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All That Yarn - Yarn Stories Part 2

Updated on July 26, 2017

Lots of Afghans

Some of my many afghans (and my cat). The Brown and Orange one is from my first year at college. (learn about the scrap one in my other blog)
Some of my many afghans (and my cat). The Brown and Orange one is from my first year at college. (learn about the scrap one in my other blog)

Afghan Kits and College Boys

I was re-reading my journal from my first year of college. It was a time when the yarn shops were few and far between, and mail order was the only other alternative since the internet was not even a glimmer in someone’s imagination as yet.

I found that I had ordered two afghan kits from either Mary Maxim or Herrschners – a blue and white kit and a browns/gold/yellow kit. I know of the latter since I have it in my possession (and it took me 15 years from start to finish). The former, I don’t recall but I did have notes about it in my journal.

Seems I was crocheting in the lobby of the dorm building. Boys and girls being housed separated without visitation rights so the only gathering places were the lobby and the basement where the pool tables were located. I tended to hang out in the lobby because of the natural sunlight (in a cement block building there were not many sunny places). One of the basketball players noticed my crocheting. When I got my kits in the mail (the mailboxes were also located in the lobby area), I had the two and plans t make myself afghans since the dorm was not that warm in the winter.

He must have asked me to teach him how to crochet after watching me do it. I was just a beginning knitter having only started the previous year so most of my work was in crochet. My journal says that I gave (or sold) him the blue and white kit while I kept the other one. I must have given him a few lessons and there was nothing more in the journal about either him or the kit.

Being on a budget I must not have replaced the kit, or maybe I decided one afghan kit was all I could handle in between homework and classes. I didn’t have a car at college so I had to rely on others to take me home for vacations or to the Pamida store clear across town for more yarn.

Afghans and Friends

Over the years I have made a lot of afghans, for myself, my family and some for my friends. I have some photos of some of the ones I gave away, but I didn’t record all of them. I do remember some of the favorite ones.

I took my knitting along to Grandma’s house when we were going to pick up the relatives from Norway in Fargo ND one summer. I was knitting strips for an afghan in yellow, gold, and a yellow/gold ombre. The relative that we stayed with while we waited saw the work I was doing and asked if I had plans for this afghan. I didn’t, so she offered to buy it from me when I was done with it. She paid me $35 after I sent it to her several months later. I was inspired by a similar pattern in a wool yarn afghan that my great grandmother had given my Mom. And I wanted to make the same pattern. It was easy enough to remember and I had my handwritten notes for the pattern, and it was portable enough to take on a car trip.

I made an afghan for my favorite college home ec teacher (and friend) using coral and yellow stripes. I gave it to her after a home ec group meeting at someone’s house. I think she liked it, I never really heard if she did or not. Years later she asked me to come help her next door neighbor who had a partially finished afghan from her mother that needed to be completed. That’s where The Workbasket Magazine came in handy as that afghan pattern was in a copy I had, since the pattern copy that had been left with the partially finished afghan was missing the next part located on a page farther back in the book. I got paid for finishing that afghan, but not as much as my time was worth as is the case with all my knitting/crocheting projects for hire or sale.

One of my junior high school home ec teachers (also in the same home ec group) asked me to make her an afghan after she saw the one I donated for the four-state home ec convention. (see “boyfriend afghan” for that story) I made her one with all the yellow Safeway yarn I had left from the boyfriend’s afghan. I knit the afghan as it went a bit faster with larger needles (this was before anything over size 15 knitting needles or larger than K crochet hooks were available).

Years later I had a call from this teacher’s daughter who asked if I could repair the afghan. Seems the home ec teacher was now in the nursing home and confined to a wheelchair. The afghan had gotten caught in the chair mechanism and tore as well as melted (must have been an electric wheelchair). I agreed to try to fix it for her. The knitting was coming out in a lot of places, some with gapping holes and strings of yarn between holes. The melted part I had to cut out all together. Luckily I still had a lot of the yellow yarn left that I had used for this afghan.

I did the crochet hook method of picking up dropped stitches in order to repair some of the holes. I had to tie on more yarn in some spots so that I had enough to work with to fix those areas. Unfortunately the pattern was lost when I fixed the holes as they came out in stockinette stitch instead of working with the lace pattern originally there. She was happy to get the afghan back and sent me a thank you note written by the daughter. It was sad as the note mentioned that she had food and shelter so she had the basics.

From the Afghan Pattern Book

This is it! only not as big as he had me make for him. The pattern included a pillow, which I did not make.
This is it! only not as big as he had me make for him. The pattern included a pillow, which I did not make.

The Boyfriend Afghan

Once I had a long-term boyfriend (for several months). He found out that I crocheted and he wanted an afghan. We went to Safeway (which sold yarn back in the early 1980s) to pick out the colors, as he picked out a pattern with complex roses surrounded by leaves and a background with popcorn stitches.

Having no imagination, he picked out the same colors as in the pattern’s picture: red for the roses, a dark olive green for the leaves, yellow for the background and black to edge and put the squares together. He decided he wanted a queen bed size afghan that not only covered the bed but hung down on the sides.

I worked on it for about two years. In the meantime we broke up. I finished the afghan and told him it was done and that I wanted $300 for all my work (he paid for the yarn so I was not out materials, just time). He decided he no longer wanted it, especially since we were no longer going out (he had planned to ask me to marry him before I left for college, but I was far away and got lucky that he didn’t get the chance).

Since he didn’t want it, the afghan was huge (queen bed size, like he ordered), and I was never able to use it I decided to donate it. The four-state home ec teachers convention was that summer and they were looking for something to raffle off to raise funds. I volunteered the rose afghan. That’s when the home ec teacher I had for junior high school saw it and wanted to win it; she didn’t, and then wanted me to make her an afghan. The person that did win the rose afghan in the raffle mentioned to me that it was too big so she would probably take off the edging and take it apart down the middle to make two afghans out of it. I was aghast at the thought that my hours of work putting all 300 squares together were going to be taken apart. Lucky for me she lived in another town so I never had to see her again and lament my labor on the rose afghan.

Since I had made the afghan square by square instead of one piece, I had a few leftovers from it. I have one completed square to remind me of all my work, and a rose with leaves that could be appliquéd onto something else…some day.

One Leftover Square from the Afghan

Live and Learn

I have read, over the past few years, that one should NEVER make a sweater for a boyfriend. I guess the same goes for afghans.

I used to make afghans for my friends, relatives, and a couple of former home ec teachers, but now I just make them for charity. I still like making a lot of different patterns, some I try and then say “never again” once they are finished…if I finish or if I just rip out and start over on something else.

I still like mixing and matching colors and patterns for something new and different than what a pattern might call for (see the brown and orange afghan…no two snowflakes are orange or brown in nature). I want and need to be creative, and yarn is my outlet. It gives me something that I can do while visiting with people, attending a conference or meeting, or just taking up the time while waiting for a doctor’s appointment.

I’m glad to have as much yarn on hand in my stash so I can pull together something at a moment’s notice and pull a pattern from my files or my computer. Some people might think it is too much yarn, but they just don’t understand how I think – I need it where I can see it and know that I have it. If I have it here then it is unlikely that when I go to the store and find out they discontinued a color or it’s out of stock at the moment, or they quit carrying my favorite brands all together. There are several reasons why I have all that yarn.

© 2015 Nancy Pawlowski


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