Even if you can’t crochet you can be part of Crochet For Kidneys

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I started Crochet For Kidneys in 2013 and in all that time I never asked for any monetary contributions, and I was happy with that. The blankets you have sent me are amazing and it really brings comfort, literally and figuratively, to those with kidney disease. But what if we could be doing more?

This morning I remembered that as part of CFK 3 one of the crocheters from America also sent me $5 with the blanket she had made. When we delivered the blankets to the hospital and I asked what to do with the $5, the dialysis nurses told me about the Royal London Hospital Kidney Patient Association and the great work they do. I visited their website this morning and immediately decided that this year it’s time that we support this association as well. The best thing about this is that you don’t need to know how to crochet to help!  Even those not so skilled with a crochet hook and ball of yarn, can now be part of Crochet For Kidneys!

So a bit more about the Royal London Hospital Kidney Patient Association (which is part of NKF, the UK’s largest kidney patient charity). The NKF supports both patients and carers in practical ways, offering help and guidance. They also campaign tirelessly for improvements in renal health care provision throughout the United Kingdom.

Some of actions The Royal London Hospital KPA take is to:

  • provide mutual help, advice and encouragement and organises social events for patients;
  • organise various fund-raising events and issue a regular newsletter;
  • run holiday homes for haemodialysis, CAPD and transplant patients;
  • sends a team to the British Transplant Games;
  • fund entirely the Renal Amenity Fund at the Hospital and contribute to the Hospital’s Renal Diseases Research Fund and the Renal Transplant Research Fund;
  • buy medical equipment and improve facilities for patients;
  • sponsor nurses to attend the European Dialysis Nurses’ Association conferences;
  • sponsor translations of literature for patients from ethnic minorities;

I’m sure you agree that the work they do is important and I hope you will be inspired to make a donation. This is your chance to support Crochet For Kidneys even if you have run out of time to crochet a blanket, can’t crochet a blanket, or have already contributed a blanket but want to give your friends and family the chance to support CFK with you.

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You can donate by text message or online. Text CFKS55 and the amount you want to donate to 70070, or visit my JustGiving page here.

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Ten more blankets for Crochet For Kidneys Part 5

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Yes you read that correctly, I received ten blankets in one week! Our blanket count is now at 17.

Emma Ashman and her mom Sandra made an amazing five beautiful blankets. This is their third CFK making beautiful blankets.

Emma and Sandra Ashman

Emma and Sandra Ashman

Emma and Sandra Ashman

Emma and Sandra Ashman

Emma and Sandra Ashman

Barbara Boothman’s second blanket all the way from Portugal also arrived this week. It’s a bright colour riot!

Barbara Boothman

Marion Nelson made a blanket for CFK 4 and this week I received her lovely stripy blanket for CFK 5. This one will be perfect for a male dialysis patient.

Marion Nelson

And here are Susara Ribbens De Vos’s stunning three blankets. Just like the Ashmans, this is also Susara’s second year contributing to Crochet For Kidneys.  Susara used the same shades for her three blankets, but by just adding white or grey and chaining the pattern, they look so different!

Susara Ribbens de Vos

Susara Ribbens de Vos

Susara Ribens de Vos

Susara Ribbens de Vos

A pile of 10 beautiful, lovingly made blankets destined for the kidney disease patients of The Royal London Hospital.

Thank you so, so, so much to everyone who have sent me a crochet blanket. I can’t tell you much I appreciate the hard work, time and the cost of postage that go into these.

If you want to contribute to Crochet For Kidneys Part 5, you still have until the first week of November to get your blankets to me. I have to get a move on myself, because I still have to finish the autumn shades ripple blanket! Let’s get hooking!

 

Edward’s Crochet Imaginarium and two pink monsters

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Amigurumi monsters! In pink! That’s what I’ve been making the past two weeks. Who would have thought?! I’m not a pink person and I don’t have children so why you ask would I venture down the pink children’s toy path? It’s because I’m one of the lucky bloggers in the blog tour for Kerry Lord’s new book Edward’s Crochet Imaginarium, published by Pavilion Books Books.

Monty Knits blogged her review yesterday, which you can read here and today it’s my turn to share my review.

If I can sum up my experience of using this book and making my amigurumi toys, it’s this: fun.

The book is fun, designing my monster toy was fun, the Gallery of monsters is fun, making the monster was fun. Fun, fun, fun.

