It’s been about 50 years and millions of stitches since Joanne Barrowman started knitting afghans, but she’s still going.

“I like to make different designs, and I don’t make anything twice,” Barrowman, a Spring Valley resident, said.

She’s made the blankets for her children, her grandchildren and now her great-grandchildren. The afghans have traveled near and far from local relatives to those around the United States and even oversees to military personnel.

Each one of Barrowman’s creations is a unique design. She said she likes the challenge of trying new concepts and is currently working on a blanket commemorating fallen soldiers.

“I never could just sit and watch TV. This is what I do to keep busy,” she said. “It’s just fun. It’s my hobby.”

The crocheting requires thousands of stitches, and one blanket can take months at a time depending on the complexities of the design, Barrowman said. Overall, she said she makes about two or three blankets a year. And a blanket can hold about $20 worth of yarn or more depending on the size. But Barrowman doesn’t let any excess yarn go to waste. She uses it to make potholders.

“So, everyone gets potholders from me too,” she said.

For those looking to get into the hobby, Barrowman didn’t have many tips to offer. She said she was taught the basics by a family friend and then learned to do some of the more intricate work on her own. But she did advise that if you make a mistake on a pattern, it just adds a little hand-made charm to the overall product.

“The mistakes are what make it homemade,” she said. “Sometimes I can go back and fix it and sometimes that’s just a part of it.”

Brett Herrmann can be reached at (815) 220-6933 or svreporter@newstrib.com. Follow him on Twitter @NT_SpringValley.

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NewsTribune Online Editor covering Spring Valley and Dalzell. Contact him at (815) 220-6933 or svreporter@newstrib.com

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