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.

Why you need calm and how to get calm

I recently started a second blog called Natasja King – The Positive PA. Below is my most recent post. It has nothing to do with crochet, but I think most of us crochet to relieve stress, so I thought you would appreciate what I learned at the Marie Claire @ Work Live event about the need for calmness, and how to achieve it.

Natasja King - The Positive PA

Of the three breakout sessions I attended at Marie Claire @ Work LiveKate Franklin (of White and Lime) talk was the one I found most useful. Kate’s company specialises in peak performance and wellbeing. They coach high achievers who don’t know when to stop. Can you relate to that? Not knowing when to stop? Always saying “yes” no matter how much you have on your plate or how many other PAs are around who would be able to the job just as well as you?  Then listen up readers.

Kate’s team developed a model called the Overwhelm Cycle that helps us understand how it is that brilliant people can get stuck in a cycle of feeling constantly overwhelmed. It starts with the concept of default behaviour – those characteristics that are embedded in our personalities and make us so good at our jobs. Things like being a perfectionist, having high…

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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.


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.


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).


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!

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?

Super Stripy Snood ta-daah



Well what have we here? A ta-daah post for a completed yarny item? Yes indeed!  I knitted a Super Stripy Snood to match my grey winter coat, and I love it!

Close up of knitted scarf

It all began on the 9th of August when John and I took iVan (which is for sale by the way in case you are interested in purchasing a super awesome campervan) to Brighton for the day. Before we left the house, I Googled “yarn shops in Brighton” (as you do) and came across Yak a lovely little yarn shop in Gloucestershire road. We wore our flip-flops thin to find Yak so when we got there John was adamant I should at least buy something to make it worth the effort. And yes, I did make a mental note of husband’s fortuitous statement and will in future always select the yarn shop furthest from where we parked the car.

Seeing as I was now forced to buy something at this great little shop – joy oh joy – I went for 8 balls of MillaMia Naturally Soft Merino in shades to match my grey coat – blues and soft greyish shades. They are:

Shade 121 – Putty

Shade 102 – Storm

Shade 120 – Forget me not

Shade 161 – Seaside (I mean really. How perfect?)

I don’t usually go for these muted tones but that’s what was needed to match my grey coat. Yak had many other gorgeous bright shades of MillaMia which were so tempting, but I had to stick to my plan of finding something to match the coat. Of course blue matches grey and it would remind me of our day in Brighton so adding the Seaside shade was a no-brainer.

I didn’t start knitting until October, but when I did boy it was gooood! I chose the very simple and soothing knit stitch for 90% of the snood. The other 10% was stockinette stitch for when I was using Adriafil Knitcol shade 55. Like I said, I don’t usually go for muted shades and felt the need for something in a darker blue to break up all the muted-ness. I had long ago fallen in love with the crazy beautiful things people were knitting with Knitcol so here was my chance – their “Renoir” shade matched my MillaMia shades perfectly!

MillaMia yarn knitting

Throughout October and November I knitted and knitted. The sweet receptiveness of knit stitch, mindlessly changing colour whenever I felt like it, mixing solid bands of colours, 2-colour stripe combinations and sections of the self striping Knitcol to make a super stripy snood.

I love stripes knitted scarf

I finished the snood just in time for the cold English Winter and wore it for the first time last Monday.

You probably want to see more of the stripes of this Super Striped Snood. Here it is. (John took the photos on our way to work. Can you spot the heron in the background?)


First Half

I repeated three of the sections of colour twice, but apart from those repeating bands there isn’t really a pattern. It’s just randomly knitting stripes.

Second Half

With so many stripes and different colour combinations the snood can look different every time I twist it around my neck.  I love it!

Knitted stripe snood

I can highly recommend knitting a Super Striped Snood or Scarf. It’s the ultimate easy project for playing with colour and it looks great! It’s also a great stash busting project. Or you can do what I did and go on day trip and park the car as far as possible from the best yarn shop in town.