Edward's Crochet Imaginarium book cover

Edward’s Crochet Imaginarium is very different to the average crochet pattern book. It has a clever flip-book section which allows you to play around with different head, arm and feet combinations. Add to that the six tails and eight colour change patterns, the book allows for your imagination to run wild.

The book is aimed at beginners and seasoned crocheters. All the basic stitches and techniques are clearly explained and photographed, and you can even watch tutorials on the TOFT YouTube channel to help you through all the steps of making monster.

Here are just six of the 40 monsters in the Gallery. Photos courtesy of Kristy Noble. The designs are so varied, and options so many, you can really spend your whole life crocheting and still not have made all the variations.

The two monsters I made are going to be gifts for 3 and 5 year old girls. Their mom said it had to be pink, and they couldn’t differ too much from each other lest one might be judged prettier than the other, but they also couldn’t be identical lest little madams confuse which toy is theirs. A tough brief to follow.

It took me three days to decide what I wanted to make! I was continually flipping between the Arm, Head and Feet pages. Just as I thought I knew what I was going to make, I flip a page and then everything changes. Such Fun!!!

In the end I decided on Arms and Feet no. 2, and Head no. 15 but in stead of only making hair spines around one ring on the head, I did four rings of spines and crocheted them in two shades of pink.

The colour shading of my bodies are that of Gallery Monster no. 20. To set the two monsters apart I made half of one arm & one leg in 1-row bands of pink and white, and for the second monster I used 3-row bands of pink and white. I also used slightly different shades of light pink yarn.

Something I found especially useful were the instructions for the order in which to sew on the arms and legs to the body, and placement of the legs so that your monster will not fall over when sitting down. Those instructions, and the flip book section for Arms, Feet and Heads, were the highlights of the book for me. Seriously clever and useful!

There was only thing I did differently to Kerry’s instructions: the eyes. I struggled to get my eyes to look friendly when I did it as Kerry suggested in her book, so I settled for < shaped eyes.  This is not a reflection on Kerry’s instructions – it’s totally down to user error/incompetence.

Fingers crossed the little madams like their Pink Monsters. If they like it half as much as I liked designing and making them, they’ll be a mammoth hit.

There are two more stops on the Edward’s Crochet Imaginarium book blog tour. Tomorrow you can read The Twisted Yarn‘s review and then the book tour ends on Tuesday with The Little Room of Rachell.

The book is available to purchase on Amazon or from Toft for £14.99. If you buy it directly on the Toft website, you will also receive a free and exclusive pdf that includes bonus patterns.

***GIVEAWAY***

Leave a comment below telling me about your experience of making amigurumi toys and I will pick a comment at random and send you a copy of Edwards’ Crochet Imaginarium! (UK residents only.) Entries close at 12 noon on Sunday 18 September 2016.

Four more blankets for Crochet For Kindeys Part 5

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Oooh-wee, the blankets are starting to arrive!

First off we have a mixed colour and size, joyful granny square blanket from Barbara Boothman, all the way from Portugal:

Cindy Boot made a beautiful purple blanket with an intricate block design:

Gemma Harris turned a pastel granny square into a pastel afghan by cleverly adding rows at either end:

And Tracey Meacham used a granny rectangle to make her blanket in primary colours. This is only Tracey’s second ever blanket. Great job Tracey!:

Thank you so much ladies for your contributions to Crochet For Kidneys Part 5.

Our total blanket count is seven. Keep them coming!

First three blankets for Crochet For Kidneys Part 5

Here it is people, the first three contributions to Crochet For Kidneys Part 5! Two of the blankets are from Caroline Bennett, a regular contributor to Crochet For Kidneys. Caroline posted photos of her blankets taken in the sunshine hanging on the clothes line for the   CFK Facebook group page and everyone freaked out. Rightly so, these blankets are so cheerful, beautiful and bright.  I love it! Caroline used the same colours for both blankets, but they look so different. Amazing what a difference the design of a blanket can make, right?


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The third blanket was made by me.   I made the blanket as part of my review of the How To Crochet book which you can read about here.

So that’s the first three. How many more will there be? Hopefully a lot more!

As a reminder, here is the guide for the Crochet For Kidneys blankets. Will you be taking part? It would be great if you could! You can also check out the CFK Facebook group and read about Crochet For Kidneys here.

Crochet For Kidneys Part 5

Review of How To Crochet book by Mollie Makes

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The lovely people of Mollie Makes magazine sent me the book How To Crochet, published by Pavilion, to review here on my blog.

I have to apologise to the publishers that it has taken me this long to do the review, but I wanted to do the review justice by completing one of the 20 projects featured in the book.

