Sunday, October 14, 2007

Granny Squares

I'm home from the Knit and Crochet show in the mood to swatch! It's fun to teach classes there, but it's difficult to watch everyone crochet in class, and know that you can't! So, after I was through teaching my 5 classes, I took a class with Jennifer Hansen. What fun! It involved gigantic tunisian hooks, and after class we all rushed down to the Stitch Diva booth on the show floor to purchase one. Jennifer is a great designer, and a superb teacher, and I highly recommend her classes. (Unfortunately, although I did take my camera, I completely forgot about it, so I have NO pictures!)

When I got home from the show, I decided to experiment with Granny Squares. (Did I tell you I LOVE making Granny Squares?) Usually, everyone thinks of GSs made in acrylic, worsted weight yarns, but I wanted to try other weights and other fibers. I had a lot of different yarns left over from various projects that I thought would look interesting worked up in GSs. I went through my stash to pick out some, but of course I had to go to my local yarn stores to buy more!
For most of the samples I made, I used a Susan Bates H hook.
These are some of the samples I came up with:

This first sample is made with Classic Elite Classic Silk.(50% cotton, 30% silk, 20% nylon, 50 grams, 135 yards, 5 sts/inch, US 6 - 4mm- needles, hand wash cold, dry flat) I found this yarn in a local yarn shop, and the manager told me it was a super yarn to work with; it was soft, draped well, great hand, and came in a whole bunch of wonderful colors. She even went onto the CE web site to show me the color card. She was absolutely right! I love the way it worked up into the Granny Square. The stitches are well defined, and it feels wonderful next to my skin. I see some "Marty Cardis" in the near future!

This next sample is made with Plymouth Encore Boucle Colorspun (75% acrylic, 25% wool,100 grams, 3.5 ounces, 101 yards,2.5 sts/inch, US 11 needles). It was in my stash already from a previous project. I loved the yarn then, I love the yarn now! It's soft, cuddly, and just perfect for baby afghans. (It's the yarn I used in my previous post.) Can you tell I really like working with it? Unlike other boucles I've used, it doesn't split, the stitches are well defined, and it's not impossible to frog! I used an N (10mm) hook with it, and was able to see my stitches with no problem.

One more swatch today - made with a new yarn I found at my local yarn store (at least new to me) - Nashua Handknits April (100% cotton, 50 grams, 1.75 ounces, 90 yards, 82 meters, 18 stitches/4 inches, 4.5 - 5 mm, 7-8 US needles) I was most pleasantly surprised with this yarn. It's strong, colorful, and looks great in a Granny Square. It is really easy to crochet with, and has a good hand! I am going to get some more at the lys - I have just the project in mind!

One thing that I've noticed as I've been reading all the yarn labels to post the info about the yarns: all the gauge information is given for knitting. I know that when I try to figure out what size hook to use with a yarn that's new to me, I usually look at the knitting needle size, and go up one or two mm in crochet hook size. Then I work swatches with smaller and larger hooks, to determine which will give me the effect and look I want. If I know the yarn and have worked with it before, I usually know what size hook will work right away. So, while this knitting bias on some yarn labels really doesn't bother my crocheting practice, it does bother me. If the yarn companies want to sell yarn to the greater number of crocheters (there are many more crocheters than knitters) they should start speaking our language, and give us gauge info on their yarn labels!

I'll post more swatches tomorrow!


Anonymous said...

Glad you're back! Thanks for your new swatches and also your remarks about crochet yardages on yarn labels. I hope the yarn companies take note.
When you're swatching with new yarn,do you buy just one skein at a time? Can you get the same idea of weight and drape from a granny square that you do from a swatch made with sc, dc, or a stitch pattern?

Marty Miller said...

Hi Marianne,
Do I buy just one skein at a time? It depends where I am. If I'm in one of the yarn shops in my city, maybe. Depends on the price and the colors available. If I'm in another city, or on-line, I usually go for more, especially if the fiber and color and everything else about the yarn "speaks" to me - just in case I really love the yarn and want to use it in a pattern. Then, I'll buy about 1000 yds - or 10 skeins. Unless it's relatively inexpensive, and I may go for more. Usually 1000 yds will made a sweater for me. (As you can probably tell, I have no "set" routine when buying yarns.) :-)
Can you get the same idea of weight and drape from a granny square that you do from a swatch made with sc, dc, or a stitch pattern? Yes and no! :-) No - if you want to work a certain stitch pattern, you should do the swatch in that pattern. But yes - I can get a feel for the yarn, how it works up, how it would look in a lacey pattern. If it's stiff in a granny square, it probably will be stiff in a fabric worked in sc or dc or hdc. Using the same hook size. So making granny squares will let me know if I need to change hook sizes to get another drape or "hand".
One other thing - I work a lot of designs in Granny Squares, so making Granny Square swatches is research for me. And it doesn't take me long to make one.
Good questions!

Vashti Braha said... granny squares!
Hi Marty, I agree, if a yarn company wants to sell yarn to more people, include crochet info on the label! It would help stop the question I overhear in yarn shops: "Can you crochet with this?" and the horror when I hear the answer "I don't know" or even, "No, it's for knitting"!!!