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Great American Aran Afghan
(a.k.a. GAAA):
Helps, Hints & Links
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     First of all - Welcome to my page(s) for what I hope will be filled with useful helps, hints, & links for making the GAAA (a.k.a. Great American Aran Afghan).

Finding/Getting the Book - Got the Book - Now What? - GAAA Helps & Hints
Some GAAA FAQs - Online GAAA KALs/Groups - GAAA's 5 Easiest/Hardest Squares
Blocking Info Links


Front cover of The Great American Aran Afghan Book
Front cover of "The Great American Aran Afghan" book
GAAA Book Details:
Editor: Elaine Rowley
Photographer: Alexis Xenakis
Binding: Softcover
Price: US $12.95
Weight: 0.50 lbs
Publisher: XRX Books, US
Offers Knitter's Thumb-through @ STITCHES Market
ISBN-13: 9781893762176
ISBN-10: 1893762173

Finding/Getting the Book

     If you are trying to find/buy the GAAA pattern book, hopefully you should be able to find it in any LYS in your area or use Campusi.com to try to find the best available ONLINE price for it or you can try ordering it online from any of the following stores/sites - (FYI: Please be careful when ordering/buying it online from some sellers as it usually sells for $12.95 new in most of the stores in my area when it's available/in stock. I've seen it being sold online for a lot more than that when the book was temporarily out of stock and/or hard to find due to the high demand for the book at times. I think the newest edition of the book is now available in its 5th edition.) Please note that the following list is just a partial listing or suggestions of places where you may find the book and I did the list alphabetically and not in any particular order/preference. (FYI #2: The red asterisk (*) in the list below are for actual stores that I have visited/done business with and that I do recommend as one of their satisfied customers. I definitely do recommend visiting those MI stores if/when you get a chance!) Also ThUD for all of the following links:

Got the Book - Now What?

     Once you have become the happy owner of a GAAA pattern book whether it's new or used, I would suggest/recommend that you take it to a local office supply store (such as FedEx Kinko's, Office Depot, Office Max, Staples, etc.) where they do binding and/or laminating work and spend some extra $$ to at least have your book spiral-bound to help save on some wear-&-tear on it as well as making it much more easier on yourself to read/use it. You may also want to consider having at least the front and back covers (if not the whole book?) laminated while you're there if you really want to keep your book in good condition/shape. (FYI: After hearing on Ravelry that Kinko's quoted $95 for laminating the whole GAAA book, you may want to consider carefully using clear contact paper to cover the inside/outside covers of the book to help it last longer or possibly asking for some help in covering just the book covers from your local library.)
     Remember that there are 24 pattern squares in the book and you don't have to make all of them to make your afghan but, if you want to make one similar to what is shown on the front cover, then you will need to make at least 20 of the 24 squares.
     Since the GAAA book does not contain an index page, I created my own spreadsheet in Excel to use as my index for the book as well as a progress chart for making the squares when I first started on my quest to make this beautiful afghan.
My GAAA Index and Progress Report Page
Thumbnail photo sample of My GAAA Index and Progress Report Page
If you want to see/get a full-size copy of my spreadsheet as a photo (a .jpg file), you can go here OR if you want a copy of my Excel file (.xls file), try downloading it here - I am making it available for free to download for personal use only and it is not to be sold/resold OR posted to another site for downloading without my express permission. As far as I know, it shouldn't violate any copyright laws since there isnít an index in the actual book and I made it for my personal use/reference to keep track of my progress in making the squares as well as being able to identify quickly which squares use what type & size knitting needles.

GAAA Online Groups & KALs

     I'm a member of the "gaaaaaaaaaaaaaa" on Ravelry for the "Great American Aran Afghan Along" and hope to be joining a local knitting group in my area for some local meetings later this year. There are also some people at KnittingHelp.com's forums who are interested in &/or are making/have made the GAAA. There is also this online group started by Angela (a.k.a. "MotherHenKnits" on Ravelry & a.k.a. "Suziehomemaker" on KnittingHelp).

