Friday, June 26, 2009

Knit Pickin'... An 'Ode To Granny'

When it comes to crochet, I love the classics, especially the iconic 'Granny Square'. The granny square has been used throughout the generations for everything from afghans, to dresses, to toilet seat covers...and then some. See for some fab examples of the craziness grannies get thrown into. It's versatile indeed. But it gets a bad rap too. The poor thing.

I know there are some out there who don't care much for the granny square. I see it in other blogs I read from time to time. It's made fun of in sitcoms on TV. Even some monthly crochet publications aren't too crazy about it. And I must admit, there are some things I think the granny square should NEVER be used for. But no matter the verbal beating it takes, it still endures as a classic in the world of crochet and is the almost always the very first pattern learned when learning how to crochet. I taught it to all of my daughters when they wanted to learn to crochet. It has been my favorite my whole life, and I have been crocheting for 41 years.

My first memories in life of the granny square comes in the form of an afghan my mother had. It was the traditional black 'patch work' with multi colors thrown in and was made by her mother when my mother was a child in the 1940's. It was always draped over the back of our couch. It was made of wool and I remember it being somewhat scratchy to the touch. But I loved to look at it and run my fingers around the different bright colors in each square. It was a staple of my mother's living room decor for years and years. Eventually it became rather thread bare in spots and my mother retired it to her bedroom to preserve what was left of it.

When I was six, I remember coming home from school one day to find my mother sitting in the recliner in the living room crocheting. She had a laundry basket on the floor next to the chair being filled with what I thought was numerous pot holders! I remember asking her why she was making so many pot holders. She didn't correct me at the time and told me "just because". Later that evening I would find out why she was closed mouth about her project as I exclaimed to my grandmother that "mama was making a LOT of potholders!" Turns out, my mother was making an afghan for my grandmother for Christmas...and as my sister and I both had BIG mouths and could never keep secrets about anything, mama was content to let me believe she was making an endless amount of pot holders. But that didn't keep me from getting smacked in the back of the head for my announcement either. She did tell me a little later on what she was doing and threatened me to within an inch of my life if I told. So I never told and my grandmother was moved to tears that Christmas Eve with my mother's gift to her.

But that November in 1968 was when I learned to crochet. I beeeeeeeegged my mother for months to pleeeeeeeeeeeese teach me how to crochet. I wanted to learn so bad. My mother didn't have patience with us as kids and she never really wanted to give in to a lot of the stuff we wanted to do, mainly because it meant her having to clean up immense messes we made from whatever it was we were doing. And it also meant her having to answer endless stupid questions about every little thing...of which she was not a fan. But eventually she broke down and showed me the basics. I think probably just to shut me up and quit bugging her about it. But no matter, I was gonna crochet !!!

I learned to thread crochet first. She dug through her crochet stuff and found a ball of crochet thread she didn't really have plans for and a hook and set me to chain stitching. I thought I was something and somebody brother! I was making miles and miles of chains and it never stopped. But there came a time when I tired of the chain and wanted to make "pot holders".

My grandmother was the one to teach me to double crochet and turn that into the granny square...and make the transition from thread to yarn. She had MUCH more patience with me than my mother and loved the teaching process for both me and my sister. She would proudly display our crooked, ratty looking little attempts at grannies everywhere. She would even take them to work with her and show them off to the little old ladies in the nursing home where she worked.

These little old ladies who sat in their rooms all day and crocheted, turning out afghans like they were being rolled off a toilet paper roll, would send home granny squares they had made for us for inspiration. They would also send home doll blankets and doll dresses they'd made for us. From time to time, my grandmother would take me and my sister to visit these sweet little old ladies and they would make such a fuss over these two cute little girls who were crocheting their hearts out. It was great fun, and I know for me personally, what these little old ladies did all day was great inspiration for me...and still is today.

Over the years, I've made several versions of the black patchwork afghan. I wanted one of my own that was like the one my mother had on the couch for years. I've done different variations of it also. I did the 'mile a minute' strip afghans when those became popular back in the 80's. I've done ripples and log cabins and pineapples and the list goes on and on. But I always come back to the granny. It is 'home' for me where crochet is concerned. It will never fail to fit in wherever I happen to put it in the house. I made granny square afghans for all my babies when I was pregnant with each one. I've made a few for the grand babies too. It is truly a classic, and no matter what anyone says about the granny square, it will always be a classic. It will never go out of style.

I finished the knitted green scarf I was working on this past week and picked up an afghan I started back in April. I'd put it down for a while because the itch to knit became overwhelming -again. But am determined to finish the afghan before I take on any more knitting. And, gawd! I have scads of knitting projects in my head I want to get to. But finishing the afghan is priority right now
The pics you see here are the current project. This is my 'Providence Rose Garden' granny. It's about 3/4 of the way done at this point. I hope to finish it over the weekend. I needed something red when I started this.

Believe it or not, this is actually going to end up in an old rocking chair that sits in the corner of my dining room. Sounds dumb I know. But this chair needs something and the room needs some color, so this is what I've opted to do. My kitchen and dining area have little bits of red here and there and this will brighten up the corner quite a bit where the chair sits...and make it a little more inviting to sit. I love to sit in this chair. This will be perfect come winter time with the granny to put over my lap. In the meantime, while it's too warm to snuggle, it will add a bit of life to this corner of the room.

My sweetie is from Providence, RI. We live 30 minutes from there in SE Massachusetts. The inspiration for the afghan came from what I've seen of the the history of the city and the place where he grew up. Brown University is in Providence. Beautiful campus with lots of flowers. The oldest Baptist church in the U.S. is here. I've seen the house where my sweetie's dad was born on Federal Hill. The old textile mills and the thousands of old Cape Cod style homes that are built on the hill sides of the city are a sight to behold. The Rhode Island State House and it's grounds are beautiful. The neighborhood where my sweetie grew up is old and homey and beautiful. The Water Fire festival that's held here in fall and summer will be an inspiration for another afghan down the road.

I just wanted something that commemorates my sweetie's home and the beauty it has to offer. So 'Providence Rose Garden' was born. I hope it will be a staple of my home's decor for many years to come.

1 comment:

  1. I enjoyed your post.. My grandmother taught me to crochet.. and after I learned to chain.. she taught me the granny square. Your afghan is beautiful! Thank you for sharing...