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AROUND HOME : Crocheted Afghans

June 25, 1989|JUDITH SIMS

CROCHETING IS ONE of the easiest and fastest yarn crafts ever; one needs only yarn and a hook--and not always the hook, because fingers can do just as well. Most people can crochet a sweater in half the time it takes to knit one but a crocheted garment rarely looks as refined or elegant as a knitted one.

Crochet is the French word for "little hook" but a form of crocheting was known to the Pima Indians centuries ago, and pulling loops in yarn has been common in the Middle East and Western Europe for many generations. The craft didn't become widely known, however, until it was suggested to Irish women in the mid-19th Century as a means to combat poverty brought on by the potato famine. Irish immigrants to this country brought the craft with them. The Irish are best known for crocheted lace; crocheted afghans, blankets and sweaters are comparatively recent inventions.

There are thousands of patterns for crocheted afghans, but probably the two most popular are granny squares and ripple. The former uses many colors of scrap yarns to form squares, which are then joined, traditionally with black borders. The ripple is a wavy design rendered in crosswise stripes. There are high-tech-design afghans, soft mohair clouds, Arctic wool blankets, fancy stitches--an afghan for every sofa.

Crocheting supplies and classes are available at many stores in Southern California, including Weaving West in Santa Monica; The Knot Garden in Sherman Oaks; Everywoman's Village in Van Nuys; Piecemakers Country Store in Costa Mesa; Mrs. Olson's Needleworks in Diamond Bar; Velona Needlecraft in Anaheim Hills; The Yarn Loft in Brea; Concepts in Yarn in Torrance (no scheduled classes, but individual instruction is available), and The Yarn Basket in Redondo Beach (no classes this summer; will resume in the fall). Consult local Yellow Pages under Yarns-Retail and Needlework & Needlework Materials-Retail for names and locations of other stores.

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