History of the Granny Square

A brief history of the crochet granny square plus a free basic pattern for download.

Laila Simon

1/28/20242 min read

pile of granny squares
pile of granny squares

This humble square started in the 19th century as a way to use up scrap yarn and have a way to make afghans in easy to calculate squares. It was also used for garments, accessories, and more. Made from cluster stitches, worked in the round, the Granny Square cannot be replicated easily by machines. This gives it a very homemade comfy feel that has made them a fashion statement since their first popularity boom in the 1960s and 1970s.

The name comes from using “granny clusters” (a grouping of three double crochets) and from the grandmothers who made this crochet style common. The very first mention of the Granny Square was in an 1885 issue of Prairie Farmer. Mrs. Phelps wrote about taking the quilt technique, known as “crazy work,” and applying it to this new crochet pattern for making an afghan. She described it as, “The colors of the block being bright and varied to one’s taste, but the outer edge of each is black.”

In 1891, the Granny Square was first pictured in The Art of Crocheting, but a written pattern wasn’t published until 1897 in Weldon’s Practical Needlework.

Where did the "granny square" come from?

The design exploded because of its simplicity, versatility and how easy it was to customize. The Granny Square became so popular in the 70s that Europeans began referring to the design as “American Crochet.” It became a symbol of the counterculture during that period. Now, as slow fashion continues to rise in trend, the Granny Square is back!

Looking to make a simple granny square? These little squares can be used for thousands of different designs and products, from blankets to garments, even accessories!