How to Crochet a Granny Square Sweater
I didn’t mean to make this granny square sweater! Honest! I have other projects to work on but bright colours and my favourite stitch called to me. This quite often happens. I have a list of designs I “should” be working on when something else catches my eye. Usually, it’s quick and easy makes because I’m craving mindful crochet rather than brain-busting designs.
So, that’s where this granny square sweater comes in. I have just finished an intense commission which involved a lot of head scratching maths. Anything with the granny stitch is a counteractive remedy to the hard stuff so, because I have a very frazzled brain right now, this is a relatively basic “recipe” rather than a full on graded pattern.
It’s not quite as evil a recipe as on a Bake Off final, by which I mean, I do provide plenty of information! However, I haven’t written a round by round, row by row pattern. With my helpful video tutorial and charts below, you won’t need them.
It’s an eyeballing, intuitive project, that you can make up as you go along without worrying about getting the calculator out.
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Watch the YouTube Tutorial on How to Make a Granny Square Sweater
If you don’t fancy reading all the detail below and you are pretty crochet confident, this is it in a nutshell…
- Get loads of different colours of aran weight yarn and a 4mm or 4.5 mm hook.
- Make two granny squares in a size that are a similar width to a favourite jumper already in your wardrobe.
- Add shoulder tabs (charts below).
- Make two sleeves (charts below)
- Sew together.
- Add ribbing (either before or after it’s all sewn together).
- Wash and block.
Watch the YouTube Tutorial on How to Make a Granny Square Sweater
This “recipe” for my granny square sweater is for those who enjoy a laid back kind of project. I would love for you to have the confidence to make it up as you go. Play with placement of increases for sleeves, explore ways of basic shaping. Add length, add width. Shoulder tabs can be different too. Don’t like my crochet ribbing? Try a different one.
However, there are techniques here that will improve beginner crochet skills. The ribbing is fancier than a bog standard one, it is also attached with a Join-As-You-Go technique, which I love. There are shaped shoulder tabs for a nice neckline, and the sleeves aren’t just straight tubes. None of these things are set in stone. You can do what you want.
Also, the more you mess about with crochet by winging it, the more you understand the fibres you work with, and how crochet stitches behave. Crocheting your own clothes will become easier and your skills will grow. Therefore, just get started with experimenting and playing…
Let’s start with the yarn. I have lots of colourful aran weight wool leftover from a few different projects: My first garment design, the stripey Perfect Cardigan, All the Fun of the Fair, which is a granny stripe cowl/snood, and the second JW Anderson inspired cardigan I made for my sister. Plenty of colours in this lot! And it’s what I used to make my sweater.
I would say that 95% of stash used here is Paintbox Worsted Superwash (200m per 100g) and Paintbox Wool Mix aran (180m per 100g). There are a couple of other brands in there too. They have slightly different yardage/metreage but in the final jumper, you can’t tell. My fave is the wool mix aran, it’s much softer than the worsted superwash.
You could use other yarns and fibres if that’s what you have in stash. The beauty of this jumper is that it is adaptable. Ultimately, the main body is a granny square so you just make it until it’s the right size. The sleeves would require more faffing but I quite enjoy the tinkering to get them just how I want them. More info on sleeves is further down the post.
Using acrylic? It’ll be grand for a few wears and washes without blocking (instead, use fabric conditioner and tumble dry so it doesn’t come out squeaky). Just know that it will grow and stretch a little bit upon wearing it. Usually, it’s not a drastic change but eventually, over time, acrylic sort of gives up and becomes flatter and more plasticky than its original fluffy self. That’s my experience anyway.
Using cotton? I can’t give much advice on a cotton version I’m afraid as I never make cotton garments. It’s just not my bag. There’s no bounce in the fibre. It stretches and drapes differently to wool and, so far, I’ve not required that for my designs. If I’m making a jumper I want warm wool. You may wish to make swatch to try it out (see below).
