Mandala Madness in Chalabre

Up until this winter, if asked, I’d say I don’t really crochet. I’d tried and failed – repeatedly. Even when inspired by some of the beautiful work of friends at mother and baby/toddler groups I went to while living in the UK, I’d pick up my hook, ready to tackle it once and for all, but fall flat. Try as I might it just didn’t click.

This winter I decided I’d try and knit something a little more adventurous – and also stash-bust. I’ve been collecting beautiful single-skein triangle scarf patterns on Ravelry for some time, and also wanted to try something other than plain knitting, so decided a lace knitting pattern with some beautiful hand-dyed yarn from the stash would be my winter project. Despite my best intentions and efforts it was not to be. Lace knitting requires counting, and the constant interruptions from two small children made that impossible! After my fourth attempt, I quit. But what to do? I still had a tonne of yarn to stash-bust and idle hands that hankered after a yarn project for winter.

That’s when I found a simple scarf/cowl pattern, crocheted, that was simply back and forth with the same stitch over and over. Could I manage it this time? It turned out I could! It was quick and easy – just my kind of project! By the end of winter I’d made about five cowls: two for me, one for James, and others as gifts for my mum and my sister. It was a crochet breakthrough! It was then that I heard about a project being organised by a friend from Chalabre, to make crochet maautndalas which would be used to decorate the town for the summer music festival, Chalabre en Serenade. After seeing some pictures and being quite taken by the simplicity and their beauty, I decided I had to join in.

The project really took off! A group of women (no men, unsurprisingly) met pretty much ever week from the project start – and even though the project is finished, they continue to meet. As a results over 100 mandalas were crocheted – including some sent all the way from the US, by the Riverbend Yarn Bombers! whose work inspired Julie to initiate this project and also inspired me and others to join in and contribute.

It’s been fun. Once I’d got my head around the counting I was able to pretty much make it up as I went along, which suited me well! I’m sure if I’d tried to follow a pattern I’d have ended up frustrated. As it was, they turned out well – and they contributed to the stash busting effort, by using up a ball of white acrylic yarn I’ve not know what to do with but have been lugging around probably for the best part of a decade. Brilliant.

Here’s the result.

A second mandala made of white, blue, grey, peacock blue, and yellow yarn and fixed within a metal hoop to make a circle.
A mandala made of white, blue, grey, peacock blue, and yellow yarn and fixed within a metal hoop to make a circle.

These were on the small hoops (50cm) so were crocheted until they measured ~45cm in diameter. These along with the others have since been erected around the town in Chalabre, ready for the festival, which will take place in August. I’m so happy that I’ve been able to make this small contribution. I’ve seen pictures of them up but have not had chance to visit and see them for myself. From the pictures, they look fab. I’m looking forward to standing under their canopy and seeing my creation in amongst the many others.

More to follow…


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