Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Traditional Granny Afghan

It's done! I have finished my granny afghan. This was not my favorite project to work on, as there were pitfalls and annoyances along the way. But now that I have finished making it, I feel better about it every day.

So grab something hot to drink (I have my tea), and let me tell you the story of my traditional granny afghan!

It all started back in early January when I spent a morning at Hobby Lobby, perusing yarn. I'm probably an irritating customer, what with the way I spread yarn out all over the floor in the yarn aisle, looking for the perfect combination of colors. People probably can't wait until I just get the heck out of there already.

Choosing the yarn is one of the best parts of starting a new project and I think people ought to understand that. Nobody really seemed to mind, but I do think stores which sell yarn should all have big open spaces to try out colors together; so far I have only seen this in small, independent yarn shops.

I ended up with a lot of yarn. It was all worsted-weight acrylic, most of it in the Hobby Lobby I Love This Yarn house brand, with a few skeins of Vanna's Choice, for shades I couldn't find in the ILTY range. I wanted to use tough, inexpensive yarn for this project because the blanket would get lots of use. My small Bears play with blankets very frequently, and they can be hard on them

I wanted bright, vibrant colors which would stand out against my main color, a dark blue. This blanket was intended for use in our family room, where the couch and recliner chair are upholstered in dark blue chenille. At home, I added assorted small bits of worsted acrylic yarn I had left over from other projects, and I had quite a wide spectrum when all was said and done.


Though I only photographed my assortment with one skein of the main blue color, I actually purchased three of them that day, thinking it was enough to get me started and that I'd just get more as I needed it. Frustratingly, it didn't work out that way, as I'll discuss more later...

I started making individual five-round granny squares. My plan had been to stitch them all together into a giant blanket after they were made. I had originally planned to make, I think, 146 of them, to achieve a certain size. It was going to be big. I got to work immediately after I bought the yarn because I had a LOT of squares to make. I used Bunny Mummy's granny square tutorial, which I also used for my giant granny square.

I liked making the squares. It was really fun to come up with combinations of colors and to play around with darks and lights. I wanted this blanket to look very scrappy, like it really had been made by somebody's "granny" a long time ago. And making granny squares is very addictive, especially when you get good at them; I was flying through the yarn.



  

I loved making them, but I also loved laying them out as they were made. I would move them around like tiles, deciding which ones looked best together. I was still planning to make this blanket out of small squares stitched directly together, remember, so this seemed important. Soon, I had stacks and stacks of these little squares.



When it got warmer out, I even took my show outdoors, hooking on the patio as my small Bears and I whiled away the sunny afternoons in late winter. Ah, bliss.



And then I realized something: three skeins of my main color might not be enough. I realized this around the time I had fifty squares made. I panicked at this point because I had heard through the Ravelry grapevine that Hobby Lobby was possibly discontinuing their I Love This Yarn worsted acrylic, with plans to bring it back under a new manufacturer sometime in the future.

I checked our local store, and they had almost nothing left, and neither did their website. My own color was completely out of stock in both places. I asked for help on Ravelry and had a very helpful offer from the lovely Kashi (Ravelry and bloggy friend) to check in her store where she lives in Iowa so that she could send me a skein; alas, they were all out in Iowa too.

Silly me, I should have just bought a lot more yarn while they had it, but I didn't know they would discontinue the whole line. They really should have hung a sign to warn people. I am sure that would have been bad for their business, but this was becoming bad for my mental health. I really worried about it, especially after all the work I'd already done, not to mention the money spent.

So I revised my plan: now I would make only eighty squares, but I would put them together in blocks of four, with several rounds of color around each block, and then sew the blocks together. It would look very similar to Lucy of Attic 24's gorgeous Big Blanket in its design. The blanket would still be large, but I would not need as much of the main color. It seemed like a fine plan.

When I had all eighty squares made, I spent most of an afternoon doing my tile job with them. There were so many to play with and I loved every second of playing with them.


Now I needed to stitch them together in fours to make blocks, and then do a few rounds of color around each block, with the blue as the outer round. I had twenty of these blocks when I was done.


