This is an extension for the Unseen Mandala I shared three years ago. The words I spoke then ring just as true now:
“During these last few months, I have thought a lot about the hidden (unseen) things people go through; some of them temporary, and some of them life-long battles. Regardless of the extent/seriousness/duration, hidden things carry a burden very different from that of visible things. And if they are hidden even from ourselves, whether simply because we don’t have names for them yet, or because we do not want to acknowledge them, that burden becomes even heavier.
I designed this mandala to acknowledge the hidden and unseen, both in others and in ourselves.”
Today, I would like to share the journey of this extension with you. On Sunday, I will share the pattern for the extension, rounding this year off on a happy note.
Righto. Cup of tea/coffee ready?
The Extended Unseen Mandala started its life in A and E, the day I was supposed to release the pattern for the Original Unseen Mandala. It was nothing serious, but I was there long enough to make a good old start on the Whirl Version. I used a Scheepjes Whirl in the Dandelion Munchies colourway (787) and a 3.75mm hook (although I recommend you use a 3mm hook because I crochet tightly!!!). I chose that colourway because I’d used some yellow Catona for the prototype, and the yellow had made me so happy – like I was carrying around my own sun :)
Fast Forward two months, and I was making very little headway with the growing. In fact, I hadn’t even managed to grow the Whirl version to the original size yet. These photos show my progress over four months (November 2020 – February 2021). Each one was taken on a Monday on my way back home from work. The first three were taken on the same bench at Baron’s Court Station. I was wearing exactly the same outfit each time (right down to my My Story Shawl and hand-knit socks). Remember, this was back in lockdown when everything already felt like Groundhog Day! I remember taking these photos and thinking: It really IS groundhog day.
The last photo was taken on the train to Exeter to start a glorious and challenging new chapter in our lives. That moment, sitting on the train on my way to a city I had never even visited to start a new job and life… It was a blissful moment of aliveness. After that, we were too busy settling in and adjusting to having a puppy to even think about working on any projects (except Charlotte’s Universe – after how many years of working on THAT???) I know. Procrastination is definitely a pattern with me!
After Charlotte, I had a fair amount of things going on in my life. Lots of learning, lots of growing, tonnes of gratitude for both the learning and the growing. Not a big fan of HOW life chose to present those lessons. But there you go. I did not design much; I didn’t share much. Maybe I was hiding from the world a little bit. I made baskets with all my scrap yarn instead. LOTS of baskets. I have over a hundred now, I think…
Anyway, somewhere around the middle of 2022, I picked this WIP back up and finished the mandala to the point where the original one ended. I blocked it, ready to take some photos before continuing… and then we had friends over for the weekend, so we did the usual shove-everything-out-of-sight cleaning job, and this little beauty went into the attic for the weekend…
In the meantime, I gathered a collection of Yellow Things to share when I finally got around to sharing this mandala. Little snippets of my life over the course of this mandala’s life. It will be no surprise that the post-it in the collage below says “Procrastination!” It’s a note my mom wrote just before I had Pieter (in 2008!!!). It has moved with us three times and always lives in my kitchen drawer.
Anyway, where was I? I was saying, “…where she accidentally stayed for months”. Maybe a year? Possibly longer! Long enough, at any rate, to leave this dusty imprint on my blocking mat when I finally went to rescue her. Isn’t it a pretty yarn fossil??
After a little bath, she was ready to continue her journey. At this point (the end of the original Unseen Mandala), she measured 44cm/17.36” unblocked and 47cm/18.5” blocked. I used 58g of Whirl up to that point.
So I started taking her out and about with me again. To work so I could crochet while I waited for the bus, and to rugby, standing by the sidelines trying to crochet without any feeling in my cold fingers…
I carried my work around in one of the MANY baskets I mentioned above, jotting my notes down in Xander’s old French homework book. It made me happy that the basket and the book and the pins all matched each other and complimented the Whirl :)
I really enjoy designing with Pineapple stitch, but one of the problems is that I can only ever do one row (two if I’m feeling reckless) before I have to block and check that the maths is working out. I’ve lost count of how often I frogged an entire round (or two – see reckless above).
As I go, I write the pattern down in a sort of chart sentence, easily scored out when I have to frog and rethink. It took me years of writing every single word out as I went before I realise there was a much quicker way. Live and learn, right?
Anyway, here she is three quarters done…
And here she is ALL done. I love that moment when I pin a mandala out for the last time to check that it is flat and big enough… and it actually is!
It took me two and a bit evenings to crochet the finished mandala to the hoop, stooped over and staring first through my glasses then OVER my glasses to try and focus on the black stitches in the dark. I do NOT recommend crocheting a huge mandala to a hoop. DEF not if you are using black yarn at night. I only did it because the florist hoop I found was white, and I didn’t want the white to show through. I will provide instructions for how to do that, should you find yourself in the same boat, but I will also provide instructions for the much simpler method of sewing the mandala to a hoop.
And Tada!!!! Like a Sun in the Night Sky!!
One of my testers, Sabi Bulla, did her version in Blueberry Bambam (755) Whirl, adding a few decorative rounds to make it big enough for her hoop. I love how it looks like the moon in a midday sky :) I think it compliments mine so well! Sabi has written a blog post about her version, sharing the extra rounds she added. You can find that HERE.
Still on the topic of skies, the very next day, Devon awarded us with one of those pink-light skies that are so hard to explain. I often say to people that one of the reasons we moved here was because the light in Devon and Cornwall goes pink. I don’t mean the sunset is pink, although it is. I mean the actual light goes pink, and all the greens and yellows go iridescent, but in a different way to when they go iridescent against a stormy sky. And oh, the day when the pink light collides with a stormy sky…the greens and yellows go bananas!
As soon as I walked into the kitchen and saw the brick wall of the garage shimmering pink, I yelled: “Xandie! Quick! Come help me take some photos of the mandala against the sky!!!”
And here is the very happy result!
Doesn’t that make your eyeballs sing?
Go on, you know you want to make one!!! You can find the pattern HERE.
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