Monday, November 16, 2009

The Sampler Afghan - Three Years in the Making

History of the Afghan:
  • Thanksgiving 2006. Purchase the book 60 Easy-To-Knit Pattern Stitches Combine to Create Sampler Afghans, Leaflet 932.
  • Fall 2006. Purchased multiple (30-40, I cannot even remember at this point... WAY more than I needed) balls of Lion Brand Wool-Ease Worsted Weight Yarn (Color: Fisherman).
  • Cast on Christmas 2006. I was afraid of cables, and wanted a project to teach myself more complex stitch patterns. I started out making one square a day. I learned that cables were easy... but a complex multi-cable and bobble square was so time consuming (>5 min a row) and requred a lot of attentiont hte pattern that I stalled.
  • January 2009. I break out the afghan, realize I am so close to 20 squares... and abandon the 30 square idea.
  • April. Square 18 completed.
  • June. 19 squraes done... one left
  • July. Replaced a square that I determined had a too large gauge. one more to go (again).
  • August. Moving. Should not work on afghan, I should work on packing/unpacking.
  • September-November. Start the knit-a-thon. Didn't want to make squares for myself when I could be helping the homeless.
  • November 2009. Finished the 20th square. Constructed the afghan!

As every knitter knows, when you make a flat piece that has stockinette borders, the work will curl up. If you are working with 100% wool, this is easy to block with steam or water. It does not work as well in a wool blend, and this wool-ease is only 20% wool. Therefore, when arranging the squares, I wanted to ensure that curled edges ended up in the interior or the afghan.

When assembling the afghan, I started seeming the outer edges, and only tacking the corners of the inner pieces. I wanted there to be some structure when I tried to deal with the curled edges.

To ensure that edges were flush during seaming, and that there would be minimal puckering in the final blanket, I used safety pins to facilitate the seaming on the curled edges.

Pinned squares (right) and finished stitched squares (left)

Thankfully these curled pieces stitched up without any trouble:

The squares are all stitched together, now to just weave in those loose ends.
All of those 40+ loose ends...

When doing the charity afghan, I wove in my ends as I made the squares, and then used a long piece of yarn to stitch them together. I still ended up with a lot of loose ends to weave in at the end. Since I was initially going to crochet a boarder around each square (fail), I had purposefully left long tails on each square. I did not weave in any ends in any of the 20 squares. I ended up using these ends to stitch the blanket together, doing all of my weaving in at the end. I did not need to use any additional yarn to stitch the blanket together.

The removed loose ends.

My new afghan is so cozy! I am itching to start another one (stupidly). This is the second time an afghan has taken me about 3 years to complete. I just get bored in the middle of the construction. I am so happy with the final product that I am willing to risk boredom again!

Now I need to use up all of this leftover fisherman's wool...


  1. looks so cozy! great work. Which is your favorite square?

  2. The Tree of Life Square is my favorite :)

  3. yeah I was gonna say that one stands out the best.

  4. Hi, I have ordered this book from Amazon but it is going to take 4-6 weeks to arrive (I live in Australia). I would like to start churning out some squares straight away and adding to them when the book arrives. Can you please tell me how what the average square size is supposed to be? Sharon

  5. The squares in the afghan are approximately 12 inches square. I found I had some variety with the squares in the book, but it was easy enough to organize the overall afghan so slightly wider squares were in the same column.

    Happy Knitting!

  6. This looks wonderful, I loved reading the story on the progression. The square that is most *standing out* to me is The Tree of Life. Awesome!

    -- Jody from Wisconsin

  7. Jody, That was a fun square to make (even though I made it twice). My only regret with the whole project is that I wish I had learned how to create charts out of written patterns sooner, it would have made the more complex patterns so much easier!

  8. hey i just bought that and i bought the great american aran afghan i cant decide ugh...i know its def gonna be a labor of love..i wanted to thank you again for all the help with creating my own charts from graph paper. That Sample square blanket project is going well, slow but dream is to knit this aran one..3yrs huh? your blanket is lovely..

    1. It only took 3 years because I kept stopping working on it. It could have been completed in a month if I were working consistently on it. (Each square took ~1 day)

    2. oh my gosh you must be a speedy knitter.being new i really had no idea how long such a big project like this still a newbie..and though i haven't knitted a 12 inch square before remember back a bit when i asked for your help with how to chart my own picture from graph paper?? well even still i only have 6 blocks complete.i do have at least 4 or 5 projects going on too..i told myself no more new projects till i finish the gonna need a whole lot of these 32 stitches by 50 plus row squares to cover a queen size bed..i had wondered when i begin the aran blanket how long it would take..i was guessing 6 months to a yr..heck i been working on the same checkered scarf for my husband since this past november lol..i was thinking out of all the blogs on knitting ive seen, yours is the only one i been too over and over again..i just found a free software that will give me knitting fonts, graph paper thats made specifically for the stitch and row gauge from the swatch plus you can color the graph paper if you want to make a colored knitted picture or a solid color raised picture..i hope you dont mind but ill probably have questions for you when i start the aran block blanket..
      have a great day..

    3. I never mind answering questions! I started this blog because I thought that some things from my own knitting experiences could help other people.

      Having a lot of projects going at one time will slow things down. If you get bored with the afghan, try making one square in between each of your other knitting projects. Then you can have satisfaction of making progress.

      Good luck!

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