Afghan: A Blanket By Any Other Name . . .

For me, it doesn’t get much better than finding a treasure that is both handmade AND vintage. The idea that an item is a tangible expression of affection, made by someone who is no longer living, gives that item a special resonance. Of course, those makers DO still live on because they created something beautiful that is still cherished by the living.

I think it’s especially neat to find handmade afghans. An afghan is a crocheted or knitted throw or blanket, made by hand, often as a gift. Think about the symbolism of receiving such a gift, made by someone who loves you, and sort of wrapping yourself up in that love!

Not everyone appreciates these beautiful objects—I find a LOT of vintage knit and crocheted blankets at garage sales and estate sales. It seemed sort of sad to me at first, as if here were these items, made with love, full of love, but floating around without anyone to bestow that love upon.

But then I realized that I wasn’t the only one who appreciates the old-school charm of these throws—I’ve found “forever” homes for a great many of them.

These are some of the beautiful vintage afghans I’ve had the pleasure to know, all handmade, all special.

I have afghans made by my grandmothers and even made one myself, in my only real attempt at crocheting. Do you have any in your home?

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48 thoughts on “Afghan: A Blanket By Any Other Name . . .

    • Exactly. The ones I have that were made by my grandmothers are not as splashy as the ones I posted here but I know whose hands crafted them and that makes them special!

  1. They are lovely, Kerry. And you’re right: the thought that they were handmade long ago by someone who cared, and sat and made them — that should make them even more valuable.

    • Two of the ones I posted are made from knitted squares that are then crocheted together. I think that’s a fine way to use up scraps of yarn from other projects–you could do that!

  2. You have a beautiful collection of afghans. I have one that was made by my grandmother. I have knit three for gifts 🙂

    • So you’re carrying on the tradition–that’s great! I don’t keep all of these afghans, truth to tell. I sell vintage linens on Etsy so many of these have gone on to new homes, where they are fully appreciated!

  3. No, I don’t have any afghans. My mother didn’t knit or crochet and neither did my grandmother. It’s a wonder that I even attempted to knit (since it’s not in my genes). I knitted two sweaters that turned out pretty well when I was a teenager but no afghans. But have not knitted much in years. I love the bright colors and patterns of yours.

    • No yarn in your genetic structure! And, yet, if you could manage to knit sweaters, you could certainly make an afghan. But you have other important things to do!

  4. So beautiful… My kids were gifted an afghan each at birth by a dear friend of mine. They still sleep with them every night. 🙂 My friend also made us a queen size one out of all her yarn scraps knowing we would just adore it. It hangs colorfully over the back of our plush velvet sofa and is the show piece of our living room. Afghans make m feel warm and loved. Like a big hug.

    • Yes, a big hug, indeed! And this is a place where I don’t mind acrylic yarn at all–I like an afghan that can be USED and thrown into the washer and dryer.

    • I like the ones that are made of knit squares that are then crocheted together. It seems to me a very good way to use up odds and ends of yarn. I hope you’ll make many afghans in the future!

    • I thought of you as I wrote this since you’ve basically covered your couch in a big afghan! I do love that last one I pictured, too–the maker had a fine sense of color and was an expert at putting everything together well.

  5. Yes! I have an afghan my grandmother made me about 45 years ago! And I have another one, that’s a color wheel that a favorite aunt made me about 30 years ago. I might just have to blog about them. Thanks for summoning up happy memories for me.

  6. My mother had a sister who was metally and phycially diabled but she could crochet so beautifully!!! I have several of her bed covers. They are not afghans but solely made to look pretty on the beds. They have patterns with leafs, doves and flowers. ATM they are stored in a closet, since they need little repairs. I am learning crochet and I will love repairing them.
    I think your crocheting is pretty neat! Thanks for the lovely post Kerry, xo Johanna

  7. I have no heirloom afghans – or throws as they are called here – but I do have a house full of crochet or knitted ones made by me over many years……… which makes me realise some of them are definitely heading for the ‘antique’ label 😀 I also make as gifts to ensure my family and friends will be warm – and decorative too. Which now makes me wonder if some end up given away because there are too many in a house to keep due to a family member churning them out ceaselessly.