I chose to make the Granny Square Blanket With Edging, designed by Anita Mundt. You guys know how I love granny squares! They are my all time favourite thing to crochet. For Crochet For Kidneys Part 4 I made two 2-colour 6-round squares in blue and in pink, and in 2013 I crocheted a traditional granny square blanket for a friend and even posted on my technique for choosing random colours.

I started the blanket on the 30th of June and finished it today. Precisely one month! This granny square blanket will also be my contribution to the charity crochet campaign, Crochet For Kidneys Part 5. I had two weeks in that month where I was on sick leave so I had bit more time than usual for crocheting. (I had an operation to my foot on the 18th of June. The cast is coming off on 13 August and a month or so later, it will be the turn of my left foot to go under the knife and stay in a non-weight bearing cast for 8 weeks – expect a few more blanket ta-daaaah blog posts over the next 3 months!)

I really enjoyed following the colour scheme suggestion in Anita’s pattern. I know how to make a granny square so I didn’t need the pattern for that, but I found that following the designer’s colour scheme took away all the worry that I may get my colours wrong.

In this pattern the colour combinations are partly fixed and party random. Rounds 1, 2 and 6 are fixed colours, round 3 is random and 4 & 5 are also random but you use the same colour for both rounds.  Once I had decided on the colour for rounds 1 (green), 2 (white) and 6 (Parma Violet), there wasn’t much ‘randomising’ left to do. Choosing my colours for each square was really quick and I think I will stick to this partly fixed, partly random, colour scheme for all my future granny square blankets!

The colours I used were: Stylecraft Special DK in White, Saffron, Wisteria, Spring Green, Citron, Cloud Blue, Parma Violet (for the last round of each square) and the bright green was James C Brett Supreme Baby DK in SNG7.  I really love that Parma Violet shade. It’s not grey, it’s not purple, it’s just a beatiful  tie-it-all-together shade.

Please excuse the wonky photo but it’s difficult to get a blanket to lie flat and take a perfectly straight taken-from-above photo when you have only one leg to balance on!

For this blanket I also didn’t have to go looking for border like I do with my other granny square blankets – Anita’s border was just so perfect – I just had to follow her pattern.

The team from Mollie Makes (the UK’s most successful lifestyle and craft magazine) hand-picked the projects for this book.  All the patterns were designed exclusively for this book by the team’s favourite crochet designers: Ilaria Chiaratti, Emma Lamb, Beata Basik, Cara Medus, Pip Lincolne and Anita Mundt.  Apart form the Granny Square Blanket With Edging which I made, there are more fun and beautiful projects like the adorable set of Russian dolls from the cover photo, Bouquet of Flowers, pocket placemats and Monster Gadget Covers called Chomper, Nibbles and Tryclops. How To Crochet contains all the techniques you need to get started with crochet, with step-by-step instructions and clear, beautiful illustrations. Each of the 20 patterns have a Crochet Story which I really enjoyed reading – even if I weren’t going to make the project. How To Crochet is available on Amazon for £9.99.

If however you don’t want to purchase one, why not enter my giveaway!

I’m giving away two copies of How To Crochet by Mollie Makes. All you have to do is leave a comment on this blogpost telling me what your favourite time of day and/or week is to crochet. There’s no special reason why I ask this question, I’m just interested to know when my readers sit down with their yarn and hooky stick. The winners will be drawn randomly and announced on my Instagram feed (natasjaking) and crochetime Facebook page on 7 August.  Good luck!

Crochet For Kidneys Part 5

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Today I’m launching Crochet For Kidneys Part 5!

Crochet For Kidneys Part 5

Crochet For Kidneys has grown from seven blankets in Part 1, to 14 blankets in Part 2, 17 blankets in Part 3 and last year we made 27 blanket for Part 4. We had purple squares with a white border in Part 1, hexagons with a white border in Part 2, and for Part 3 I asked you send me strips of six squares with white borders. The beautiful, lovingly made blankets were given to dialysis patients at the Royal London Hospital and the Royal Free Hospital.

In Part 4 we made blankets of any design and any colour. You guys loved this approach to CFK so much! Some of you even made two blankets, so we’re sticking to this format for Part 5. No colour rules, no design rules – you are in charge of the look of your blanket for the dialysis patients! Squares, hexagons, stripes, chevrons – go wild!

