Thursday, May 14, 2009

The Great Giant Granny Square Scrapghan Challenge of 2009

I seem to have developed a small obsession with the venerable crocheted granny square. You've seen this, of course, which now lives in my knitting spot and is also perfect for curling up on a lounge chair next to the pool after dinner. I love it. I enjoyed making it and I enjoy using it. After I finished it, I thought about doing a couple of rows on my nearly complete Swallowtail shawl, but discovered I would have to wind another skein of yarn and do a Russian join, so that sort of fell by the wayside. Instead I spent an evening making...yawn...a few inches of progress on the endless Chevron Scarf. All I can say about that is it's a good thing we don't actually need scarves in San Diego.

And then I started this. It is currently on hold, because as much as I love the color combo (and even though I have over 4000 yards of this bulky weight wool--don't ask, I blame WEBS), the turquoise, purple, hot pink, green mix doesn't go with anything in my house, or in the houses of any of my friends, family, neighbors, acquaintances...and despite the rather substantial evidence to the contrary, I am at heart a practical person and don't want to spend a fair amount of my limited life span crocheting a giant, beautiful afghan that will never see anything but the inside of a linen closet.

In a fit of Spring Fever, I then cast on for this year's utterly adorable, completely impractical, never-to-actually-be-worn Spring Folly. (I do this every year. April hits, and I just can't resist making something completely inappropriate to my age, shape, taste, and lifestyle. I have learned to accept it. And the women in my knitting group got a great laugh out of this one.)

This is the pattern "Unmentionables" by Lee Wood Juvan, from the Summer 2007 Knitty. Why? I have no idea. I really can't imagine a scenario that would find me wearing knitted bloomers with ribbon ties. I tell myself I can wear them as summer jammies--completely ignoring the fact that I don't wear jammies. But, oh, it's a fun pattern! The yarn is Jaegar Roma in Fern, which I had in the stash, purchased quite some time ago for $1.99 a ball from Smileys. I made my Gathered Pullover out of this yarn in white, and I love it, even though it's primarily synthetic. It's very soft and stretchy, holds its shape beautifully, and doesn't pill at all. It seemed like the perfect yarn for this pattern--even if it is destined to spend its life in a storage box under the bed.

But the lure of the granny square was irresistible, and I was consumed with the desire to make a giant granny square afghan for my king-sized bed. I wanted to use Noro again, because, well...do I really need to explain? But after several hours of searching the internet, I concluded that a good mother would not raid the kids' college fund to finance enough Noro to make a king-sized crocheted afghan, so I moved on to Plan B.

Plan B is one of those things that's great in theory. It justifies the purchase of all sorts of strange and wonderful yarns, not to mention bookcases and boxes and baskets and bags to store it all in. But Plan B rarely comes into play in the real world. Plan B is "Knitting From Stash," and it is largely a theoretical concept in my world. This time, though...this time Plan B is going live with a vengeance.

After a lengthy perusal of the stash, which involved impressive gymnastics in order to pull it out of all the corners and crevices and crannies into which is is crammed, I recognized that even I do not have enough of a single color--or even a single type of yarn--to crochet a king-sized afghan. I do, however, have an extraordinary number of leftover skeins and balls from previous projects. I live in fear of running out of yarn, and also labor under a delusion about my actual size, and so I almost always have 1 or 2 or 14 balls of yarn left when I finish a sweater. I knit a lot of sweaters. I also discovered that virtually my entire stash consists of shades of green, red, and brown. Coincidentally, my bedroom (and the rest of my house) is decorated largely in shades of green, red, and brown. (Hmmm...do you think there's any connection here to my red hair and green eyes?) And so, I made myself this challenge: to crochet a giant Giant Granny Square, at least seven feet square, using only leftover yarns from the stash.

Think about that for a minute. Seven feet square--the minimum size I figure I need to completely cover my bed--is 49 square feet. My Noro giant granny square is five feet square, which is 25 square feet. It took 1000 grams of bulky weight Noro Iro and an entire sweater's worth of worsted weight wool. That means this afghan will be twice the size of that throw and will require twice as much yarn. And that, my friends, is a lot of yarn. The fact that I am completely confident I will be able to pull this off tells you something about the amount of leftover yarn I have in the stash.

In fact, I have so much leftover yarn in the stash that I was able to pick and choose to come up with a combination of colors and weights that pleased me:

Yup. That's a two-bushel laundry basket full of yarn. And I forgot to pull the yarn I'm already using out of the large knitting bag I stuffed it into for the photo op, so there's more. And if I were to run low, there's plenty more where this came from.

Check out all the pretty colors:

Now, for the purposes of this challenge, I have defined "leftover yarn" a bit broadly. Much of this yarn is in fact left over from completed projects. Some of it is not technically leftover, but was purchased either with no project in mind or for a specific project that didn't work out. But in any case, all of this yarn has been in the stash for a long time (over a year, at least) and isn't earmarked for anything, nor is it likely to find its way into a sweater any time in the foreseeable future. This may be stretching the definition of "leftover" just a little, but it works for me.

