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I developed my original pattern for the granny square cocoon cardigan using a solid color heather yarn, Lion Brand Heartland. Then I decided to see what would happen when I made the same pattern using self-striping yarn. I wanted to make a birthday present for a dear friend and chose a Caron Cake yarn with five colors in approximately equal amounts – three blues and two grays. My intent was for the colors to fan out from the center of the back in roughly concentric squares, like this:
And come together in interesting angles on the front, like this:
My original pattern is based on turning the work at the beginning of each round, resulting in a granny square with no wrong side (or two right sides, however you want to look at it). For a solid-color yarn, that’s great. But when I did the same thing with the self-striping yarn, it wasn’t long before I realized I was not getting concentric squares. Instead, the colors doubled back on themselves each time I changed direction at the beginning of a new round. As the square got bigger, the colors began “bunching up” on one side or the other.
Not that there’s anything wrong with that – it’s an interesting effect – but I had my heart set on those concentric squares, and I had no desire to “slice and dice” the yarn to get them. (All those extra ends to weave in – not fun!)
I realized that to achieve what I wanted, I needed to adjust the pattern so I never turned the work, but always kept the yarn moving in the same direction. That way, the colors wouldn’t double back on themselves each time I began a new round.
I created the two diagrams below to demonstrate what happens when you crochet a large granny square with self-striping yarn and either turn the work for each round, or don’t turn it and keep the colors moving in the same direction.
In both diagrams I used equal amounts of five colors, filling the grid from the black center square outward in rounds like a granny square. The arrows show the beginning of rounds and colors changes, as well as the direction they are moving; the little squares indicate where each color ends.
This first diagram shows what the colors do when the work is turned and the direction of the color reverses at the beginning of each round, as indicated by the arrows. Notice how the concentric squares break down as you move outward from the center, and the colors eventually bunch up on one side or the other:
In this second diagram I filled in the colors in a continuous counterclockwise direction, again as indicated by the arrows. Notice that while the concentric squares are not perfect, they do hold up pretty well:
Once I figured this out, I frogged what I’d done (thankfully, not too much) and started over, never turning the work but always working counterclockwise. In order to do this, I had to start even-numbered rounds differently than I did odd-numbered rounds. And when the granny square was complete, because it was never turned it had a definite right side (the side that faced me as I crocheted) and a wrong side.
Except for these two small differences, the pattern is the same as for my original granny square cocoon cardigan, including the recommendation to make the granny square at least half the height of the intended wearer, plus an extra inch or two. (You can make it bigger, as some patterns suggest, but I’ve found that my formula results in a nice bottom-covering length and 3/4 sleeves, and doesn’t risk overwhelming the wearer.)
For your convenience, the modified pattern is below in full. As with the original pattern, you can make this cardigan in just three easy steps with only advanced-beginner level crochet skills.
Some final notes about the yarn
Because I was trying out a new pattern variation, in an abundance of caution I bought five Caron Cakes, which totals about 1915 yards of yarn – much more than I needed. In fact, I completed the 36″ granny square using just 2-1/2 cakes. I could have done all of the binding, stitching and borders using the remaining half of the third cake, but I wanted the binding and stitching to be all the same color in which the granny square ended (the dark gray) and the borders to be all the next color (the light gray), so to get those colors I did do a minimal amount of “slicing and dicing” of the remainder of the third cake and a tiny amount of the fourth cake. What’s left of the third and fourth cakes is plenty for some small future project. I returned the untouched fifth cake for a refund.
Finally, when selecting your Caron Cakes (or other self-striping yarn, such as Lion Brand Mandala), pay attention to the colors in which each skein begins and ends, and make sure they correspond. That is, if the first skein ends in, say, dark blue, you want the second skein to begin in that same dark blue, and so on.
Pattern: Granny square cocoon cardigan
Materials you’ll need:
- 3 or 4 Caron Cakes, depending on intended size of cardigan (and your tolerance for “slicing and dicing”), or 1000-1250 yards of a medium weight (#4) self-striping yarn of your choice
- Size J crochet hook
- Measuring tape
- Yarn needle
- Chain stitch (ch)
- Slip stitch (sl st)
- Single crochet (sc)
- Double crochet (dc)
To connect new skeins of yarn, I recommend using the Russian join, which reduces the number of weave-ins required.
