Seven Steps to Serenity with Crochet Mandalas
I have always felt a lot of stress and anxiety. A ludicrously disproportionate amount, in fact to the amount of actual hardship in my life. It may not be my favorite aspect of my personality, but I’ve learned to find the advantages. One of them is a deep appreciation for the power of busy hands, especially the newest craft in my arsenal, crochet.
There are countless stories of the very real healing powers of crochet; stories of crocheting combat veterans, crocheting through long-term illness, and using crochet to help those in need. Everyone who has put hook to yarn knows that we’re dealing with something powerful here.
Don’t get me wrong: I love my other fiber arts too, for a wide variety of reasons including their impact on my mental health. But for me, crochet is by far the most meditative. (Disclaimer: I have not yet tried spinning yarn. I hear that may be the most meditative of all…)
In particular, I have lately become obsessed with crocheting mandalas. If you, like me, have been craving a little self-care time, I can’t recommend highly enough that you spend an evening making a crochet mandala or two. Spend a few nights stitching mandalas, and you’ll have the makings of a fine wall hanging!
I recently decided to sit down and make a deliberate practice of stitching an entire crochet mandala in one night. For some of you, that might not be all that impressive…but it’s a lot of crochet for me. I came out of it feeling like I’d had a little mini-vacation. My mind was totally clear and I slept like a rock. Here’s how I set the mood for my mandala meditation:
1. Peaceful Environment
I chose a night when my roommates were both out of town and I decided to devote some time to the wall hanging I’ve been envisioning for weeks. Between my roommates and my boyfriend, time to myself is precious. Those of you with children…I can’t even begin to comprehend. You’re superstars.
If you can’t get time to yourself, at least try to find a quiet area where you can minimize interruptions.
Rather than watching TV as I usually do when knitting or crocheting, I played a few familiar records to soothe my mind. (If you can crochet in silence, it’s probably even more meditative. I am not so blessed.) The nice thing about playing a record is, it forces you to get up in order to keep listening. This is ideal for crocheters, as getting up and stretching can prevent stress injuries from holding the same position for too long.
3. Delicious Beverage
For me, it’s got to be a glass of scotch. Talisker is my choice for a special treat. Whatever your drink of choice, have it on hand within easy reach. My mom likes those La Croix waters. My roommate drinks tea. You really can’t go wrong here.
4. Scrumptious Yarn
I wanted colors of yarn that matched the bold, bright colors of my bedroom décor as well as possible. I found that I had the best color choices with DMC pearl cotton size 5. It turned out to be such a great choice for mandalas as it holds its shape really well, never splits, and is so marvelously smooth on the hands. The designs look really crisp and clean, and the colors perfectly match the comforter in my bedroom.
Just about any yarn laceweight through DK will work, though. The important thing is that the yarn itself makes you really, really happy.
5. A Comfy Spot
Let me paint you a word picture: a comfy couch next to the open window, the sun setting, a Sam Cooke record playing, slowly sipping scotch between rows of a gorgeous crochet mandala…yeah, it was great.
But I wanted to be even more relaxed. I decided that this was the day I would dare to try crocheting in the bath.
I figured, if one is going to crochet in the bath, a mandala project is perfect because there is only a small amount of yarn to keep from falling in the water and the project is relatively small and self-contained.
I was pleasantly surprised! I really enjoyed stitching my mandala in the bath. I don’t think I’d do it with most yarns, but I was pretty sure the pearl cotton wouldn’t be much the worse for an accidental dunking. If you haven’t tried crocheting in the bath before, I recommend giving it a shot at least once. Carefully! Some stitchers recommend using a plastic bag to keep your hard work water-resistant.
6. A Great Pattern
I’m completely in awe of the book Modern Crochet Mandalas, a truly epic compilation of over 50 crochet mandala designs. The designs vary from lacy to dense, ranging from 6-17 inches in diameter, and utilizing just about every stitch you can think of. That makes it absolutely perfect for confident beginner (me) and intermediate crocheters to play around with.
I have chosen five mandalas that I will frame on embroidery hoops and arrange above the electric piano in my bedroom. Stay tuned for a post where I’ll show off my finished wall hanging! For now I have one and half mandalas done, but I know I’ll blast through them in no time. These mandalas are addictive!
If you want to try crocheting mandalas yourself and making your own wall hanging, check out the DIY Crochet Mandala Wall Hanging Kit, which includes the digital version of Modern Crochet Mandalas, a set of four wooden hoops ( 4”, 6”, 8”, and 10”) with brass closures, and Love of Crochet Spring 2017, which includes 6 mandala-based projects. Once you start making mandalas, you won’t be able to stop!
7. That Crochet Magic
All these trappings make an evening spent crocheting a little more luxurious, but really, all you need to achieve crochet serenity is hook and yarn. If you want to try making your crochet into a more deliberate meditative practice, there are a few things you can try. I was playing with taking rhythmic breaths tied to my stitches, and I found it extremely relaxing. Many people employ counting as a technique to keep the mind open and the breath even while meditating…and crocheters are already counting! If you want to take it one step further, you can even try adding affirmations to your crochet practice.
And I will tell you…getting in the bath does help.
So let me know in the comments: do you do anything special while you crochet when you really need to relax? Have you ever tried to crochet in the bath?
Yours in Stitches,
Crochet Your Cares Away!