If you're a regular visitor to the Attic, then you will be familiar with my ongoing Mandala craze and my latest obsessive making won't be anything of a surprise to you. To be honest, I can't see a way that this obsession is ever going to leave me so I've come to accept its presence in my life and have learnt not to fight it. I guess I'm lucky in that my involvement with Yarndale gives me an acceptable outlet for my mandala output and so I don't feel guilty when the hoops begin to stack up.
This year I started making a series of 30cm mandala hoops to add to the larger ones I've made for Yarndale in previous years. I'm not sure how many I'll be making in total, but I truly believe that more is more when it comes to creating a stunning visual display in an outdoor setting. So I'll just keep making and making until I run out of time (19 weeks to go!)
In the past when I've made my larger mandala hoops I've crocheted around children's plastic hula hoops. But for these smaller ones I've been using thin metal hoops instead and they are fantastic for this purpose. They are lightweight and very easy to crochet around, plus the simplicity of them really suits these smaller mandala designs. If you are searching for them online, you need to look for "metal craft ring" - they are often used for dream catchers and macrame projects. I buy mine from an Amazon seller called Crafty Capers who I can highly recommend. They sell these white coated metal hoops in 8 different sizes, from 10cm up to 45 cm diameter.
Back in February I showed you my first 30cm mandala hoop, made using a free pattern by Tatsiana of Lilla Bjorn Crochet blog.
I made the one on the right using the same pattern a few weeks after the first one (one is never enough).
The mandala on the left was made using the following colours of Stylecraft Classique Cotton DK (from the outside of the mandala inwards) ::
✤ Soft Lime ✤ Peppermint ✤ Sky Blue ✤ Wisteria ✤ Plum ✤Busy Lizzie ✤ Mauve ✤ Shrimp ✤ Fondant ✤
The mandala on the right uses the following colours (from the outside of the mandala inwards) ::
✤ Fondant ✤ Lavender ✤ Azure ✤ Peppermint ✤ Tropical Jade* ✤ Soft Lime ✤ Sunflower ✤ Seville* ✤ Poppy ✤
*these colours have been discontinued, but it's still possible to find the Tropical Jade shade on eBay
In March I discovered another lovely free pattern to try out - this one was designed by Emily of The Loopy Stitch blog.
I created an ombre effect by using nine different shades of Stylecraft Classique cotton DK.
The colours from the outside edge toward the middle are as follows ::
✤ Nocturne ✤ Lapis ✤ Denim ✤ Teal ✤ Greek Blue ✤ Azure ✤ Peppermint ✤ Sky Blue ✤ White ✤
I love Emily's pattern - the simplicity of it is extremely effective and it was very quick and easy to make (please note this pattern is written using US crochet terms). I altered the last round of the mandala so that I could create the final attaching crochet round in the same way as Tatsiana did for her Spirit mandala. This method is fantastic and creates a super-neat finish - thank you Tatsiana!!
Seeing this small collection of mine slowly grow over the weeks and months of this year has given me a lot of satisfaction. Each mandala is made using 10 rounds of crochet which makes them pretty quick to make, and for someone like me who adores playing with colour, mandalas are the perfect project to indulge this passion. I absolutely love creating mini colour palettes for each one of my mandalas and find that the colour selecting and photographing is as creative and therapeutic as the crochet itself.
After making three mandala hoops following other people's patterns, I decided to have a go at creating my own. I've designed a small 18cm mandala before, as well as a 45cm "Boho Chic" mandala for Simply Crochet magazine last summer. Both of those mandalas were constructed in quite dense rounds of crochet (not all that many holes!) and I had an idea that I wanted to design something more open and airy for my 30cm hoops which will be hanging suspended in the air instead of flat against a surface.
I started out by designing a central flower with 10 petals, then worked out a way to make the flower sit inside a pretty decorative circle. Such fun to design and make, I LOVED the whole process.
When making a mandala to fit inside a hoop, the important thing is to make it smaller than the finished hoop size. I've found that you need around 2 to 2.5 cm all around so that the mandala can be gently pulled out and stretched when attached to the hoop. This creates a neat, taut finish (baggy, saggy mandala hoops are a no-no!)
So for example, if you have a 30cm hoop, then your mandala should measure around 25 or 26 cm across. If you have a 45 cm hoop, your mandala should measure 40 or 41 cm across.
I find it easier to attach the mandala to the hoop if I use stitch markers to hold the crochet in place. It stops everything twisting and slipping around as you work, especially at the start of the joining round. It also allows the crochet to be gently stretched out before you begin the business of working that final round. Remember that the crochet fabric will be under a fair bit of tension as you are aiming to create a taut surface, and you will need both hands to handle the actual crocheting without needing to try and hold it all in place at the same time.
Once it's all crocheted in place, the results are so pleasing! The stitches look like they have room to breathe and the flower looks like it has opened out to full bloom.
When choosing colours for this design, it helps to divide the choices into two sections. First choose four harmonious colours for the flower - these will make up the first 5 rounds, and will also be used again in the final two rounds. Once you're happy with your flower colours, choose four more colours to create the circular part of the mandala. The colour palette should work as a whole, but it definitely helps to think about the colours in two parts.
