Do these tips for crocheting neater granny squares actually work?

As it turns out, you can make neater granny squares by changing the way you crochet it.

We did a side-by-side comparison to see which tips actually work and might be worth giving a try.

A granny square blanket is like a rite of passage for crocheters . It’s the quintessential picture of crochet but it doesn’t come without its quirks. The spiraling granny lean and it’s less-than-square appearance has left crocheters looking for a better way to crochet it and swapping tips for years. But do any of them actually work?

We put five common granny square tips to the test in a side-by-side comparison to see which ones (if any) actually work and produce neater granny squares.

In this guide you’ll learn which tips improved the look and shape of our granny square and which ones didn’t.

We aimed to accomplish two things with this little experiment. Help you…

  1. Reduce the spiraling granny lean, and
  2. Eliminate the need to block them

Our Baseline Granny Square

To test these granny square tips, we needed a baseline to compare them to so we could see the difference, if any. That’s our baseline granny square and it’s proving our point beautifully with it’s corners leaning to the right and the sides not so straight.

We crocheted this baseline granny square following a standard pattern which included starting each round with three chains, two corner chains and a single chain in between each group on the four sides.

When we crocheted a test square following a tip, the only thing we changed with the pattern was the tip itself.

Everything else followed the same baseline granny square pattern. It’s also important to note, we did not block, stretch or change the way we crocheted each square. Here are the results.

Tip #1 – Chain 5 at the beginning instead of a chain 3.

This tip keeps the join of each round in the same corner but on a different group of three double crochets. It means three of the five are the last stitch of the round and the remaining two are a corner. Alternatively on the baseline, the three starting chains are the first stitch of the round.

How this could reduce the lean or need to block is a little less than obvious but here’s how it turned out.

Baseline Granny Square
Test Granny Square

Look at the top left corner of each square. That’s the corner with the join; our baseline square, again starting with three chains and the test square starting with 5 chains.

Our opinion: starting with five chains actually makes that group of three double crochets look off and that corner a little distorted.

You could argue the lean is slightly reduced but at the cost of a corner that looks a little funny. This one wouldn’t land in our “don’t need to block” pile so we’re calling this one a bust. At least for the traditional granny square. We love this little trick for solid granny squares.

Tip# 2 – Omit the chain between groups of three double crochets on the four sides.

When you omit the chain between the groups of three double crochets, the gap is reduced which could lead to a neater granny square. The idea of reducing the gap to make it look neater makes perfect sense and to be honest, we used this tip frequently. That is until we saw these results.

Baseline Granny Square
Test Granny Square

These two squares were crocheted with a 5.5 mm crochet hook so pay close attention to the size here. Omitting the chain between the groups on the sides only, makes a square that’s slightly smaller. Not a huge deal as long as you’re consistent throughout the project.

Our opinion: the lean is still there but maybe slightly less pronounced. The lack of chain or group of stitches in the final round to fill the gaps seems to effect the shape and even pull the corners into a lean (see how they all point slightly to the right?)

Notice how we said we “used to use this tip frequently”? Again, this test square wouldn’t land in our “don’t need to block pile” so we likely won’t use it going forward.

Tip #3 – Use a hook that’s one size smaller than what you’d normally use.

The theory behind this one is that by using a smaller hook, you’ll accomplish two things:

  1. The stitches will be more condensed and therefore, look neater.
  2. The tighter stitches will be sturdier and less susceptible to the lean.

Logic says the only difference we’ll see is in the size of the square but let’s see what happened.

Baseline Granny Square
Test Granny Square

These two squares were crocheted using the same exact pattern with the only difference being the hook size. Our baseline was crocheted with a 5.5 mm hook while the test square was crocheted with a 5 mm hook. There is a notable difference in size. No surprise there.

Our opinion: using a smaller hook improved the shape of the square and noticeably reduced the granny lean.

This square looks great and we wouldn’t be compelled to block it. We’re calling this tip a success.

Tip #4 – Flip the square every round.

This tip makes a lot of sense when trying to get rid of the granny lean. It always leans in the direction of the round (counterclockwise for right-handed crocheters or clockwise for left-handed crocheters) so it seems logical to say the cause of the lean is the lack of flipping the work. So how did it hold up in our side-by-side test?