Then I was going to stitch the big blocks together. But I soon realized I didn't have enough yarn to do that either. So I taught myself Lucy's join-as-you-go method, which was actually very easy; I'm glad I learned it and I know I will be using it again.

I chose to do the joining this way because I thought it would save yarn, and it did. I was still frustrated, though, because this was yet another change to my plans and I didn't particularly want to learn a new technique just then. I like to learn new things without so much duress, ordinarily.

And the shenanigans don't stop there, for when I started the JAYG I realized that I STILL didn't have enough of the blue color to join all twenty of my blocks, so I had to jettison five of them and make my blanket with only fifteen, in a three-by-five configuration. Now I have five lonesome blocks hanging out on my desk/crafting workspace. But I digress...

Once the blocks were joined, I could start my border. I never understood why people bothered with edgings or borders; it always seemed to me that they were superfluous. But Lucy's blog, as well as others like Jacquie/Bunny Mummy's, showed me otherwise. Blanket borders are wonderful.

For the border on my blanket, I chose to do one round of the main color, which just about finished off my supply of it. Then I did six more rounds in other colors from the blanket. For that first round using my main blue color, I followed Bunny Mummy's tutorial for making a flat edge on granny squares. I also used this technique for the first round of each of the small blocks of four squares, just to keep them flatter too.

I finished the whole thing last Thursday afternoon, at the end of our book-on-CD session. I was thrilled! The blanket looked pretty good and my small Bears immediately started using it, wrapping themselves in it on the couch. Since then, it's been used almost constantly.

Want to see it? Here's a whole bunch of photos!








What do you think? I like it. The Bear says it reminds him of millefiori glass. That's a little fanciful, but I see what he means. Each small square does look a little bit like a flower, which makes me excited to try one of the more flowery granny square patterns.

Here are some closer-up photos of the more technical aspects of making this blanket, since I did a few things which were new to me. First, here's a photo of my JAYG seams; it took a little while to get the hang of this method, but it really wasn't bad at all. I think this will be the go-to method for me now.


And here's the slip-stitching I did for the original joins of the small squares into fours. I don't know that I'll join this way again in the future, unless there's a good reason not to JA(I)G; this actually makes my hands hurt while I hold the squares sandwiched together for stitching. It did come out nice and neat, though. The little ridge is kind of attractive to me.


This photo shows how the flat-border method works; you would do this at the juncture of two granny square corners. It's a 2dctog in the right-hand corner and 1dc in the left-hand one. This reduces the number of stitches therefore keeping the border from getting too bunchy or wavy, which is what would happen if you just did a regular granny cluster (3dc) in each space.


Can you see in the above photo? Between those two turquoise clusters, you can see the 2dctog/1dc combination in the darker blue.

The blanket actually ended up being quite large, certainly big enough for our TV-watching and fort-building needs. I tried it on the GB's bed, and it could even be used as a coverlet.


She wasn't actually that pleased with my experiment and asked me soon after if I would "please put my owls and head-chops [hedgehogs] blanket [her usual quilt] back on my bed now?" Yes, ma'am. Of course.

And how about a picture of me with my blanket? Getting daring now, posting a picture of my whole face. Please excuse the pasty, exhausted look; I was lying awake all night thinking about my blanket!


And that's my traditional granny afghan. We've been through a lot together. We've laughed, we've cried, we've even done a little bit of swearing. But in the end, we're good friends. We've shared a true adventure.

Here are some stats for this blanket:
  • Finished blanket size: 64 inches long by 42 inches wide
  • Approx. 4000 yards of worsted acrylic yarn
  • Size I/9 (5.5 mm) Susan Bates Silvalume crochet hook
  • 15 blocks, each 13 by 13 inches
  • 3-inch wide border
  • Began January 6; finished March 21.
Go make one! Make yourself a funky, vintage-y granny afghan and show it to me when you're done.

28 comments:

  1. Wow and SUPER WOW.. you made a gorgeous blanket, there, my friend! I'm getting the granny bug now. And thanks for showing us your gorgeous face, it's lovely to know who you are reading! ((hugs)), Teresa :-)

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  2. That is just amazing! Your colors are wonderful! Most of the details on how you had to work around your orignial plan are lost on me since I don't crochet - but wish I did! My grandma made an authentic "granny square" coverlet like this and we wore it out for her - snuggling beneath with her little dog too!

