The Carolyn Crocheted skirt

Inspired by Carolyn I decided to make a crocheted skirt.

I loved her image and the gorgeous oranges and greens she used. I copied her design although with a few variations.

  • DIfferent colours – I used small left over pieces of yarn, mainly in pink and blue, with dark green as the background colour. I used quite a lot of the green, maybe four or five balls. This yarn was kindly given to me by Jo.
  • My “granny squares” (I cringe at this description  (4/8/12 squares? Crocheted Catherine wheels?) are smaller than Carolyns
  • My dimensions were 9 x 16 rather than her 6 x13 sqaures. My skirt is also a little longer

What I learned

  • Crocheting is a nice change from knitting. I like the deft way my hook weaves in and out, front and back – this makes me feel quite expert while I am actually a complete beginner.
  • It can be a bit fiddly, especially the colour change and changing rounds
  • Two techniques I found helpful were to finish each colour and then start anew. The chain of three to get to the next layer didn’t really work for me. The other is change back to front between layers.
  • I also found blocking the squares to be very helpful. I pinned the corners out and pressed the square flat – I created a 6cm x 6cm template but didn’t find it necessary. I just pinned the squares to my ironing board, steam pressed them and let them cool.
    Granny squares blocking
    Blocking the squares
  • The pressing revealed the lacy look. As these squares are beautiful on both sides I started to think of items that could show case them better than a one sided item, and have decided to try a scarf. The yarn and the tension could make this a bit too stiff so I will increase the crochet hook size and go for a thinner yarn. However Ceci warned me that the lacy effect means they can get hooked onto passing door knobs etc, and may need mending
  • With three colours in one small square there are lots of ends. I tried hard to work these in as I went but I didn’t really crack it
  • It is fairly slow progress but I found this the ideal hobby for travelling on public transport and fitting in to odd downtime slots. It is easy to pick up and put down and each square is very small and unobtrusive
  • Carry small scissors. I had large ones in my bag and got in trouble going through security at the Mayor’s office. The scissors were confiscated and I forgot to pick them up involving time and work to get them back.
  • I love the way the colours work. This is the biggest joy. I made them randomly,  as the mood took me. Then arranging them into a pattern was fun. I could do stripes, blocks or variation. In the end I did horizontal colour stripes (pink and blue) and put one lighter next to one darker to create a sort of checker board look. My final arrangement is a bit like a Welsh blanket. The possibilities are endless here and this factor will bring me back to the technique.

In the midst of my creative efforts my dear Daughter in Law (who works for Burberry) sent me these amazing images. Look at those cool grannies!! Crochet plus knitting! Cables, embroidery, and cricket jumper ribbing. Of course too out there for many of us, but massively inspirational.

I may be a granny, but I am so up to the minute, darling!

Here is what it looks like as I am starting to join the squares together.

Granny square crochet sewing up
Sewing the squares into fabric

As it is coming together I realise that Carolyn’s approach of knitting a ribbed yoke/waist band is still a bit bulky and I do like my skirts to have sufficient shaping, given my relatively curvy shape. So I have stalled.

Given this is pure wool I have considered shrinking the top and stretching the hem, to create a slight A line, but I should have thought of that at the design stage. If I had been really clever I might have designed a yoked skirt and created a different design for the yoke – maybe striped instead of granny squares. Or even more interesting would have been to create different sized squares using a smaller crochet hook or finer yarns. My other notion is to dart the side seams to provide waist shaping, and put in a zip. I am not sure if this would work. Would it need a waist band? If so does it need to be interfaced or made in a different way? I wonder if anyone has made a crocheted granny square garment? They often seem to be based on rectangles rather than shaped.

Please let me have your thoughts on how to make a skirt and I will report back next week. Thank you!

18 Responses

  1. Linda

    Maybe I’m dating myself? but I seem to remember crochet square skirts. A slim pencil styled mini skirt (with the times) with squares like you are making, lined underneath with another solid white fabric layer, linen like. The under skirt had the usual waistband and zipper and the crochet layer was attached to the waistband only, hanging loosely. I’m interested to see what you decide to do! I barely remember how to crochet, but I do remember it was faster and easier for me than knitting, which I was terrible at!

  2. Tina Olsson

    Hello, I have made a lot of crocheted clothes, and you can be very experimental but it’s also a limiting technique. The great thing is that you can easily change the shape of each piece as you go. The bad: once it’s done, it really can’t be changed. In general, this type of skirt works best for the boyish shapes, as granny squares are always a square 🙂 All your ideas and speculations are spot on, so you have already mentioned all possible solutions. Just get experimenting. Good luck, Tina

  3. jay

    Ha! Your comments about how handy a hobby this is for public transport and having scissors confiscated rang a bell! I can remember searching round for scissors with tiny blades so they’d pass through airport checks, and muttering to myself about how the crochet hook was more of a potential threat!
    Waist shaping wise I don’t have anything very original. You can pick up stitches along the top and knit ribbing, would that help? You can set it on to a purchased stretchy fabric band, you can try shaping in with darting – in which case I’d be tempted to try pleating out the outer ring of each square so that it forms an even pattern around. There’d be some maths involved in that – difference between waist and hip measurement divided by number of squares at widest measurement to see how much to reduce per square. I’m not clever enough to figure out how to pull in the centre of each crochet square gradually whilst crocheting it, if you get an inspiration on this please post the info. You can crochet a band with regular decreases, but maybe this won’t be stretchy like knitting and will need a zip.