Step 1: Crochet a BIG granny square
Ch 6 and join in a ring with sl st.
Round 1: Ch 3 (counts as first dc here and for all odd-numbered rounds throughout), 2 dc in ring, ch 2, * (3 dc in ring, ch 2) 3 times, sl st in top of starting ch 3.
Tip: Lay yarn end along ring and crochet Round 1 over it for an effortless weave-in.
Round 2: Ch 3 (counts as last dc here and for all even-numbered rounds throughout), (ch 1, 3 dc, ch 2, 3 dc) in first three ch 2 spaces to form corners, (ch 1, 3 dc, ch 2, 2 dc) in fourth ch 2 space, sl st in top of starting ch 3.
In even-numbered rounds, your starting chain 3 leads into a cluster of three double crochet stitches; it counts as the last double crochet in the space to its right. You will make a fourth chain which counts as a chain 1 space, and then continue with clusters and spaces as normal. When you’ve reached and crocheted in the space to the right of your starting chain, you will slip stitch in the third chain of the starting chain, leaving the fourth chain (the chain 1 space) alone.
Round 3: Ch 3, (2 dc in ch 1 space), (ch 1, 3 dc, ch 2, 3 dc) in each ch 2 space in corner and (ch 1, 3 dc) in each ch 1 space on side, ch 1 and sl st in top of starting ch 3.
In odd-numbered rounds, your starting chain 3 leads into a chain 1 space on its left and counts as the first double crochet in that space. When you complete that round, you’ll make a final chain 1 space and then slip stitch into the top of the chain 3. (When you’re making a granny square by turning to start each round, each round will begin and end like this.)
Round 4: Ch 3, (ch 1, 3 dc) in each ch 1 space on side and (ch 1, 3 dc, ch 2, 3 dc) in each ch 2 space in corner, in final ch 1 space (ch 1, 2 dc), sl st in top of starting ch 3.
Repeat Rounds 3 and 4 until square reaches desired size.
Final round (“binding”): Ch 1, sc in each dc and through each ch 1 space on sides; in corners, 4 sc through ch 2 space; sl st in starting ch 1, cut 6” tail and fasten off.
Step 2: Stitch together sides forming armholes
Note: If you want to see how the cardigan is constructed from the granny square (stitching the side seams and adding borders – steps that remain unchanged from my original pattern) look at at my original pattern post or watch this two-minute video:
Fold square in half with right sides together to form a rectangle, taking care to align 3 dc clusters and ch 1 spaces to the clusters and spaces on the opposite side.
Note: The right side will be the side that always faced you as you crocheted the granny square.
Beginning 7” from fold, single crochet through all loops of “binding” (final round sc) to end of side and through first 2 ch of corner only.
Note: Beginning 7” from fold creates a 14” armhole which will fit most. If necessary, the armhole size can be adjusted smaller or larger by starting the side seam closer to or farther from the fold.
Cut 6” end and fasten off.
Repeat on other side.
Step 3: Add borders
For the front opening and both armholes:
Round 1: Join yarn with sl st in sc “binding” near one of the side seams made in Step 2, ch 1, sc in each sc of “binding” until you reach ch 1, sl st in ch 1.
Tip: Crochet Round 1 over yarn ends left from binding and side seams for effortless weave-ins.
Rounds 2-6: Ch 1, sc around front opening until you reach ch 1, sl st in ch 1.
Cut 6” end and fasten off.
Weave in ends. (If you crocheted over all previous yarn ends, and used the Russian join to add new skeins of yarn, you should only have three ends left to weave in.)
If you use this pattern…
I would love to see any cardigans made from this pattern! You can email photos to email@example.com. (Note: I’ll assume that sending me photos gives me permission to share them on the Spoons & Hooks site and social media — crediting you, of course — unless you specifically instruct me otherwise.)
Do you have any questions about this pattern? If so, ask them in the comments section, and I’ll do my best to respond promptly.
You are free to gift, donate or sell for profit any items you make from this pattern. I ask only that if you sell items made from any of my patterns, as a courtesy you reference spoonsandhooks.com as the pattern’s source.