Choosing Colours for your Crochet
Yarn amounts (stash, leftovers) may have an influence on where you place the colours. The more colours you have, the more higgledy-piggledy and awesome it’s going to look. The fewer hues, the more “arranged” it will look. There are about 24/25 colours in mine. Some colours only feature once or twice as were only a few grams left of them.
I had the stash and balanced it all out following my gut. A couple of tips: don’t put all your brights together and evenly place the darker colours throughout. You can read more about how to choose colours for your crochet in another of my blog posts.
How much stash have you got? Use the smaller amounts early on in the squares, have you got enough for a sleeve row? You only need small lengths for the shoulder tabs too. Think about where to use the yarn in clever ways.
How Much Yarn do you Need to Crochet a Sweater?
How much yarn will you need to make your Granny Square Sweater? Oh crikey, how long is a piece of string? It depends on so many factors! The biggest one, however, is it depends on the size you’re making. There’s more info on sizing further down.
Most of the yarn I used is from Paintbox Yarns (aran & worsted, as I mentioned earlier). The worsted is 200m per 100 grams. I’m going to use this to work out how many metres I used. My jumper weighs about 810 grams, which means I used approx 1620 metres. You get this figure with the following equation: weight of the garment divided by the weight of a full ball, multiplied by the meters (or yards, if you prefer) in one full ball. Note that you will probably need more than this in reality as it’s made up of around 24 colours and you’re going to use various amounts of each.
The problem is that as it’s lots of leftovers, of many different colours, giving amounts for other sizes is difficult. Even giving specific amounts for the size I made is nearly impossible because I made no notes on my stash. Eek, sorry. But if you’re a hoarder like me, you’re gonna have loads of stash to use, yes?!
All I can give you is this, if you want to have matching ribbing on the cuffs, waistband and neck, ensure you have at least one full 100 gram ball of yarn for that. Maybe get two balls to be absolutely sure because I probably used approx 1 full ball of green but haven’t worked out how much exactly cos in my stash it was two partially used balls and some went in the main body of the jumper as well). Sorry again!
How to Size your Granny Square Sweater
So, as you know by now, this is a recipe rather than a fully graded pattern, which means you might need to do some work! I will help you as much as possible here. And I will make sure it’s not painful. However, we are all making unique versions, right?
The absolute easiest way of making a jumper that’s going to fit you is to dig out your favourite fitting jumper and use that to work out how big to make your square. Take into account that your granny square sweater will stretch with wear (whether you’ve blocked it or not). Therefore, when I made mine, I made it approx 2 cm smaller than my favourite jumper, knowing it would stretch to become a similar size. There’s a slight risk of it stretching more than 2 or 3 cm but that’s ok for this project. We’re not after a fitted garment that’s super precise. This is a laid-back way of clothes making.
It’s worth mentioning, that the larger your square, the more it’s going to stretch. If each stitch stretches and you have more stitches, well, it’s going to make a difference. Fancy working up a gauge swatch, just in case?! Keep reading…
More Accurate Sizing
Ok, so I’ve popped this lil chart here as a useful guide to show a pretty standard width of a sweater with 10cm positive ease (positive ease = additional roominess in a garment, the opposite is negative ease, which makes a garment fitted against the body).
If you’re not sure about using your fav garment to measure against, you can always use this instead. You want your final granny square to be about this size in width. You can find more info about standard garment sizes on the Craft Yarn Council’s website.
|Size||1 (xs)||2 (s)||3 (m)||4 (l)||5 (xl)||6 (2xl)||7 (3xl)||8 (4xl)||9 (5xl)||10 (6xl)|
|Width of granny (cm)||43.5||48.5||53.5||58.5||63.5||68.5||73.5||78.5||83.5||88.5|
At this point, you need to know that adding shoulder tabs and a waistband is going to add length to your jumper so the end result is that the sweater won’t actually be a square. Bear it in mind. With 4 rows of shoulder tabs and, just shy of 5cm for the waistband, my jumper is approx 57cm in length.
Gauge and Blocking
To be totally accurate you may be tempted to make a gauge swatch. This is a good idea! You can check that your crochet tension isn’t wildy off from mine. Read about getting gauge on your crochet clothes here.
