mandalas for marinke

Here is the next of the beautiful, inspiring, special contributions coming in to the #MandalasForMarinke remembrance project. I am grateful for each and every amazing contribution.

Contributions should be postmarked by October 15, 2015. Learn more here. If you absolutely can’t meet that deadline but want to participate, please email me at kathryn.vercillo (gmail).

Beautiful Crochet Mandalas

Threadwinder's Crochet Mandalas For Marinke + Mandala Crochet Pattern

Maker Karen loves to do her own thing so she created her own mandala crochet pattern for this project, inspired by Wink’s designs. I love how three-dimensional they are, with the flowers popping out of the background as if they’re really growing! Find this free crochet pattern here.

Threadwinder's Crochet Mandalas For Marinke

Karen made two of these in Paris Drops cotton yarn, which was a favorite of Wink’s. They are very similar to each other with beautiful subtle differences, like a round of yellow in the smaller of the two.

Threadwinder's Crochet Mandala For Marinke

Karen also made one thread crochet mandala in a beautiful array of colors.

Meet the Maker

This contribution comes from Karen C.K. Ballard of Threadwinder, where she shares her love and knowledge of textile history along with some patterns. She shared:

“As a child, I rarely, if ever, was made to feel special. I grew up lacking self-esteem and had frequent bouts with depression. I also was brought up in a culture where admitting this and even seeking professional guidance on it was strictly taboo. However, my Great Aunt Laurene taught me to crochet when I was seven, and I frequently found solace in it.

It wasn’t until I was a working adult, when I was tested for computer aptitude, that I discovered I had at least one special talent. I entered that career field, taking college classes at night, and advanced in my chosen field. I developed a skill for writing about complex computer topics in a simple and concise manner. For relaxation, in my spare time, I collected textile tools/ publications, continuing to crochet and also learning to bead. But I still lacked self-confidence and had occasional bouts with depression. The bouts were less frequent and less severe than those of my childhood. However, there was a trade-off: I developed stress-related illnesses.

Karen's Crochet Mandala 3d

I retired from that high-stress career about ten years ago. Since then, as a second career, I have been writing about textile history and designing crochet and beadwork. Although it hasn’t proven to be very lucrative, I’ve had some success. But more importantly, I am happier than ever before. I still lack self-confidence (despite intellectually knowing that I have many talents), however now I rarely suffer from stress-related illnesses or have bouts of depression. Therefore, I will probably live longer than I would have had I not retired from computing so soon.

I recently read Kathryn Vercillo’s book, Crochet Saved My Life. I realized my lot was not so bad, but I still identified with many of the book’s participants, including Marinke (aka Wink). I admired her joyful, colorful designs, recognizing them as her way of “wearing a brave face” to hide the anguish inside. That is something I had done in my past; essentially a “fake it until you make it” philosophy. I admired the courage of all of the participants in the book, including Kathryn and Wink, believing they had contributed to their own recoveries by telling their stories. Wink’s loss of her battle with depression affected me greatly. Despite feeling that I have mostly recovered from my own depression, the above has been hard for me to admit and articulate. I can’t definitively say that crochet saved my own life, but it clearly has enhanced my life immeasurably.

Rest in peace Wink; knowing that so many people admire and love you and your work; and that we are saddened in losing you. You inspire us!”

Karen can be found as Threadwinder on Ravelry where she shares that the aunt that taught her how to crochet couldn’t read patterns but could figure out how to do any pattern from looking at it. Karen taught herself how to read patterns when she was pregnant with her son. Karen is a regular columnist of CGOA”s Chain Link newsletter and has published numerous needlework history articles in PieceWork magazine, Crochet Traditions, CGOA’s CyberStitch online newsletter, and the Paper & Advertising Collectibles Marketplace.”

Words by Wink

Crochet Mandala by Threadwinder (Karen)

Wink saw graffiti that read “you are loved” and shared:

Thank you random stranger, for making my day a little happier! I needed that.”

Crochet Mandala by Threadwinder

About Depression

Detail of crochet mandala by Karen

One purpose of this project is to raise awareness about depression so each post ends with some facts, thoughts or quotes about depression, suicide and/or mental health. Since Karen mentioned how telling stories can be healing, I thought today that I’d share a little about narrative therapy, which is a form of therapy developed in Australia in the 1980s. It’s a type of therapy I only know a smidgen about but am really interested it. It essentially involves telling and re-telling your story, re-shaping it into the kind of narrative that you want to live. I believe that the stories that we tell ourselves about what has happened to us really dictate how we move forward in life and that if we can view those stories in a slightly different, more empowering fashion then we can change the course of our lives. And in general I just believe that telling our stories is a healing thing.

thread crochet mandala by Karen

Rachel Grumman, writing for Healthline explains,

“In narrative therapy, the person isn’t the problem. The problem is the problem. The therapist acts as a facilitator, an ally, and a good listener as the patient goes on a journey of self-evaluation and self-discovery. The therapy focuses on deconstructing the external negative influences so that they lose their power. The therapy then reinterprets (also called “re-storying” or “re-authoring”) how the patient perceives their life’s story.

Through the storytelling process, the therapist helps guide the patient to uncover alternative, more positive narratives, namely, empowering stories that reflect the patient’s abilities, competence, and confidence. Insurance may cover some of the sessions, which are offered as individual or group therapy.”

There is also a specific type of narrative therapy called mindfulness based narrative therapy that has been shown to reduce depression in patients with cancer. It has also helped with substance abuse.

Thread crochet mandala by thread winder

All contributions to Mandalas for Marinke are so appreciated. They help raise awareness about depression while honoring her work in the same way that this great contribution has done today.


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


  1. Karen C.K. Ballard Reply

    Kathryn, Thank you for retelling my story with so much sensitivity! I appreciated your comments about “Narrative Therapy”, a new concept to me. But I apparently I understood it intuitively, because as I read your description I realized that is what I was doing when I wrote my “story”. I briefly recounted the reasons for my insecurity, but focused on my successes and how they had gradually diminished my past depressions. Thanks again!

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