I ordered my first crochet afghan kit a few weeks ago and recently finished the project. There were definite pros and cons to working with a kit, but they didn’t end up being what I thought they would be. The kit I purchased was Western Sky Afghan, specifically by Herrschners. I have ordered yarn from them a number of times and been quite pleased with their service. The yarns seem of good quality for the price I am willing to pay as I am learning new things about crocheting. Here are some things I learned while working on this afghan kit:
1. Afghans tend to be on the small side. I have always had it in my mind that “afghan” is synonymous with “blanket.” I have made a few of my own, from scratch and always just made them to fit my vision. I have made a few baby afghans from patterns, and they were obviously baby size. However, I am guilty of not carefully visualizing how large the afghan in the kit was going to be, falling into the trap of thinking the photo was a close enough approximation. As it turns out, if I had stuck to the pattern, the afghan would have been barely larger than baby size. Thinking something must be wrong, I began looking at my books and patterns online. What I found was that unless otherwise specified for an exact, and larger, size, most patterns result in a “throw” that is designed to cover a lap.
2. The word “afghan” originally described such lap “throws” or rugs. It appears that the word afghan was introduced to the English language in the 1800’s, when Britain was flexing its muscle in the region. (I read some of this article of the detailed history, which implies that the current political affairs of the region are both nothing new and complicated by layers upon layers of power struggle.) Their troupes spent a lot of time there and many souvenir “throws” seem to have made their way back to England and became known as “afghans.” See all experts.com for their entry on afghans as blankets for a bit more explanation of the etymology of the word “afghan.”
3. Gauge is more important with a kit. When I made my previous afghans from scratch, I did not worry about gauge. Even when I used a pattern for a few baby afghans, gauge was not as important. Not only do I have a habit of purchasing a large buffer supply of what is recommended, but the patterns were the sort that could be ended or continued without any great affect on the look of the finished product. With a kit, it seemed that I was more confined. But for this particular kit, see the next note.
4. There was plenty of yarn in the kit, but I would never plan on it being enough to extend the design in future kits. When I saw this afghan was going to be so much smaller than I wanted, I decided to work it anyway. Then, when I had gotten through the whole pattern as written in the directions, it looked like I might have enough yard to do one more pattern segment. I did, but just barely. I guess another option is to buy enough kits to multiply the size as much as wanted, but you might have issues with color lots in the different kits. Better, I think, to either find a similar pattern in a book, or do the kit as a sample, then buy a larger batch of yarn. Most suppliers will give you all matching color lots for a bulk order of that sort.
5. It was a great way to learn a new crochet technique. In this case, I learning how to create a gradual color gradient by crocheting with two strands. After a segment of the pattern, one strand was traded for another that blended nicely and, voila! a beautiful sunset in yarn!
My afghan ended up the size of a double lap blanket, I think. The recipients seem grateful and have ooo’d and awed sufficiently. The yarn I have ordered from Herrschners has always felt soft and had nice, full colors. I have been able to find a variety of weights on their site, too. I have one more kit to make, that I ordered at the same time. After that, I expect that working with a kit will be a rare thing for me, but it was a good experience overall. (click to enlarge any photo)