Today I want to talk about something that helps me with stress & anxiety. I call it my yarn mandala. Well, sometimes I call it a knit (or knitting) mandala. After I explain what that is, we’ll get to the updates for my all-new flash fiction anthology.
To start, a sand mandala is basically temporary art. Making them is a tradition that started in India, and is now practiced by Tibetan Buddhist monks.
They start with a sketch, and use crushed rock or specially dyed sand. Laying the sand in such patterns is a slow process. It can take a team of monks multiple weeks of working to create a single mandala. The monks typically built these beautiful religious designs from the center out.
When the mandala is finished, the monks have a special ceremony where they sweep up all the sand and pour it into a river.
The point is not the resulting artwork, but the process of making it. Making a sand mandala is about practicing detachment and letting go.
I find some knitting to be relaxing, but only the “boring” parts I’ve actually seen other knitting online complaining about. I don’t like counting or doing other stitches (such as the purl stitch). What I do like knitting in the round, making just a straight tube. But there are limits to how useful that is and what you can make with that.
I was trying to Google and think and come up with something to knit, something that would let me knit the way I enjoy knitting. But I couldn’t find anything. Sweaters have other parts to their patterns. Socks are done on little 8″ rounds that hurt my hands (or on dpn or in magic loop, both of which break my flow).
But then, while on this search that seemed to go nowhere, I remembered about the monks’ sand mandalas. And my little brain said: what if I make something temporary but out of yarn instead?
Enter: My Yarn Mandala
So I put together an 8″ round for my ChiaGoo need set, grabbed some cheap yarn my sister has given me (it was scratchy, so I didn’t really want to make a project with it anyway), cast on enough to get around the needles, and just started knitting. Nothing but pure uninterrupted knit stitch! It has been one of the most relaxing things ever. This is for a few reasons.
Doing only the knit stitch over and over is like my version of a fidget cube or worry stone. Small repetitive movements with one’s hands or fingers are inherently soothing to the nervous system. Something as simple as twisting a button on a shirt will work. Doing only plain knit stitch on bamboo needles is very soothing and relaxing, at least for me. Not as much as the sound of ocean waves, but I sometimes pair the two together to get the best of both by putting on an ocean waves soundtrack or youtube video while I knit.
My yarn mandala also helps me with dealing with / recovering from the over-perfectionism that came from the abuse during my childhood. Because with my yarn mandala, there is no such thing as messing up. Mistakes literally do not matter when I’m working on it. Because I’m just going to “frog it” (pull it apart) later to make another one.
It doesn’t matter if I drop a stitch, the whole thing is going to come undone anyway. It doesn’t matter if I’m upset and that throws my gauge off (not that I ever fool with gauge swatches anyway, since I don’t use normal knitting patterns).
One time I tried to add a cable to the mandala just for fun. The cable came out totally messed up from working on it in the dark, and that didn’t matter. I can’t stress about picking a project, because I don’t need to figure out what to make.
No matter what happens, nothing about my yarn mandala is wrong, bad, or messed up. Everything about it is just fine no matter what.
Try it with Your Craft
If you knit or crochet or do some similar craft, give it a try. Try out your own mandala with some spare yarn. I have yet to find a crafter who doesn’t have some spare yarn, but if you don’t there’s always stuff like Red Heart that’s cheap. I’m fairly sure the blue yarn from my sister is just some red heart. After making that blue one a few times on my interchangeable needs, I recently got myself some lovely soft purple yarn and a fixed circular bamboo needle at my local craft stores.
I still do some knit projects. Scarves, sweaters, hats, stuff like that. But sometimes I just need to relax, so I just do my yarn mandala. Sometimes it isn’t about creating anything, it’s just about self-care. I guess you could say in a way, this and my pea plant have helped me with embracing Taoism and Stoicism. The pea plant because even while the plant was clearly dying, it still kept trying to make peas. They say life finds a way, but that was a very literal example in action for me. Something worth seeing with one’s own eyes.
Flash Fiction Anthology Updates
Later this month I’m publishing my first flash fiction anthology. It will be my first time publishing to Amazon and getting my work in e-ink and all that. So I’m excited about that. Lots of firsts at once.
The anthology going to be 5 separate stories. Here’s a little about 3 of them!
- Two Ships – A young sailor in a small sailboat thought she gave pirates the slip, only to spot their ship on the horizon.
- Black Magic – A black-magic mage can no longer contain the powerful demon within that is bent on destroying her world.
- Frontier Rules – A pioneer mother crossing the frontier must protect her children, when she strays into bear country.
And I have a small holiday surprise for you: the anthology is going to be completely FREE for the first few days after I publish it. Join the List today to make sure you don’t miss your chance to get this awesome deal!
My story A New Life isn’t up on the indie author advent calendar yet, but it is coming! In the meantime, I hope you’re enjoying all the other free flash stories by everyone else on the calendar.