The afghan of death.

For the borderline snark I’ve brought to Funky Winkerbean of late, I can’t really fault him too much. The comics pages are a risk-free zone most days, and for whatever Tom Batiuk has done to change that, even down to bumping off his characters, well, hats off. (And luckless Lisa was certainly a candidate for early death.) I come today to draw your attention to a small detail of this week’s strips:

The afghan of death, seen here on Lisa’s penultimate resting place. (UPDATE: Link doesn’t appear to want to load. Might be a traffic issue, as millions of comics fans check out the end, the end, the bitter end. Maybe try back later. It sort of looks like this.)

For you knitters out there, that is what this pattern is called, isn’t it? Because I don’t think I’ve been in a nursing home or hospice that didn’t have one in every room. Always the zigzag pattern, always those colors, always acrylic yarn. It’s like that cat that knows when you’re going to die — get the afghan of death, get your affairs in order.

Actually, you could say that about most afghans, although I have one on every couch and wouldn’t live without any of them. It gives Alan’s knitty family something to give us, and they’re all in shades of cream. Thank God.

Posted at 10:24 am in Popculch |

34 responses to “The afghan of death.”

  1. LA mary said on October 4, 2007 at 10:36 am

    I can’t get the comic to load, but I know which afghan you mean. I know you can crochet it, not sure about knitting. I think it’s called royal ripple, or something. I’m sure Dorothy will know.

    192 chars

  2. nancy said on October 4, 2007 at 10:38 am

    See, that’s the thing. Say “that afghan you always see in nursing homes,” and everyone knows precisely what you’re talking about.

    129 chars

  3. LA mary said on October 4, 2007 at 10:41 am

    Let me guess the colors. Burnt orange/brownish/tan combo?

    58 chars

  4. Julie Robinson said on October 4, 2007 at 10:44 am

    It’s a easy pattern to make, either by knitting or crocheting. They are variously called prayer shawls or comfort blankets. If it’s a prayer shawl, the maker has prayed that it helps give comfort to its recipient and family. It’s a whole ministry that gives people who like to make these things a chance to contribute. Often it’s older women who can no longer be physically active, but can still use their hands. Sometimes they get together to make them so it also provides fellowship time. Batiuk’s use of one shows he’s been around hospices.

    549 chars

  5. nancy said on October 4, 2007 at 10:46 am

    Excellent guess! I think that was the color combo in my mom’s room. No, this was purple, red and sort of gray, obviously something from the “cheer up! It’s only cancer” collection.

    Edit: Oh, THANKS, Julie. Make me feel GUILTY.

    230 chars

  6. Connie said on October 4, 2007 at 10:47 am

    It’s a basic crochet pattern known as the “Ripple” and there are many design variations, often based on color changes. I made one back in 1987 when I was trapped in Indianapolis’ Methodist hospital for 77 days. It’s all double crochet and chains, so it’s an easy pattern to learn and goes quite fast. Let me know if you need a pattern.

    338 chars

  7. LA mary said on October 4, 2007 at 11:09 am

    It does go very fast. I crank out baby blankets in this stitch in an evening, but not in nasty colors. Most recent one is rose/persimmon/eggplant/olive green combo. I don’t do pink or blue. I’m doing a granny square one in cream and grey as well. Two new babies in the HR department in the last month.

    301 chars

  8. MichaelG said on October 4, 2007 at 11:32 am

    I don’t know anything about knitting (but I know what I like?) however in “For Better or For Worse” the old man, Elly’s dad, just had another stroke and looks good for maybe another week. FBFW is generally one of the best strips out there. One of the four, make that three now, that I read. Doonesbury and Dilbert are the others. I read Farley in the SF Chron for many years. It may have been the best of them all but it was strictly local and not syndicated. The subject matter and characters were all too SF centric. The creator, the wonderful, funny and talented Phil Frank died a few weeks ago and that was the end of that strip.

    I’m still not sure what to think about comic strips that feature sad events. I read them for entertainment and amusement. I have enough problems of my own without suffering through Elly’s dad’s (I forget his name) problems. I guess I go along since the strip is of such high quality.

    931 chars

  9. Julie Robinson said on October 4, 2007 at 11:41 am

    Guilting unintended, Nancy.

