Project CALM….Summer Crochet Along Mandala

posted in: Crochet Along, Mandala CAL | 18

Welcome to my new crochet along!! I’m calling this one Project CALM. for reasons that I’ll explain later! And as you can see it’s a crochet along mandala. After the huge success of my Spring Blanket crochet along a lot of you have been asking me to do another cal, so I thought I’d do a summery one!! This will be a beautiful mandala that you can hang in the garden, or in the house, or use as a placemat or to make a cushion.

For those of you that haven’t come across a mandala before it’s a circular crochet decoration made from rounds of crochet stitches. It will involve lots of different stitches which will reflect the passing of summer- as you can see from the photo I have rather optimistically started with stitches to represent sunshine in the centre!

You will be able to choose whether to make your mandala from 4-ply or DK yarn, you may like to approach it as a stash buster or buy yarn specially- I will suggest colours and brands in my introduction. I’ve attached my mandala to a 45cm hoop- you can do the same or choose to stop at any point so that your mandala is smaller. I also have a small number of kits available to buy.

The crochet along will take 6 weeks, beginning on 22nd July and finishing on 26th August with each new part being released on a Monday. This time there will be a small charge of £6 for you to take part in the crochet along, this will include the whole 6 weeks and £1 from every purchase will be donated to MIND. When you purchase the pattern you will receive an email with a password which will give you access to the pattern on the website. This will be updated every Monday. You will also receive a PDF version via email every Monday.

The eagle eyed among you will have noticed that the 6 weeks of the cal coincide with school holidays!! I realise that lots of you won’t be affected by the school holidays but for me this is always a challenging time and I’m hoping that the pleasure I will get from writing this pattern and talking to you all about it will help to get me through!! Hence the title Project CALM!! I have changed the spring cal facebook group to the Re-made by Sam CAL group where I will be sharing lots of updates about the mandala cal- please do join us if you haven’t already as this is a great place to chat to other people who are taking part.

You may be wondering why I have chosen to donate to MIND. There is a long story behind this which I would like to share with you, but do feel free to skip to the end!!

I’m really pleased that mental health problems are becoming more talked about in recent years but I haven’t felt brave enough to be public about my own experiences on social media or my blog before. I think I’ve been a bit worried that it might be the first thing that people think of when they meet me and it’s not something that I want to be defined by. But it is something that is part of me and I know I shouldn’t be ashamed of it. In fact it makes me the person that I am and if it wasn’t for my mental health difficulties I wouldn’t have established Re-made by Sam!! So here’s my story:

As lots of you know, I have four children who are now 14, 11, 9 and 8. After I had my first two children things were going great and we knew we wanted to have another baby. I had always been a worrier and lived with a fairly high amount of worrying but that was the norm for me and all felt fine. Then I had a miscarriage at 12 weeks. We went for our scan expecting everything to be fine and up popped a lovely picture of the baby, but we knew from the sonographer’s quietness that things were not right. The baby’s heart had stopped beating very recently. It was obviously a horrible time and I couldn’t get it out of my head that I must have done something wrong.

So when I fell pregnant again I was very anxious throughout the pregnancy. After the baby was born the anxiety spiralled out of control: by the time he was 8 weeks old I was really struggling. I was so surprised when the doctor diagnosed Post Natal Depression because I didn’t feel sad, I just felt scared all the time!! We were living in Southend at this point and had a brilliant network of friends (who I still miss every day!) but we felt that we needed the support of our families and made the decision to move back closer to them. My husband and I met when we were 16 so our families live close to each other. This brought us to Tring!

Then just as things were starting to feel better I fell pregnant again!! At the time Leo was 7 months old (there’s 16 months between my youngest two). I coped OK during the pregnancy but was warned that the PND was likely to return when the baby was born. When Olive was 4 weeks old I knew it was back- the anxiety was crippling. This time I wasn’t scared about asking for help. As well as getting help from the gp and health visitor, I contacted MIND who put me in touch with a lady who also suffered from post natal anxiety but who was further on in her recovery. We met for coffee every week and she was a wonderful source of support.