Some GAAA FAQs

     The GAAA pattern calls for 20 balls of Plymouth Encore (80% acrylic, 20% wool) 3.5 oz (100g); 200 yds (180m); 9 wraps per inch; #256 Aran color, and approx. 1 ball per square.
     Gauge is 19 sts and 26 rows to 4" over stockinette stitch using size 4.5mm (US 7) needles.
     Knitting needles are sizes ranging from US sizes 5 through 8 (3.74mm-5mm) and some of the squares use dpns (double-pointed knitting needles) &/or circular knitting needles.


GAAA's 5 Easiest/Hardest Squares

According to the book, the 5 easiest squares are:
Julie H. Levy (p. 4)
Ginette Belanger (p. 14)
Barbara Selesnick (p. 16 - a.k.a. "Hearts")
Hanna Burns (p. 32 - a.k.a. "DNA")
Ann Strong (p. 34 - a.k.a. "Pomegranate")
According to the book, the 5 hardest squares are:
Judy Sumner (p. 2 - a.k.a. "Sp*d*rs & Bugs")
Kathleen T. Carty (p. 10)
Betty Salpekar (p. 24)
Georgia Vincent (p. 26)
Janet Martin (p. 36 - a.k.a. "Fish")
Blocking Info Links

     ThUD for all of the following links:
GAAA Helps & Hints

      Here are the helps, hints, & links that I've been gathering (&/or thinking of myself from my past crocheting & knitting experiences) while I'm in the process of making my own GAAA that may be helpful for those who are interested in making this afghan. I hope to add more suggestions to the list as I think of them or find them online. I am also willing to add suggestions from others if anyone wants to e-mail them to me and I will give credit to each contributor. *S*
  1. Please be sure to visit the Knitting Universe for corrections/errata for any of the following books and you will need to have the Adobe Reader installed on your computer to download/read the .pdf files that are posted there for any known corrections and clarifications for each book. Also be sure to visit their downloads section for other corrections/clarifications.
    Great American Aran Afghan: Corrections & Clarifications. Please note that for this book there is a separate file available to download under Techniques for: Great American Aran Afghan - Grafting Illustrations for the squares designed by Kathleen Carty and Betty Salpekar.
    Great American Afghan: Corrections & Clarifications
    Great North American Afghan 2: Corrections & Clarifications. Please note that for this book there is a separate file available to download under Patterns for: Great North American Afghan 2- In other words completion text for the square designed by Zabeth Weiner.
    Great American Kid's Afghan: There are no known corrections to this book.
  2. Another suggestion for those wanting to make (or just starting to make) this particular afghan is to use lifelines to save yourself some time if/when you make an error and need to do some frogging to correct your mistake(s) (FYI - Using a lifeline is something that I didn't know about until after I joined the GAAA group on Ravelry. [BTW before I forget again - THANK YOU, JOY for talking about lifelines! *hugs*] I did some searching online to find the links listed below for those who were like me and want/need the lifeline info. I just started using lifelines in making my GAAA squares in May 2008 and can definitely recommend the use of them! *L*) :
    The Lifeline by Jackie Erickson-Schweitzer
    Using a "lifeline" video: Look under "Fixing Mistakes" for the video, “Using a "lifeline"”
    Lifeline from KnitWiki
  3. How to use Stitch Markers in your Knitting by Gillian Buchanan: This informative article explains about using stitch markers when knitting as well as explaining about lifelines.
    Lifeline Tutorial by Melissa
    Stupid Lifeline tricks from Knitter's Review Forums
  4. Use different colors/types of stitch markers for marking the different places on the rows for the different charts you will be using.
  5. You may also want to use a magnetic needlepoint board (or lots of post-it/sticky notes and/or removable highlighter tape) for keeping track of which row/chart you are on.
    (FYI - I ordered this Chart Keeper from KnitPicks.com on 15 May 2008 due to recommendations from some people on Ravelry and I definitely like it - it's a "keeper" that I definitely am keeping for my use! *LOL* I already have one of these chart holders that I purchased at a Joann's Super Store for $14.99 + sales tax.) You should also be able to find magnetic boards such as these at local stores in your area like Wal-Mart, Hobby Lobby, Michaels, Joann, etc. for less than $10 + sales tax. These magnetic boards are available in some different sizes (6"x10", 8"x10", 12"x18") so the prices do vary depending on the size you choose. You may want to be sure to check out the needlework/cross-stitch areas in the above listed stores if you have some trouble finding them when you are at the store.
  6. You can also scan or make a photocopy of your pattern and work from that so you can write all of the notes you want to write on it rather than marking up your book. If you are having problems reading some of the charts in the book, you may want to try enlarging the photocopy until it's at the right size for you to read it comfortably. You may also want to visit Nina Clock's Fearless Knitting 101 blog to see her method of navigating charted patterns. [FYI: You can also visit Knot Another Hat's blog to get another idea of how you might want to try re-charting the afghan square pattern(s).]
         BTW - Before I get a ton of e-mail/messages about any possible copyright violations for the above paragraph(s), please note that while I am not a lawyer and cannot give any legal advice/help, it is my understanding that under current U.S. copyright laws, you are allowed as the buyer/owner of a pattern/book to make a photocopy of it for your own personal use only, in order to write or mark it without destroying the original pattern/book. You cannot make a copy for a friend, and you definitely cannot make multiple copies and sell them.
  7. If you just noticed that you have a problem with one or more cables in a square, you might to visit Stephanie Pearl-McPhee's (a.k.a. yarnharlot's) blog here to learn the proper way to fix mis-crossed cables along with a "cheat/trick" for those miss-crosses that you can't live with but can't/don't want to frog either.
  8. You can also visit Cara's blog for her tutorial with pics on how she fixed a cable in her knitting by actually CUTTING it!
  9. Some GAAA square tips/recommendations:
    from Nina Clock's Fearless Knitting 101 blog:
    Dagmara Berztiss
    Georgia Vincent

