Knitting Afghans in the Cold

Brrr – the weather is fully winter here in Indiana.  I’ve been working on an afghan for a loved one, and realized I don’t think I’ve posted anything about it.

Meet Exquisite, the cover project from Leisure Arts Big Book of Quick Knit Afghans.  I’ve made several afghans from this book, and enjoy it very much.  The projects are fairly easy, beautiful in design, and the instructions are clear and easy to follow.  What makes the project “quick” is that every project is designed to knit with two strands at a time.

In this case, I’m mixing it up a bit (not that you can tell), by using one strand of Encore Tweed by Plymouth Yarn in color 1363 Oatmeal, and one strand Encore Worsted by Plymouth Yarn in color 0240 Taupe.

In a way, this is a “stash-buster” project – Both yarns were originally purchased for projects that went other directions.  I did not have enough of either for an entire afghan, but plenty if I use one of each, and the results are quite nice.

I don’t think I’m half-way completed on this project, but it’s a good time of year to be working on afghans – keep warm and knit!




Peaceful Afghan

I’m in afghan-making mode, again.  A combination of upcoming events, new yarn to try, and anticipation of cooler weather (not happening yet) has put me in the mood.

This is Peaceful from the Leisure Arts “Big Book of Quick Knit Afghans.”  I’ve made this afghan before, and I’ve knit from this book many times.   The afghans are beautiful and (as advertised) quick to knit, primarily because you use regular sweater-weight yarn knit with two strands held together.  It makes for a lofty, generous result.

This piece is knit with Plymouth Yarn Company’s Encore Tweed in color Oatmeal – another go-to product for afghan projects.  It’s a nice and durable yarn and easy to work with.  I like the tweed effect, which gives the piece more interest and depth.

This afghan is a wedding gift.  These days, with couples marrying later in life and not really needing the normal “house starting” gifts, an afghan seems like a nice option – everyone (in my region, anyway) can use an afghan, and it makes a lovely hand-made gift.

Tip – I usually include a yarn band with a gift, so the recipient knows how to clean and care for the item.

Peaceful Afghan.jpg



Finally Done – Great American Afghan

This took nearly three years to complete – started in early 2015, and with the blocks finished and assembled in August of 2015.  However, it took two winters and into November of this year to finish the knitted band around the edge.  To be fair, I only worked on the band intermittently and only in the winter – when the rest of the afghan could be warming my lap in the process.  The unending nature of the band around an afghan this size (that’s a queen sized bed it covers) meant that I had to take frequent breaks to avoid going out of my mind with boredom.

It is a generously-sized and very warm afghan.  After two years of quasi-use, I’m a little disappointed that it is showing wear in the form of fluffing and mild pilling, which suggests that it might not take to many washings (and afghans should be washable).

This was going to be a gift (but for whom, I never determined), but after using it for a few years – and having it show signs of use – I will likely keep it.  Unfortunately, the colors are not appealing to me.  Mind you, they are terrific colors, and I’m pleased at the way the afghan turned out but (as you can see by the bedspread), I prefer a different color palette.

New techniques (Finished Projects Installment) – Mitered corners!  I chose a band from one of the squares of the Great American Afghan book (one of the squares that I did not use for the precise reason of the band that I – at the time – did not want to tackle).  The straight sections of the band were attractive and easy, and the instructions for the mitered corners were OK – they only gave directions on knitting the corner, without direction on where to start the mitered corner.  I’m still not sure about that one.

Casting On – Fanciful Rose Afghan

Back at the afghans, again.  There’s a new baby in the family among the cousins, and both the yarn and pattern are terrific for a baby afghan.

I’ve knit this afghan several times, and used this specific yarn and color – it looks great, feels soft, and is easy to knit.

Pattern:  Fanciful Rose, from Leisure Arts, “Our Best Baby Afghans” book.  The book contains a number of lovely afghan patterns for baby, and is well worth the investment.

Yarn:  JoAnn’s Rainbow Classic, in color Blue Rainbow.  Unfortunately, the yarn is discontinued.  I purchased several afghans’ worth several years ago, and after this afghan (which uses two skeins), I have two skeins left, in color Rose.

Adjustments:  I made the afghan narrower than called for in the pattern by two repeats.  An adjustment to accommodate the yarn more than an issue with the pattern.

Minor Annoyances:  This yarn reminds me of annoyances I have with self-striping yarns — frequently, there is a “break” in the yarn which throws the pattern off.  In order to keep the pattern consistent, a quantity of yarn is wasted.  I recognize that this is what happens when you purchase mass-manufactured yarn, and that it’s simply part of the manufacturing process, but it is still annoying.  Yes, there was a break in this skein.

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The morning light makes the colors look grey – the color palate is a light blue
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Detail of the stitch pattern

Zig Zag Afghan Complete

Stopping point reached.  Not all leftover sock yarn was consumed (that would be either crazy, or obsessive, or both), but it reached a size where I thought that concept was well represented and the afghan would be useful.

Size is about 36″ x 60″ – big enough for a lap afghan, big enough for a nap afghan, but not big enough for a blanket (or for 2 people).  Because it is made from sock yarn, it’s not heavy, which works for me.

Pattern:  10-Stitch Zig Zag Afghan, by Frankie Brown

Adjustments:  I made it a 20 stitches and 20 rows, instead of 10.

Yarn Used:  Stash of leftover sock yarn (I used about 1/2 of my stash)

Theme: rainbow (more or less – you can see it, if you squint)

Zig Zag Afghan Complete 1 12-19-2015 (1024x576).jpgZig Zag Afghan Complete 2 12-19-2015 (1024x576).jpgLessons learned:  Stitch markers are important.  Even though this was an easy project, it was “easy” to get off count on the rows.

Goals:  Good “mindless knitting project” to get me through a stressful work period with two large projects on the burner.

Mediocre:  Stash buster project.  Yes, I managed to (nearly) use up 13 sets of leftover sock yarn, but the overall project has a very “patchwork” feel, which is not really to my taste.  So, +5 for using up yarn, plus an extra +1 because the size of the project tended to be “just right” to use up a particular color per panel, but -3 for the lack-of-matching= still worthwhile in the project completion department.

Update March 22, 2016:  I use this afghan a lot more than I expected.  It is lightweight (because of the sock yarn) and airy (because of the garter-stitch giving it loft), and just right for a lap afghan.   I tend to be warm all the time, so I don’t need a heavy blanket when curling up with a book (or with knitting), but sometimes, a bit of afghan on the lap is nice.