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  3. That's a lovely blanket. You deserve to be proud of it.

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  4. That's a lovely blanket. You deserve to be proud of it.

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  5. Love the colors! You should be very proud, as afghans take a while to make. Great job!

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  6. Jennifer,

    Your blanket is beautiful!! All that hard work and effort. And love I daresay.

    You should be very proud. I am in awe of your crafty talents!!

    Leanne xx

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  7. Jennifer, it looks great! Way to go!! You have inspired me to finish a few projects I've started...It's beautiful. :)

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  8. Jennifer, this is one of the prettiest blankets I have ever seen. You have a great eye for color and I can't figure out why your stitches looks just a little different than most people's. Whatever you do it is perfect and I love your stitching. You should do a tutorial, I would love to see how you crochet, the squares are really nice and your stitches are nice and unique. I hope you take that as a compliment because I think you do great work. I like your photo too, I like to see what all of my bloggy friends look like. :)

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  9. It's so lovely! I hope you are really proud of it because it's very, very nice. Your squares are so neat and I notice that you don't put a chain stitch between each cluster the way I do. I think this makes for a neater, tighter square with smaller holes. I must try that method! Anyway, it's gorgeous. x

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  10. Oh Jennifer...
    From one crochet lover to another...kudos...Well done!
    I just made my granddaughter a granny square sweater...too cute!!
    Lovely blog...

    Cheers!
    Linda :o)

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  11. So beautiful. And I loved the unwinding of the story. I love that you think planning and buying materials for a new project is the best part. Totally!

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  12. I get excited crocheting squares too. Makes me feek like I made more progress.

    It is a gorgeous afghan! Plus you have to be running out of a color. Thats part of the challenge and love of it. My grandma made the squares out of leftover yarn.

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  13. Jennifer, that is one stunning blanket!! I love your colours, they have that real vintage feel. Well done for sticking with it and not giving up when you hit all those road blocks, you will treasure this blanket for the rest of your life :)

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  14. Hi Jennifer...loved looking through your blog, new reader here! I've nominated you for the Liebster award you can check it out on my blog here

    http://yoursmineandours2012.blogspot.com/2013/03/liebster-award.html

    Keep up the great work!

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  15. Hi Jennifer, this really is a gorgeous blanket....you have inspired me to want to start another blanket....it truly is beautiful and such a happy blanket.
    Jacquie x

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  16. That looks beautiful! I love how bright the colors are!

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  17. Awesome blanket! It is beautiful, and you did such a great job making the changes you needed to due to the yarn shortage. You were a much better sport about it than I would have ever been! I'm sure your family will get many years of enjoyment out of your "owls and head-chops" blanket! :-)

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  18. Wow! That is amazing. I was enjoying the first pictures of just the yarn... and then it just got better and better! Good for you - what a beautiful blanket you've created:)

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  19. Oh its so pretty. Just gorgeous colors. It may have been an ordeal with the yarn issues but you sure were a creative problem solver and really made it work!

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  20. I love it, especially your border colors for each of the squares. So much yarn drama, though - how frustrating!

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  21. Acabei de conhecer o seu blog e achei maravilhoso. Me visite:http://algodaotaodoce.blogspot.com.br/
    Siga-me e pegue o meu selinho!!!

    Obrigada.

    Beijos Marie.

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  22. Oh that is a beautiful blanket! You did an awesome job :)

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  23. Your blanket is beautiful! I love it and the colours you have chosen are great.
    M xxxx

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  24. How lovely to see you! What a truly beautiful Afghan and a great series of photos showing how it was constructed. Lovely colour choices. It does look like stained glass windows.
    Carol xx

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  25. Gorgeous blanket and glad I have found your blog ☺

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  26. CUANTO TRABAJO QUEDARON PRECIOSOS!!!!!!
    SALUDITOS

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Thank you for leaving a comment. It's so good to hear from you! I don't always have time to reply but I try to answer questions when I can.

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