I’ve been crocheting afghans for years as gifts or requests, but I never thought to look beyond the infinite skeins of yarn or countless hours of crochet hook-twisting to see what was behind the name or explore (beyond the obvious) why they’re more than just a throw!
What’s behind the name?
I did a search and found this definition: Afghan first appeared in English usage in the late 1700’s as a name for the Pashtuns of eastern and southern Afghanistan. That country is known for its distinctive textiles, colorful carpets, and lustrous karakul wool, so it’s sort of logical that “afghan” was picked up to refer to knitted or crocheted blankets.
Makes perfect sense to me. That “lustrous karakul wool” sounds yummy and is probably expensive. I don’t think I’ve ever made a wool afghan. Instead, I use more economical (and perhaps durable) blends that if something happens to it, I can probably find the same color/weight and replace it. I work on them while I watch TV, so it’s easily done. I’ve made afghans from solid color yarn, nubbed yarn, variegated yarn, and two different or contrasting strands at the same time. For structure and stability, I like to double-crochet using two strands at once. It’s not a fancy or difficult stitch, but they are sturdy, warm, and do the job they’re meant to do.
Warm and Soft
Afghans warm up the look of a room. They invite you in to relax and make yourself comfortable. Home décor magazines frequently display one casually draped over the back of a couch or the end of a bed. Better yet, is when you to cozy up under one while you watch a movie or read a book. It just can’t be beat; if you have a furry friend, they may want to join you (another reason for making mine out of yarn that can be easily laundered).
In The Ghost Writer, Jenna is struggling to come to grips with a traumatic event in her life. What has just happened doesn’t seem real, and she can’t yet grasp the fact that the life she had yesterday no longer exists. While an afghan seems like an insignificant, trivial object at a time like this, it brings Jenna comfort when she needs it the most. Here’s a passage from the story to help put it in perspective.
Settled on the couch next to Viggo with the turquoise afghan spread over her legs, she pushed the button on the TV remote. “I have no idea what’s on this time of night, but let’s see what we can find.” Her mind was in a desperate search to find something that would pull her away from the tragedy that had been thrust upon her. Something not of this city, country, or time.
Until next time …