Saturday, November 29, 2008

Vintage Granny-Square Christmas Stocking

Ah, the Granny Square: most loved, and most reviled, of all the common crochet patterns. In the 60's and 70's you could find them in projects as diverse as placemats, vests, and afghans. Overuse in some truly regrettable designs has cast a pall over this workhorse of the crochet world, but there is still a place for them in my heart at least!
My mother's mother, "Grammy" to us kids, was rarely to be found without a crochet hook in her hand, even in the hottest of Fresno summers, and granny squares were her stock and trade. When I was a wee lass of 7 or so I begged her to teach me. I got as far as a decent chain, but by the next time she came to visit I'd forgotten the technique. A few attempts, and a few years, later, the lessons finally stuck and I had mastered the venerable square plus a few more common stitches. Over my teenage years I actually turned out a couple of good sized afghans, but then I put away my hook and didn't even think about crochet for the better part of a decade. Then I got married. Christmas came along, and I realized a serious problem: My new husband did not have a stocking. More importantly, he didn't have a stocking that matched everyone else's! Roughly the time my middle brother was born, Grammy made the four of us matching stockings, and added one for my youngest brother a few years later. But by 2007 she'd long since gone to her reward, and I was the only one in the immediate family to whom she'd passed the torch - if not her pattern.
But since the pattern was made up of nothing by granny squares, it wasn't all that difficult to reconstruct. Here, for posterity, is how to make a granny-square Christmas stocking. Maybe you can start your own tradition!


Materials* One skein each cheap red and white yarn. Red Heart Super Saver or Caron's is just fine: no-one is going to be wearing these! I made four stockings out of a one pound ball.
* Optional: Several pins or other flat Christmas-y shapes for decorating the finished stocking.

Tools
* Crochet hook. I used a size "G" but that's not critical as long as you don't change mid project.
* Yarn needle
* Scissors

Skills
* Chain, single, and double crochet stitches
* Simple sewing to join squares

Instructions
(Note: Blogger cuts my embedded pictures off! Mostly you can see what's going on, but if you want the full sized uncut pics, you can find them here)
1. Crochet 14 granny squares in red with two rows each, and then a full row of Double Crochet around the edge. (Please feel free to Google for the granny square pattern. Basic directions without a lot of funny abbreviations appear below.)

2. Crochet 1 granny "triangle," which is just like a square but with three sets of three double crochet and chain groupings instead of four.


3. Construct the toe. Using your yarn needle and a length of red yarn, join three squares at right angles into a heart-shape. (I find that one sewing stitch every two crochet stitches is adequate, with a few extra at corners. Be careful to match up your corners and centers: the rest will take care of itself.)


4. Fold all of the corners to meet in the center, and stitch along the sides.


5. Add two more squares as shown below


6. Your granny "triangle" is the heel. Attach as shown below. When complete you will have a flat edge that is one and a half squares wide.


7. Construct the ankle by joining three squares into a strip and joining into a loop. Repeat three times, then join each loop together taking care to alternate which side of the stocking has the folded square. Think of them as bricks, offset on each row for strength and visual appeal. (By the way, there's no way to do this in a single unbroken line of stitches. Resign yourself to tying off frequently and moving to the next seam.)


8. Join the ankle to the foot, again making sure that the long edge of one of the ankle squares joins across the half-square of the triangle and the first half of the full square.

9. Shape the toe by folding in the square corners and sewing across with a few stitches.



10. With your stocking complete, crochet the cuff in white in about 12 to 15 rows of single-crochet. Count carefully, because mistakes will show! (If your accuracy is as bad as mine, you might start your line of stitches on the back of the stocking where mistakes will be less visible.)

If desired, do a scalloped edge on the last row. I did one single-crochet, one double crochet, one triple crochet, another double and another single, then a couple of slip stitches. The math didn't work out, but I hid the mismatches on the back.

11. As desired, decorate the finished product. I sewed jingle bells on the tips of the scallops for my niece. Grammy's original stockings had intricate felt shapes of Christmas trees, candy canes, wreathes, and Santas. I made due with purchased pins from the dollar bin at Jo-Ann's. I have it in mind to try and simulate her felt designs on this year's stockings, though. If I do, that will be a separate tutorial.

My biggest challenge was placing the name on the cuff. Grammy managed a beautiful embroidered name with green yarn in a cursive font. I couldn't begin to mimic it. I I made due on my husband's sock with a piece of aida cloth tacked down to the cuff. You might try purchased felt letters if your names are short enough. I plan to commission names satin-stitch embroidered on felt from a friend with a good machine for the rest of my socks.

Basic Granny-Square instructions(Assumes knowledge of standard crochet stitches. Refer to the pictures above if you're a visual learner like me!)
Note: These instructions are for three-row (3 round) squares. Most of my stockings are actually made with two-row squares, which are smaller and faster. Omit steps 5-6 for two-row squares.
1. (Foundation Ring) Chain six and join in a circle with a slip stitch.
2. (Round 1) Chain up three, then double-crochet two through the loop.
3. Chain three, then double-crochet three more through the loop. Repeat twice more for a total of four sets.
4. Join with a slip stitch. This is the first layer of your square, with the sets of three chain stitches forming the corners.
5. (Round 2) Chain up three, turn, then double-crochet two more in the first "corner." Chain three, then double-crochet three more in the same "corner."
6. Chain three, then repeat in the other three corners, placing two sets of three double-crochets joined by three chains in each hole. Join with a slip stitch.
7. (Round 3) Double-crochet in each stitch from previous round, with 5 double-crochets in each corner. Specifically, Chain up three, turn, and then double-crochet *three* more in the first hole.
8. Double-crochet in each stitch of the double-crochets below. Proceed along the entire square, placing *five* double-crochets in each corner of the square. Join with a slip stitch, snip your yarn, and weave in the tail.
I can turn one of this out in about 10-15 minutes. Grammy was, of course, much faster.

3 comments:

Amanda said...

I am writing to request permission to reprint this adorable project on Craftown.com. We would of course give you full credit and will happily link back to your blog. Please let me know if this is acceptable. Thanks!

Amanda Formaro
Chief Editor - Craftown.com
http://craftown.com

Julia said...

I added this project and thumbnail to our site and linked to you. We are looking for more Christmas project as well as other projects, so if you have any similar projects please feel free to let me know.
Julia
jlitz@primecp.com
Editor, www.AllFreeChristmasCrafts.com

Danielle Perlin said...

Hello!
We have added this project to our site, AllFreeChristmasCrafts.com. Please let me know if we have permission to add more of your projects to our site. Thank you so much!!

Best,
Danielle
dperlin@primecp.com
Editor for www.AllFreeChristmasCrafts.com