This can be intimidating, I totally get it. And, although I’m totally winging it, I do have a good understanding of how washing and wearing a garment can alter the clothes you make. This is actually big big subject and I don’t want to scare you off by writing a massive essay about it.
Simply put, blocking means to wash or steam your woolly items and then (gently or aggressively, depending on the situation) pin out to stretch the item as it dries. It will then be fixed in its new state.
Spend a few minutes to work up a granny square that measures about 15cm (6 inches) and pop it in warm water (with a dash of detergent – I use wool wash soap for my handmade garments). Rinse, blot in a towel, then pin onto foam blocking boards and wait patiently for it to dry.
I didn’t mention it in the video tutorial but I pinned out and steam blocked my main pieces before sewing them together. It’s a really quick blocking method. I have a steamer but the steam function on an iron works too.
For me, this helps for more accurate sewing. The pieces are less likely to bunch or pucker.
The picture below shows what crochet looks like on the blocking boards. If you have a cat, it is pretty much guaranteed that they will want in on the blocking action.
Arghh, Maths! How Gauge Affects Size
I’m going to assume that you’ve read my quick blog post about gauge. My gauge for this project (after blocking) is about 8.5 rows per 10cm. If you don’t want to eyeball the granny square like did, you can use a formula to work out how big to make it instead. Using the measurement from your size in the chart above, multiply it by the row gauge (8.5) and divide by 10 (cos that’s how many centimetres get you 8.5 rows).
It turns out my eyeballing is surprisingly accurate. Check this out: 53.5 (size 3 as per the size chart) x 8.5 / 10 = 45.475. I worked 23 rounds of grannies. 23 x 2 =46!! Wowsers! (I’ve multiplied by 2 because we go around in a square, not rows. From the granny’s centre to the top, it’s 23 rows, from the centre to the bottom, it’s 23 rows).
And I know, I know I said you wouldn’t need a calculator. sorry about that. But technically it’s true if you’re winging it!
Make Your Granny Squares
You probably already know how to make a granny square but if not, I show you how in the video tutorial. I like to turn mine every round so that there’s no dreaded twist.
Once you have two granny squares that are the chosen size, add shoulder tabs to the top. I also demonstrate this in the vid. It’s a Granny stripe method with a touch of shaping so that the neck is a nice, rounded shape. See below for the charts.
On the bottom of the granny squares, work a row of UK dc (US sc) stitches. This is the base upon which you’ll work the waistband ribbing. Use the same colour that you’ll use for the ribbing.
By the way, at any point during this process, you’re going to have to sew in the eleventy bajillion ends. Hahahahahaha! Quite honestly, looking back, I don’t know how I did it without crying.
Add Shaped Shoulder Tabs
This is the next step beyond the most basic of boxy crochet garments. There is absolutely nothing wrong with basic square shaping for a crochet sweater. I make ’em sometimes. But here, let’s go one step further and add shoulder shaping. This creates a scoop neckline, which will sit nicely across your clavicles!
Of course, this is open to adapting in different ways. To keep it simple I have kept the front and back the same. I won’t mention too much more on this because I have a plan to demonstrate how you can tweak this in another version of this gloriously colourful granny square sweater.
Below is a chart showing the tabs attached to the main body (the granny square). I chose to add four rows for mine. You have the left and right tabs there. I should have drawn them mirrored. I didn’t. Oh well, it is still very useful to see them visually.
And by the power of Photoshop, it should look like this! Sort of…
Ok, so you’ve got the main body done. Now for the sleeves. They’re worked flat, in rows.
I want shaping here, very basic shaping. Luckily, arm length can stay the same regardless of the size of the main body so what I’m sharing here is going to work for the majority of folks. Of course, it’ll be different if you’re not using aran or worsted yarn. Obvs, things will vary if your tension is different so work more or fewer rows if needed.
My sleeves measure 46cm without cuffs, I worked 41 rows. Decide how long you want your sleeves and work as many rows as you want. And don’t forget that the cuffs add to the length too. They are 4cm so in total, I have 50cm length sleeves. This works for me and my arms. I’m a fan of 50cm sleeves!
