Keeping Granny Squares Straight

One of the most frequent crochet questions that I get asked is how I stop my granny squares going all wonky and twisted as they grow.

I'm not sure if it's plain old luck or just something to do with my (somewhat unique) personal crochet style but this isn't actually something that's been a huge problem for me.  But fear not, I do have some ideas that should help you get your grannies into shape too.

We've all seen the way that the corners of a granny square will start to move around the center point of the square as more and more rows are worked.

I'm not sure exactly what causes this twisted effect to occur either but I do have a hunch that it's got something to do with the way the crochet stitches are constructed and I think this natural lean within the stitch is possibly either minimized or enhanced by they way each individual crafter holds their hook and the angles they create as they make each stitch.

However, rather than go into too much detail about the anatomy of a crochet stitch, let's get onto the tips for getting things straightened out.

Above you can see the difference between a wibbly wobbly square on the left, where the corners are curving out from the center and and how the edges are waving as a result.  Then on the right the square we'd like to see with a nice diagonal line from center to corner and a crisp straight edge, so much better.

Here are my Top Tips for stopping the swirl and getting those super straight grannies!

TIP ONE: Block it out

One of the easiest ways to remove this twist is to simply block the squares after they've been made.
It's very easy to do, you just need to pin the squares out onto a towel or protected surface. I often use a few pins on some of the inner rows too to make sure the corners are staying in place nicely.

Then just set the shape.  For yarn with a high wool content you simply need to wet the squares and leave them to dry, for yarn with a high acrylic content let the steam from a hot iron seep through the squares and then let them cool.

Blocking Pros:  It's easy to do and you don't need to worry about adjusting what you do when you make the squares.

Blocking cons:  This might not work too well if your squares are very twisted and it's also harder to block very large pieces.

TIP TWO: Shifting Corners

The idea with this technique is to counteract the twist by starting each new round in a different corner.  So as you make the square, each time you cut the yarn, revolve the square and add a new corner to either the corner before or the corner after the one where you finished the last round.

You can see from the back of the square above that my ends are coming out from a different corner each time where I've used this technique.

Shifting Corner Pros:  This can be a great way of disguising the seams in your work as well as solving the twisting granny problems.

Shifting Corner Cons:  It's not very good unless you are planning on changing colour with every row.

TIP THREE: Mind the Gap

The theory behind this technique is to tighten up the gaps in the square to make a firmer fabric which will then not allow the twisting to occur.  For this technique to work, you actually need to change the way you make your squares and remove the chain spaces along the edge of the squares.

We all make our granny squares in different ways.  I usually make 2 chains in each corner and 1 chain between each set of trebles (US dc) along the sides.  So to work this technique, I keep working 2 chains in each corner but I don't work any chains between the stitches along the sides.  You can see from the fabric above that the gaps are smaller on this square.

There are various different combinations of chains you can try.  If you usually work 3 chains in the corner you can try dropping down to 2 or even 1.  For the sides, if you usually work 1 chain between stitch groups, try no chains on the side.

Missing Chains Pros: This makes a nice, neat and dense fabric to your squares and a lot of people find this method effective.

Missing Chains Cons:  The tighter fabric will mean a smaller square (as you can see above) and the more rounds in the square the more difference you will see, so you'll need to allow more yarn for your project.

TIP FOUR: Turn and Turn About

This is probably the most effective way of sorting out any twisting problems that you might have with your squares.  All you need to do to work this technique is turn the square over every time you work a new round.  

If you are changing colour, break the yarn at the end of the round, flip the square over and join the new yarn, then work the next round on the other side.  If you want to keep the same colour, just end the round in the normal way, make the starting chain, then flip your work and you are ready to start working the round on the other side.

Each round is worked in the opposite direction to the last and so any twisting effect is perfectly counteracted each time.

This does mean that the squares no longer have a right and wrong side but this is something we are very used to when working back and forth in rows and personally I don't think that's a bad thing as either side looks just as good.

Turning Pros:  A very effective method which gives a good straight square.  Also works for one colour squares or when you don't plan on changing with every row.

Turning Cons:  Every alternate row will have the 'wrong side' showing.

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I hope you'll give some of these tips a try and hopefully at least one of them will work for you.
I'd love to know how you get on and if you find any other great tricks that do the job, please do let me know. 


Happy Crocheting

S x