Monday, May 26, 2014

Patriotic Centerpiece Placemat - with Pattern!


I am totally hooked on Granny squares.

Ha, hooked. Get it? I don't even plan these things, folks.

Last year, I finished my very first crochet afghan - a patchwork of bright single-colored granny squares. I found inspiration and jumping off points for my creation at Attic24, Freeform Crochet, and Bunny Mummy. When I finished it, I was filled with such satisfaction and love for it that I didn't want to stop! NEED! MORE! GRANNY! THINGS!

I immediately pulled out my entire yarn stash (why yes, it was a mess), and started brainstorming ideas for what I could do next. Feeling somewhat patriotic, due to the summery weather and upcoming Memorial Day and 4th of July, I decided to make a little something in red, white and blue for my kitchen table.

I'm calling it a centerpiece placemat, simply because.......I don't know what else one would call this.

It's not a table runner. It's not a doily. It's not really a placemat, because it's not big enough, and I only made one of them. But, "pretty thing you put underneath a candle or a vase or your napkin holder to make your table look prettier" didn't exactly roll off the tongue. So call it what you'd like, or if you have an actual word for these things, tell me what it is, would ya?

(Also, my spell check keeps trying to change placemat to placental. Placenta has an adjective?!)

These things whip up delightfully fast (maybe 2-3 hours if you were able to just sit down and do it - maybe even less if you don't have small children that wind themselves up in your slack yarn as you work). They are cheerful, and kitschy, and SO FUN to make because it's GRANNY! I already started a second one in granny chic, sort of Cath Kidston colors. I may make a bajillion!

It's so easy and addicting to do. If you are beginner crochet-er, but you know how to chain, double crochet, and slip stitch, you're golden.

Because it's a holiday, and I feel like sharing, I'm giving you the pattern in case you want to make your own. Yippee! My pattern instructions will be based on how I made the color changes, but you don't have to follow my preferences at all. Switch them around however you like, but just keep in mind that a single row of a color will make that color look more polka-dotty than a line of color, simply because of the way Granny squares are made. You need at least 2 rows to make a color look solid.


I should also note that when I made this, I wasn't only thinking in Patriotic terms. I was also thinking of my son's room, which is decorated in an old line from Pottery Barn Kids called Jackson. It's a whale theme, and it uses these colors, so I thought I could use this granny thinger in Henry's room when the holidays are over. So the light blue was meant to match that - you can use all dark blue if you prefer.

PS: I HATE READING CROCHET SHORTHAND, so I went the extra mile and wrote out the words, just in case you do, too ;)

You Need:  
3-5 Colors of Yarn (depending on your preferences) 
Any size crochet hook (this isn't really a precise pattern - I used H 'cause I like it best) 
Square Base 
Chain 4, Slip Stitch in first chain to join 
Row 1: With first color, Chain 2, then work 2 double crochet into the ring. Chain 2, then work 3 double crochet into the ring. Chain 2, work 3 more double crochet into the ring. Chain 2, work 3 double crochet into the ring, chain 2, then slip stitch in the top of the first chain 2 of this row to join. You should have 4 sets of 3 double crochets with small spaces between them. These spaces will be your corners. Fasten off and weave in ends if you plan to change colors. (Check out this video for my favorite way to change colors.) 
Row 2: Bring in second color through the corner closest to where you fastened off your first color. Chain 2, and work 1 double crochet into that corner. Chain 1, the second corner, *work in 3 double crochets, chain 2, and 3 more double crochets. Chain 1.* Repeat everything between the *'s into the next two corners. In the final corner (after you chain 1), work in 3 double crochets, chain 2, and 1 more double crochet, then slip stitch into the top of the chain 2 that started this row to join. Fasten off and weave in ends if you plan to change colors. (Check out this video for my favorite way to change colors.) 
Row 3: Bring in third color through the first chain 1 space (between the two corners) closest to where you fastened off your second color. Chain 2, then work 2 double crochets into this space. Chain 1. **In the corner, work in 3 double crochets, chain 2, 3 double crochets, chain 1. In the chain 1 space, work in 3 double crochets, chain 1. **  Repeat everything inside ** all the way around. In your final corner, after you chain 1, sip stitch into the top of the chain 2 that started this row to join.  
Row 4: Continuing on with your third color, chain 3. In the chain 1 space, work in 3 double crochets, chain 1. Then follow ** from Row 3 all the way around. In final chain 1 space, only work in 2 double crochets, then slip stitch into the 2nd chain in the chain 3 that started this row to join. Fasten off and weave in ends. (Check out this video for my favorite way to change colors.) 
Row 5: Bring in fourth color through the chain 1 space closest to where you fastened off your third color. Chain 2, and work 2 double crochets into this space, then chain 1. Follow ** from Row 3 all the way around. After you chain 1 for the last time, slip stitch into the top of the chain 2 that started this row. Fasten off and weave in ends.  
***This is the size I went with for my pattern. I chose to have them 6 rows deep, with the 6th row joining them together, and the 6th joining row is all same color for each square. The next step follows this. Make 4 square bases, alternating colors for the rows if you like.