    MichaelG, do you read Zits? It’s been very helpful to me in understanding my son. And even occasionally, in him understanding me! Without a brother myself, raising a boy has been quite the adventure. Zits is often on the refrigerator hall of fame.

    Elly’s Dad is named Jim. And my nickname is OCD.

    335 chars

  10. MichaelG said on October 4, 2007 at 11:42 am

    Here are a couple of Farley links. The first goes to the subject of death in comics and also has lots of other stuff including archives.

    The second is about Phil Frank. I really felt badly when Frank died.

    Thanks, Julie. I’ll check Zits out.

    381 chars

  11. Peter said on October 4, 2007 at 11:51 am

    Oh hey, there’s more than three good comics – I like Mr. Boffo and Willy ‘n’ Ethel, and whenever I see it, I have to get my Zippy the Pinhead fix.

    146 chars

  12. Cathy D. said on October 4, 2007 at 11:59 am

    Get Fuzzy.

    10 chars

  13. John said on October 4, 2007 at 12:02 pm

    I love reading the newspaper comics and For Better or For Worse is one of my favorites. Lynn has the good sense to let her characters live and die gracefully.

    We are off for a week in Cancun to celebrate my wife’s 50th birthday. You all behave while I’m gone.

    266 chars

  14. Sue said on October 4, 2007 at 12:32 pm

    Yay for Get Fuzzy and Candorville. Save me from Cathy or any of the serial soaps (Mary Worth, etc.)

    100 chars

  15. LA mary said on October 4, 2007 at 12:49 pm

    You’ve got to check out Comics Curmudgeon. You will gain a whole new appreciation of Mary Worth, Judge Parker, Mark Trail and my new favorite, Gil Thorp.

    153 chars

  16. derwood said on October 4, 2007 at 1:10 pm

    Anyone remember the cartoon called Arnold? Ran in the mid 80s. Arnold was a twisted little comic…but i loved it.


    121 chars

  17. Dorothy said on October 4, 2007 at 1:20 pm

    FBOFW is a good one. I don’t have problems with comic strips with occasional forays into sad stories. It’s only a comic strip, unlike my real life. Which is usually pretty happy with occasional forays into sad stories as well!! ZITS is another favorite, and I also can’t miss BABY BLUES.

    The Ripple pattern is actually done with single crochet stitches, not double. I imagine you can do it in double crochet, but it would look very different over all. I got one as a wedding gift 28 years ago in cream/orange/brown!! I haven’t used it in years; I think it’s in my hope chest or something. I’ve made a few in that pattern, but I like to use spiffier color combinations. Like variegated greens or something. I also like the shell stitch afghan, and my current fave is the popcorn stitch.

    Mary I’m making a baby afghan now in sage green/white/soft turquoise combinations. I have one picture of it at flickr in beginning stages. A girl in my office is having twins in Feb. or March and I plan to make two of them for her. If she has girls, though, I might have to rethink as they look distinctively boyish in green/turquoise shades!

    1147 chars

  18. LA mary said on October 4, 2007 at 1:43 pm

    Both the babies in our office are girls, but I went to both baby showers, and they have enough pink already. Also enough dresses/onesies/bibs that say, “Little Princess,” to last a long time. I chose the rose/persimmon/eggplant/olive combo based on the way the mom dresses. I know she’ll like it.

    296 chars

  19. nancy said on October 4, 2007 at 1:47 pm

    Speaking as one who had a girl, I can say I’d much rather have that color combination than more effin’ pink. Also, that the person who invented frilly headbands for girl babies ought to be shot. Or forced to wear one.

    217 chars

  20. derwood said on October 4, 2007 at 1:49 pm

    Do babies really need headbands?

    32 chars

  21. Kirk said on October 4, 2007 at 2:18 pm

    I’m so glad to hear that there are others who find those baby headbands idiotic. On the other hand, I found a Web site where you can buy Bob Marley wigs for babies.

    164 chars

  22. nancy said on October 4, 2007 at 2:18 pm

    Of course they don’t. But some mothers apparently need reminding, during the early, bald months, of the gender of their child. Hence, the pink explosion and headbands.

    167 chars

  23. Dorothy said on October 4, 2007 at 2:18 pm

    No they really don’t! I never ever had one for mine, I have to admit. And I agree about the pink stuff. In little doses it’s okay but too much makes me nauseous. My girl actually preferred purple to pink anyway.

