Friday, March 7, 2014

Join As You Go (JAYG) - Crochet Granny Squares

I have been crocheting for over 20 years, yet I have never successfully completed a granny square afghan. There are a number of reasons for this:

  1. Knitting took over as my passion a year after I began crocheting, so most of my attention has been devoted to mastering the many aspects of knitting that I have caught my interest over the years.
  2. When I learned crochet, I became very attracted to stitch patterns (as I did for knitting) and spent a lot of time practicing different types to determine which ones I would use for various afghans I had planned. I ended up making three different afghans using three different stitch patterns (five-dc shell, front-post/back-post basketweave, and a combination cluster st/5 dc shell) in my early days of crochet. Recently, I became drawn back into crochet because of Lucy's fabulous Granny Stripe Blanket, another one worked in rows, as I have always done, but this time using color.
  3. Lastly, the idea of joining the squares has always been something that has been a turn-off! I have made squares for afghans worked with co-workers for charity before and have even participated in joining portions of those afghans, but I have never liked the joining process. I have begun at least two granny square afghans of my own and the completed squares have sat in baskets and trunks for years since I have never been motivated to join them. 
Of all the reasons listed above, I have to say that I suspect #3 is the real culprit. Luckily, I have recently come across a technique that eliminates #3 from the list - JAYG (join as you go). I had heard of this technique before, but I had never taken the time to practice it. Then I saw that Lucy from Attic24 was using the technique in some of her blankets and that she even had a tutorial for it. I had to try it, so I did. Here is the Granny Patchwork Blanket that I started the other day using the JAYG technique.

I am using the slip-stitch method that Lucy uses, but there are two other methods described in Edie Eckman's Connecting the Shapes Crochet Motifs book in case you are interested (flat joins and single crochet joins). I am very happy with this technique so far. It is very easy to execute once you learn how to do it, and I enjoy watching the blanket grow as I am working. I think that might be one of the reasons I always liked making my afghans in rows. I love to see knitting and crochet grow. This might be what makes me more of a sweater knitter and a blanket crocheter than someone who enjoys making small items. I am also a person who is cold all of the time, so there is a certain appeal to working on an item that serves the dual purpose of being interesting while keeping me warm. 

Here is a closer picture of the slip-stitch, JAYG seams (to view a tutorial click on this link from Attic24):

I have become so enamored with this new project that I just had to have it with me (along with at least two other knitting projects) for my brief trip to Florida in the next couple of days. I couldn’t decide which colors to bring, so I cam up with the idea to wind small balls of each color (all 17) and to bring them with me in my luggage. Stitching squares by the pool seems like fun. 

Look at all of the beautiful colors; I have become quite fond of Stylecraft Special DK (recommended by Lucy of Attic24) for acrylic. I am normally a wool-kind-of-gal, but for an enormous crochet afghan that will hog a lot of yarn and need to be washed frequently, you can’t beat a nice acrylic. This one is particularly soft, which is a bonus.

Have any of you tried JAYG? I would love to hear some of your experiences or any suggestions for other methods that you use to make joining motifs fun. 

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