Monday, March 19, 2018

How Crochet Heals and the Magic of Mandalas by Kathryn Vercillo

Crochet is a craft that is easy to learn, relatively affordable and offers a lot of surprising benefits. Through my own personal experience journeying out of depression, along with research done into the topic, I’ve learned how crochet helps people with both mental health and physical health issues. In particular, I’ve seen how crocheting mandalas (circles) is a healing act.

A crochet mandala is a circle worked in the round. It can use very simple crochet stitches or it can be a more complex pattern. What makes it a mandala (not “just a circle”) is arguable but essentially it boils down to intention. When you crochet a circle with mindful intention, it holds the power of the mandala. Crochet mandalas are used as coasters, rugs, blankets, wall art and more but the act of crocheting a mandala is about the process of the work much more than it is about the final project.

A simple meditative crochet circle pattern is perfect for making a mandala. Repetition of simple stitches in crochet offers a range of benefits. First of all, you can make this type of mandala even if you have just learned how to crochet. The repetition eases you into a mode of relaxation, which offers the benefits of stress reduction and rejuvenation. Those benefits help with all sorts of health conditions from depression to relief from chronic illness. The repetition of working stitches is also believed to release serotonin, which improves mood, boosts the immune system and reduces sensations of pain.

These benefits are achieved with all types of repetitive crochet and their power may be magnified by working in the round. Many cultures and belief systems emphasize the inherent healing power of the circle. Jung, who worked with the unconscious, said that mandalas symbolized wholeness. Susan F. Fincher, who has done extensive work with mandala art therapy, notes that working with them helps orient us in the world; there’s a biological and psychological component to this. The circle connects us to the rest of the universe, which gives us a sense of place in the world, increases feelings of well-being and improves our quality of life. We may not realize that these benefits are happening as we crochet a mandala but there could be unconscious powers at work.

I didn’t start crocheting mandalas just because they got trendy, although that’s a perfectly fine reason to do so. I started crocheting them after I learned of the death of crochet designer Marinke Slump in 2015. I had previously interviewed her about how crochet had helped her with social anxiety and depression related to her diagnosis of Aspergers’ syndrome and was devastated to learn that a relapse of depression had led to her death by suicide. Marinke was one of the first contemporary designers crocheting mandala patterns, and I chose one and worked it repetitively in the weeks following her death. It was a means of feeling connected to her and to my craft while doing something that didn’t require focus (because I already knew the double crochet stitches and simple increases used in the project).

I created the Mandalas for Marinke project in response to her death. I accepted submissions of crochet mandalas from over 300 people who shared their stories about depression, suicide and crocheting to heal. The project consisted of near-daily blog posts for over a year sharing these mandalas, stories and information about mental health. In 2017, there were two different exhibits of the mandalas in Southern California. I also released a book that offers a curated selection of the project. 

Here are a few of the things that contributors shared that further illuminate the healing power of crochet:

Crochet helps keep my depression episodes at bay, I know many crocheters and knitters have mental health issues. The work we do and the community we belong to help keep us focused and positive (as much as we can be). At least it does for me.” – Andrea K

“My crafting has at certain points in my life been the only things to get me out of bed to face a new day.” – Lisa Mazzarano

“Depression takes the colour, sense, meaning and worth from people's lives. A long time ago, I was in a similar place. With help and healing I was able to get through, but there are days when the darkness feels to close for comfort, mainly days when I am in pain from my fibromyalgia. Crochet gives me something to focus on and although it can never cure the condition I have, it gives me a sense of peace and accomplishment. That's what gets me through the painful days.” – Nikki

“Crochet got me out of bed last year. Crochet broke through my pain threshold of sitting more than 15 minutes. Crochet brought joy back. I can't do everything I want to do in the body I live in. I give thanks every day I can crochet!" – Flo

"I am a retired Psychologist. While I have not had any personal experiences with mental health/ depression/ suicide, I worked in the mental health field for many years. I had several clients commit suicide during my tenure. Depression cannot withstand activity so the more activity and concentration expended to read patterns, follow directions, and create something beautiful from a hook and yarn, the more fulfilling and better your self-concept and self-esteem becomes.” – Alice Dolamore

Crochet heals us. It’s undeniable. It relieves symptoms of depression and anxiety, contributes to overall improved quality of life, boosts self-esteem, reduces stress and offers us an outlet for any stress or issues with mood. Crocheting mandalas can be especially helpful because of the natural healing properties of working with circles. Be kind to yourself; crochet.


This is a guest post by Kathryn Vercillo, blogger at Crochet Concupiscence and author of several books including Crochet Saved My Life and Mandalas for Marinke. Support her work with micro donations through Patreon.
My collaboration with Kathryn goes way back and I am immensely happy to have her as my guest today. Thank you so much Kathryn!!
If you want to see my contribution for the Mandalas for Marinke project, the free mandala pattern is here.


Friday, March 16, 2018

Shabby Chic Cuff Pattern

Happy Friday guys!
Before I sign off for the weekend, I have a new pattern to tell you about.
If you are a romantic at heart - this is the thing for you. It involves soft colors and solid shells sprinkled with seed and pearl beads that add up beauty to the whole composition.
Like with all my patterns, the instructions for this shabby cuff are accompanied by lots of pictures so following it is quite easy and fun.  
More technicalities here and here.

