Not for the first time, nor the last, I am behind in Christmas preparations.

I make afghans.  The afghan making began on January 1, 1995.  My daughter was a senior in high school and I began that night to make them for her closest friends as good luck gifts as they started college.  By the end of August,  I had all thirteen ready to go.

I didn’t allow each of the friends to choose the colors they wanted.  There were limits to how many afghans in red and black or blue and white I could tolerate.  I chose colors and patterns that I thought the recipient would like.  It didn’t seem that anyone was disappointed.  I did, however, make each to suit the height of the recipient.  My children have an inordinate number of friends who are over six feet tall so some of those afghans got quite large.

The afghans are treasured.  Sixteen years later, some of those in the first batch are being used for the children of that high school class of 1995.  I am self-taught so my crocheting technique is sub-par but none of my work has fallen apart yet.  Their value is in the fulfillment of the promise they represented when they were first given.  Going off to college is an exciting and frightening prospect.  My oldest daughter and her friends had become a tight unit when they met in middle school.  The afghans were a symbol that, although they were not going to be seeing each other everyday, they were still tied to each other through shared memories and experiences.  They, and their parents, have still not recovered from the “Svenson” report, the geography assignment they had in the eighth grade.  More than a few of us remember hearing from the teacher who taught advanced chemistry that our children did not have the ability to form a thought process. (Not news to us). The afghans are tangible mementos of the times they enjoyed or, at least, can laugh about now.

Afghans are nothing more than yarn tied in knots.  But, as one of the friends once remarked, “how is it that something full of holes can be so warm?”  That’s a pretty good description of friendship, too.

Since then, high school and college friends have received new afghans as bridal shower gifts and for new babies.  Now, I am trying to finish one for the man in my middle child’s life; apparently, she has decided he has the staying power to merit one.

I am about one-third of the way finished.  Since he is 6′ 3″, I have a lot of work left so I will not be reading or typing for a few days.  I hope that those of you who are finished with Christmas preparations will spare a thought for the rest of us.  I hope that those of you who are in the same boat as I will find that every hour is now made up of eighty minutes.

DISCLAIMER: None of my afghans come close to looking like those pictured.

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  1. Jose Ignacio says:

    I love your definition of friendship and the symbolism with afghans, Beth.

  2. Very nice post about afghans for gifts and the symbol they carry! Lucky all the people who got them from you!

  3. Beth says:

    Linus and his blanket, in the Peanuts cartoon, says it all. No matter which gender or if they are in their teen, twenties, or thirties, the afghans are met with the same enthusiasm. Simple gifts can be used, not put away for a special occasion. I use acrylic yarn, safe to throw in the washer and dryer, so they are user friendly. An afghan creates an immediate comfort zone.

    Parents worry about their children’s choice in friends. I have been very fortunate that they have all chosen to spend their time and entrust their secrets to people who are just like them. None have married yet but, based on their histories, I don’t think I will have any worries then either.

    I am lucky that I have so many young people whose company I enjoy.

  4. Lil Gluckstern says:

    Lovely blog, and what a nice person you are to do all that work. I thought you had done the little curlicues,and braids and things and was very impressed. The nice thing about crocheting afghans for me is that it doesn’t seem to matter how they come out. I once did a giant granny square of leftover yarns, and everyone comments on it. Little do they know 🙂

    This is way better than skate and shark-ewww

    • Beth says:

      I save yarn because I want to do the leftover yarns piece because all the different colors look so good. But I don’t do a good job adding yarn unless it is at the end of the row and I hate weaving in the ends.

      The giant granny square is the second type I do. I love the way they look bu,t for the tall guys, if it is 6′ long it is also 6 feet wide.
      Yrsa’s post about the fish is one of my favorites. People have to wash their clothes twice if they share space with it but it is a tradition no one is willing to admit they would love to give up.

  5. Sarah says:

    Afghans look beautiful. I can knit but not crochet and my sister-in-law and I once had a serious falling out when she tried to teach me. Afghans look like they are worth a try – how easy is it to learn?

    • Beth says:

      Sarah, like Lil with her leftover yarn piece, you are way ahead of me because you can knit. I decided to go with crochet because it is more forgiving than knit. If I make a mistake and don’t recognize it until I am on the next row, I can fix it, I am not suggesting that this is an approved crochet method but it works for me. A dropped stitch in a piece that is being knitted requires the whole thing be unraveled.

      Crochet works for me because it doesn’t require two hands. I am overwhelmingly right hand dominant. I could never make my left hand do what my right hand has
      to do.

      As to how easy it is to learn, if I can do it anyone can. Do you remember those tests we had to take in high school or college which showed a figure in one
      dimention with solid and broken lines? We had to choose what it would look like in three dimentions if it was folded along the dotted lines? I was hopeless at that so following the directions in a book was a problem. The internet came to the rescue. There are any number of You Tube offerings in how to do each stitch. I just played them over and over again till I finally got it right.

  6. Condorena says:

    You never realize sometimes that a legacy may be created with your work. When the fruits of your labor and the idea behind them remain in existence and are appreciated so greatly you know you have left your mark.

    Crochet your fingers to the bone if need be and enjoy it. We can always review you older posts if we need something to read 🙂

  7. Beth says:

    . In January 2002, five months after graduating from high school, middle child fell while skiing, lacerating her liver, kidney, and spleen. She was in the trauma unit in Portland, Maine, a two hour trip from home. Two of her friends made the trip to see her ( blessings on Christine and Mike), decorating her room, and doing more for her than medical care. When she was transferred to Boston, another friend (blessings on Stacy, too) went to the hospital everyday. When she came home, I had a pile of young people on the floor almost every night, watching movies, while she drifted in and out of sleep. They got us through the worst period in my life and what I hope will prove to be the worst time in her’s.

    When I thanked them for being so supportive they all replied that she would do the same for them and she would have kept them laughing. I hope when they use their afghans they think of every stitch as a thank you from me.

    The afghan I am working on now carries two messages. It acknowledges how important he is to her and it lets both of them know that I am happy that they have found each other.

  8. Beth says:

    Many of the people reading this may have heard of Project Linus. I forgot to put it in yesterday’s post even though I mentioned the Peanuts character.. Project Linus has chapters most places in most countries. The program collects handmade afghans that have been donated for children who are in hospitals for long periods. Many places have expanded the lists for children who have had to go into homeless shelters for a variety of reasons. Some police departments/fire departments have them for children who have been forced out of their homes before they could grab their possessions.

    Afghans can be knit or crochet with relatively small stitches so IV lines don’t get tangled in the big holes. They have to be new. Quilts are also welcomed. The point of Project Linus is to provide children with a physically comforting gift that also tells the recipient that someone who does not know you cares about your well-being. Local chapters of Project Linus can be found on the internet. Some states or chapters have different guidelines for making the items.

    I realize we are very close to Christmas now but if anyone has any finished items looking for a home or wants to plan ahead for next year, most churches have Giving Trees. People agree to provide a gift to a child or teenager who would not be receiving anything. Some parishes have homeless shelters in their area that need underwear, socks, mittens/gloves, hats, and scarves for their guests.
    When parents register their families with the group that is organizing the giving, they rarely ask for anything for themselves, not realized that children are worried by that especially if the source of the gifts is the man in the red suit. If you have any on hand, I am sure there are charities that will be more than happy to receive them. Teenagers really love them.

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