Like always, I only ask that the blankets be roughly 90 cm x 135 cm (35″ x 53″) – that’s about a lap afghan size. If you are making 15 cm squares like we did for Parts 1 and 3, that would be 54 squares arranged in 9 rows of 6 squares. If you are making 13 cm squares for instance, that would be 70 squares arranged in 10 rows of 7 squares. Use your judgement, but as long as the blanket comes out to roughly (but no smaller) than 90 cm x 135 cm (35″ x 53″) it will be perfect.

Please do not use wool for your blankets as it may shrink or felt when the recipients wash their blankets on a too warm wash. Acrylics or cotton only please.

I would like to have all the blankets by Sunday 31 October 2016 please. When John goes for his annual Living Donor check-up at the Royal London Hospital mid-November, we will take the blankets with us so that the Renal Unit nurses can distribute it amongst the dialysis patients at Royal London and their satellite units.

If you’re new to Crochet For Kidneys (maybe you read about it in Inside Crochet magazine) or have been with me from Part 1 but need a reminder of why I started Crochet For Kidneys, you can read about it in this blogpost.

Please post photos of your blankets-in-the-making on the Facebook Group . If you’re not a member of the group, just ask to join and I’ll add you immediately.

I would really love it if we we can break the 50-blanket mark this year. Wouldn’t that be great?! Will you help me?  I know 50 blankets is almost double what we had for Part 4, but I really think it can be done. Just crochet a blanket, or two, or three and tell all your crochet buddies about CFK so that we can bring comfort to 50 dialysis patients this year.

If you use Twitter or Instagram tag your tweets and photos with #crochet4kidneys. You can also invite others to join our Facebook group. But most importantly, start crocheting those lovely, comforting blankets.

Buttercup knit and crochet cardigan

John, my brother and I just got back from an European road trip of two weeks. We had the most amazing time driving through Belgium, Netherlands, Germany, Luxembourg and back to Belgium.

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You can see more photos on my Instagram feed.

While in Germany we drove over the border to Austria to visit Innsbruck for the day (amazing that you can do that!) On our way there we stopped at the side of the road where John took these photos to show you my Buttercup cardigan.

Buttercup cardigan 01

The navy cardigan over white t-shirt looks just like the snow covered mountains, don’t you think?

Buttercup cardigan 02

I was knitting like a lunatic the three days before we left on holiday – I just had to finish before the road trip!

Buttercup cardigan 03

The pattern for this beautiful cardigan is  Buttercup pattern from Marie Wallin’s book Filigree. This is my second project from Filigree, the first being the crochet top Rose which I absolutely adore.

Buttercup cardigan 04

The nitty gritty of my Buttercup cardigan:

Pattern: Buttercup from Filigree: Collection Three by Marie Wallin. The pattern for Right Front is missing from the book but you can download it from the errata page on Marie’s website here.
Yarn:  7 balls of Rowan Summerlite in Navy Ink shade 492
Size: Medium
Knitting needle size:  3 mm
Modification: I lengthen the cardigan by adding a 6th crochet square motif. That meant I also had to lengthen the back to 37 cm in stead of 29 cm, before doing the arm shaping.

Buttercup cardigan front detail

I’m really in love with the crochet and knit combination. I combined the two in my Kimono Cardigan, but  I definitely think Buttercup combines crochet and knitting better.

Buttercup cardigan side detail

I think I have a pattern crush on Marie Wallin. As soon as put down the knitting needles on Buttercup, I picked up the crochet hook to make my second Belle top from  Rowan Holiday Crochet. The second top with the same pattern! That’s how good her designs are!  I’ve been wearing my Belle since May 2015 about once every two weeks. No wonder I need a second one.

If Belle is anything to go by, I’m going to need a second Buttercup cardigan again in a few years.

Thank you Marie Wallin for designing the most amazing knitting and crochet patterns.

Kimono Cardigan

Do you have a yarn that you love so much that you will search months and months on end for a pattern just so that you can use this yarn? A yarn so soft and light, yet warm in the cold and cool in the heat? A yarn in the perfect shade of grey that will match almost everything in your wardrobe? I have.  It’s Gardnstudio Drops BabyAlpaca Silk in 8465 Medium Grey.

I bought 12 balls back in August 2015 without knowing what I wanted to make with it. That’s unusual for me because I always find the pattern first and then look for the yarn. I thought I found the perfect crochet pattern in the Samira sweater, and I got halfway through the back when I realised this wasn’t working. The back loop only SC was creating a fabric with so little stretch, I would have had to modify the pattern so much and buy more yarn, that I just frogged it. You can see the frogged project in my Ravelry Projects here.

The fantastic Drops pattern database also didn’t have anything suitable for Babyalpaca Silk that I particularly liked.

