Why is a Granny Square called a Granny Square?

Over the last few months I have spent a lot of time working on my Lockdown Blanket. The simple, repetitive stitch has been good for my anxious mind during these very strange times. Last week I taught my daughter to make them. This led to a discussion: why is a granny square called a granny square?

Chances are, even if you don’t crochet or knit, you would recognise one if you saw one. They are often one of the first things you learn to make when you start to crochet.

A blue ball of yarn and a granny square

The dictionary definition is “one of a number of knitted or crocheted squares of yarn stitched together to form a garment, blanket, etc.”

Wikipedia describes them as “a piece of square fabric produced in crochet by working in rounds from the center outward… They resemble coarse lace. Although there is no theoretical limit to the maximum size of a granny square, crocheters usually create multiple small squares (called “motifs“) and assemble the pieces to make clothingpursesAfghan blankets, and other household textiles.”

Granny squares are a good way of using up scrap or left over yarn and I love the simplicity of them. I also love how complicated they can be. Every year granny square day on instagram blows my mind. Have a look for yourself!

rosie and bright granny square baby blanket

Despite my fannying about on the internet extensive research, I am no closer to finding the definitive answer to why they are called granny squares. The common assumption suggests that it is because grannys made them. Maybe this is true. The repetitive motion and the simple stitch pattern make them easy to do without really looking. Perhaps, back in the days before electricity and cataract operations, granny squares were made by grannys who’s eyesight may be failing. I guess we’ll never know.

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