Knitting Instructions, Techniques & Tips | Knitting Odds & Ends

Secrets of the Random Afghan: How to Create a Killer Afghan Exploding with Color

random afghan

A little randomness can go a long way towards rearranging random yarn into a stunning random afghan!

Over the years, I have amassed an amazing quantity of yarn. Yes, of course I buy yarn (frequently). But I think I may have received gifts of yarn even more frequently than I have purchased it. That is the happy reality that can be yours if you let it be known that you love to knit.

Honestly, that’s all I’ve really done. I knit in public, I wear items I’ve knitted, I talk about knitting. As a result, I’m often the first person that pops into someone’s head when they come to possess a lot more yarn than they need or want.

Believe me, never in a million years would I complain about all the yarn I’ve received. However, here’s what you’re likely to get when you receive a lot of yarn donations…

Attack of the Random Yarn

RANDOMNESS.

Again, I’m not complaining! But yarn donations usually don’t come in, say, quantities large enough to make a blanket or a sweater. Sometimes they don’t even come in quantities large enough to make a scarf, a pair of mittens, or a hat!

I absolutely love my yarn donations, but I sometimes have to get creative with them when it comes time to actually knit with it.

One Answer to Random Yarn: the Random Afghan

Enter the Random Afghan.

The Random Afghan is exactly what you need if you’re looking for a creative way to use up random yarn. Your random yarn might not be donated. Maybe it’s leftover from years of knitting projects in which you used up most, but not all, of a skein of yarn. Those leftover bits of project yarns can really add up.

The beauty of the Random Afghan is that the randomness is a feature, not a bug. The whole idea is to make the afghan as dynamic and colorful as possible. The only requirement is the size of each square you knit. It must be uniform so that you can stitch all the squares together into a neat blanket.

Knitting squares of exactly 8 inches on each side is an easy way to ensure you have the necessary uniformity.

A Unifying Theme: a Worthy Aspect of a Random Afghan

Now, you can certainly make the Random Afghan *truly* random. However, you may find that’s just a little too much chaos for yourself personally. (Or for anyone you might want to give the afghan to.)

In that case, it’s an easy matter to create a unifying theme for your Random Afghan. The easiest way to do this is by using the exact same color of yarn to stitch together your random squares. I love black yarn for this purpose, as it often gives the blanket a stained-glass appearance.

White or cream-colored yarn works well for this purpose, too. This light, uniform color has a way of calming the chaos a bit.

If you have a lot of a similar color of yarn, that would make another great unifying theme! You can make it a Random Afghan of Pink or Green or Purple or Blue… or, you get the idea.

Patterns for Random Afghan Squares

Are you ready to make some randomness happen? Maybe all you need are a few patterns to make random squares with lots of colors. In that case, I’ve got you covered!

Feast your eyes below for a collection of exciting afghan squares to use in your random afghan!

random afghan
Mitered Squares
Photo: Staci Perry

Sock Yarn Square: Don’t let your leftover fingering weight yarn go to waste. Use this fabulous pattern to put together your sock yarns into an adorable square!

Mitered Squares: From Very Pink Knits comes this terrific pattern, complete with video tutorial. You can use just a couple of colors or switch colors every other row… it’s up to you!

Knit a Square squares: The Knit a Square charity has several terrific knitting patterns for 8-inch squares. These include Plain Jane, Framed Stripes, Diagonal, and more. Check these out!

Log Cabin and Diagonal Squares: Both of these patterns come courtesy of Sarah Bradberry of knitting-and.com. The Log Cabin is a unique way of creating several rectangular and square blocks of color inside one knitted square (without seaming!). The Diagonal takes the age-old way of creating diagonal blocks and gives it a fun twist: eyelets you’ll weave a crocheted chain into after you’ve finished knitting the square. Fun!

Square in the Round: the name really says it all here! You start in the center of the square, then gradually increase stitches round after round until you’ve created a square. You can create explosive color with this square.

Playful Stripes: Sure, you could knit simple stripes in a square. Or, you could take this fabulous idea — knitting stripes using all sorts of different stitch patterns in one square — and run with it. I know which option I’d pick!

After checking out all these square patterns, I am so ready to start a random afghan of my own. Who’s with me?

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4 Comments

  1. Love this article Nicole. I too am the person who comes to mind when people are donating yarn and also have lots of yarn that doesn’t match. I love that last one stripes on the round. Thank you for sharing all this inspiration and Happy New Year!