Photo Memory Crocheted Afghan

Susie Lee
by Susie Lee
1 Material
I was looking for a special gift to make for my only living Aunt's 89th birthday. In 2015, we lost my Mom, her sister and BFF. They were only a year and a half apart in age. Growing up on a farm with 8 children during the depression, these two were inseparable. In searching, I found a few things to make for her, but the cream of the crop was this memory afghan I found on Pinterest. Unfortunately, it was in another language...(Dutch???) 😏
So...I set out to figure it out myself.
First I had to decide how big I wanted it. I only had about a month before I was to take it to her in Ohio. (I'm in Michigan) and surprise her with it. I decided to pick 17 different squares from an old granny square crochet pattern book I purchased years ago and use three photo images. I love to crochet, but don't do it often, so I had to pick some that I thought was within my range of capability. Truly any stitch would be fine, but I wanted them each unique and textured. I bought 3 skeins of yarn each in ivory, taupe and a golden tan color, and one skein of black for the trim. I paced myself doing 1-2 squares a day.
Next, I researched how to take photos and transfer them onto fabric because after all, without the photos, it's just an afghan, right? This was fairly simple. I watched a couple videos on YouTube and found ModPodge for photo transferring to be the easiest route to go. It only took a portion of a jar of ModPodge, some small pieces of denim fabric (about a quarter yard) and the printed (mirror image) photo on regular copy paper. (Directions for this can be found on the bottle of ModPodge. Takes about 24 hours for the process.)
Below is a photo I found from google images. It was what inspired me to check out on You Tube exactly how this process was done. Just Google, How to transfer photos with Mod Podge. It is a fairly simple process. Simply apply a thick, even coat of the modpodge to a "mirror image" (in case there is writing, you don't want it to transfer backwards) laser printed photo. This is simply a regular piece of copy paper. Not an actual photo. Then turn it over onto your selected fabric. (It is recommend to use a light color and not too textured fabric for this process to be successful). I used a light color cotton denim. Using a credit card, gently smooth the photo onto the fabric and let it set for 24 hours. Do not cheat on this step!!! In 24 hours, you may wet a sponge or wash cloth and place it over the paper to begin gently rubbing the paper off. The photo will be adhered to the fabric. It will be messy and take several times to completely get the paper off the fabric. For me it took about 6 times to have no residue left.
Once that step was done, I decided to personalize the photos by embroidering their names and nicknames with my Brother embroidery machine. I love layering textures and mixed media type projects.
Some background on the people in the photos (my sweet Mom and Aunt):
Their nicknames were names they gave each other when they played house up on the pasture field hill in Cumberland, KY. My Aunt was Govis. My Mom was Sovis and (not seen for obvious reasons) their imaginary maid, Grongis.
To achieve a uniform look in the photos, I scanned them and changed them all to the sepia color you see in my photos. I also made sure each was approximately the same size before printing.
The fabric was smaller than the actual granny squares ended up being. I ended up crocheting a black boarder around them so I could attach them to the other pieces. The brand of yarn I used was "I Love This Yarn" purchased at Hobby Lobby for $3.99/each. It's soft and easy to work with.

Not being a super savy crocheter, As I mentioned, I decided to use a granny square pattern book I'd purchased years ago. It had over 60 patterns to choose from and all levels of expertise. I picked a crochet needle I thought would not kill off my carpal tunnel or my hands since this was going to be a crochet marathon. As you can see, the granny squares were not exactly "square". This is okay. They key is having them all approximately the same size and the same amount of stitches on each side so when attaching them you don't have issues where one is bigger than the next. Crochet is forgiving like that. If you skip a stitch, it's easy to add one here or there and make them match up. Just make sure it's the same size needle you are using for each square and the same ply of yarn and you should end up fairly close with each square...uh....rectangle.

I did the same thing when crocheting the boarder on each photo. Oh! And to keep the denim from fraying on the raw edges, I added another piece of denim to the back and sewed it on my machine like a pillow case, right sides together then turned it right side out and blind stitched the opening with needle and thread. Voila! No frayed edges. I had to whip stitch some yarn stitches into the sides of the fabric so that I'd have something to crochet the black boarder onto. This was a little challenging, as the fabric was now two ply. But once I poked my BIG, sharp upholstery needle through both pieces, I was able to pull the rest through by jerking it firmly with a needle nosed plier. Yes this took a little time and patience but was worth it in the end. :)
When all the squares were complete and ready to be assembled, I layed them out in front of me on the floor the way I wanted them and began connecting them row by row with a single crochet stitch. Once each row was attached, I crocheted a black single crochet boarder around the entire piece, twice.

Below is the completed afghan. I was thrilled. But not half as thrilled as my precious Aunt was. Sometimes in life, a labor of love ends up blessing us as much as the person it was intended for. This was in November and she's still talking about it.

I'd love to hear if any of you tackle this project and what different colors and configurations you come up with for your own family keepsake/heirloom.
Yes, she cried.
Isn't she precious?
Suggested materials:
  • ModPodge for photo transferring. Sponge brush. I Love This Yarn brand yarn. Cotton Denim fabric.   (Hobby Lobby, fabric purchased at JoAnn Fabrics)
Frequently asked questions
Have a question about this project?
  1 question
  • Angel Miller Champeno Angel Miller Champeno on Jan 01, 2017
    After the project is finished are you able to wash it and how would the picture stay on the fabric?
Join the conversation
4 of 18 comments
  • Stella Stella on Jan 13, 2017
    Perfect gift... Thank you for sharing.
    • Susie Lee Susie Lee on Jan 13, 2017
      Thank you, Stella! You're welcome! She was thrilled. 😊
  • Carol Gonzales Carol Gonzales on Dec 31, 2020

    I may try something like this but the whole modge podge thing is definitely not something I'll do. Instead I plan to print the image on Heat Transfer paper using my ink jet printer. Much easier! I love the idea of using different squares and patterns to tie it all together. Yours turned out so pretty!

    • Susie Lee Susie Lee on Jan 02, 2021

      Thank you, Carol! There are different kinds of mod podge. For different applications. I liked the way it turned out kind of old and worn. A tip when you are printing would be to make the photos darkened because when they come out they are always lighter. Have fun and good luck with your project!! If you are inclined please post a photo I’d love to see it! Also please follow me on Bella Lina Boutique on FB. 🥰