thread crochet mandala

Today I thought I’d share with you some photos of the many crochet mandalas that I’ve already made for the Mandalas For Marinke project, along with a story that I wrote for a class last semester.

From Loneliness to Solitude: The Story of a Girl in a Castle

“A loop after a loop. Hour after hour my madness becomes crochet.” – Olek

thread crochet mandala red

Once upon a time there was a girl who lived alone in a small castle overlooking a big city. When she first moved into the castle, she really loved being there. She hung beautiful artwork on all of the walls. She created cozy niches for reading and crafting. She let in all of the sunlight from every window. The girl would spend hours and hours and days and days inside of her beautiful castle, enjoying the time that she had alone there. But before long, something frightening began to happen. The walls of the castle began to shrink in, the film on the windows shut out the sunlight and the door to the outside got heavier and harder to open with each passing day.

sparkly crochet mandala 2

The girl soon found that she was unable to leave the house. Sometimes her friends would come to visit her. Spending time with them was lovely, in some ways. They commented on the beauty of her home. They made her feel special and cared for. But they also brought in a lot of dirt from the city below. They told her stories about all of the scary things that were out there beneath her window. The door got heavier and harder to open to let these people in. Sometimes they would come to the door of the castle and throw stones at her windows and she would pretend that she couldn’t hear them down there wanting to play with her. She just couldn’t imagine trying to open that heavy door for them. Just thinking about it made her want to fall into a deep, deep sleep. Eventually, they stopped coming.

thread crochet red white blue mandala

The girl wasn’t sure what she felt about this. There was a big empty feeling in her stomach that she couldn’t quite identify. She was a little bit sad that she didn’t have her friends with her anymore. She was a little bit curious about what was happening in the world below her castle, although the more she thought about it, the more the curiosity turned into terror. The girl tried to tell herself that she was happy alone in her castle, just like she had been when she first moved in. But in the middle of the night, when the wolves howled outside, she had to get honest with herself and admit that the big, gnawing, upset feeling inside of her stomach was a feeling called LONELINESS.

ribbon crochet mandala

Loneliness was an ugly feeling. It was a feeling with many complex layers. It was a feeling of not being connected to the world or anything in it. It was a feeling of deeply desiring the strength to just open the door and walk down into the city below but simultaneously feeling like that was the scariest, most impossible thing for her to do. The lonelier she felt, the harder it was to imagine how she would ever get out of the castle again. The days began to get shorter, the nights began to get longer and the girl felt the castle continued to shrink in on itself until she was sure that if she reached her arms out wide her fingertips would each touch one side of the home. If she didn’t get out of there soon, she would be crushed inside.

mandalas for marinke crochet

The girl wanted to leave the house, but she wasn’t sure how she was going to do it. The windows were crusted shut with dirt. The door was stuck as well; she had locked it to close out the dangers of the world and now she couldn’t remember where she had put the key.

crochet mandalas for marinke

She turned to the only magic power that she had ever been given: the ability to crochet. She had discovered as a young child that she could use a simple hook to turn straight lines of simple string into complex, beautiful designs. The girl sat down in the middle of the shrinking castle and started to pull loop through loop. She didn’t pay attention to what she was making, just felt the rhythmic soothing motion of the hook going up and down, in and out, up and down, in and out and allowed her breathing to relax in time with the movement.

crochet mandala marinke

When the girl looked down into her hands at what she created, she saw five magic washcloths and a golden crocheted key. The girl took the washcloths, dampened them and began to scrub at the windows of the castle. The sunlight began to filter back into her castle. As the light filled the space, the walls of the castle began to spread back out just a little bit.

crocheting mandalas for marinke

The girl took the key over to the door and immediately realized that it would fit. She hesitated for only a moment and then stuck the key in the door, turned the lock and walked down into the city. She was terrified. Her hands were tight balls in her pockets and her shoulders caved in on themselves as she instinctively tried to protect herself from all of the buzzing activity happening on the streets below her castle. She told herself that she would just walk to the end of the block and then back. She took the tiniest little baby steps and tried to stay focused on her breathing. The respite of her small castle was always nearby.

vercillo crochet mandala

At the end of the block, the girl discovered that there was a beautiful park with a lovely rose garden. She sat down in the grass. She was a little bit overwhelmed by all of the people there playing with each other. They were loud and raucous. She recognized them because they were all characters in the books that she had read but in real life 3D, they were a lot bigger than she had imagined them to be. She found this marvelous and scary at the same time. As she sat there thinking about this, a big puppy came bounding over to her. The golden puppy licked her face. All of a sudden, the big thing inside of her stomach burst like a balloon and laughter came tumbling out of the girl’s mouth. It had been so long since she had laughed that she covered her own mouth in surprise.


The girl took the puppy home with her that day. When they arrived, she discovered that the castle had stretched back to its old bigger size. Every day the girl and the puppy would walk to the park together. They would explore the plants and the smells and sometimes meet other people. The girl’s friends began to come to the castle again. The girl discovered that she did still enjoy being in her castle, alone with her new puppy friend and her magic yarn. She didn’t always want to be out in the world, and it made her happy to realize that she didn’t have to go out if she didn’t want to. But now that her solitude had become a choice that she made consciously instead of one that was driven by fear, the girl discovered that being alone in the house didn’t mean that she was lonely. The girl and the puppy lived happily ever after in the castle overlooking the city.

crochet mandalas for marinke


San Francisco based and crochet-obsessed writer, dreamer and creative spirit!


  1. Elisabeth Andree Reply

    Impressive not-so-fictional story and impressive crochet work. How many of us have love for crochet and puppies in common and experience their importance? Thanks for sharing Kathryn!

    • Kathryn Reply

      That’s a great question … I should do a little informal survey on how many of my crochet friends enjoy puppy therapy too!

  2. Love your story. Your Mandalas are so beautiful. Your photos of them too.

  3. jodiebodie Reply

    Your story makes so much sense and easy to read. I like how you have illustrated how gradual some changes in our lives can be until one day we wake up and wonder how we got there!
    I am impressed by the number of mandalas that you have made already. I love the sparkles in some of your yarns and that you have made more than one of the same style of mandala. A pair of mandalas will never be lonely!
    Dogs are fantastic companions. I don’t have the stamina for raising a puppy but bunny love is just as beneficial as puppy love!

  4. Love the story and pictures! My 8 month old pup is a great joy of mine, and I hope to rejoin the world of beautiful crochet soon. At the moment, he’s a bit too rambunctious and curious. Tonight he enjoyed his first taste of popcorn, more adventure awaits us.

  5. Alvin Barthol Reply

    Instead, I direct compassion at myself, sometimes repeating a phrase such as, “It’s hard to be alone when you want to be with people,” or “It’s tough to feel like you’re missing all the fun. Cultivating self-compassion softens the loneliness and makes it bearable.

Write A Comment