    • fabrickated

      Always creative Jay. Yes. I like these ideas. I am where I am now with the majority of the squares made and sewn together. The idea of making the later ones sort of smaller at the top than the base is really clever. The original – Carolyn’s version – is finished exactly as you suggest with picked up stitches and ribbing, with elastic. I guess that works and Carolyn looks cool in hers – I just dislike bulk around the middle and feared it would be in the yarn I have chosen. So I am keen on a waist band if I can do one. Also I am not sure about lining it. Thank you so much for your input. And yes I need some smaller, less offensive scissors!!

  4. eimear

    after putting the squares together – it would be eaiser to just crochet a small rim top and bottom to keep them sitting well. for the bottom, I would do one row double, one row treb and one double and picot the end, and and the top you could do a more shaped edging that is about 4 inches long in doubles only and shape by decrease – if you are going in the round there is no need for maths, just try as you go and I tend to have the decreases done where darts go. you will still need a small drawstring but they tend to be tidy – crochet is so much quicker and being able to fit as you work the piece is so handy

    • fabrickated

      I love that you have a solution Eimear that sticks with crochet. I am not sure I need a hem finish but maybe what you suggest would give it a nice finish. I will have to look up double, treble and picot. For the waist the idea of a drawstring is also very sweet. Thank you for your proposals which I will have to think about.

  5. ceci

    The vest pics from your daughter in law would be interesting in all one color, I think…sort of stealth granny squares. I don’t care for the name either, for some reason? Patronizing to Grannys? Or maybe the suggestion of frugality should be interpreted as a positive? What will you line with? Can you make fractions of squares to provide shaping at the waist? Or is there some wrap skirt approach that wouldn’t be too bulky?

    • fabrickated

      Yes I think the Granny name is patronising. There is a dialogue going on about tech and grannies – implying we are not as capable as our “digital native” grandchildren. But I consider myself competent with IT, social media and am learning coding (from my son), alongside my daughter in law. I want knitting, sewing and crochet to be a delight to the younger generation too. As for fractions – we can do less squares although this messes with the pattern. And I have seen some shaped joins, so lots to experiment with there Ceci. Thanks for your feedback.

  6. erin alter

    Maximalism is the thing right now (see the Burberry vest). So why not create a skirt waistband/yoke out of a coordinating (or contrasting, if you want to really embrace maximalism) wool woven? Something tweedy maybe? Then you can have your fit and fun and the same time.

    • fabrickated

      I love this comment. The idea of a tweedy yoke is really, really appealing. As ever I want to try everything. I may do a second skirt with more techniques mixed in, inspired by this maximalism concept Erin. Thanks so much for inspiring me.

  7. Cynthia

    I think I would mount it on to a stretch lining first and then stitch and shape the side seams. Then google how Alabama Chanin skirts are finished by sewing on by hand fold over elastic. I’ve made an AC skirt and it works really nicely. Maybe this helps.

    I have knitted straight skirts on a knitting machine and I decreased the tension steadily from the hip line up to the waist, then knitted a fold over piece for elastic. The shaping means you don’t get gathered elastic waist look.


    Cynthia in Swindon

    • fabrickated

      Hello dear Cynthia in Swindon (and we must meet up!).

      The method you suggest is also proposed by Elizabeth Zimmermann so it must be right. I guess crochet doesn’t drape or flow like knitting. The fabric is fairly stiff. Making it good for a little skirt but the shaping is a challenge. I took a look at the Alabama Chanin (which are beautiful, aren’t they?). It struck me that the panels of embroidered fabric are joined across the pattern which I didn’t like. I want the pattern to move across the skirt despite the shaping, so it is deceived to some extent. If I take an obvious wodge out of the skirt it will show – I am thinking along the lines of lace – where the motifs are cut and joined to create shape without an obvious dart…..

  8. Michelle

    I too was taken with Carolyn’s original design (as I am with most of her makes) and it’s interesting following the process and comments on your version. I have to admit I was quite taken with the knitted ribbed waistband – there’s some shaping half way up – but it’s maybe not to everyone’s liking. I think perhaps the simplicity of the design attracted me, nothing too complicated to scare me off!
    My ‘granny square’ experience is limited to a crocheted cot blanket I made when my eldest was born, using up leftover yarn. I crocheted the squares together rather than sewing them, which I think gave a little more structure to the blanket as a whole. I recall it was a favourite with both children for many years.

  9. Ruth

    I do really like the Burberry tank tops – they look like something I’d make!
    For the skirt waistband, what about just buying some 1X1 rib jersey and sewing it on?
    Lovely the grannies.

  10. Sarah

    My own crocheted Afghan squares (if you want a different term to granny squares 😉 ) usually come out quite soft but I’m probably using a very different yarn to you.

    Petersham ribbon would be my suggestion for a waistband – just like you might do on a posh formal wool suit fabric pencil skirt.

    I also like the idea of decreasing sizes of squares – or just crocheting a waistband (maybe work some smocking elastic in like you do with hand knit rubbing to improve stretchiness??)

  11. Kim

    I don’t have your tiny waist so I didn’t have as much to remove at that point. Having knitted the yoke in a k1 p1 rib and made eyelets for the elastic (needed for confidence rather than function) to be threaded through there wasn’t much bulk there.
    The Burberry sweater is fabulous. I may have to try something like that when I clear some of my wish list.

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