During that last pregnancy the health visitor suggested that I take up a new hobby. Something that was distracting enough to take my mind off my (constant!) worries but not too challenging! So I went on a crochet course. I fell in love with crochet and have done it everyday since. It quite literally changed my life!! To this day when I pick up a crochet hook I can feel myself begin to relax. My breathing slows, I can focus just on that one project and I love the satisfaction of making something myself. I know that lots of you feel the same.

The tester mandala hanging on my children’s playhouse in our chicken garden!!

So with this project I am bringing together the two things that helped me at that difficult time- crochet and support for the wonderful mental health charity- MIND. MIND has a great website with lots of information about mental health as well as contact details for local support groups. Meeting and talking to someone who knew exactly how I felt was my lifeline during that time and I will always be grateful to MIND for putting us in touch.

Thank you for reading about my experience, (or if you skipped to the end, welcome back!!) Much as I love the summer and the school holidays, it is also a time that can get a bit stressful with four children at home so I am so looking forward to sharing this crochet along with you over the summer weeks. I hope that it will be provide us all with some calm and relaxation!!

If you would like to take part in Project CALM, you can join here: Project CALM, you will then receive an email with a password to access the introduction on the website. Don’t forget to join the facebook group too!!

18 Responses

  1. Anonymous

    You are brave and kind and an inspiration to me and many others. Thank you for sharing your story and normalising PND. Massive hugs as always Ana xx

  2. Anonymous

    What a wonderfully honest post Sam. I am really looking forward to making the mandala and totally understand how crochet helped you, as you know it has helped me too. Terri-Anne x

  3. Clara

    Sharing how you coped & sought help is inspirational, Sam. And through this, you’ve also brought so much to all of us who crochet with you! 😍

  4. Tina Pearce

    Hi Sam only just had a chance to catch up but a wonderful honest post. I have suffered with depression since my teenage years, taking up crochet last year was part of my route to some self healing and I absolutely love it, it does as you say bring calm and peace, I’m so pleased to have met you and I will be signing up.
    With much love

      • Abbie

        This looks like a lovely project perfect for the summer, where/when do we find yarn info? I’ve struggled with depression through most of my life and had pre natal depression with my youngest. It was agony but we are all still here and we have the best family. 6 weeks are terribly long so I’m glad for any distraction lol!!

        • sam

          Hi Abbie, once you’ve signed up you’ll be sent a password to access a blog post all about the yarn I used. But it’s also a fab stash buster so you can use any 4ply or DK cotton that you already have! Have you joined the facebook group? I think it will be a great source of support over the 6 week holidays!!

  5. Helen

    I know what you mean about not telling people because of the fear of being judged. I have agoraphobia, anxiety, panic attacks and depression. I have learnt over the years that most people don’t understand. So I stopped telling people. Crocheting helps me a lot.

    • sam

      Hi Helen, I think the only people who really understand are those that have been through it themselves, and even then each person’s experience is different so I do know how you feel about talking to people about it. Have you tried reading some of the stories on the mind website? I find them really helpful. Do join the facebook group if you haven’t already because I have found the crochet community to be wonderfully supportive and nonjudgemental.

    • Sarah Clark

      I think your amazing Sam and very inspirational, creating your own company and bring up four children while Suffering with depression is a tough call. After my cancer I suffered terribly with anxiety and panic attacks but as you known I have my Oil and crocheting to keep me on the straight and narrow. Such a worthy cause..

      • sam

        Thanks so much Sarah 🙂 I’m so glad that crochet has helped you- it’s no wonder you suffered from panic attacks having been through so much! I’m so glad to have met you!

  6. Margaret Benson

    I thankfully don’t suffer from depression but have two daughters who do. One of them has taken up knitting and crochet and benefits enormously from the calm it brings. I use crochet and knitting for pain management and could not manage without it. Glad to buy the pattern and take part as support for such a good organisation as Mind is much needed x

    • sam

      Thank you for taking part Margaret and I’m so pleased to hear how crochet (and knitting) helps you and your daughter. I hope your other daughter has her own way of finding some peaceful time

  7. Natasha Barlow

    I also used crochet as a way to deal with PND. Thanks for a lovely CAL. Can’t wait to start!

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