Aside for the pattern, the cuff is also for sale.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Shabby Chic Photo Album Idea

I have found this old photo album while clearing my hub's gran's house. Although with no appealing façade I couldn't just get rid of it. It was in mint condition and only the first two pages showed slits cut for picture insertion but it was empty and I doubt his gran kept pictures inside.  Normally I kept it for one of  my "whatever I might dream of" projects.  
This is what it looked like.
Not very impressive, eh?
What I did is cut that ribbon that held everything together and using an old linen piece I kind of upholstered it.
Next, using lace (that his gran had on all her linen as border - I was the lucky recipient of it!) I made a sleeve for it, but did not sew it all around. Instead I sewed snap fasteners so that when it gets dirty, I could take it out and easily wash it away.
On the sleeve I sewed a flounce topped with lace and ribbon and added sateen rosettes. To prevent it to be to kitschy - kitschy I just added a card, although skeleton keys, pearl buttons and tulle pom-poms were all part of the game.
I am going to put mostly pictures of our (great)grandparents inside. With that said, this is going to be one treasured photo album.


Monday, March 12, 2018

Insta Love: liskin_dol

Happy Monday dear people!
Let's share some instagram love, shall we?

Elena Tyn runs the account liskin_dol. It is a wondrous one and I became a huge fan in a heartbeat.
Just look at the pictures for explanation, not that I think one is necessary.

Elena and her mother make little cozy things for the soul inspired by the Russian forest. You can feel nature breathing in from every piece that they create. And they all feel like little fairytales.



Saturday, March 10, 2018

Beaded Jersey Lariat DIY


A couple of years ago I retired this tunic. It was well worn but not worn out and shabby, so I didn't throw it away. I mean... pfff sane seamstress would do that!

It happens that I have a plain sweatshirt in a similar color that needed to be decorated so I turned to this jersey.

I cut 2 long strips of it and stretched them well so they curl up on the inside and no hemming is necessary. One strip is longer than the other. I beaded them at a certain distance and added caps on the ends. The rose  is sewn on the flounce and has a pin at the back so it serves as a brooch which I can choose where to pin on the strips. And that's it.
Easy, fast and quite cute.


Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Crochet Brooches: Paradise Birds

Hello dear people!
I am here today with what I like to call my procrastination time fillers. I do not really procrastinate because I am always onto something, working on bazillion projects at a time so my planned and even scheduled crochet and other projects get neglected.
But some other gorgeousness gets to see the light of day - like my paradise birds. I wanted to make something fun - something spring like and when I chose the colors for the birdies I decided I would bead them all. Must tell you the beading came at a right time - immensely mediating and relaxing, so this almost felt  as a recuperation project.
I made the green - yellowish bird first and I didn't have a particular scheme / graph for stitching the beads because I was working on a whim, so it turned out a bit impressionistic in appearance.
For the purplish one - I made the body fluffier. The heads of both are the same but the first has bigger beads on it, the second bigger body and that gives the illusion that the purple's head is smaller. Anyhow, before I lose my point here... I wanted the purple one to be more realistic so I changed the beading pattern for that one.
I love them both. They are going to be real head turners. I tried them both on a denim jacket and they looked perfect - too bad the lighting was off so I cannot show those yucky pictures here. But take my word for it :)
Until soon!

Monday, March 5, 2018

Insta love - Lena Bekh

Meet Lena Bekh!

The child in me always leaps out upon seeing her toys on instagram. And they are quite attention grabbers! Her work is unique and she really works a true magic  using natural cotton, linen and vintage accents to create these adorable whimsical creatures.

Discover more of these adorable creatures on her instagram.

Sunday, March 4, 2018

Celebrating 5000!

We are celebrating a milestone!
 5000 sales on etsy  

To mark the success, we offer 30% off on all our individual crochet patterns and pattern packs!


or just click this link to have the discount calculated immediately.

Thank you for your continuous, unreserved support!
We wouldn't have made it without YOU!!!

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Crochet Necklace Idea - Bunting Necklace

I have toyed with the idea of making a bunting necklace, where I would match crochet with textile, but in the end it was crochet only.
I crocheted long {triangle} pieces which I strung onto a wire and to make the piece compact I didn't sew them together - that would have been too stiff - instead I joined them at the middle using jump rings and also at the ends, but left the last ones free so they can stand / hang naturally. I added different seed beads and sequins to make it more attractive.
Needless to say this is my new favourite piece!


Monday, February 26, 2018

Wall Mural by Photowall - My Green Roses on Wood

This is a sponsored post.
There is one click between you and a wondrous world of wall murals. A world created by the sweetest of dreams, playful imagination and captivating fantasy.  
When I entered it, I stood there in awe while my inner child pulled my arm towards the weaved fairy tales, my teenage self wowed at the hip city images and my adult self was mesmerized by the nature and art murals. The world that stole my heart is called Photowall.

What is Photowall: They are a Swedish company with a passion for design and quality. Their wall murals and canvas prints are environmentally friendly, fire-retardant in accordance with Swedish standards and do not fade in sunlight. All their motifs are selected with care.

They offer wall murals with over 3.000 motifs from more than 70 designers and their canvases are made from 100% cotton. You can even have a mural made of your own design. All you have to do is upload your image. Isn't that amazing?

I chose this mural which is called "My Green Roses on Wood". What I loved most is that you can crop the image according to the size you want to order.

It arrived within a week,  along with a wall paste. It was accompanied by thorough instructions and there is also an immensely helpful video on youtube. So with our so little to almost non-existent experience with mounting a wall mural, putting it up was a real breeze.

The quality of the paper and print is top! The bedroom is extra special now.We are absolutely smitten by our mural!

Some of my favourites:



What is also very exciting is that Photowall are giving 20% off using the discount code MayaKuzmanCampaign2018.It will be available for 30 days.
They ship worldwide but if  you are in Europe, they have free delivery in the EU.
Follow their Facebook and Instagram for news and updates.

I hope you get equally mesmerized as we were!