Baseline Granny Square
Test Granny Square

Pretty darn good. Pay close attention though to the appearance of each round in the test granny square. They look ever so slightly different (specifically the white and dark gray rounds) because the front side and back side of a double crochet look different.

Our opinion: Flipping the square every round improved the shape and seemed to eliminate the granny lean.

We probably wouldn’t feel the need to block it this square so if you’re okay with the rounds looking a little different, this tip passed the test.

Tip #5 – Start each round in a different corner.

Since the granny lean seems to originate in the corners, it seems reasonable to think that changing the corner origin will throw off the flow of the lean. The downfall to this one, however, is pretty evident.

Starting in a different corner means more cutting and more ends to weave in. So unless you’re changing colors every round, this isn’t a practical option but let’s give it a chance.

Baseline Granny Square
Test Granny Square

In the baseline granny square, each new round begins in the top left corner. In the test square, each new round began in the corner behind the last round. Although we’re pretty certain the specific corner doesn’t matter, as long as it’s different every round.

Our opinion: starting in a different corner each round slightly reduces the granny lean but it’s only a reasonable option if you plan to change colors every round.

Even though our test square looks pretty good, we’d still probably want to block this one to reduce the lean and improve the shape. So we’re calling this tip a bust.

This was pretty eye-opening.

Neater granny squares indeed. What we learned with this little experiment is how two of the tips we’ve been following for years didn’t really hold up in a side-by-side comparison. Beginning the round with five chains instead of 3 didn’t reduce the lean or keep us from blocking and in fact, the baseline square following a traditional pattern looked better.

The other tip we used to live by, omitting the chain in between groups of double crochet on the sides, didn’t reduce the lean or really even improve the shape. That’s not to say these tips are wrong or they don’t work. They just don’t seem to work for us.

And to top it all off, the tip we thought least likely to work, in fact, produced the neatest granny square and top runner in this experiment: Tip #3.

But what if we used a combination of tips?

What if we take our favorites from each individual test and put them together? Will we get an even neater-looking granny square? We had to find out so here’s what we did.

Of the five individual tests, these were our preferences (and therefore the tips we combined in one final square):

  1. Chain 3 at the beginning – with a slight modification (two chains because it matches the height of our double crochet better. See the section “customizing the turning chain to match your crochet style” in this guide for more details.
  2. Omitting the chain in between groups on the side – we’re sticking to our roots here.
  3. Using a 5 mm crochet hook instead of a 5.5 mm hook – how could we not after those surprising results?
  4. Not flipping – we prefer the look of a square where the rounds all look the same.
  5. Changing corners every round – we’re changing colors every round so we’d have the additional ends anyways.

So here we have our baseline granny square again with a test square using our preferential combination of tips.

Baseline Granny Square
Test Granny Square Tip Combo

That looks pretty good to us but how does it look compared to the tip #3 square that only used a smaller crochet hook? We were curious to see if it was even worth the extra effort or if all we need to do to crochet neater granny squares is use a size smaller hook.

Test Granny Square Tip Combo
Test Granny Square – Tip #3

Both of these options look pretty great but the square with the combination of tips, you could argue, looks a little neater. However, the goal of this experiment was to find a way to crochet a neater granny square with little to no granny lean and no need to block. We think both of these squares fit the bill.

So did we produce neater granny squares with this experiment?

It’s pretty safe to say, you can significantly reduce the granny lean and better yet, prevent yourself from blocking hundreds of squares the next time you take on a granny square project.

For us, using a size smaller crochet hook with a traditional (unmodified) granny square pattern produced the neatest granny square than any individual tip we put to the test. However, using a combination of tips ultimately produced a granny square with the best shape that had minimal granny lean.

For some crocheters, the granny lean is much more pronounced which now begs the question, does our crochet style and how we hold the hook contribute to it too?

Since we can’t easily change the way we crochet, use our findings as a starting point the next time you find yourself starting a granny square project. Make a few test squares and see which produces neater granny squares for you.

watch the video

We put these granny square tips to the test. Here’s what we found.

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