Personally I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with granny squares and blankets. Crochet itself walks a very fine line between contemporary and fun, and old and musty. As the name implies, granny squares in particular are more likely to veer towards the more traditional side of crochet.
I think that’s why I always come back to the solid granny square as my favourite - combined into a blanket, they take on a modern, geometric feel which I am all here for.
That said, for maximum snuggliness a blanket can’t be all about clean lines, it also needs a bit of fun! So that’s why in this blanket the geometric squares meet a cutesy bobble border to make you smile while hunkering down for an afternoon of TV watching under this blanket. Now to be fair - this isn’t the quickest gift to pull together. But that’s what makes it extra special to your recipient, that you spent so many hours thinking of them and how much they are going to love this blanket!
Although I don’t love the time you spend joining all the individual squares, something I really love about blankets made out of individual pieces is the versatility in how they get made. A large blanket where you crochet row by row can really only be completed at home due to inconvenience created by the sheer size of the work in progress. With individual squares, each piece stays small so I can get 1 or 2 squares done each morning and evening during my commute - ideally completed while sitting down on the bus, but I have even completed some while standing up on the train! It means I am much more likely to persevere with the project, rather than other blanket which lie around the house waiting for a weekend free enough to get back to tackling them!
WHAT'LL YOU'LL NEED:
- Yarn: I used Spotlight Spot Saver USA Style in Mallard, it's a hardwearing acrylic that comes in heaps of colours, but any chunky yarn will do
- Hook size: 5.75mm (or appropriate for your yarn)
- Scissors and yarn needles for sewing ends (oh so many ends)
STITCHES YOU'LL NEED TO KNOW:
- Chain - CH
- Double crochet - DC (treble crochet in UK/AU terms)
- Slip stitch - SLIP
- Single crochet, back loop only - SC BLO (double crochet is UK/AU terms, stitching only into the back loop of the previous row of stitches, so that the front loop is still on display)
Ready? Let's go!
To begin: Chain 6, slip stitch into the first stitch to create a circle.
Round 1: Chain 5 (counts as 1 dc and 2 ch). TIP: For this first round, we’re going to stitch into the circle you just created. As you stitch, hold the tail alongside the circle so that it gets enclosed along with the beginning stitches. This isn’t strictly necessary, but means you don’t have to do as much end weaving afterwards as it has already been partially woven in. *3 dc, 2 ch*, repeat between * 3 times, 2 dc, slip stitch around first stitch to close the row.
At the end of this round, each side has 3 dc, with 2 ch chain spaces in between.
TIP: Keep the slip stitch at the end of each round relatively loose, that will make the joins less noticeable in your finished blanket.
Round 2: Chain 2 (counts as 1 dc), *2 dc into chain space, 2 ch, 2 dc into chain space, 3 dc*, repeat between * 3 times, 2 dc into chain space, 2 ch, 2 dc into chain space, 2 dc. Slip stitch to close.
At the end of this round, each side has 7 dc, with 2 ch chain spaces in between.
Round 3: Chain 2 (counts as 1 dc), 2 dc, *2 dc into chain space, 2 ch, 2 dc into chain space, 7 dc*, repeat between * 3 times, 2 dc into chain space, 2 ch, 2 dc into chain space, 4 dc. Slip stitch to close.
At the end of this round, each side has 11 dc, with 2 ch chain spaces in between.
Round 4: Chain 2 (counts as 1 dc), 4 dc, *2 dc into chain space, 2 ch, 2 dc into chain space, 11 dc*, repeat between * 3 times, 2 dc into chain space, 2 ch, 2 dc into chain space, 6 dc. Slip stitch to close.
At the end of this round, each side has 15 dc, with 2 ch chain spaces in between.
Round 5: Chain 2 (counts as 1 dc), 6 dc, *2 dc into chain space, 2 ch, 2 dc into chain space, 15 dc*, repeat between * 3 times, 2 dc into chain space, 2 ch, 2 dc into chain space, 8 dc. Slip stitch to close.
At the end of this round, each side has 19 dc, with 2 ch chain spaces in between.
Round 6: Chain 2 (counts as 1 dc), 8 dc, *2 dc into chain space, 2 ch, 2 dc into chain space, 19 dc*, repeat between * 3 times, 2 dc into chain space, 2 ch, 2 dc into chain space, 10 dc. Slip stitch to close. Trim end, leaving a shortish tail (approx 10cm) and weave in this tail.