Begin by working a foundation row of UK double crochet (US single crochet) using the ribbing colour. Check out my video tutorial for the foundation start. You need multiples of 3 plus 1. I worked 43 stitches for the beginning of my sleeves. After the first row of grannies appear, it measures approx 27cm at the wrist, and after you’ve worked 41 rows, the width at the other end (upper arm) measures 40cm. You might need to make yours narrower or wider than mine. Add or remove multiples of 3 stitches to change the sleeve width. Treat every 3 stitches as 2cm, so you’re adding or subtracting 2cm if you change the stitch count.
If you worked 43 stitches, the first row will have 13 granny clusters, plus the two ends.
Then add the JAYG cuffs. To be honest, you can add ribbing before or after you’ve constructed the jumper. I wanted them blocked at the same time so added them before. I’m not sure if I’d do this again but it worked in the way I wanted.
Next is a pic of the sleeve chart. Sorry for the hand-drawn nature of all my charts in this post. It was the quickest way of doing it!
Below is a not particularly tidy way of demonstrating where I put the increases at the ends of each row. There are more regular increases at the beginning before I decided I didn’t need as many to get the shape required. Play around with increases as much as you desire to create different sleeve shaping.
Only after making this chart did I realise I only crocheted 41 rows not 42. Oops.
I decided to add ribbing for the cuffs and waistband before sewing the pieces together. I was happy with my measurements of everything and knew I wouldn’t need to make further adjustments. If you’re not sure, add these after you have sewn the main pieces together. That way, if you need to adjust the depth of the ribbing, you only need to undo those sections and not the whole thing. I added the neckband once everything else was constructed.
For this granny square sweater, I opted for my current favourite crochet rib stitch. It looks fabulous and is an interesting technique that’s more sophisticated than basic rib stitches. It’s still Back Loop Only, like a lot of ribbing but this time with a two row pattern repeat.
With the wrong side facing you, attach the yarn to where you want the ribbing and chain 8 for the cuffs, 10 for the waistband and for the diddy neckline, chain 6.
Working down towards the foundation/base I used a yarn over slip stitches (yoslst) and on the way back up on the next row it’s just a simple slip stitch. Once again, you can see a demo of this in the video tutorial.
As a written pattern, the ribbing looks like this:
Chain 10 (for example)
Row 1 (w/s): Working in back bumps, yoslst in second ch from hook, yoslst to end, sl st in next 2 sts of foundation row, turn. [9 sts]
Row 2 (r/s): Miss 2 sl sts, 9sl sts BLO, turn.
Row 3: ch1, 9yoslst BLO, turn.
Rep Rows 2 & 3 to end.
Sew Everything Together
Remember to sew on the wrong sides to keep the right side as neat as possible. Use whip stitch, mattress stitch, whatever floats your boat.
1. Lay the front and back panels together (right sides together) and sew shoulder tabs together first.
2. Then, sew flat, the sleeves to the shoulders. Get them nicely lined up so that the centre of the upper sleeve is in line with the middle of the shoulder seam.
3. Fold everything in half and sew the sleeves and body in one fell swoop.
4. Add a round of UK dc (US sc) stitches around the neckband so there’s a foundation for the ribbing (matchy matchy with ribbing colour please).
5. Add neck ribbing (and cuffs & waistband if you left them to the end) and sew the ends to close.
Then, gently handwash and block if using wool yarn (yep, blocking again! I was thorough). The weight of itself should be enough to ensure it stretches appropriately. Once the excess water is gently squeezed out and blotted with towels, I didn’t bother to pin it out, just relied on the wet heft of it to stretch itself. [jeez, wet heft!]
If using acrylic, wash in a machine (not forgetting fabric conditioner to avoid the squeaky squeaky) and tumble dry.
And there you have it. A Granny Square Sweater!! That was a lot of words, right?! Eek, my longest blog post I think.
Please do let me know when you make yours, I would absolutely love to see. Upload your project to Ravelry and tag me on Instagram. #zeensandroger
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