Afghan (blanket)

An afghan is a woollen blanket or shawl, usually knitted or crocheted.[1] It is sometimes also called a "throw" of indeterminate size. Afghans are often used as bedspreads, or as a decoration on the back of couches or chairs.[2]


The word afghan refers to the people of Afghanistan. The use of afghan in the English language goes back to 1831, when Thomas Carlyle mentioned it in his Sartor Resartus.[3] The first mention of the word referring to the woven rug was in 1877.[4]

Types and styles

There are many styles of afghans:

  • Single-piece afghans are the simplest style to make and are especially popular with beginners.
  • Mile-a-minute afghans are usually made in a number of separate strips, with a minimum of stitches per strip, and then the strips are joined together.[5]
  • Join-as-you-go afghans are made up of many different pieces, one of which begins where the last leaves off.[6]
  • Motif afghans are composed of many small motifs, squares, or blocks, such as a granny square. These motifs may be all of the same design or of different designs. However, to make it easier to join the motifs into an afghan, the blocks are typically the same size. Some favor the motif style because of its portability and versatility of design. The motif style is still a very popular and a complex design for making blankets, scarves, etc. Although not a requirement, an edge or border is most often added to nicely finish off the blanket.[7]
  • A graphghan is an afghan made by following a flat chart. This method uses a grid of colored squares to create a visual design. There are three main methods to making a graphghan: pixel crochet, corner-to-corner crochet, and tapestry crochet.[8]


  1. "Oxford Dictionary", {{Cite web|url=
  2. "What is an Afghan? (with pictures)". Retrieved 11 January 2018.
  3. "Sartor Resartus", Fraser's Mag. VIII 670/1 Afghaun shawls, Thomas Carlyle, 1833
  4. "Life and Letters of Elizabeth Prentiss", pp. 260, Letter: 13 Dec., 1868. Elizabeth Prentiss, George Lewis Prentiss, 1882.
  5. "SB300-001 Mile a Minute". 2012-04-10. Retrieved 2017-07-25.
  6. "Join As You Go Crochet Tutorial on Craftsy". The Craftsy Blog. 2016-01-31. Retrieved 2017-07-25.
  7. "How to Crochet a Motif Afghan - dummies". Retrieved 2017-07-25.
  8. Senior, Kathryn. "What Is a Graphghan & How Do You Crochet One?" The Craftsy Blog. N.p., 01 Dec. 2017. Web. 16 Apr. 2018.

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