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What to Know Before You Start Your First Granny Blanket

Today I’m here to talk to you all about the most iconic thing in the crochet world: Granny Blankets! Everyone has seen one before, whether it be the one you used to see draped over the back of your grandmother’s couch or just something you saw while looking around Pinterest for crochet inspiration. If you are a crocheter, then you have undoubtedly seen a granny square project. The reason these blankets are so common is because they are incredibly simple and easy for beginners. They are made up of very basic stitches and the color combinations are legitimately endless. There are various types of granny squares, which adds to their appeal even more. The never ending possibilities makes them a fun, unique project for any crocheter of any skill level.

If you’re looking to start your first granny blanket, this post is the perfect place to start! I’m going to go over some of the basics of granny squares as well as give you some tips so that your first blanket making escapade can be as fruitful as possible. Nothing hurts more than starting a project just to find that it there’s more entailed than you first thought. I want you to dive into your first blanket project with realistic expectations! Here goes:

First and foremost, you need to make a plan. Whatever you need to do to gather your thoughts, do it. Draw your blanket, make a new board on Pinterest, lay out some color combos – whatever helps you to plan and organize your ideas. Blankets are big projects, there’s no way around that. They can be almost as time consuming as sweaters, and sometimes even more tedious. Having a solid plan before you make your first chain will help immensely with saving you time and frustration.

You can check out/follow my granny square Pinterest board for some inspiration.

Pick a Pattern

First of all, choose your square pattern. Traditional granny squares are simple and made up of literally just chains and double crochet stitches. Sunburst squares are quick and look a bit more intricate. These are just the 2 most common and basic square patterns, but there are thousands of different kinds of squares! Check Pinterest for patterns or just Google “Granny Square Patterns” to find something you like!

Figure Out Your Size

Figure out the size of your blanket based on the size of your square, rather than base your square size on a finished blanket size. Your squares may not end up the exact size as the pattern due to using different yarns and hooks. If you pick a square and make a sample, measure it and figure out how many you want the blanket to be length x width. For example, my sample square for my first blanket measured 5 1/4 inches, and I wanted my blanket to be almost 6 feet long and almost 5 feet wide. That means I need to make my blanket about 14 squares long and about 12 squares wide.

Pick a Color Scheme

Pick your colors ahead of time. Color schemes are super important and can make the difference between your blanket looking “tacky” and “awesome”. There are plenty of amazing color scheming websites out there to find cool color combos. Adobe Color CC (previously known as Adobe Kuler) is the standard in the design world, but I personally prefer Colour Lovers because it offers color schemes with more – or less – than 5 colors, and I have personal issues with Adobe anyway… I’ve also recently started using Coolors because it’s f*cking awesome. You can quickly switch through color schemes by hitting your space bar, “lock” colors that you like, and it will create new color schemes from those colors! Once you figure out a color scheme, do a test square if you’re unsure of how your colors will look together.

Make a Plan

Decide on a “mood blanket” or a pattern. Many people I follow on Instagram are doing what is referred to as a “mood blanket”. They make 1 single granny square every day out of all kinds of yarn from their stash, and so each square fits their “mood” that day. The outcome is sometimes very stunning, but I personally prefer to make a plan and a pattern ahead of time.

You should also plan out how you will edge the blanket. Edging can be as simple as a continuous row of double crochets, or as intricate as this example. Whatever kind of edging you’d like to use, be sure to purchase enough yarn to accommodate it.

Join-as-you-go or join your squares after? Join-as-you-go blankets look almost seamless and can be great to build your blanket faster. On the contrary, joining your squares after has a nice patchwork look. There are, of course, endless ways to join squares together, but those are the 2 basics. Here’s a nice compilation of 10 ways to join granny squares, if you fancy a look.

Take Your Time

Don’t try to finish every square that you start. Break the squares into stages instead. Do all of the center bases first then move on to adding the second row to all of them. This is especially quick if you are doing a blanket with identical squares, like I did. I had 1 color of yarn for each step in the square making process. It was a breeze and I didn’t have to lug around a bunch of skeins to work on it!

Here are some images of my blanket in each stage I was working on:

Notes From My Personal Experience

The roller coaster of emotions associated with making granny squares for a blanket can be really exciting and absolutely traumatizing, all at the same time.

For me, the first row went really fast. This was very encouraging and made me feel like a crochet badass. The base row of all granny squares is a tiny, little, itty-bitty center shape, and it’s super easy. Just be sure to keep count of your stitches, because your correctness with this row is crucial to the outcome of the rest of the square.

The second row is a bit more time consuming, but it still goes quick and you will still feel awesome about yourself – Hold onto that feeling. It’s about to get crushed.

The third row made me feel inadequate and sad (just kidding… Kind of.). I felt like I bit off way more than I could chew. Break it up to reduce stress an make everything flow. 5 squares every time you sit down to work on it is a good number. Or you can try to be an over-achiever like me and do 15-20 every time you sit down… Your choice.

Most standard granny squares are 4 rows each, so everything else will kind of flow after this point. If you are joining as you go, the 4th row will be like the home stretch and make you feel all warm and fuzzy as you join everything. If you’re doing the 4th row and then joining, it will feel a lot like the 3rd row. Just break up the work and keep on keeping on. I believe in you!!

Finally, edging can feel a bit daunting, but it really isn’t that bad. If you’ve made a basic scarf before, you won’t have any problem with edging. Just repeat a pattern for a few feet and you’re done! It’s not nearly as bad as the 3rd row of your squares!

So there you have it! These were some of my tips for preparing you to start your first granny square blanket. These blankets can serve as a great in-between project if you’re like me and like to have a few projects going at the same time. I love being able to sit down at the end of the day and work on it. These blankets are great too, because you don’t have to worry about lugging around the entire project until you get to joining and edging. If you’re going to an event where you will be sitting for a long time, or taking a long car ride, you can take just a few of the squares and work on them!

Update Section:

Since initially starting this project in February of 2015, I have not yet completed my first granny square blanket. I have, however, completed certain stages of it! All of my center, base rows are complete. I have a bag in my bedroom that is bursting at the seams with little tiny yellow circles that mock me every time I look at them. My blanket is for a queen sized bed, and it is 14×12 squares… Did you do the math? That’s 168 granny squares. As of November of 2015, I had just 14 fully completed squares in my bag.. Why am I telling you this? It’s not to discourage you, trust me. It’s to put things into perspective for you before you take on an ambitious project.

As I said earlier, blankets can be extremely time consuming and tedious. My main advice to you is to not expect to have a blanket right away, unless you have a shit load of spare time on your hands! Look at it realistically, don’t rush it, and just remember to enjoy the process and the relaxation that comes with doing fiber arts.

Have you ever made a granny blanket? Please feel free to share your tips, tricks, and finished product photos in the comments! I’d love to see what you have come up with and hear all the awesome advice from those of you who have gone through this experience before!