Thursday, January 9, 2014

HOW I FINISHED A GRANNY SQUARE AFGHAN IN RECORD TIME AND COST

Last night, in the middle of the night, finding myself with some flu-like bug and a cough that just wouldn't quit, I decided to crochet my very first giant granny square afghan. My project kept me occupied for four hours, from 1 to 5 am, at which time I finished my afghan - about 50" X 50". Oh, and by the way, its total cost was two dollars.

Now all that probably doesn't seem very likely to you. And, of course, it's not. Not likely and not true. Except that it is, sort of.

Giant granny squares are useful and colorful items for the home.
Here's the story of this crocheted afghan.

I absolutely love to surround myself with colorful homespun items and always wanted to crochet a giant granny square afghan. I just never got around to it. And having crocheted some small granny squares as dishcloths, I was pretty sure I had the skills. But, sitting down so long to make an afghan was something that never happened - due to time constraints and general laziness to undertake such a big project that would take scads of yarn and way too many long hours. I always said that there would come a time when I would pull together some exquisite yarns and see the threads join into a beautiful granny square creation for my home. Last night I accomplished that goal.

But I didn't really crochet a whole afghan in one night. What I did was finish one - a nice one that I'm proud of.

This story began about two years ago when I was scouring the local thrift stores looking for used knitted and crocheted items. My purpose was to tear out and salvage the yarn for making scarves and shawls. I had found a number of sweaters that served well being torn out and, later, reused for other projects. I even blogged about the process. (See below.) One day, back then, I ran across a granny square afghan in a thrift shop - with nice purple and black yarn. It even looked in good condition and the cost was just two dollars. I was really pleased to buy it. Best of all, all that yarn was a medium weight acrylic that holds up well for any number of needlework projects.

Of course, it had a problem. That's why it was there, being sold for just a couple of dollars. The last row of crochet had come out and the loose yarn was hanging down - several yards worth. What's more, any movement of the blanket caused further unraveling. Apparently, no one had appreciated just how nice this afghan was and how many hours of work it represented. Being somewhat unraveled didn't seem to be a big problem for me since I, at first, wanted to unravel it, anyway. But, when I got it home, I realized that it was much too nice to destroy. So, I put it away on a top shelf to wait the time when I could repair it.

That time just didn't come around. I seemed to have dozens of projects that were more urgent than reworking an afghan.  But last night, the time was right. I realized that I was totally unlikely to sleep and I hate to spend my hours tossing around in bed unable to rest. That's when I remembered the afghan on the top shelf, a great project for a long night of insomnia.  The huge respiratory meltdown was the right moment for finishing the afghan.

I took the blanket off the closet shelf and carried it to the living room. There, after trying several hook sizes, I found one that seemed to be the same as the one used to make the square. Figuring out the pattern turned out to be very easy because granny squares just repeat the same stitches all through. It turned out to be a double crochet stitch and I settled down to work on the couch with a hot tea - actually, 4 hot teas during those four hours - along with two coverlets over my legs. It took less than an hour to redo the raveled out row.

While I was pleased to see the row now repaired, the blanket didn't seem to have much pizazz. The two colors were nice but it still appeared unfinished and a bit drab. Since I knew that I would have several more hours of wakefulness, I decided to go around the last row with a single crochet. I chose a medium blue acrylic from my yarn stash. That shade of blue gave it a bit more color but didn't cause so much contrast as to call undue attention to the finishing row.

I'm proud of my work. But, of course, it isn't the granny square afghan of my dreams. The one I was hoping to make would have been much more colorful - that according to my fantasy, at least. The truth is that I was really lucky to have found this afghan at a thrift store and to finally find the time to finish it. So, I'll say this one counts as my first giant granny square blanket, made in record time (overlooking the two years it sat shelved) and at a cost of 2 dollars.

To conclude this story and, according to my best hopes, hit the bed for a few hours of morning sleep, there are some points that I hope you've noticed here. First, there is a good possibility to find homespun items for very little money at garage sales and thrift stores. Most of them will need some work. Second, if you're willing to do a bit of repair, used needlework can be a useful and attractive addition to the home. Second, there are moments when a time slot - even a less than optimal one - will allow you to carry out a project. So, getting to work at those times is a real plus - in the great scheme of things.

I'm not going to give out the instructions for making this afghan. There are any numbers of Internet blogs and videos that do that ever so much better than I could. 

But, I do highly recommend the making of your own granny square afghan and/or the searching out for used blankets of this kind wherever they may appear.  They are really versatile as to color choices and they can be as large as you like. You just keep on crocheting until the size feels right. And they are so nice, thrown on the back of the couch or wrapped around you while reading a book or doing needlework or some other craft.  And you'll love to have your blanket, as mine is, folded at the end of the bed, offering extra warmth on these frosty winter evenings.
 
Related post

One day later - update
Some people - like me - just don't know when to stop. Just decided to add a row of scalloping to the simple crochet edge. Well, my record time afghan may be taking a bit longer, after all. 

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