Thursday, 26 January 2017

A Stole of Many Colours

I associate granny squares with the 1970s, when crochet was popular, and so were granny squares.  I'm not really a crocheter, but in 1972 or thereabouts I made a long waistcoat of granny squares in camel and cream - it was a favourite garment.  

 But making things out of crocheted squares evidently goes back further than the 1970s.   There is a very nice example in the Knitting & Crochet Guild collection - a stole with fringed ends.

1950s vintage crochet; stole in small granny squares with fringe; Knitting & Crochet Guild
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We didn't have a date for it, but then just last week we identified it in Vogue Knitting No. 47, published in Autumn 1955.   The magazine give this description: "Tile motif in bright hues brings crochet up-to-date for a heavenly stole-of-many-colours."  Garments made from granny squares often have a folksy, hippy look, but this one is very elegant.

1950s vintage crochet pattern; Vogue Knitting; stole in multi-coloured granny squares with fringe

The pattern specifies 3-ply wool, so that it's quite delicate - the squares are only 1¾ inches wide (about 4.5  cm.)   You might expect a Vogue Knitting pattern to suggest the colours to use, but it just lists 8 oz. (225g.) of a background colour and about 9 oz. (255g.) of  'various colours for the medallions'.  As you can see from the detail,  our example is very well-made - the squares are joined together very neatly.  And it has a long plaited fringe, following the pattern instructions.  (The fringe takes 7 oz. (200g.) of wool by itself.)

1950s vintage crochet; stole in small granny squares with fringe

 It's very satisfying when we can match up a piece in the collection and a pattern - even more so when the pattern is from Vogue Knitting, and gives us a slightly unexpected date for the piece.

One other question:  I'm sure that we didn't call them granny squares in the 1970s, at least not in this country.  When did we start using that name?  And where did it come from?


  1. My mother made a similar stole in the early 1950s - just like your picture and about the same time as she taught me to crochet!!!!

    1. I'm sure she looked as elegant as the Vogue model in it, too. Did you start crocheting granny squares, I wonder?

  2. I have one of those stoles too. Mine was made by my mother-in-law's mother-in-law and I traced it to the Vogue book that you mention. It's a lovely pattern.

    1. How amazing to have such a lovely stole. I hope you wear it?

    2. Actually it's attached (with stitch markers) to the back of the rocking chair in my bedroom where I can admire it every day. I did start crocheting a version of it using Appleton's Crewel wool but life got in the way ...

    3. Good use of stitch markers! Yes, I can see that other things might get in the way. The patterns says casually "Make 250 medallions". Though I suppose you could make one every day, and it would only (only!) take a year - you could even have weekends off and a fortnight's holiday....


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