    I think Lori would be tickled (not pink) to get matching baby afghans regardless of the sex and the colors of the blankets. She has miscarried once already so she’s a little anxious about this pregnancy. We are all very happy for her.

    My niece Jessica is expecting around the same time and she is doing the nursery in neutral beiges and creams. Lambs and clouds is how she put it! I am going to make her a quilt instead of an afghan. They refer to the baby as “Rookie” because her husband is such a huge football fan. But they’ll be head over heels for the baby regardless of the sex. We’re a baby-crazy family, that’s for sure.

    857 chars

  24. Dorothy said on October 4, 2007 at 2:24 pm

    Here’s my ripple afghan:

    Hopefully it will never become an afghan of death!!

    144 chars

  25. brian stouder said on October 4, 2007 at 2:35 pm

    Great ripples, Dorothy!

    I keep twisting Pam’s arm to post here, and maybe someday I will succeed. Meanwhile, for the record, our daughter Chloe turned 3 in June, and she still hasn’t got a whole lot of hair, which means nothing 99.9 percent of the time (or 100% of the time, to me), but sometimes mom tires of people saying something conversational like “Hold old is he?” or “Boy, he sure is cute” etc. And then, mom will put a bow in her hair, or a band on her head…and even then, she sometimes still hears something similar.

    As for Chloe, her opinion seems to be “the more bling, the better”; especially when it comes to glittery shoes!

    654 chars

  26. LA mary said on October 4, 2007 at 3:20 pm

    I used to go to a shop that sold items made by senior citizens and my kids had great hand knit sweaters in colors like dark green and grey and brown. They looked like the sweaters my oldest brother, born in 1937, wore.

    218 chars

  27. Joe K said on October 4, 2007 at 3:35 pm

    I remember ARNOLD!!! one of my favorites. Little Brother SID, and his friend Tommy. One strip had Arnolds grandmother looking for her teeth, Sid had them in his mouth with a huge grin, that one hung on the refrigerator for years.
    I also was a fan of the pirates, Overboard, The Fort Wayne papers quit running it years ago but I think the Free Press has it.
    Joe K

    364 chars

  28. colleen said on October 4, 2007 at 3:47 pm

    OOO, Dorothy, that’s a really pretty combo!

    I just finished a black hoodie with green trim for a baby girl. The mama HATES pink, so I asked what color she would like. The thing turned out really adorable looking, which wasn’t bad, because I was winging it on the pattern.

    276 chars

  29. MichaelG said on October 4, 2007 at 4:28 pm

    Remember those awful “Baby on Board” signs? I once saw a car with a sign reading “Baby Carries No Cash”.

    My daughter Stephanie is due on Nov 17. It’s supposed to be a girl. Steph is definitely not a pink person. Should “Stephanie” be led by and followed with commas?

    275 chars

  30. Dorothy said on October 4, 2007 at 7:27 pm

    Thanks Colleen! If you ever photograph that hoodie and post it somewhere online, let me know! The combination sounds great.

    MichaelG, in my opinion no commas are necessary in such a short sentence. But I’m not a journalist – it’s just what seems right to me.

    264 chars

  31. Colleen said on October 4, 2007 at 7:42 pm

    Here it is:

    90 chars

  32. Dorothy said on October 5, 2007 at 6:55 am

    So cute Colleen!

    16 chars

  33. Julie Robinson said on October 5, 2007 at 7:42 am

    Awesome hoodie, Colleen, and Dorothy, I’m impressed because I have never mastered the popcorn stitch. Maybe this will be the year.

    And Farley looked like great sly fun and reminded me of another old favorite–Agnes. It hasn’t appeared here for awhile so I looked it up and it’s still being written. I started to sign up for a subscription but when I saw I had to wade through a page of other offers of the “make big money at home” type I backed out quickly. Grr.

    469 chars

  34. Dave said on October 5, 2007 at 4:50 pm

    I like Pickles about the retired couple and Red and Rover, a boy and his dog strip. Also like Jump Start.

    FBOFW gets consistently blasted on the Comics Curmudgeon, the constant theme seems that the Pattersons’ are too goody-goody.

    Funky Winkerbean jumps ten years, Les looks like he aged twenty. Will Funky have a haircut?

    331 chars