A place to help this dude keep track of his thoughts and ideas on his way down the fiber arts superhighway...

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Wanna Bust Some Stash?

As some of you know I am actively involved with the comfortghan group "Heartmade Blessings". We send out ghans to people in need of comfort either from illness or loss of loved ones.

We have had a flood of requests for ghans over the last few weeks (historically the most we've ever had requested in a one month period) and now have over a hundred pending afghans that we are lovingly trying to get sent out as soon as possible. This is where you come in! If you wanna bust some stash and provide comfort too, please consider sending us a square or two (or twenty!). Here are the guidelines:

What kind of yarn can I use?
Please use 4-ply acrylic, worsted-weight yarn only. No 2-ply or 3-ply. No cotton, no wool, no thread, no bouclé. Caron, Red Heart, and Wintuk are some of the common brands used for HMB squares.

What color yarn should I use?
There is no need to go out and purchase a particular color, unless you want to. Using colors from your current stash is perfectly acceptable (except black).

What colors are least requested?
Black is never used arbitrarily for a comfortghan, and solid black squares should never be used in a comfortghan.

What size are the squares?
The most common size is a 12" square. It takes twelve 12-inch squares to make a comfortghan (three squares across by four squares down). This has become a very manageable number of squares for most assemblers to work with.

How do I measure the square?
Brands of yarn and various colors work up differently, so it's important to measure each square you make, no matter how many you've ever made. If you're within an eighth or quarter inch of 12", you're good.

What's all this talk about knots?
Please, please, please NEVER use a knot anywhere in your squares without leaving looooong tails to weave in. When you begin your square, leave a tail of five or six inches (some people prefer seven to eight inches), then start your initial chain. When your square is finished, leave another long tail (six inches, e.g.) before you cut the yarn. If the manufacturer's skein has a knot in it, cut it out and treat it as a color change.

How do I weave in the ends?
Use a darning needle or tapestry needle. In a granny square, for example, the very end of the last round will end up in a corner. After you've cut the yarn about 6" long, use the needle and 'sew' the yarn through the 'half moon' section in the corner (just below the corner, actually). Then skip a stitch and weave the needleback in the other direction. Pull the area tight -- just a little bit tight -- and cut the yarn. Then fluff it out and you'll never see the woven end. Be very loose with the needle; easy does it, as you don't want it to pull too tightly and ruin the look of the corner. With other types of patterns, use the needle to 'scootch down' to a lower row, then sew the yarn about an inch or two in one direction, skip a stitch, and sew back across in the other direction, then cut the yarn.

What pattern should I use?
Pretty much anything goes. The granny square is a perfect pattern for almost every comfortghan, but any pattern you're comfortable making, go for it. Remember, you're never obligated to make any square you're not comfortable making. If you just want to stick with a granny square pattern, you are more than welcome to do so. You can find a group of patterns here.

Can I make a sampler square?
Yes. If you crochet a sampler square, please make sure it's a perfect square. If it's 10" vertically and 13" horizontally, it's not a 12" square. Just keep in mind that an assembler is going to add another round of edging to the sampler square.

What should my last round look like?
It needs to be flat on all four sides. You should end it with a round of sc, hdc, dc, granny clusters, or other 'regular' stitches. Anything frilly or ruffly or a shell-type edging may work on a completed afghan, but not on an individual square. Also, it's easier for the assemblers if your square has an uneven number of stitches in each corner (3 or 5). When your square is finished, pretend you're going to add another round and look at all four sides of your square -- will someone else be able to insert a hook in every stitch? Feel free to leave the tail hanging out instead of weaving it in. Assemblers are very willing to weave in the ends after they've edged the square.

It sounds as if my square needs to be absolutely perfect.
No, not at all. Every square is stitched with love and we all know it. The individuality of each square, whether it's simple or complicated, adds to the wonderful variety of a comfortghan.

What are tags?
Please do include a tag on each square you make. It can be your business card, a piece of an index card, a paper luggage tag, even a small piece of paper - anything, really, with your name, city and state, and e-mail address. At minimum, your first name and state.

Once you have them ready you can send them to my address:

Drew Emborsky
PO Box 10027
Houston, TX 77206

If you are unable to help with squares we can take postage donations too! Stamps of any denomination help!

Thanks everyone!!!