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Crochet Spirals and Mandalas

If you were a shape – what shape would you be? 

I think I must be a square.

I like straight lines, right angles, vertical and horizontal axis. I like the perpendicular and the solidity of a square. There’s no ambiguity. It is pure, modern art. It is architecture, white cube spaces, frames and paintings.

The circle, on the other hand, is an ethereal shape whose origins have been lost in pre history. The circle began life back in the year dot and I’ve never quite managed to get a handle on it.

This September The Mercerie will be at Yarndale. I’m very excited, and also just a little bit anxious about this event – our largest and furthest from home so far! We weren’t there last year so missed out on the spectacle of 1.25 km of crochet bunting that decked the halls. This year, however, we’re delighted to be able to contribute to the decorative installation co-ordinated by Lucy of Attic24.  Yarndale 2014 will be decorated with hundreds (possibly thousands?) of beautiful crochet mandalas. (er -yes, that’s Sanskrit for CIRCLES) I’ve been following the progress of this project for several weeks now, and have finally found the time to contribute to it, with just days to go before the deadline. So today I’m climbing out of my box, re-framing my thinking and leaving behind the formality and eurocentricity of the square (after the 600 hundred squares of the last project  a circle will make a nice change.) I’ve been getting my head around circles and spirals and reminding myself that mandalas are not just the focal points of meditation, or the trinkets sold in tourist gift shops. Mandalas also have a worthy and deserving place in nature, anthropology, art history, ethnographic studies, textiles and fine art practices. My head spins as I circumnavigate a whole spectrum of spots, dots, circles and spirals; polka dot prints, African baskets, crop circles, medallions, Aboriginal art, spin paintings, land art, standing stones, almanacs, clocks, planets…..

Sonia Delaunay and Paula Baader
Sonia Delaunay and Paula Baader
Damian Hirst, Andy Goldsworthy and Yinka Shonibare
Damien Hirst, Andy Goldsworthy and Yinka Shonibare
Paula Walker, Rozita Fogelman, Attic24 and my crochet mandala!
Paula Walker, Rozita Fogelman, Attic24 and my crochet mandala!

So I’ve been going round in circles and exploring crochet spirals- there’s my little mandala – ready to post to Yarndale! So now I feel inspired to start work on a whole new collection of swirly, hypnotic and meditative designs. I’m imagining bags, round cushions, berets, rugs…… anything else? If you feel like having a go – here’s how to crochet a 2 colour spiral. It’s easier than you think.

How to Work a Crochet Spiral

(UK abbreviations are used here)

Make a magic loop with pink yarn and ch1

Step 1: Work 2 dc, 2htr, 2tr into the ring. *Remove hook from work leaving a large loop.

Step 2: Join yellow yarn into the ring. Ch1, 2dc, 2htr, 2tr into the ring. *Remove hook from work leaving a large loop. *Do this everytime you take your hook out of the work to start a new round.   crochet spiral 1Step 3: Put your hook through the large pink loop and work 2tr into every yellow stitch. Remove hook when you get to the end and put the hook through the large yellow loop to pick up where you left off

Step 4: Work 2tr into every pink stitch. Remove hook when you get to the end and put the hook through the large pink loop to pick up where you left off   crochet spirals 2Step 5: Pick up the pink loop and work into each yellow stitch with trebles, increasing into every 2nd stitch until you get to the end of the yellow stitches. Remove hook when you get to the end.

Step 6: Pick up the yellow loop and work into each pink stitch with trebles, increasing into every 3rd stitch until you get to the end of the pink stitches. Remove hook when you get to the end.

Step 7: Pick up the pink loop and work into each yellow stitch with trebles, increasing into every 4th stitch until you get to the end of the yellow stitches. Remove hook when you get to the end. crochet spirals 3 Continue to work the spiral in this way, increasing every 5th stitch on the next round, then every 6th st, then every 7th , until it is the size you need. If you find your circle is not laying flat you may need to adjust the number of stitches in between shapings to accommodate this.

Finishing the Round.

Step 8: Pick up the yellow loop and work three quarters of the way around the row. Over the last remaining stitches, work half in htr’s, then work the remaining in dc’s finishing with two slip stitches to smooth off the curve. Crochet mandala Step 9: Mark a half way point with a pin, (this is where you will finish) pick up the pink loop and work one quarter of the way around the row. Over the last remaining stitches, work half in htr’s, then work the remaining in dc’s finishing with two slip stitches to smooth off the curve.

And you’re done!

You can ‘frame’ your spiral in lots of different ways – experiment with edges and trims – then sit back and think about what it might become…..  

Image references:

http://www.artnet.com/artists/sonia-delaunay-terk/ http://gallery.aboriginalartdirectory.com/aboriginal-art/paula-walker/circles-of-life.php http://gallery.aboriginalartdirectory.com/aboriginal-art/paula-walker/circles-of-life.php http://www.saatchiart.com/art/Painting-Magic-Carpet-VIII/ http://www.djfood.org/djfood/damien-hirsts-butterly-mandalas http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spiral_Jetty http://www.spiralzoom.com/culture/contemporaryart/contemporaryart.htm http://attic24.typepad.com/weblog/2014/05/mandala-love-.html http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/in_pictures/3757328.stm Shonibare maxa 2003 http://metro.co.uk/2013/02/28/yinka-shonibare-the-banksy-of-sculpture-on-his-split-personality-3518844/

This Post Has 9 Comments
  1. I love your spiral pattern. I belong to a UK Crochet group on Facebook and some of the members would like the pattern. Can I share your link to this spiral pattern for free?

  2. Just wanted to thank you for the pattern it help me a lot i trying to do a six color spiral blanket and was messing it up tell I seen this online and is working out so far just started with breacking up the color with two of each then made myself think it was two color not six thank you so much

    1. Thank you Tanya – I’m really pleased to hear that you found it useful – I’d love to see a picture of your six colour spiral – that sounds amazing!
      best wishes
      Sue

    1. Hi Tanya
      I think the key is check after each round that the work is laying flat and if it looks as though it is beginning to ‘frill’ then just do the next round with no shaping – keeping the same number of stitches.

      The golden rule is to increase using this formula –
      1st shaping round – increase every st.
      2nd – increase every 2nd
      3rd – increase every 3rd
      4th – increase every 4th

      and so on.

      Some shaping rounds will require one or more rows of plain (no shaping) in between. You should be able to tell as you go when not to increase and just do a plain round.

      Not sure if that makes any sense at all – but I hope it helps a bit!

      best wishes
      Sue

      1. Makes some sense so I should take it back to ware it started to not stay flat and just stitch it with none with the increased stitch for a round or more then start the counting again ?

    1. Hi – thank you for getting in touch but there isn’t really ‘a pattern’ a such for this sample. You really just have to follow the written instructions (and pictures) which will give you the basic spiral shape….then it’s up to you how you choose to frame it. This was just a ‘one off’ I made for the fantastic Yarndale project in 2014. You could nip over to Attic 24 – you might find what your looking for there –

      Sorry I can’t be more helpful :/

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