I wonder how many of you remember the large Starflower Mandalas I obsessed over crocheted two years ago? When I started making the first one, it was simply a case of I-have-to-make-this-right-NOW, with no thoughts whatsoever about what I was going to do with a 50cm crochet circle once it sat on my table. I just knew I was in love with the creative process, and that was enough of a reason to spend many hours scrutinising somebody else's pattern and working my hook and yarn through those rounds. Somewhere in the midst of making the second Starflower mandala, I was hit with the idea of stretching the crochet around hoops to make hanging decorations. And then the realisation that I could display these hanging decorations at Yarndale, therefore immediately justifying my new-found addiction and turning it into "work" (in the flimsiest possible sense of the word). I went on to make three in total (pictured above), with some lovely blogging friends who share my mandala addiction (see this post for info) adding three more beauties to my collection.
Last summer I helped install a local exhibition to tell the story of Yarndale, and the giant mandala hoops looked amazing hung on the plain white walls of the gallery space. The large ones measure 70cm across, they are completely stunning I have to say.
Fast forward another year, and suddenly I was struck once again with Mandala Madness. It can hit when you least expect it, an overwhelming urge to break out the bag of cotton yarns and start hooking oneself into a circular frenzy of colour pattern. Resistance is futile.
I worked on these new Mandalas back in the Spring when I needed a happy holiday project to accompany my trip down to Dorset. Stylecraft had just re-launched it's popular Classique Cotton DK yarn, adding in some new colours and changing the balls to a smaller 50g size. I think the sight of my yarn bag stashed full of such an inspiring set of colours set my creative juices into full-flood mode, and I just knew that Mandala Madness had gripped me.
I bounced all over Pinterest and Ravelry looking for a large mandala pattern to try, but surprisingly it was a beautiful thread doily pattern which caught my eye. The original pattern is the "Autumn Spice Mandala Doily" by Elizabeth Ann White. The pattern calls for size 10 crochet cotton thread with a 1.65mm fine steel crochet hook to make a delicate doily in rich Autumnal shades, but I figured it would be a fabulous pattern to up-scale to a DK cotton yarn with a 4mm hook. Of course, my version came out waaaaaay bigger than the original, so I only ended up making the first 17 rounds to fit my 45cm hoop.
I used the same plastic child's hula hoops that I'd used before, they measure 45cm across which is quite a bit smaller than a standard hula hoop. My method of attaching the mandala to the hoop isn't easy to explain in words, and I didn't think at the time to take any photos of my process (I was in a frenzy of making the other evening). In simple terms, you need to create two rounds of chain loops along the edge of the finished mandala, one round sitting at the front of the mandala (work into front loops of stitches) and one round sitting at the back (flip the mandala over and work into remaining back loops of stitches). This creates a kind of shallow channel for the hoop to sit in - you can then connect the two sets of chain loops with more chains and slip stitches which work around the hoop to hold it all in place. I've tried to show you what those chains/slip stitches look like in the above photo, but it is devilishly hard to explain!
The key thing is not to make your mandala too big - the best effect comes from being able to stretch the mandala out to fit the ring so that the pattern opens up and the surface of the crochet becomes quite taught.
I absolutely LOVE (love love love!!) the finished effect - kind of bold and delicate, flamboyant and dainty all at once. I took the above photo in my studio yesterday to show you the scale of them compared to a normal size mandala (and my latte!).
They look fabulous hung against a plain white wall.......
......so simple, it makes me smile :)
I have them hung on my studio wall at the moment.....
....but they are destined to have the light shining through them as they spin and twirl in the air.....
....ahhhhh can you see what's been in my mind??? Twirling and swirling, light filled colour and pattern!!!!!! I came across this image on Facebook a while ago and stashed it away in my Inspiration Folder - I feel bad because I have absolutely no information to share about where this display took place or who created it, only a "wow" at the beauty of it. I am hoping to create something similar under the trees at Yarndale this year (but on a much smaller scale with my eight hoops).
I can't wait to see it happen!