The scrap afghan aesthetic

Today as I ruminated on my 2011 North Carolina State Fair project, I simultaneously resumed my organizing efforts with regard to my crochet empire.

Having accrued a pile of longer yarn scraps intended for my great-granny square, I decided that I needed to get them incorporated into the project before they became hopelessly tangled with each other, creating yet another project.

By late afternoon, I had completed at least two additional rounds, and the great-granny square measured 54″ from side to side:

scrap crochet granny square
My great-granny square scrap crochet afghan

substantially larger than it was so many months ago when I first began the project:

large crochet granny square crochet square
Great Granny Square, front view

One of the challenges I wanted to meet in creating this piece was to make an afghan that was composed of genuine scraps of yarn, not something made of yarn that I had made into scraps for the purposes of making the project.

It can be easy and relatively inexpensive to buy new yarn, but what, I have wondered, would I do if I did not have the access to materials that I have. How would my work be altered if I could not choose the palette I wanted to work with.

In the great-granny square afghan, I am using, for the most part, my own scraps, so there is a certain consistency of color across the project, but there are bits and pieces of the project that make use of yarn that has come to me through what I think of as “rescue.” Scraps that were in danger of being thrown out without being given a higher purpose or use.

An example of a genuine “scrapghan,” as I think of them, can be found on the sofa at the home of my son’s trumpet teacher where my son and I found ourselves sitting the other day.

The trumpet teacher’s schedule had slipped, and although we arrived at the appointed time, we had to wait a few minutes while the trumpet teacher finished up the lesson before my son’s, and we were told that we could (if we wished) wait in the livingroom. While we waited, I could not help but notice this afghan that graced the sofa:

yarn scrap crochet blanket
A scrap crochet afghan made by my son’s trumpet teacher’s grandmother

Made from scraps of other projects and done in rows of double crochet and then finished with a round of single crochet stitches, there is no air of preciousness or artifice about this piece. Wool scraps were mixed with acrylic and cotton scraps. Over the years, the blanket was washed and the strips crocheted with wool felted.

I love this afghan because of it’s authenticity and its absolute adherence to the scrap aesthetic. There was not sorting out of the wool from the cotton and man-made fibers.

There was no going to the store to get exactly the right color to transition from one yarn to another. The crochet used the materials she had at hand, whether through design or necessity.

When I asked the trumpet teacher if his mother had made the afghan, he told me no, she hadn’t; his grandmother had made it and that she had continued to crochet well into the later years of her life.

I hope that like the trumpet teacher’s grandmother, I am able to continue to crochet as I get older and that I learn to fully embrace the aesthetic of the yarn scrap to create objects that are used each day.

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6 thoughts on “The scrap afghan aesthetic

  1. Very cool. Thanks for grabbing a photo of the Trumpet teacher’s blanket, too. I love how you can see the mix of fibers in this true scrap project.

    And I love your great granny scrap blanket. It’s come a long way.

  2. how funny that our work has taken parallel paths…. I too created a ‘scrapghan’…months ago… I never thought about taking a photo at the time I made it but I will try to get one today if it ever dries out enough…. reminds we of a coat of many colors – which one friend suggested I turn it into… also random scraps of yarn used in previous projects and randomly put together!!!

  3. I love the randomness of your grannyghan. It’s going to be something that you will treasure. I made my Dad a blanket from all the scrap leftovers from all the items I had made for the family. So when he was having his Chemo he wrapped himself in it and he was wrapped in his family. He actually let me use it tonight while we visited him, I felt very lucky.

  4. Love your great granny square blanket. The random colors and scraps of yarn while assembled indiscriminately has such a beautiful look. I especially loved reading your story about the music teacher’s scraphan.

  5. Thank you for motivating me to get going on my own scrappy granny lapghans. I also love the look of a true scrap afghan, and get so much satisfaction creating something beautiful out of a mishmash of yarn scraps. 🙂

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