Enigma Mandalas, A Delightful and Bubbly Make

In early September, Dutch designer Esther Dijkstra of It’s All in a Nutshell invited me to test her new mandala creation, the “Enigma Mandalas.” I cheerfully agreed, eager to return to crochet after several months of involuntary listlessness. The excitement was noticeable as I went full-on jazz hands! I had stared pensively at the massive stash of yarn languishing in my cabinets for months. The scorching hot temperatures of this summer did not entice the crocheting of anything, not even a bookmark – regardless of air conditioning and free time. I gathered the yarn I needed to make the Enigma Mandalas, and my enthusiasm grew. Keeping my mind busy and aiding recovering hands while crocheting was liberating and refreshing.

What are crochet mandalas? Think of them as a circular, geometric design that expands outward, often intertwining several motifs crisscrossing in a three-dimensional fashion. Many crochet techniques, such as overlaying stitches on regular stitchwork, for example, can be used. The intricate details, as a mandala grows, can be astonishing. It is an exercise in mind-blowing math, depending on the stitch used, the motif designed, and the depth intended – mandalas must be flat! The endless possibilities of color variations and contrasts also require some thought.

Crochet mandalas are often used as decorative pieces – hung on walls, placed on tables, etc. Some turn out great as small rugs or even pillows. They can be made to fit any design, whether modern or rustic, rough or soft. Above all, because of their meditative nature, requiring attention and patience, they can reduce stressful states of mind and body. It is a gentle guiding through and out of our maze of thoughts – by the time we crochet the last round, we will have forgotten how we got there and be left with a sense of accomplishment and lightness. 

This latest design by Esther is an offshoot of her Enigma Blanket design, commissioned by and published a few years ago in Crochet Now Magazine. Do read her post! It tells the story of how it came to life and why it was named that. In her post, Esther wrote about how the Enigma Blanket combines floral stitches and patterns with a continuously changing shape, starting as a small mandala that grows into a sizeable floral circle before turning into a square, eventually becoming a rectangle (oh, the marvel of shapeshifting!).

So, of course, the mandala center of the Enigma Blanket lent itself to creating a different dimension. Esther’s love for mandalas can be felt in many patterns she has designed, from the elegant Trinity Mandalas to the energizing Triptych Mandalas and so many more before and since (a look at her online shop is worthwhile).

Back to the Enigma Mandalas. It is a set of three (small, medium, and large). Esther released the free pattern’s first part (small mandala) on her website just a few days ago, ahead of a small crochet-along (CAL) in collaboration with the CCC Facebook Group.  In her post, you will find everything you need to know regarding materials, gauge, and colorways, along with helpful tips should you pick your colors or know what to do if your gauge is off the measurements indicated. The pattern is straightforward to follow. Esther has produced video tutorials to make it easier should you get stuck somewhere, raise an eyebrow, or become unraveled (no pun intended for you or the yarn!)

I am so pleased with how my set of Enigma Mandalas (in the bubblegum colorway) turned out that I am already working on another set (maybe two or maybe three or perhaps however many). They make a beautiful gift for the upcoming holiday season and are relatively fast to make (I work semi-quickly, and it took me short of a week). The mandalas can be used in many ways – let your imagination run wild! Please share photos of your makes with Esther on Instagram or the CCC Facebook Group page. Happy making!

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