    • That’s one issue for those of us who feel compelled to make things–we make a LOT of things and then what? Just how many crocheted throws or pairs of earrings or woven scarves do our family members need? It’s how I started selling candy on Etsy–I enjoyed making it but made way too much to eat! When you make your throws, you’re carrying on a tradition of combining the practical and beautiful–even if they end up in strangers’ hands someday, you can bet they’ll be loved!

  8. I have something that my mother made when she and her sisters rediscovered crocheting some 30 years ago. It has the colors of a Hudson Bay blanket with some brown added and everyone who comes to stay with me in the winter gets to use it because it’s so warm. It makes you feel really anchored in the bed and it comes out in the coldest parts of the winter. Because it was one of Mom’s first efforts, it doesn’t lie completely flat. When she offered it to me, she laid it out and pointed out its flaws, but I loved its colors and weight–not to mention its size, like a coverlet for a full bed. My mother is very fierce in defense of those she loves–my brother and I joke “You been loved by that woman, you KNOW you been loved”–so the idea of being wrapped up in love, beautiful and flawed as we all are, seems particularly appropriate. Thanks for your post and the pictures of crocheted love!

    • What a nice story! Your mom sounds pretty amazing and I’m sure you’ll always treasure that blanket, for so many reasons! I LOVE the colors of the traditional Hudson Bay blankets and have several of the blankets around for the dead of winter. I’ve been meaning to try and incorporate those bands on color into something I weave . . .

  9. So cheerful and bright! I have a few made by my Grammy, but what is so special is I now have the hooks the she taught me to crochet with

    • Hmmm . . . do you are ask her? Or maybe you don’t want to know. That’s a problem with things we make for children–by the time they’re old enough to appreciate the item, it’s often too late. But, anyway, I thought you didn’t do any kind of craft work? Isn’t that what you say?

      • I DID go through a crochet period. I made a wonderful coat for my son when he was about one which made him look like a woolly bear. I loved it, and have always regretted that when he out-grew it I gave it away to a friend who didn’t appreciate it and rarely put her son in it. It was such a labour of love. As to the blanket… I think she did use it with her twins. So all is not lost.

  10. I have knit two that I use. Sadly, I started two crochet afghans that lie abandoned. One is a granny square that I put on my list to finish this year, but haven’t touched it yet. I wish I had started on a ripple instead because it takes more of an effort for me to start the individual squares and then sew them together later.
    I walk by a house that has a traditional granny square afghan displayed over a chair or sofa by the front window, and it looks so homey.

    • The one afghan I made had squares that had to be crocheted together after they were all made–I HATED that part and procrastinated for a very long time! I hope you eventually get yours done!

  11. Oh my gosh, you hit a note with me Kerry. My dear grandmother would use her leftover yarn to make afghans. They really would fall under folk art. I love them for what they represent and they are incredibly warm. I’m not sure anyone else would find the beauty in them but I know the hands that made them and I love them.

    • I definitely agree about the folk art quality of many of these throws–the way the makers chose colors, even if they were using up scraps, shows a real knack! And “knowing the hands that made them” always makes them beautiful.

  12. I’ve not looked at my afghans in years … they are lovingly packed away, made by friends 30 years ago to celebrate the birth of my son.
    I’ll have to pull them out and look at them. Thank you

  13. I have a beautifully crocheted Bavarian quilt/knee blanket that I won via Dani’s blog. It’s gorgeous. The pattern looks quite different, depending on the side you are looking at. I’ll have to find the link and share it with you. I love it.

      • I know! Can you believe it? I was so excited to win and cherish having it my home. It’s interesting thinking about it having another life in the years to come, too. Thanks for that perspective.

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