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Have you ever seen an old granny square afghan? The colors and intricate stitching are quite a beauty to behold. Some afghans are made in a stained glass pattern- with bright colored centers and a solid dark border connecting them all. Others are a kelaidascope of color… but where did the granny square come from? And why do we call them afghans to begin with?

The History of the Afghan

Recently, I was sitting nursing my littlest cub, wrapped up snug in an old afghan my great aunt had made. When suddenly the thought came to me- “Why is it called an afghan?” That launched me into a search of various terms and definitions. Varying takes on history and terminology we use. Best I can determine from the research I saw (and I could be wrong- so leave a comment if you have any other ideas or knowledge to share on the subject) is that the afghan was named such from the country of Afghanistan.

Apparently Afghanistan was known for it’s elaborate textiles and designs. While they didn’t make them with yarn as our afghans are made, the patterns here mimicked the ones brought back from Afghanistan and thus the name “afghan” stuck… huh… who knew!

The Granny Square

Once I learned about the afghan’s unique history, I was inspired. I am not a knitter and I barely crochet… but I was determined to teach myself how to make a granny square and to finally check it off my bucket list. The following week on a cold and rainy day, I set to work (thankful that Daddy was home that day to help with the littles and give me a few minutes of quiet time!).

I read directions and watched a few videos… after about an hour (total with interruptions) I had finally figured out how to make a granny square! I was so excited! After several tries, I was able to replicate the granny square on my own without directions! Success!

My first granny squares, upon one of my great aunt’s afghan!

Granny Square History

I found the history of the how the granny square was made to be quite facinating as well. While we all know scraps of cotton were kept safe to make prized and beloved quilt squares, it was the scraps of yarn that became the granny square. This simple and yet unique history struck a cord in me… the scraps of yarn left from various weaving and knitting projects were tucked away for “granny” to make squares with during the long cold winter.

Again, there are many different theories and such out there, but either way, I believe it is pretty much commonly agreed upon that the Granny square was the earliest crocheted quilt block. It could have been a sort of memory quilt made of yarn. What a wonderful history!

Why it matters?

So you may ask- why does it even matter? To this Mama Bear it does. When I taught myself how to crochete a granny square, I was carrying on an age old tradition. I was making a piece of living history. I was connecting to what my ancestors before had done during cold rainy winter evenings. One moment at a time, one stitch at a time, I was bringing the past to life in my hands. Call me nostalgic or what you will… to me, it was a big deal… I love learning about history… and I love applying what I learn. Now, when I have extra bits of scrap yarn, I know what they will be kept for! To make a legacy! To make my own Granny Square quilt that will hopefully keep my babies warm for generations to come!

1 Comment

Cheryl Granquist · December 13, 2022 at 4:39 pm

Found this very interesting ❤️Thank you for sharing the info💕

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