Complete Guide To Crochet Volume 5

Did any of my lovely readers receive the Inside Crochet magazine newsletter today? Did you spot the Complete Guide To Crochet Volume 5 bookazine? I did…. because I recognised my Iznik Cushion on the front cover! Yeah baby!

The pattern was initially published in issue 68 (read all about it here), but now it has also been republished as one of the 50 patterns in the bookazine (bigger than a magazine but not quite a book) Complete Guide To Crochet Volume 5. So chuffed!

Complete Guide To Crochet volume 5

The Complete Guide to Crochet: Volume 5  is now available for pre-order for £9.99. It is the perfect Christmas gift for crafters and features a wide range of projects, from childrenswear to homewares, fashion garments and smaller accessories.
Order by 30 November 2015 with voucher code VOLUME5 and save £1 (plus free P+P for UK residents)!

Delivering the blankets for Crochet For Kidneys Part 4


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We are back from dropping off the 27 blankets (one more is on its way from the USA) to the Renal unit of the Royal London Hospital.

At the hospital John had his blood & urine samples taken and blood pressure measured as part of his living donor check-up. We will get the results of his creatinine (the chemical waste product in the blood that passes through the kidneys to be filtered and eliminated in urine) and GFR (a measurement of how much liquid and waste is passing from the blood through the tiny filters in the kidney and out into the urine per minute) by post but we already know that he is in peak health – and we are very grateful too!

Nurse Lillibeth didn’t have time to immediately look at the blankets, but as we were on our way back home on the train she called John to say how beautiful the blankets are and to thank us again.

Crochet For Kidneys 4 blankets collage

These 27 blankets will be distributed between the hemodialysis patients, the peritoneal dialysis patients and also the failing kidney transplant patients, many of whom are elderly and also have cancer.

It’s very sad for me to think that there are people who have gone through a kidney transplant operation only to have the organ fail. I think I always thought of our blankets giving hope and comfort to someone in the same position as the recipient of John’s kidney – someone who is going through dialysis but who will receive a donor kidney and be well again. It never occurred to me that there is not always a happy ending.

The blankets of Crochet For Kidneys, and the message behind it – one of comfort and hope – has taken on a new meaning for me today and I will do my best to make Crochet For Kidneys grow so that we can reach more people.


Crochet For Kidneys Part 5 will officially launch at the beginning of June 2016 but you can start making and sending blankets from now. Blankets should measure at least 90 cm x 135 cm. Any colour, any design as long as you use acrylic yarn.

This is why we make blankets for dialysis patients

I’ve been telling you about the beautiful crochet blankets donated for Crochet For Kidneys Part 4 since June 2015. I’ve showed you photos of all the blankets, told you who made them and where the makers are from. I’ve thanked everyone for donating their skill, yarn and time to this project.

Yet pretty crocheted blankets is not what Crochet For Kidneys is about.

Crochet For Kidneys is about doing something for the people currently going through dialysis.  John donated his kidney to a friend because we heard and saw what 3 4-hour dialysis session a week does to a person.

In writing this post I realised I had to find a first-hand account describing what it is like going through dialysis. I found a few articles and a NHS video which gave the impression that you can have a very normal, active life. This may be true for a lot of people but it wasn’t the impression I got from the man to whom John gave his kidney back in 2012. Yes, he was able to go to work and lead a relatively normal life, but he certainly did not feel like a million bucks after a dialysis session. The limitations of what he could eat and drink affected his life, the timings of the dialysis session and the after effects limited how much time he could spend with friends and family (and indeed his wife), not to mention the psychological toll.

I then came across “A Rookies’ Take On Dialysis: Ten Things I Have Learned So Far” a blog post by Tim Bergman of Ontario, Canada.

Please read his post. It’s an eye opener and gives a true sense of what it is really like being on dialysis. Tim’s account of dialysis is much closer to what the recipient of John’s kidney experienced and will give you a sense of 1) why John decided to donate his kidney and 2) why I felt I wanted to do something for dialysis patients.

Wait until you get to point no. 4 in Tim’s post  – Crochet For Kidneys will make total sense.


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