook into that same chain 2 space (front to back) and bring a loop of yarn back out to the front and chain 1.
Now we're going to join the squares together each stitch at a time with a slip stitch, but working only in the outer loops of the stitches so as to create a flat blanket.
Insert your hook into the outer loop of the next stitch of the square facing you, and then into the outer loop of the corresponding stitch of the square at the back:
Yarn over and bring the yarn through both loops in one fell swoop.
That's one slip stitch done!
Repeat this in every stitch all along that one side of your squares, not forgetting the chain 1 stitches that separate every cluster of trebles.
When you come to the end of the row, finishing up in the chain 2 space on the top lefthand side, fasten off your yarn and grab yourself another square to start growing your strip!
From the right side, your joined squares should be looking like this... The slip stitches should be invisible and your squares should lay perfectly flat.
And from the back you'll notice a little ridge where the slip stitches have joined the two squares together:
Once all your squares have been joined into strips, you can join the strips in the same way, slip stitching across all the squares in the strip.
Weave in and snip away any loose tails and you're ready to snuggle!