theraineysisters knitting and so much more

May 27, 2010


Filed under: Great American Aran Afghan — lv2knit @ 10:42 am

This project certainly has a life of its own!  Over ten years old and going strong, with almost 1,000 projects in Ravelry.  I am speaking of The Great American Aran Afghan.  Knitters Magazine teamed up with Plymouth Encore in 1999 and sponsored a design contest for afghan squares with aran elements.  I continue to receive questions about the project and where to obtain the pattern, so I thought I would provide one more update here.

The original squares rolled out four per issue over six issues of Knitters — this took well over a year.  My winning sweater square came out in the last [7th] issue.  SO, if you had a subscription back then, you have the patterns.  They also pulled all the squares into a book which is readily available on-line and at many yarn shops.   There have been numerous knitalongs at various knitting stores — in fact, The Yarnery has one going on now if I’m not mistaken.   This project is a great learning experience and you end up with an heirloom.

Great American Aran Afghan in Cascade 220

If you are interested in tackling this challenging and rewarding project, I suggest joining the GAAA Ravelry Group.   They share their frustrations and learnings, so it’s like a do-it-yourself knitalong.

April 5, 2008

From Susan — Cute use of the Sweater Mini-Square

Filed under: Great American Aran Afghan — lv2knit @ 9:16 am

I received a lovely note from Laurie of Maplewood, Minnesota.  She made a baby blanket based on the sweater mini-square I designed for the Great American Aran Afghan and sent along a photo:

Isn’t it cute??  The three sweaters coordinate with the variegated yarn of the blanket.  Thanks for sharing, Laurie!!

The ongoing popularity of the GAAA continues to amaze me, but it is truly a classic and a really fun and challenging project:  


I think the internet and Ravelry have helped keep the interest alive.  Also, Knitters partnered with Cascade Yarns recently to package GAAA afghan kits in both Cascade 220 and Cascade Dolce.  Because I made my afghan with Cascade 220 (the contest was sponsored originally by Plymouth Encore), Cascade asked to borrow my afghan to display at January’s TNNA convention in California.  In return, they sent me two bags of Cascade Dolce in a color of my choice!  Woo Hoo — FREE yarn!!   A tough decision, but I decided on the teal (color 927).  So it is marinating in my stash, waiting for the perfect match.  I love Cascade yarns!

I have slowed down the pace considerably on my Mitered Cardigan — the bloom is off the rose, as so often happens after the first blush of enthusiasm starts to wane.  I am mentally moving on, but want to finish the jacket soon as a supplement to my “spring wardrobe” (now that is a laugh!! ).

February 7, 2007

From Susan — A Brief Post about Another Post

Filed under: Great American Aran Afghan — lv2knit @ 10:02 pm

We get regular google hits from people searching out information about the Great American Aran Afghan (GAAA).  I put together the finished photo of my GAAA with individual photos and comments about each square.  The link resides in Susan’s Gallery.

October 1, 2006

From Susan — All Surgery and No Knitting Makes Susan a Dull Girl

Filed under: Back Story,Great American Aran Afghan,Updates — lv2knit @ 9:11 am

Q: Can you name this afghan from Knitters Magazine? 
A: The Great American Aran Afghan

It started out as a contest in the summer of 1999.  Sister Sally kept telling me that my idea would win, and even though I didn’t believe her, I entered the contest anyway.  The first squares came out in the Winter, 2000 issue, which hit the newsstands in fall of 1999. Because I had not heard anything one way or another, I assumed my square had not been chosen.  Au contraire.  I had actually won the contest.  Sally was right again!  I found out that I won when 20 skeins of Encore yarn was delivered to my doorstep in a large Kellogg’s Raisin Bran box — “Knitters” did not contact me until a few weeks later. 

I was not going to make the afghan, but everyone in my knitting group (which had just started at the time) told me I had to make it, and that they would all make one, too.  Note to self: don’t believe everything you hear at knitting group!  I’m still the only one who finished — mine is made out of Cascade 220:


The Mini-Sweater square is mine:


My favorite square to knit was the Janet Martin Fish-in-Net Square:


This is ancient history, so why do I bring it up now?  I found a large hole in the thing!  Major bummer.  And, what caused the hole is still to be determined.  There are no visible signs of vermin, but??????


I am going to try to fix it.  Wish me luck.

Jump Ahead in Time Several Hours

The hole is gone. 


And though it looks like a perfect repair, I did indeed cheat.  Miraculous as seems (and if you knew my house and my “organization methodology” you would know that the word miraculous is not used lightly), I found both the leftover yarn I used for the edging AND the instructions I had written out for myself.  So, I re-knit the entire bottom eyelet edge.  I did not want a crummy-looking repair job on this because it was SO MUCH WORK!!!!!!!  Really, one of the biggest projects of my knitting career.

The original pattern edge was created by Rick Mondragon, Knitters Magazine Editor, and took 3.5 skeins of yarn.  It is a lovely braided edge that goes around the entire afghan, but I did not want to add that much weight, plus I did not have enough yarn in the right dye lot.  As you can see, my edging is a much simpler style.  I have placed it under “Free Patterns” if you ever consider making this project.  I used all 24 squares in my afghan, whereas in Knitters they held out four squares and made two pillows. 

Though a lot of work, you really learn a lot about cables, gauge and intricate grafting.  Now can I go out and knit?

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