    from Lana's (named4wool's)
  10. Yet Another Knitblog blog:
    Hanna Burns square, a.k.a. "the DNA square"
  11. For some of the square patterns, it may help to create/make an extra chart/graph for when the pattern calls for you to start from row "1" in Chart X on the right side of the square and from row "21" in the same chart but on the LEFT side of the square. So far, I've done that in the following list of squares that I've completed (or am working on):
    Hanna Burns, pages 32-33
    Marian Tabler, pages 6-7

    I already know that I'll be doing it for the following list of squares once I get them started:
    Meredith K. Morioka, pages 8-9.
  12. If you are having problem(s) following the square patterns as they are actually written/presented in the GAAA book, it may help to create your own spreadsheets for each of the squares. If it helps, here's a link I found to a Tutorial - Using Excel to design colorwork written by Marnie MacLean that may give you some ideas. You can also find some Knitter's Symbols fonts available for downloading at the following sites/links:
    Knitter's Symbols Fonts by David Xenakis
    Aire River Design Knitting Font
  13. If you don't like the cabled edging for the GAAA, you may want to take a look at Susan Rainey's pattern for Great American Aran Afghan Garter St Edging or take a look at Nina Clock's completed afghan where she did a garter stitch border for her GAAA. For my GAAA, I'm considering using a border that can be found on the cover of Nicky Epstein's book, "Knitting on the Edge" or at least something similar to it.
  14. A blocking tip from Cathy (a.k.a. on Ravelry as "cajanoon"):
    I use a self-made 15 x 15 board covered with batting, a non-absorbent fabric, and ruler guides and put each square on blocking wires before pinning on -- works like a dream if done one at a time. Of course, each to his own!
    ~*~ Thank you for the useful hint/tip, Cathy! ~*~
  15. Here's a link to a tutorial for short rows that has pics.


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