Knit a community afghan A colourful blanket that's ideal for a group to knit. By Susan Alain Winter holidays are a time of generosity -- a time of sharing not only with those who mean the most to us, but also with those less fortunate. In some European countries, old traditions call for lighting candles in windows to invite in the wandering and hungry, and some historians believe that folks in Britain and Canada honour Boxing Day, December 26, as the day parish church alms boxes were opened for the poor.The blanket featured here -- ideal for a group to knit for a needy family or to raffle off as a fund-raiser -- is composed of 96 squares and is worked in simple garter stitch. The squares are portable and don't take long to make; arranging them into the final design is fun and satisfying. Try assembling squares so like-coloured corners form triangles along the border (as shown here), place them to form solid-colour squares, or let chaos reign and fashion them into a crazy quilt.Finished measurementsApproximately 40" [1 m] wide by 60" [150 cm] longMaterialsHarrisville Highland Style (100% wool; 200 yards / 100 grams): 2 skeins each #17 Bermuda blue, #7 tundra (gold/green), #8 hemlock (mossy green), #23 magenta, #4 gold, #48 dove grey, #13 peacock (turquoise), #40 topaz (rusty orange), and #18 aubergine (dark purple)Note: If using stash yarn, approximately 2200 yards [2010 m] worsted-weight yarn in several different colours are needed.NeedlesOne pair straight needles size US 7 (4.5 mm)Crochet hook size US 6/G (4.5 mm) for edgingChange needle size if necessary to obtain correct gaugeGauge1 square = 5" (12.6 cm)Notes• When changing colours, choose a new colour with high contrast to the last, especially for the wide stripes across the centre of each square.• Stitch count will be the same as the row number through Row 30.Afghan squaresRow 1: Using colour of choice, CO 1 st.Row 2 -- Increase Row: YO, k1 -- 2 sts.Rows 3-14: YO, knit to end -- 14 sts.Row 15: Change colour as follows: YO, k3; using both the old and new colours held together, k4; break off old colour; knit to end with new colours -- 15 sts.Row 16: YO, knit to end -- 16 sts.Row 17: Repeat Row 15 -- 17 sts.Rows 18-19: YO, knit to end -- 19 sts after Row 19.Row 20: Repeat Row 15 -- 20 sts.Row 21: YO, knit to end -- 21 sts.Row 22: Repeat Row 15 -- 22 sts.Rows 23-29: YO, knit to end -- 29 sts after Row 29.Row 30: Repeat Row 15 -- 30 sts.Row 31 -- Decrease Row: Skp, knit to end -- 29 sts remain.Rows 32-37: Skp, knit to end -- 23 sts remain after Row 37.Row 38: Change colour as follows: Skp, knit 3; using both the old and new colours held together, k4; break off old colour; knit to end with new colour -- 22 sts remain.Row 39: Skp, knit to end -- 21 sts remain.Row 40: Repeat Row 38 -- 20 sts remain.Rows 41-42: Skp, knit to end -- 18 sts remain after Row 42.Row 43: Repeat Row 38 -- 17 sts remain.Row 44: Skp, knit to end -- 16 sts remain.Row 45: Repeat Row 38 -- 15 sts remain.Rows 46-59: Skp, knit to end -- 1 st remains after Row 59.Break yarn and pull through last stitch to secure, leaving a 12" [30 cm] tail.Repeat Rows 1-59 until 96 squares are completed. Pull all ends to teh WS of each square (whichever side you choose), and weave them in.FinishingWhen assembling blanket, arrange squares in a rectangle 8 squares wide by 12 squares long on a spread-out bed sheet; roll up sheet when desired arrangement has been achieved. This will hold squares in place until they can be whipstitched together, which can be done by unrolling the sheet to expose one row of squares at a time. Using the tails left over from securing the last loop, sew squares together. Using crochet hook and colour of choice, work 2 rows single crochet around entire Afghan.Excerpted from Handknit Holidays: Knitting Year-Round for Christmas, Hanukkah, and Winter Solstice by Melanie Falick, with photographs by Susan Pittard. Excerpted by permission of Stewart, Tabori & Chang. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.