And check this out:

That's about a two-foot square of Giant Granny Square Scrapghan! The colors are a little off. That light cream is actually yellow, and all of the colors are a tad richer in real life, but it's still pretty close. There are a whole lot of different yarns in there, including some gorgeous, super soft alpacas, along with some scratchier wools, and even some beige, wool-acrylic blend bulky that I bought in a particularly oblivious moment. There are leftovers from my CPH, the Knitting For Peace Messenger Bag, my Traveling Cables Cardigan, my Tahoe, my Opulent Raglan, and probably a few others as well.

I made a few rules for myself to keep this from looking too crazy. First, I'm using only shades of red, brown, green, and a little yellow. Second, all the yarns are either bulky weight or doubled worsted weight. Third, each round must be a single color. Fourth, every other round must be a shade of green (I have a lot of green yarn). Other than that, I'm just trying to space the yarns so that they look pretty and so that I don't run out of some colors early on and have none left when the afghan starts getting big. I'm trying to keep the whole thing looking like there was some sort of plan, without actually following a pattern of color repeats, which I think would get both boring and difficult, as I have different amounts of so many different yarns. So far, I'm pretty happy with it; I haven't been able to stop crocheting...around and around and around...

There's only one problem with using different yarns instead of a self-striping yarn:

But I'll think about that tomorrow.

20 comments:

Wanderingcatstudio said...

That's going to be one hell of an afghan (and gorgeous colours.. red and green are my favourites... well red vies with pink occasionally... but)

I've been considering making the unmentionable too... mostly just for bumming around the house.. they are to cute to not want to knit

laura said...

I haven't blogged this yet but - I may have had a Very Similar Idea!

leann said...

Wow! That's a great idea! It's looking beautiful, too. Can't wait to see it finished!

Allison said...

Yay you! This is an awesome idea. Just the other day I started thinking I may do the same thing, but then our tourist season slammed into me full swing and I haven't picked up a hook or needles since. *Sigh* Hopefully some day soon I'll have a day off and can rummage through my stash for some inspiration...

In the meantime, I'm excited to see how this goes!

sophanne said...

That is awesome- it's not a granny afghan it's a Great Grandmother Scraphgan!

At Home Mommy Knits said...

Wow that looks beautiful!

I learned to crochet before I could knit and in my early twenties I moved a lot and found myself carting around a few boxes full of random yarn and so I just started crocheting with no thought to what the next color would be. I now have a fantastic blanket for sporting events (hideous but warm).

Your afghan is looking great and you are being so economical using your stash. Can't wait to see how it turns out.

LizzieK8 said...

Every few rounds, days, whatever, stop and weave in the ends. I sometimes think that seeing all those ends to weave in keeps many from finishing the project!

trek said...

It's lots easier to work the ends in as you go with the hooking. Esp. since the granny square stitch makes it so easy to hide the ends.

Nice.

The A.D.D. Knitter said...

I love your maniacal ways.

Patty said...

I'm over here having stash envy! You go, girl! The colours look great!

5elementknitr said...

I agree with trek....

You put the ends on top of the row and crochet around them as you go. You can't see them and they are automatically woven in!

Erin said...

This is a great idea. I've just started my own scrap stashbusting project in browns, red, and green--those are the colors my knitting has tended to so far as well. :)

Haley said...

stop and weave in ends at the beginning of each crochet session. then you won't have a huge beautiful afghan sitting "unfinished" because you don't want to weave in ends. i make myself do ends along the way and it makes the finish that much more exciting. enjoy--this is going to turn out to be a lovely project.

Lucette said...

Looking forward to the bloomers. What will you wear them with?

Life's a Stitch said...

I fell under the WEBS spell last week. Now I have 19 more skeins of Noro. Why do I do this to myself? I want to crochet an afghan from 17 of them but I fear it's not enough yarn and I may have to buy more.

Knitman said...

Your basket is appealing, but surely you took too much medication to even consider those hideous white trouser thingies?

Oh and I quite agree with you. We treat people the way we do because of hoe we are and how they are.

crochetgurl said...

Your granny square looks so homey and comforting! For weaving in ends, you could crochet them in as you go and then you'll have less weaving to do later. :-)

Angelika said...

That promisses to be an interesting blanket and think of all the memories of the other projects. The true meaning of a scrap blanket.

Fibra Artysta said...

I agree about attacking the ends (either weaving or crocheting over) as you do. I didn't do that with the Babette Blanket(s) and I still haven't finished them...just can't face the hideous tediousness that will be weaving in 1,756,492 ends (I counted).

indomom said...

Looks great, can you post the pattern pleeeaaassse!