Midwest Modern Moments- Afghans
If you're from the Midwest, the odds are good that you have at least one afghan blanket rattling around your house. In my experience, they reached the peak of popularity in the 1970's; the decade of all things garish and mostly ugly. Moms and grandmas went nuts with these things. The colors were decade appropriate i.e shit brown, burnt orange, avocado green, or every color imaginable put together in a schizophrenic Holly Hobby patchwork nightmare.
An afghan is basically any knitted blanket. I don't know if younger folks call them afghans anymore but I'm old, so I still say afghan.
Afghan Blanket Origin
Acoording to greenprophet.com:
“Afghan” first appeared in English usage in the late 1700’s as a name for the Pashtuns of eastern and southern Afghanistan.
That country is known for its distinctive textiles, colorful carpets and lustrous karakul wool, so it’s sort of logical that “afghan” was picked up to refer to knitted or crocheted blankets. The word went mainstream in America in the early 1800’s, describing blankets and shawls made from multi-hued yarn.
According to a 1946 article attributed to the Oregon Worsted Company, the thrifty women of early America would carefully save oddments of yarn, left-over colors, and fiber unraveled from old sweaters and socks. As the yarn accumulated, it was crocheted into small squares; colors combined at the whim of the craftsman. The squares were sewn together to make a blanket, a bedspread, a shawl, or a lap covering: functional for sleighing or sleeping, and decorative to boot. These “motif” afghans came to be known as “Granny Square Afghans” as grandma was commonly its maker.
When you look at the textiles of the Pashtuns, it's clear to see the influence they had on what we know as afghans.
Afghan blankets are an interesting group. They're not the most functional of throws. Many of them have quite an open weave so they can be a bit drafty when you're trying to keep warm.
This probably explains why they mainly end up draped on furniture as more of a decoration.
Most of us who have afghans have them because they were made for us by our mothers or grandmothers. Despite their sometimes unappealing looks, we keep them because they were made with love. I know me and my cousins all have a stash of afghans from my grandma over the years. I'm pretty sure a few of my cousins were lucky enough to have afghan style sweater vests made for them.
On this episode of Midwest Modern Moments, my lifelong friend Shannon and I discuss afghans. We live in different states so we usually only get together in the summer. I took advantage of our time together and shot this episode about blankets in 85 degree heat. Enjoy!
Afghan Blankets & Pop Culture
You know it's a quintessential item of the zietgeist when it's on TV. In the 70's afghans had more of an actual trendy decor vibe, by the 80's they were associated more with poor taste and all things tacky, and then in the 2000's we saw them again with the rise of nerd popularity and granny chic.
More Afghan Blankets
Knitting had made an encouraging comeback. Handmade knitted throws can be found all over the place. The traditional afghan had been brought up to date with modern colorways and updated patterns.
But I do still love all the vintage afghan blankets. Some are so ugly they're awesome and some are just plain awesome.
And just look at the awesomeness of this: afghan pillows!
Aghans & Eggnog
As pointless as it could be trying to keep warm with an afghan, they still conjure up feelings of coziness. And, if you grew up with afghans, you can totally smell yarn when you see these images. So the perfect snuggle in, sip slowly, and sit by the fire or binge watch Outlander cocktail is eggnog. I tried this recipe from Craft & Cocktails. I was very intrigued by the fact that it's aged. "Raw eggs" and "aged" do not go together in my brain but I have never had a bad cocktail from Craft & Cocktails so I gave it a go!
Mine was only aged for 2 weeks and it was tasty as hell. Which is saying a lot for me because whiskey & bourbon are not my go-tos. I will say that for my taste, if I made this again, I would reduce the alcohol- definitely a sipper! Keep scrolling for the recipe. Cheers!