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Turns out that the term "afghan" does specifically refer to a home-made blanket or throw, often one made by knitting or crocheting in geometric shapes. The reason afghans are sometimes also called throw blankets is that often the materials used to make them would break down or decay so that the blanket would eventually be thrown away. Such blankets were first made in Afghanistan and commonly used yarn to make the blanket with geometric designs and many holes in lacy patterns. In America, the tradition has become to make afghans for decoration, to be draped over a couch or armchair, and for napping or warmth while watching television. Afghans are usually self-made or received as a gift from another crafty person. Come to think of it, what a great gift to share with someone!
"The reason afghans are sometimes also called throw blankets is that often the materials used to make them would break down or decay so that the blanket would eventually be thrown away."
Who ever wrote that line .... (expletives deleted)
I knit and crochet many afghans. The oldest is well over 30 years old and is in find condition still; it's been used and washed and dried umpteen times over the decades and has NOT ready to be thrown away!!
If it's called a 'throw', it's more likely because one throws it on when chilly - while sitting watching TV or reading/studying. Grrr!
Response: Fair enough! But, also consider, really way back, I don't think that the yarns and materials available for crocheting and knitting were as well made and processed as what we have now. Nomads traveling in the elements probably exposed their "throws" to a lot more than your beautiful afghans. But, either way, I like your explanation better!