Last Sunday Graham spotted a request in "Pews News" (newsheet of our local parish church) from a (temporarily) housebound lady asking for crochet lessons, with the fee going to Action Abroad (a charity which sponsors children in Africa and India). Now, as I can crochet and Graham is on the fundraising committee of Action Abroad, I could see where this was leading.
I 'phoned the lady in question and discovered that she was hoping to complete a pram blanket started by her grandmother 15 years ago. I was told that the pattern was "American Squares". I've never heard of American Squares but went along to her house yesterday armed with books and hooks galore.
It turns out that she had the book granny had worked from, and there was the pattern for what looked, to me, like a normal granny square but was called, in her book, "Old America". We set to work. Soon my student was chaining and trebling like an old hand. But when we hit round 2 in the instructions "3 treble, 3 chain" and I had to explain that "the first 3 treble is actually 3 chain and 2 treble like it said on the last round" I decided it was time to turn to Jan Eaton. Jan Eaton's "200 Crochet Blocks" is the book that finally got me crocheting. I'd struggled, on and off, for years trying to master the art but wass thrown by the fact that so much prior knowledge is assumed in crochet patterns. Jan's books don't just tell you what to do but why you're doing it. The "Old America" square we were battling with is a "Traditonal Granny" in 200 Crochet Blocks. And each round begins "chain 3, counts as first stitch". It even explains when you are making the corners.
The "Old America" instructions stopped at round 4, but granny had made her squares with 5 rounds. Once my pupil realised how the corners were made, she worked out the missing fifth round for herself.
The moral of this story is no matter what the motif is called, if you need a clear explanation head for one of Jan Eaton's tomes!