Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Magic Square (Crochet)

Barbara, my sister, is the one who taught me to crochet and gave me my first pattern book for Christmas one year. But the Magic Square was taught to me by my mother’s cousin Coralynn. I have recently remembered how to do it, and with delight pass it on to you.

The Magic Square, worked in yarn, not thread, and is very easy to make. It is good for small rugs (mats, really), potholders, trivets, and assorted other items, some of which I’ll mention in a moment. Although you crochet it flat, it comes out in double thickness and turns into a square all by itself, which is where the magic comes in. The pattern on one side comes out perpendicular to the pattern on the other side. Whatever you do always comes out symmetrical, too.

To see how it works, you can crochet a very small sample or you can use a square piece of paper. Draw a couple of stripes on it, just for fun. Fold the paper in half, forming a rectangle (not a triangle). Tape each of the two ends shut. Now unfold the paper and try laying the fold flat on a table. You automatically make a double square, in which the fold stretches from one corner to the other and the opening, on the other side, is perpendicular to it. Notice how the stripes on either side are also at right angles to one another.


With a crochet hook two sizes larger than you plan to use for the Magic Square, chain, loosely, as many stitches as you like. The chain will become the distance from corner to corner of the square.

Work 1 crochet stitch into each chain until the end of the chain; then continue, working 1 stitch into the each loop on the other side the chain until you have completed a full round. You don’t need any turning stitches.

You can begin the next row in the usual way, but I prefer to just keep going around and around in a spiral; because otherwise you must keep careful count of the stitches to be sure you make the same number in each round.

Continue working in this way until the full square is formed.

Sew the opening shut with a darning needle or crochet it using all slip stitches. If it’s a potholder, you may like to add a loop at the corner for hanging it.

Tuck in and trim the tails.

That’s it! Very simple.

Variations and Hints:

If you fold the work along the chain stitches, it becomes a pocket or pouch instead of a Magic Square. This is fine if you prefer a rectangular piece, but to see and use it square, keep the work as flat as you can and it will automatically fold itself the other way.

You don’t want holes in a potholder!! Use a crochet hook about 2 sizes smaller than you normally would for your particular yarn, to achieve a tight fabric. For the same reason, you don’t want much patterning; a plain stitch works best. Rely upon the yarn itself to add interest. You can use two or more colors or (much easier) self-striping yarn.

Thick yarn is advisable for potholders and rugs. Cotton yarn works well for potholders.

As you work, you may notice that the shape begins to resemble a footie. You can make a slipper of it with some very simple tailoring, thus: About 3 rounds before you think the sides of the slipper will be tall enough, you must begin to reduce the number of stitches around the toe end. Simply skip every other stitch for a round, at the toe only. Try it on and determine whether any further reductions are needed in the next round(s). For my size, I usually have to decrease about 10 stitches. I also make double stitches in the next two rounds (toe area only), putting 6 in one row and 4 in the next. This makes the slipper cover more of the top of the foot.

You can decorate the slipper with a crocheted flower or beads or use your imagination. You could even work one row in double or triple crochet and run a narrow ribbon through the holes thus made, tying a pretty bow in front.

Unless you are making a very large Magic Square, you will also begin to notice, as you work it, how it resembles a hand puppet or finger puppet. Even if you are new to crochet, you will be able to see, very readily, how to make it into one. When you’ve nearly finished your rounds, reducing the number of stitches somewhat (at both ends, this time) may make it easier to keep the puppet on your hand.


margaret said...

I almost managed to teach myself to crochet from the 'Stitch 'n' Bitch' book (hate the name but the instructions were good) but my tension was terrible and everything curled up. I love it though and I wish, wish, wish I could get the hang of it.

Anam Cara said...

Great pictures of each step are here:

Anastasia Theodoridis said...

Margaret, try again! Larger hooks relative to the thickness of the yarn may solve the problem.

Anam, many thanks for the great website explaining and showing it all so clearly!

Gale said...

I can't figure out why my pot holder came out rectangular. I didn't fold it along the chain and it did fold itself as it should. Did I crochet too many rounds? Not enough?