At the end of this round, each side has 23 dc, with 2 ch chain spaces in between.
How many squares you end up making will depend on your yarn/hook size, and what size you are aiming for. Each of my squares was 19cmx19cm, so I made a total of 35 squares for a 5 by 7 square blanket.
Alternatively, if you are making this as a baby blanket, you could get away with 25 squares (5 by 5), like in the magenta version of the blanket (which also uses a slightly thinner yarn).
At this stage, it is optional to block your squares to ensure they sit flat and are of a uniform size. This is a matter of personal preference - so the question of to block or not to block is up to you.
So - you have all your squares. Now let’s put them together!
There are many different techniques you can use for joining your squares, and feel to use something different if you would like. For the Argente I used a form of whipstitch joining, where we stitch into only the back loops of each stitch. This keeps the front loop visible to form an edge around each stitch, while the whipstitches create a flattened border in between all the squares.
To perform the stitch, lay two squares next to each other - count the number of stitches along the side from each corner to ensure they are lined up exactly stitch by stitch.
Now sew into the back loop of the stitch - placing your needle under the back loop of the right hand square, then under the back loop of the left hand square. Continuing sewing back and forth. Check your gauge as you go to ensure you are sewing the right tightness - you need to be tight enough to keep the sewing neat, but not so tight that you will wrinkle the squares.
To ensure all the squares are combined evenly, I sewed down all the ‘rows’ of the blanket, followed by the ‘columns’. This also creates less ends to weave in (a big win in my book!) as it minimises the number of pieces of yarn you use. Weave in all your ends once you have joined all your squares together.
You officially have a blanket, congratulations! Technically you could stop here with all of your squares combined, but what fun would that be? We’re going to move on to the pom pom bobble border. First of all, a border to create a cleaner edge:
Round 1: Join yarn at one corner of the blanket, where the longer side is to your left. Sc into the back loop only (blo) of each stitch around the outside, with 1 sc blo into each join between the squares. So that would be a total of 181 stitches along the long side of the blanket (129 sc if you are doing a smaller square baby blanket). 4 x sc into the corner stitch, 129 sc along the shorter side of the blanket, ** into corner, 181 sc, ** into corner, 129 sc, ** into corner, slip stitch to first sc to close off the round.
Now, we add the pom poms. There are a few steps to making each pom pom, so I’ll first go through each step before summarising.
First, chain 6 (Picture 1, below).
Perform 3 x dc into the 3rd chain from the hook BUT as you do each dc hold back the last loop on the hook, so by the end you will have 4 loops on your hook.
Yarn over and pull through all 4 loops. You’ve made a cluster, congrats! (Picture 2)
Chain 3, and do 3 x dc into the top of the cluster stitch you just created, again holding back the last loop on the hook so you have 4 loops on the hook. Yarn over and pull through all 4 loops (Picture 3).
It now looks a bit like an eight, with two circle-looking cluster stitches stacked on top of each other. You’ll notice that because the stitches are connected at top and bottom, they will naturally curve out a bit to look like two hollow halves of a sphere.
Fold the two halves of the ‘eight’ over to create a sphere shape, and slip stitch into the the bottom of the first cluster stitch.
Chain 4 (Picture 4), and sc back into the border to attach the pom pom, skipping 3 stitches along the side of the blanket border.
So to recap, that is:
Round 2: *Chain 6, cluster stitch (3 x dc and slip stitch), cluster stitch, slip stitch to bottom of first cluster, chain 4, sc to border skipping 3 border stitches*, Repeat ** as many times as necessary to go the whole way around the blanket.
TIP: When I got to each corner of my blanket, I wanted to have 1 pom pom on either side of the corner, neatly meeting right in the corner stitch. However, due to the maths of the number of stitches in each border side this doesn’t naturally happen. What I did was occasionally tweak the maths around the corner, by skipping 4 sc instead of 3 when connecting the pom pom chain to the border. It’s a small enough tweak that it’s not visually noticeable to a casual observer, but I would advise to add an extra chain to the chains that connect the pom poms, so that you still have roughly the same gap between pom pom and edging.
And you’re all finished!