How To Crochet A Photoghan: Top Tips From The Wooly Duck

How To Crochet A Photoghan: Top Tips From The Wooly Duck

As well as being a designer, I love crocheting photoghans , but unfortunately my pleas for extending the hours in the day to 48 have always been ignored by the Top Guy  so I don't always have the time.

My very first graphghan was a photoghan, a portrait of my youngest daughter. I made it for my Mother in law, later on finishing two more pictures of my other children to be joined into a big blanket. As custom design requests started coming in, my time to crochet has naturally had to be cut, but I still like to work on projects just for me (including a massive Doctor Who photoghan - more on that another time).

As a designer, I get asked for advice often so I thought it might be a good idea to give you some tips for taking on a project like this. Remember - there are no rules. What ever works for you is the right way for you, this is just what works for me.

1. Be prepared. Get organised and think about how to work the project. Talk to us about the yarns you intend to use  and how much to buy, make sure that your hook size is appropriate for the finished size you're aiming for.

Think about your workspace; if you're lucky enough to have dedicated space at home that's great. But if not then think about how you'll want to move an store your project when you're not working on it. This can be a real life saver

Think about yarn management. I tend to use bobbins – cheap clips or washing pegs hooked on to a frame have worked really well for big projects. If not a frame then a yardstick works too.

Photoghan set up

I found that these two videos were really helpful

2. Be patientA photoghan will take time, especially if its your first one. There will be a lot of color changes. Take it stitch by stitch and row by row. Try not to think of it as one bit project, but as lots of little steps. Each step is one more win to cross off. 

3. Again with the color changes. There will be a lot of single color changes. While its frustrating; these 'onesies' are what makes a true photoghan and bring the detail to life. We make our patterns very carefully and remove the single stitches when they're not necessary but some areas will need to have them..

 4. Step back. Don't expect to see any real progress til at least 20-30 rows in and stand away from your work and take a photo of the work and look at the photo, not at the work itself. It'll be much easier to see the progress and the likeness that way. Do take regular photos to mark your progress - it can be a great confidence booster,

5. What to do with the ends? You can weave in the ends but the single stitches might prove to be troublesome. if you insist on weaving then instead of going left to right, go up or down, or even diagonally or find a similar color to weave in to. I never carry color for more than 3 stitches and never contrasting colors as they will eventually show when washed. I put  backing on mine, tying the ends to its neighbor beforehand with a square knot. 

I found this video super useful: 

6. Be prepared for tears. Its often the case that the motivation to create a photoghan comes from a special treasured memory. Seeing a finished photoghan for the first time can unlock evocative memories and... it can get emotional. 

Special memories captured like this in a throw can be treasured and kept in the family for generations.


Thanks for reading! If you've finished your photoghan and want to back it - read HERE to see what I do.

Joanna - aka The Wooly Duck
Founder of 
Geeky Graphghans


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thank you so much for your tips. Unbeknowest to me after I finished my project i then noticed the mouth was lopsided, it looked like a monster from out of space. its over 70 rows down, and there a way to correct it in lieu of ripping it apart? i have already been working on this for six months!

Constance Riales

Thank you for the posts! I’m working through my first graphgan and getting so frustrated. I love your set up with all the spools of different yarn. So much better than the jumbled mess I have. And it never occurred to me to cover the back. That will take so much stress off! The back is definitely not fit to be seen!


So do you recommend weaving in all those gazillions of yarn ends?


Thanks so much Joanna! I’m glad you posted this. I’m liking my work much better now that I went with my intuition. Love the patterns!!

Sheri Willis

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