So if you look at the above colours of Stylecraft Classique Cotton DK, you can see how I've divided them.
The 4 colours I used for the flower are on the left, and the 4 colours I chose for the outer rounds are on the right.
Top row ::
✤ White ✤ Shell Pink ✤ Fondant ✤ Busy Lizzie ✤ Soft Lime ✤ Peppermint ✤ Sky Blue ✤ Wisteria ✤
Bottom row ::
✤ Sunflower ✤ Shrimp ✤ Poppy ✤ Plum ✤ Tropical Jade* ✤ Leaf ✤ Teal ✤ Mauve ✤
*this colour has been discontinued, but it's possible to still find it online (eg on Amazon or eBay)
I wonder what you think of my colour choices? Do you prefer the lighter version or the darker version?
So up until this past week, I had five mandala hoops completed, with a view to making at least 7 more. A good dozen seems very achievable, although I would be seriously tempted to make twice that amount. I've been itching to make a tutorial for my latest mandala but with one thing and another I haven't managed it until this week. Tutorials take up a tremendous amount of time and energy, no doubt about it. There is a need for bright, consistent daylight for at least three solid hours while I make and photograph the step-by-step bits. Add on an extra hour when you go hideously wrong and miscount, throw a tantrum and have to start all over again. And that's before anything gets uploaded and written.
But on Saturday I had the time to sit and make/photograph, and I also had a rather lovely incentive...........................
.................oh Hello, you gorgeous little bag of yarn!!
Rather conveniently, this cute stash of Ricorumi yarn that I ordered from Wool Warehouse arrived on my doorstep in time for the weekend, and so it seemed like a good idea to put it to the test and use it to make my mandala tutorial.
I spoke briefly about the new Ricorumi yarn in my last post - this is a new range of 100% cotton yarn which is soft, matt (non mercerised) and crucially for crochet purposes, it is also non splitty (hurrah!!!!!). It's labelled as a DK weight, but with a hook suggestion of 3-4mm it means that it's quite a fine DK weight. As you can see from the above image, the colour range is seriously tempting, with a delicious mix of stunning brights, soft pastels, delicate vintage tones and a whole host of animal-orientated neutrals.
But the winning thing about this yarn is the size of the balls and the low price - these are dinky little 25g balls which retail at around £1. This means you can treat yourself to a good number of colours without laying out too much money, making it a perfect yarn for small decorative projects such as toys, bunting, wreaths, flowers, mandalas etc.
Interestingly, I could have sworn that I selected a dozen colours, but in reality only 11 made it into my basket. It seems I do prefer to create colour palettes which have an odd number of colours!
I chose the following bright happy shades of Ricorumi, starting from the top and going clockwise ::
✤ Red ✤ Orange ✤ Tangerine ✤ Pistachio ✤ Green ✤ Turquoise ✤ Sky Blue ✤ Blue ✤ Berry ✤ Candy Pink ✤ Raspberry ✤
I took the above photo to show you what I mean about the Ricorumi being a fine DK weight cotton. On the right is the Stylecraft Classique cotton which I usually use for mandala making, and on the left is the Ricorumi. There's not a lot in it, and they both feel very similar to work with. I used a 4mm hook for the Ricorumi (I would usually use a 4.5mm with the Classique), and so there was a small difference in the finished size but not enough to really matter for the purposes of the mandala I was making.
As per usual, I've created a tutorial for my mandala which contains lots and lots of pictures and step-by-step guidance to help you from start to finish.
I've done my best to explain the way that I carry out the joining to the hoop, assuming you will be using a thin 3mm metal hoop like the ones shown here. You can adapt the method if you are using something thicker (eg a wooden embroidery hoop), and of course you don't necessarily need to attach these mandalas to a hoop if you don't want to. You might prefer to keep your creation flat and floppy and use it as a table centre piece (a bit like a modern day doily).
I used 8 colours of Ricorumi in total to make my Positivity mandala.
I chose four hot colours for my flower ::
✤ Orange ✤ Red ✤ Candy Pink ✤ Raspberry ✤
and four contrasting cool colours to create the circle ::
✤ Pistachio ✤ Turquoise ✤ Blue ✤ Sky Blue ✤
The last two rounds repeat the hot pinks from the flower which help tie the whole design together.
Mandalas are extremely therapeutic things to make, and I named this one the Positivity mandala because it really did lift my spirits to make it. It's an easy pattern which uses basic stitches to create something that looks delightful, whether it's hanging from the branch of a tree, or popped onto a plain wall to bring some good vibes into a corner of your home.
I'm really enjoying having my crochet hoops around and confess to playing with them quite a bit! They're very tactile and pleasing in their simplicity and I love just taking in the beauty of the colours......
.......aren't they just so happy looking?!
I can't wait until I've got at least 6 more to add, but even then I'm fairly certain it still won't be enough to satisfy my creative mandala urges. I think that particular creative itch will always need regular scratching.
I'd love to hear if you feel inspired to whip up a hoop or two.....I hope you're tempted to to give it a go!
ps here are the links all in one place for info :
♥ Positivity Mandala Tutorial (includes a free downloadable PDF pattern)