Oh what a wonderful crochet week I've been having, such pleasure with my hook and yarn! I've been dividing my time between my gorgeous coastal ripples and some rather addictive mandala-making. A few days ago whilst dancing through cyberspace looking for mandala patterns, I came across a true beauty. This one stopped me in my tracks and I experienced that instant ants-in-my-pants feeling. You know when you feel so fidgity with excitement that you think you cannot possibly wait another nanosecond before diving straight in to a new project head first? Yeah, I had it bad. Luckily, I had just taken delivery of some new cotton yarn that I had been asked to road test, and so I knew I had to go with it.
This pattern that had me all of a jitter is called the Starflower Mandala.
It's a free pattern by Zelna Olivier who writes a blog called Zooty Owl, and the pattern is written in US crochet terms. Now I really do dread diving into traditional patterns and try to avoid struggling with them wherever possible. But I was determined to give this a shot and I was pleasantly surprised. The pattern is well written, and I found that if I concentrated reeeeeeeally hard it didn't give me too much of a headache. There is some translating to do with this pattern if you are used to UK crochet terms, so read carefully and make sure you adjust the stitch heights.
US sc (single crochet) = UK dc (double crochet)
US hdc (half double crochet) = UK htr (half treble crochet)
US dc (double crochet) = UK tr (treble crochet)
US tr (treble crochet) = UK dtr (double treble)
I made a few mistakes when I forgot to translate, so I started writing it down then. My technique is to read each row out several times whilst scrutinising the photo of the finished item until I get a firm understanding of what that one row needs me to do. I concentrate hard on just one row at a time and try not to feel overwhelmed. Then I scribble out the basic pattern sequence in UK terms so that once I work out the correct position to begin each round, my simple translation helps me whizz through without getting lost in all the pattern blurble. For example, take row 14. The original pattern reads as follows ::
Join yarn into second tr of any 6tr sequence on Row 13; 4ch, 1tr into each of next 4tr; 1dc into each of next 13 stitches; 1tr into each of next 2hdc; 1dc into each of next 13 stitches; *1tr into each of next 5tr: 1dc into each of next 13 stitches; 1tr into each of next 2hdc; 1dc into each of next 13 stitches* *to* x 5; ss into top of 4ch at start of row to close;
So I simply wrote out :: 5 dtr, 13 tr, 2 dtr, 13 tr. I found I could follow that easily then, with no mistakes.
Due to the fact that on some of the rows I made trebles when I should have made double trebles, my finished mandala ended up a bit mis-shapen and ruffly. Nothing that a bit of steam treatment won't be able to sort out, bring out the iron!
First I used a sheet of newspaper and cut out a round hole to make a template. I needed to make a 50cm circle so that I could pop my mandala in the centre of it and gently stretch and pin it out to shape before steaming. I lay my mandala with wrong side uppermost and pinned all the way round, then removed the newspaper before getting the iron out. Hot steam, pffffff, but remember no pressure from the iron. Just the steam, concentrate on the edges. It takes mere seconds. Seconds! Leave it for a minute or two to cool, then you can simply unpin and admire........
.......neat, even stitches...........
............and a wonderful, lacy pattern.
Ta-dah! WOW! This is 50cm across you know, it's a whopper! I just love the way it turned out, but more than that, I absolutely loved the making process. It was all about colour and stitch pattern, rhythm and focus, accomplishment and pride. It was crochet feel-good on a grand scale.
That was yesterday.
Today, I pulled out all my cotton colours again and started straight away on a second version.
It was very much easier doing it for the second time, and I only made one teensy mistake this time. I was able to totally indulge my love of colour play, gosh it was such a pleasure!
I made a slightly different edging this time, and then when it was all finished I found my newspaper template and got busy pinning and steaming again. It's incredibly satisfying doing that bit, the results are really rather brilliant.
Ta-dah!!! Starflower Mandala number 2.
Another big beauty.
I took them outside into the back yard so that I could show you them side by side, aren't they lovely?
Now happy colourful crochet is all very well but you may well be wondering what on earth I'm going to do with two giant mandalas? Well, they are going to be part of a big visual display that I'm organising for this year's Yarndale festival. I'm planning on attaching them to some plastic child's hula hoops (this sort of thing) to make some giant dream catcher type thingies.
Can you picture it? Can you picture a collection of these big beautiful things suspended from the ceiling, spinning and whirling and dancing above your head? I can. I can imagine it very clearly indeed, and I am soooooooooooooooo excited to make it happen.
Starflower Mandala pattern can be found here.
I used Stylecraft Classique Cotton on a 4mm hook.