Joining Your Square Bases 
Square 1: Bring in your joining color through one of the center chain 1 spaces in the outer row (so, in the middle of the row, and it should be nearly centered on the square). Chain 2 and work 2 double crochets into this space, then chain 1. Continue all the way around the square following ** from Row 3 as if you were just adding another row to your square. Fasten off and weave in ends. 
Square 2: Bring in your joining color through one of the center chain 1 spaces in the outer row (so, in the middle of the row, and it should be nearly centered on the square). Chain 2 and work 2 double crochets into this space, then chain 1. Work 3 double crochets into the next chain 1 space, then chain 1. You should now be at your first corner. In this corner, work in 3 double crochets, and chain one. DO NOT finish the rest of the corner! At this point, match your current corner on Square 2 up to any corner on Square 1. With the hook still in your last chain, slip stitch into the corner space on Square 1. Then work the final 3 double crochets into the current corner on Square 2. Instead of chaining 1 after, slip stitch into the next open space on Square 1, then work 3 double crochets into the adjoining chain 1 space on Square 2. Repeat this all the way down this side, replacing chain 1 steps with slip stitches. When you get to the next corner of Square 2, work in 3 double crochets, chain 1, and then slip stitch into the adjoining corner of Square 1, then finish the final 3 double crochets into the corner of Square 2. Continue on the rest of the square as usual, using chain 1's between spaces again, and then after your final chain 1, join into the top of the chain 2 that started this row. Fasten off and weave in your ends. 
(For a better description and pictures of joining as you go, please visit this link at Attic24. Just keep in mind that she uses UK terms, and treble = double crochet.) 
Square 3: Bring in your joining color through one of the center chain 1 spaces in the outer row (so, in the middle of the row, and it should be nearly centered on the square). Chain 2 and work 2 double crochets into this space, then chain 1. Work 3 double crochets into the next chain 1 space, then chain 1. You should now be at your first corner. In this corner, work in 3 double crochets, and chain one. DO NOT finish the rest of the corner! At this point, match your current corner on Square 3 up to one of the open corners on Square 1. With the hook still in your last chain, slip stitch into the corner space on Square 1. Then work the final 3 double crochets into the current corner on Square 3. Instead of chaining 1 after, slip stitch into the next open space on Square 1, then work 3 double crochets into the adjoining chain 1 space on Square 3. Repeat this all the way down this side. When you get to the next corner of Square 3, work in 3 double crochets , chain 1, and then slip stitch into the adjoining corner of Square 1,  slip stitch again into the adjoining corner of Square 2, then finish the final 3 double crochets into the corner of Square 3. Continue down this side, joining Square 3 to square 2. After the final corner, continue on as normal, as if you were just adding another row to your square. After your final chain 1, join into the top of the chain 2 that started this row. Fasten off and weave in your ends. 
Square 4: Follow the instructions for Square 3, as the technique to join it to two sides is the same.

Border 
The border looks best if you make 2 rows of the same color (in my opinion). Also, the second row helps it lie flat better than if you just add 1 row. 
Row 1: Bring in your border color in through a chain 1 space that's right next to a corner. Chain 2, work 2 double crochets into this space, and chain 1. In the rest of the chain 1 spaces in the square you started in (should be 4 of them), work in 3 double crochets, and chain 1. ****When you arrive at the corner of the first square that was joined to the next one, work in 1 double crochet. Then start to work in a second double crochet, but only do the first step - don't complete the double crochet (leaving 2 loops on your hook). Yarn over, and in the corner space of the next square, do the same thing - do the first half of a double crochet, but don't complete it. This should leave 3 loops on your hook. Yarn over, and then pull your hook all the way through all 3 loops. Chain 1, and continue on as normal. **** Any time you reach this joining part (so 3 more times), follow the steps between **** . After your last chain 1, slip stitch into the top of the chain 2 that started this row. (You can see pictures of this special step here, but be careful - I noticed that she mentioned the wrong number of loops on the hook at one point, so don't get confused - just look at the pictures!)
Row 2: I trust by now you understand the Granny pattern! Each chain 1 space gets 3 double crochets, and each corner space gets 3 double crochets, 2 chains, and 3 more double crochets. And you always chain 1 between spaces. So follow this same pattern all the way around. You don't need to do the special step in Row 1, anymore. When you reach the end, slip stitch to join, fasten off, and weave in your ends. 
Ta da!
If you make one of these, no matter what color, please share it with me!!! I'd love to see your creations, and maybe even get inspired by your own color combinations!

I hope you all have a very fabulous Memorial Day, and between all of the parties and fun, remember our Vets! There's a couple in particular that I'll be thinking of!

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