When I was a child, a visit to my Grandma Ehrhart’s house in Quincy, Illinois, was like a visit to another era. I grew up in the San Fernando Valley, where everything was new. And it was the 1950s, so people wanted to be modern, and architecture and home décor reflected that aim. My grandmother’s house was a Craftsman Bungalow dating from around the time she married my grandfather.* My father was their first child and he just turned 100, so that house was built a very long time ago. Everything in her house seemed exotic to me because nothing was modern. I especially loved this afghan, which is now mine.
It’s quite large.
It came to me when she downsized and moved into a very pleasant retirement complex. It’s fashioned from individually crocheted squares in a style called “granny squares.” It’s a great style for the novice crocheter to master because finishing a square provides an instant burst of gratification, and a square only takes about fifteen minutes. Also a granny-square project can be very portable since you’re just making one square at a time, not carrying a whole afghan-in-progress around.
Another great feature is that it’s a yarn version of a patchwork quilt–a way to use up odds and ends of yarn left from other projects. You can see that this afghan uses a great many different colors, and often different shades of the same color.
I think my grandmother really was using up odds and ends of yarn when she made it because some segments were less moth-resistant than others. At one point after it was mine, several of the squares began to unravel as one color of yarn or another disintegrated. I retaught myself how to make granny-squares–I learned to make them long ago but hadn’t done it for years–and somehow patched in new versions of the disintegrated sections. I say “somehow” because at this remove I honestly don’t know how I managed it–since to make a granny square from scratch one starts in the middle and moves outwards, and each new color fastens onto the previous one. The outermost color could easily be replaced, but in the picture above, the neon orange in the square on the left is a section I redid.
I am now making my own granny-square afghan.
I’ve been at it for about three years and have made 300 squares. I’m in the process of sewing them together. They can also be crocheted together, which is the technique my grandmother used. I’m using random colors with black borders, just like hers, though one can also make solid-color granny squares and/or choose a particular color scheme for an afghan.
*The house I now live in, in New Jersey, is even older than my grandmother’s house.
P.S. My sister saw this post and sent me a picture of the genuine GRANNY-square afghan when it was still in my grandmother’s house. She took the picture on a visit to Quincy with her son Richard in 1979.