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Throwback: A Tale of Two Afghans

It was the best of times.  It was the worst of times.  A tale of two afghans -- made of much love and Red Heart Acrylic yarn.

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When I went back to college for my junior year, I had a really hard time of things.  My new boyfriend (that would be Tom) and I went to different schools -- and I missed him terribly.  My old college distractions suddenly seemed empty and shallow.  So I decided to crochet an afghan for my boyfriend's birthday in December.

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It was 1979.  Knitting shops with nice yarn . . . just didn't exist yet.  The best I could do was Red Heart acrylic yarn from the drug store (in late-70s-groovy-earth-tones).  I picked up a few random skeins and just . . . started crocheting.

No pattern.  No swatching.  No plan.  I just chained a bunch of stitches (enough, I hoped, to cover Tom's bed) and started in, changing colors whenever I felt like it.  I worked on that blanket every chance I got for the whole semester.  (Here's a photo of me, busy with the afghan, somewhere in the middle.  Yeah.  It got a whole lot bigger.)

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I finished it in time for Tom's birthday.  But - my god - it was big enough to cover a king-size bed.  He loved it.  And we have it still -- in all its huge, acrylic glory.  (It is Very Heavy.)

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Shortly after I finished Tom's afghan . . . I made the second one for my parents.  Although I don't remember all the particulars, I am certain I started off with yarn leftover from Tom's.

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Again, no pattern -- and very little advance planning.  This time around, I just made a bunch of granny squares.  (I think I learned an important lesson about portability from my experience with Tom's afghan.)  Same colors, pretty much.

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This past weekend as I was helping my Mom clear out her closet, we came across the afghan - stored high up on a shelf.  She and my Dad had used it for years.  I remember my kids taking naps curled up in it.  It lived a good, long life in my Mom and Dad's living room.  When I pulled it down, we got a little lost in the nostalgia of it all.  My Mom was hestitant to let it go -- but decided to give it back to me.  It's in my family room now, and I think I'll take it up north to our cottage in the spring where it will continue to get plenty of use (and better match the color scheme and cast-off-decor "theme").

Reunited.  Two afghans made of love -- and Red Heart.


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Old afghans live forever. It's definitely what you'd call shabby chic and will be a wonderful to have around to keep you cozy and warm in the North, plus it holds so many memories! I still have the afghan my grandmother made for our wedding, 36 years ago, it is.


So great! I have one I won at a church fair and it weighs about 100 lbs. I think. But it's fabulous. Happy Monday!


Your afghans are terrific! I love the 70s colors, your crocheting-without-a pattern approach, and that they still look good. That Red Heart is indestructible stuff!
P.S. I think we had that same couch in our "recreation room" (family room in 70s parlance :-)


I have several Red Heart afghans from the 60s & 70s-some made by me, some made by my grandmother. They are full of memories and never wear out!


The memories tied up in those afghans are what make them really special. Because (and I say this with LOTS of LOVE) it sure isn't the acrylic 1970s yarn. LOL


The cabin is the perfect home for your afghan! I crocheted a zig-zag afghan in similar colors for my mom. Wasn't that acrylic yarn yucky...and yet we made some treasures with it!

Cheryl S.

Sweet! Nothing like being able to wrap yourself up in such nice memories.


Memories of 1970s colors! Either of those afghans would fit right into our circa-1976 decor of brown, orange, and gold.

Gale Zucker (she shoots sheep shots)

aawwww love this. Gotta give it to the acrylic afghans for hanging in there for decades. I still use one my great grandmother made in the 1940's. I think some of the yarn is bulletproof!


one good thing about those acrylic afghans is that they do last forever! I crocheted a ripple one for Marc in early 1981 (when I was sad to leave him behind for an internship in California) ... five or six shades of brown to match his decor at the time. We still have it!


I have been reading your blog for years and have never commented or let you know in any way that I was a fan. This post moved me to tears, because I have had a similar experience. I crocheted from a very young age, using my baby sitting money to buy my Red Heart. When I went to college, I had a full scholarship, but almost no pocket money. I would use my meal plan to buy meals for friends to get yarn money. In my last two years of college, I worked at a five & dime type place and my discount allowed me to purchase a skein most pay days. I made an attempt at a ripple afghan, but had no idea how to do the texture. Accordingly, my yellow, green, orange and blue (late 70's) afghan is way larger than a king sized bed. It is hideous and looks like it might have been finished yesterday. The memories are priceless and every time I look at a skein of expensive wool, which I now have in abundance, I remember teen me, so happy to get a new skein of Red Heart.


"Cast-off decor"... love it. That afghan will be perfect! I have one or two of similar color & design that my grandma made for me. Perfect for curling up on the couch. I used to buy Red Heart at the grocery store when I was a senior in high school! I remember standing in the aisle, serious contemplating coordinating colors.

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