We caught up with Lucy from top crochet blog Attic24 to find out what the mandala craze is all about
“I confess it took me a while to actually get the whole mandala thing, it was a popular crochet trend long before I tentatively dipped my toe in the creative mandala waters. The thing that stops most would-be mandala makers in their tracks is the whole notion of needing a practical use for a crochet mandala, which I know a lot of people struggle with. I’ve been asked so many times “what are they for? What do they do?”, but the simple answer is that they have no specific use. They are decorative items which reward the maker by providing a truly pleasurable creative experience – mandalas are all about immersing oneself in the joy of making.
Having said that, I haven’t encountered any problems finding a use for the many mandalas that I’ve made, they can easily find a happy home around the house. I mainly use mine in much the same way as you would use a place mat; a crochet mandala can provide a lovely centre piece for a table setting, a decorative mat on which to rest a favourite object or a small jug of flowers. Mandalas are very addictive things and I don’t think anyone on the planet can get away with making just one. They have a habit of multiplying rather quickly (oh, go on then just one more….) and once you have made a small handful of mandalas, they can easily be pinned onto plain walls and treated like mini works of art. Mandalas add a welcome little dash of homespun colour and pattern to any small bit of wall or table space, and I love them for that.
The scale of your mandala making can also dictate where and how the finished crochet is put to use. I’ve come across some incredible, intricate, teeny tiny mandalas made with fine thread and a super-thin hook which produces almost jewel-like results. At the other extreme I’ve also admired giant mandalas crocheted using thick yarns which can turn a basic mandala pattern into a stunning floor rug or afghan.
Luckily for us, there are some really great crochet mandala patterns to be found on the internet, many of them shared for free. The simplest of designs can be formed with basic treble crochet stitches worked in the round to form a ‘granny circle’. More complex designs invite you to experiment with a multitude of different stitch patterns, building outwards from a central ring to create many rounds of beautiful pattern and texture. It’s a great way to learn different stitch techniques without committing to a huge project.
Whatever scale of mandala you have in mind, they are great stash busting projects and can be made out of virtually any yarn you have to hand. My favourite yarn to use for mandalas is a DK weight pure cotton, as the great stitch definition is particularly suited to showing off the circular patterns. Cotton also produces a fairly stiff fabric which holds it’s shape well when crocheted, and again this suits a mandala well if it’s going to be used around the home as a decorative item. One of my favourite cotton yarns is Stylecraft Special Cotton Classique DK which comes in a stunning range of colours from rainbow brights to pretty pastels. The yarn is great to work with (non splitty!) and produces beautifully neat and defined stitches.
One of the loveliest things about making mandalas is that you don’t have to commit to a huge new stash of yarn or a year of your life to make one (unless you are aiming to fill your house with them). You can simply grab a hook and some left over scraps of yarn, find a pattern that makes you happy and get busy hooking. The instant gratification is appealing and makes mandalas fantastic little projects when you might just need to scratch a creative itch and keep your hands busy in amongst doing other things. A quick creative fix, a stash busting exercise, a way to learn new techniques, an instant pretty make for your home, a way to relax, play with colour, have fun. Mandalas have an awful lot going for them.”
See what else Lucy has been up to over on her blog Attic24