What to do now?

I just made up my own pattern. And it’s mostly a knitted pattern.

I used Babyalpaca Silk for my Whispers cardigan which is crocheted, so this time I wanted to see and feel how the yarn looks knitted. I’m so happy I did it this way – this yarn looks better knitted than crocheted I think.

As for a pattern, well it needed to be super easy because I’m no good at shaping for knitting and especially not if I have to dream up the pattern myself!  Straight sides were what I needed. That made me think of a kimono because isn’t that really just a bunch of squares and rectangles? Surely I could manage that.

Turns out a kimono is exactly that: squares and rectangles. I used the plus size DIY Kimono pattern of Nina Scott-Stoddard, as my guide for the pattern pieces.

But, me being me, I couldn’t just knit a cardigan. No I needed something crocheted for a bit of flair. That’s were the the “Zen lattice” pattern from Robyn Chachua’s book Crochet Stitches Visual Encyclopedia came in. It was the perfect type of lace stitch and also perfectly name – Zen. Zen crochet border for a knitted kimono cardigan. I mean really! Match made in Japan.

I also added two rows of SC in a contrasting colour before I started the knitted section. Just because I can.

Below is the “pattern” for my Knitted and Crocheted Kimono Cardigan. I’m saying “pattern” because it’s really just a loose record of what I did. Not technical at all. I’m sure many knitters out there would be able to do a much better job of this than me, but I’m giving you the “pattern” so you can use it as a starting point.

I’m using US crochet terms.

Back

Working from the bottom up you start with the crochet border. Chain 114  (14 x 8 + 2)  with 3 mm crochet hook.

Row 1: SC.

Now follow rows 1 – 12 of Zen lattice from Crochet Stitches Visual Encyclopedia. In the last row, make 3-chain in stead of 5-chain.

Row 14 and 15: change to new colour and make 2 rows SC 2. Cast off.

Start of knitted section:

Use 3 mm knitting needles to pick up stitches through front loop of crochet. (This was the only way I could work out to switch from crochet to knitting. I picked up the stitches with the same size knitting needle as my crochet, and then used a bigger size knitting needles to knit the first row.)

With 4.5 mm knitting needles, start the stockinette stich by knitting the first row, then purl the second row. Continue in in stockinette stitch until desired length.

Front panels

Follow the same instructions as for Back, but cast on 58 stitches (7 x 8 + 3).

Sleeves

Follow the same instructions as for Back, but chain 92 (11 x 8 + 3).

It’s crucial that you block the pieces before sewing them together. In the photo above you see how the Zen lattice looks before blocking. You can’t even make out that it’s crochet! Below you see the lattice stretched out to it’s full potential. The KnitPro t-pins were real life savers for the blocking.

I have to warn you though that when I started wearing the kimono cardigan those crochet borders lost their “openness”, so don’t rely on the crochet to add length to the cardigan – it will jump back to almost pre-blocking width. If I knew this, I would have made my knitting much longer.

As for sewing up the knitting, I can’t get over how amazing the mattress stitch is for this. It really creates an invisible seam. This video is what I used to see how to make the mattress stitch and how to sew in the knitted sleeves.

I love wearing my super soft kimono cardigan, but I do know I could have made a better job of it by 1) creating shaping for the neck and shoulders in the back and 2) by making the body longer. Because of the short boxy shape I also have to think a bit about what I wear it with because it can look very unflattering if you don’t have the right layers underneath.

The yarn is this kimono cardigan’s saving grace – it’s so perfect that I don’t even mind having to think a bit harder about what I wear with the cardigan. I’ll even go clothes shopping to find the perfect thing to make this kimono cardigan look its best. I want to wear my kimono cardigan every day!

 

 

 

 

The Sky is the limit

Three months and one week at my new job and already everybody knows I’m a crocheter!

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The internal communications team did this “fun piece” (their words, not mine) on me today. I had to bring in as many crochet items as I could and posed with reindeer antlers surrounded by my wooly projects. Such fun! (If you’re a Miranda fan, you will have the voice of Miranda’s mom in your head just about now.)

I’m hoping that this piece on the Sky intranet will generate some interest in a crochet & knitting group. So far four ladies have shown an interest in getting together once a month for some hooky and knitty action. There are around 10,000 people at Sky HQ in Osterley, so I’m hoping that with time a crochet and knitting group will grow to a few more. Surely there must be more than just five out of 10,000 who like to crochet or knit… I think a yarnbomb might be in order to “raise awareness”. Right?