“Sophie’s Universe” is a well-known square crochet blanket by South African designer Dedri Uys, who is currently living in the United Kingdom with her husband and three sons. It was first introduced in January 2015 on Dedri’s website as a 20-week mystery crochet-along (CAL), and it instantly exploded in popularity. The pattern, background story, suggested photo tasks, and more were published at the end of 2016 in a book by the same name, which is still sought after today. What makes this blanket so unique? Paraphrasing some of the words published to describe it: “It starts with a simple granny square with a beautiful crochet flower in the center and gradually unfolds into a stunning, hypnotizing design.” Dedri describes the creative journey in the introduction to her book, “Sophie [started as a square], quickly grew into a mandala and then into a 24” Garden. Six months down the line, she had grown into a full-sized blanket – Sophie’s Universe.”
A quick look using one’s search engine of choice will bring about countless images of Sophie’s Universe, a burst of colors and settings, one more beautiful than the other. The original square blanket is crocheted by following the 18 parts described in the book (or available free online on Dedri’s blog “Look at What I Made” – yet the book is a nice-should-must-have). Available online only are Part 19 (where Sophie’s Universe expands from a square into a rectangle) and Part 20 (adding a border to finish the extension). Over time, Sophie’s Universe has inspired numerous crocheters to expand the original pattern, using different techniques and ways. Eight years later, this design is still popular and talked about.
A sample blanket of Sophie’s Universe, commissioned by original CAL sponsor Scheepjes and made by UK crocheter Lynnette Wilkie, has traveled far and wide through many trade fairs, workshops, and yarn shows. It continues to be a “look at what you can make” invitation that is hard to resist. The YouTube video instruction series made by Dutch crochet instructor and designer Esther Dijkstra of “It’s All in a Nutshell” for Sophie’s Universe was, and continues to be, almost essential for many give-it-a-go crocheters. Esther’s soothing, calm, gentle voice guides through the entire making process, part by part, in a reassuring manner – dotted with humorous and unedited amusing daily-life moments: relatable to anyone crocheting along.
So why am I writing about Sophie’s Universe today? My crochet mojo was on hiatus when Sophie’s Universe CAL began, and I did not crochet the blanket until five years later. I loved making it when I finally did. I had made Ubuntu before Sophie’s Universe and Charlotte’s Universe after. And many more of Dedri’s patterns in between. Her creative work and ensuing patterns are addictive and inspiring. Crocheting Dedri’s patterns encouraged me to broaden my skills and gain confidence. Though intimidated by the designs, I believed in the “adventurous beginner” skill level she indicated. It is true—a worthwhile adventure whenever one starts it with patience, enjoyment, and determination, resulting in a proud sense of accomplishment. I also availed myself of Esther’s videos, and though I did not need to watch them save for some tricky parts, they kept me good company as I continued crocheting.
Sophie’s Universe created connections and continues to generate them in many ways. In one of my first posts last year, I wrote about having had the opportunity to test for Dedri Uys for “Charlotte’s Universe.” During the CAL for that blanket, I connected with Lynnette Wilkie, a fellow admin in the Facebook group created for that design. Almost two years later, she mentioned acquiring, in June 2015, the sample blanket Esther made for the video series.
When I saw the photo of Esther’s sample, I could not stop thinking about how much history that blanket had and how it created seamless connections throughout time and, directly and indirectly, connected us all. I was asked if I would like the blanket, and I said yes. I felt, still feel, honored to be the provisional guardian of this well-loved piece; it has a history, one more story to tell, and a place to do so – deserving appreciation and respectful, affectionate custody. It draws “dot to dot” the path of bond, appreciation, friendship, and “crochet family” care Esther Dijkstra’s Sophie’s Universe blanket charted. It is a welcome extended family member in our house.