With today's new fashion yarns in a host of fibers and a little guidance on how to crochet granny squares, it can still be part of a fashionable garment or an afghan or throw. There are many reasons to choose to make granny squares when you're learning to crochet. They use a relatively small number of stitches, which makes them ideal for a beginner. They're also very portable. You can tout around your yarn and crochet hook almost anywhere you'll be spending time, such as waiting at the doctor's or dentist's office. Getting Started Once you've decided to crochet a granny square afghan, you need enough worsted weight yarn to complete the size you choose, either in one color or as the total of several colors. Choose a yarn that feels good to your hands. If your project is for a baby, find a yarn that's machine washable. You'll also need a crochet hook in a size I or J. If you choose a bulkier yarn, you'll need a larger hook. Finer weight yarn like a baby or sport yarn will require a smaller hook. Crochet hooks are made from metal, plastic, wood or bamboo, so handle several different types and choose the one you're most comfortable with. Plastic may be the least expensive, but if it doesn't feel right in your hands, it's a waste of money. A six or seven-inch hook is perfect for crocheting granny squares. You'll also need a bag for your work and a small pair of scissors. Common Crochet Terms If you're planning to make granny squares, you should already know how to make a chain or chain stitches, slip stitch, single crochet and double crochet. Depending on the pattern you use, you may also need to know a few other stitches. Learn the abbreviations used in patterns. The ones that you're most likely to encounter in a granny square pattern are: Ch.: chain SC: single crochet DC: double crochet Sl. St.: slip stitch Beg.: begin Rep.: repeat Rnd.: round Sp.: space Sts.: stitches * * means to repeat whatever is between the asterisks the specified number of times. ( ) means that the sequence of stitches inside parentheses is worked into one stitch or repeated the indicated number of times. Finally, you need to understand gauge, which is the number of stitches per inch. You must sometimes understand the number of rows per inch as well. Patterns will specify gauge. Make a test swatch, using 20 stitches and 20 rows, and check to see if your finished gauge is the same as what's specified. If it's not, try using a larger or smaller hook, or tightening or loosening your tension (how tightly you make your stitches). How To Crochet Granny Squares The main difference between granny squares and other forms of crocheting is that granny squares are crocheted in the round rather than in rows. Patterns may use single crochets or bobbles for interest, but most basic granny squares use mostly DC stitches. All squares begin with a chain joined end to end to make a ring, then continue with rounds of SC or DC stitches with a chain stitch to form each corner. You can make all rounds the same color, or use different colors to use up that leftover yarn. Finding Granny Square Patterns You can find basic granny square patterns online that sometimes include photos with the pattern or scheme. The addition of photos allows you to follow along with a visual representation of what each symbol should look like in finished form. Here's a very basic granny square pattern, using the abbreviations shown above: Start: Ch. 6 and join into a ring with a sl. st. Rnd 1: Ch. 2, 2 SC in ring, ch. 1, (3 SC in ring, ch. 1) 3 times, sl. st. in top of beg. chain. (12 stitches) Rnd 2: (Change to new color if desired.) Ch. 3, 1 DC in each of next 2 stitches *(2 DC, ch. 1, 2 DC) in chain sp., 1 DC in each of next 3 sts.* 3 times, (2 DC, ch. 1, 2 DC) in last ch. sp., sl. st. in top of beg. ch. to join. (28 stitches) Rnd 3: (Join new color, optional) Ch. 3, 1 DC in each of next 4 sts., *(2 DC, ch. 1, 2 DC) in ch. sp., 1 DC in each of next seven sts.* 3 times, (2 DC, ch. 1, 2 DC) in last ch. sp., 1 DC in each of next 2 sts., sl. st. in top of beg. ch. to join. (44 stitches) More rounds can be added by following the pattern indicated in rounds 2 and 3: 1 DC (or SC if that's what your pattern uses) in each stitch and (2 DC, sl. st., 2 DC) in each chain space, adding 16 stitches with each round. When you've completed your granny square, dampen it slightly and pin it into shape on a padded surface or blocking board. Weave in any loose yarn ends from joining. Now make the rest of your squares, and join them together to make a granny square afghan.