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Why is a knitted or crocheted coverlet called an afghan?

Posted: Sun Apr 25, 2004 3:08 am
by Archived Topic
With the recent spotlight on Afghanistan, Afghans, Afghanis, etc., I'm very curious why the knitted throws or blankets many of us have or make are called afghans.

Mary Ashley, knitter, CA, USA

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Why is a knitted or crocheted coverlet called an afghan?

Posted: Sun Apr 25, 2004 3:22 am
by Archived Reply
According to the Morris Dictionary of Word and Phrase Origins (Harper/Collins, 2nd ed. 1988): "It's curious, but the way the name afghan came to be applied to the familiar knitted woolen blanket has not previously been documented in any standard reference book. That it is derived from "Afghan," a native or product of Afghanistan, is obvious, but it does seem odd that a name coming from such a faraway corner of the word, deep in Asia, should have been used for so long for such a homely item typically found in the American cedar chest. One characteristic of the afghan is that, in the words of the "Modern Textile Dictionary," it is made with "a series of stripes, zigzag effects, or squares, varying in size and vivid colorings." This characteristic is shared, of course, with afghan rugs, which also feature geometric patterns and vivid colors. So the likelihood is that the afghan blanket was named for its resemblance to these Oriental rugs, which enjoyed such a great vogue in America during the latter part of the Victorian era."

THe OED sez: first print ref. to the knitted afghan is 1833, from an article by Carlyle, in which he referred to "Afghaun shawls." First print ref to Afghans,the people, from a 1784 speech made to some British explorer's society, in which they were described as "a tribe connected with the kingdoms of Persia and Hindustan"
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Why is a knitted or crocheted coverlet called an afghan?

Posted: Sun Apr 25, 2004 3:37 am
by Archived Reply
from the onion (http://www.theonion.com)

Nation's Grandmas Halt Production Of Afghan Blankets
WASHINGTON, DC— In a show of support for the U.S., the nation's grandmas announced plans Monday to stop knitting afghan blankets. "We must do our part to stand behind our country," said spokesgrandma Nettie Bennett, 87. "Even if it means my new grandson will have to sleep with a store-bought comforter, I will not make something named after a place that lets terrorists run around all willy-nilly.

-jessica



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Why is a knitted or crocheted coverlet called an afghan?

Posted: Sun Apr 25, 2004 3:51 am
by Archived Reply
Don't stop making them, just change the name. In a group I belong to, we are calling them blankets, gans, and such names.
Reply from ( - )

Why is a knitted or crocheted coverlet called an afghan?

Posted: Sun Apr 25, 2004 4:05 am
by Archived Reply
I think that it is kind of silly to stop making something I enjoy because of terrorists. Wouldn't this be giving them another victory. Not in my world. I just won't give them that satifaction. If I must call it something else then so be it, but stop making them I won't.
Mary Pettit
Oregon, USA
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Why is a knitted or crocheted coverlet called an afghan?

Posted: Sun Apr 25, 2004 4:20 am
by Archived Reply
I have had a few suggestions as to what to call them, Lap Spread,Granny Blanky,Couch Robe,Lap Wrap,Ghan,plus a few more, and one ladies Husband calls his a Togger!!!??? We will never stop making them EVER!!!!!
Bunty LoL X
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Why is a knitted or crocheted coverlet called an afghan?

Posted: Sun Apr 25, 2004 4:34 am
by Archived Reply
No way am I going to stop making these, Like other I call them ghans or throws. They are so colourful you could call them jazzygans (let's leave out the h) or jazzythrows.

Maurie,
England, U.K.
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Re: Why is a knitted or crocheted coverlet called an afghan?

Posted: Tue Nov 28, 2017 8:44 am
by agilebcs
Hi, you are right, here I am from Australia and even here the coverlets which are made of knit are relate to this country! I have just checked in Australia for coverlets [spam link removed — Forum Admin.] but I couldn't get such designing online here in Australia!

Re: Why is a knitted or crocheted coverlet called an afghan?

Posted: Sun Dec 24, 2017 6:11 pm
by BonnieL
This is funny. Did no one notice that the "article" about not making afghans was from The Onion? :o

Worse than "freedom fries."

Re: Why is a knitted or crocheted coverlet called an afghan?

Posted: Sun Dec 24, 2017 9:49 pm
by Ken Greenwald
I was not paying attention when I wrote this post, but rather than toss it I will be redundant and add it to the pile: :cry:

According to Wikipedia [Afghan (blanket)]:

Defintion:
An afghan is a blanket [[or woven rug]] of knitted or crocheted wool, cotton, linen (or many other kinds of natural materials) or made of any type of man-made material. It is sometimes also called a "throw" of indeterminate size. They are often used as bedspreads, or as a decoration on the back of chairs.

Etymology:
The word afghan refers to the people of the country of Afghanistan. The coverlet was originally produced by the Afghans. The use of afghan in the English language goes back to 1831, when Thomas Carlyle mentioned it in his Sartor Resartus. The first mention of the word referring to the woven rug was in 1877.
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The following quotes are from The Oxford English Dictionary:
<1850 “Case of Worsted Articles. Mrs. M. sustains her former reputation, and for her beautiful Afghan deserves a Bronze Medal.”—Report of the 6th Exhibition of Massachusetts Charitable Mechanic Association, page 153, Mrs. E. A. Murdock, Boston >

<1887 “Miss Burns was crocheting an afghan.”—Hundredth Man by F. R. Srocton, xxxii, page 375>

<1918 “Grammar grade pupils of the Preventorium, the out-of-doors public school, have presented to the Albany (N.Y.) Rotary Club an afghan with the request that it be sent to Base Hospital 33, an Albany unit ‘over there.”’—Rotarian, September, page 150>

<1947 “The bedspread, now, a giant afghan she had knitted herself in little squares.”—Wayward Bus by J. Steinbeck, xiv. page 195>

1989 “She crocheted spreads and afghans.”—Family Portraits by C. Anthony in work by E. Spencer, page 225>

<2005 “She . . . knitted with my grandmother and their friends at Knitting Club, turning out . . . piles of those variegated afghans.”—Cloth Paper Scissors, Winter, page 96/2>
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Ken Greenwald — December 24, 2017