Tag Archives: baby

Continuing my Flurry of Crafting

So my energy levels have continued to stabilise – I’m still not able to bend over but luckily knitting and the projects in The Creative Family don’t really require it. It does mean I’m mostly bloggin’ crafting stuff since I don’t have the energy for gardening or other projects.

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Rainy Day Square

I read the whole of Amanda’s book as soon as it arrived. I am pacing myself but the lure of her wool felt projects was too strong. Whilst I was online popping 100% wool felt into my shopping basket for the Wild Things Birthday Crown Project, I decided that the project for a Wool Felt Block would be a perfect welcome present for the Baby.  (In addition to the 3 cardigans, the hat, the carefully chosen and painfully orange plushie fish from her big brother etc.)

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A Carrot – something I can reliably draw and it always looks right.

But sewing these felt squares is so tactile and so fun and I think 100% wool felt is my new craft crush.  I can  really appreciate the Waldorf philosophy of giving children good quality, natural crafting materials and toys.  Whilst R probably has more plastic than I’m comfortable with there is a solidity to his wooden toys which I think he enjoys and I certainly do.

It isn’t quite as portable as knitting but easy to knock a square out at 6.30am when my hips hurt too much to sleep and my brain is too tired to work on writing projects. And it uses up my stash of embroidery threads – so really it is a good thing.

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Easy Peasy Lemon Squeezy

Plus there is something compelling about getting artistic in such a minimalist space.

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I can even use up my button stash!

Stay tuned for the last two and the final product!

p.s. you do not want to know how long it took me to get the photos the right way round for this post. One day I’ll get a decent camera… one day.

 

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Spring is bringing back my mojo.

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Greek Salad on our first outdoor meal of the year!

I am still in that third trimester funk of discomfort and exhaustion, I am still totally jealous and incredulous marvelling at all the homesteading, home schooling, art mama blogs I read from women zipping around managing 3 children with a 4th on the way who seem to fit triple the amount of stuff in a day that I do. I ration myself on them so I don’t get too blue about how little I seem to accomplish beyond keeping my son reasonably clean, away from the kitchen knives and well fed.

But in the last few days my energy levels have increased a surprising amount.  It might be the sunshine, it might be the impending deadline of Baby but I think it might be having gestational diabetes.  I have eaten refined sugar in 3 weeks and I think it has really levelled out my energy levels.  Hurray!  Silver linings!

I have completed projects!

2 baby cardigans knitted, blocked and bedecked with buttons (photos to follow)

1 pair of mended trousers for R

1 baby hat (corrected from the disaster here)

1 giant maslin pan full of homemade stock (which cleared 3 chicken carcasses out of the freezer)

18 Cheesy courgette muffins made with R (I want to do more cooking with him – so far going well)

3 portions of Lasagne for the freezer (for Babygeddon)

1 session of painting with R (I feel guilty if I’m too tired to have art time with him)

Work trip to Newcastle (which I totally survived)

With help from family I reviewed all my current baby clothes and sleeping sacks.  Worked out the gaps in my collection and decided to cast on for a quick red cardigan in lightweight wool just in case it is a chilly May when they arrive… And then I did some shopping (online because getting into an actual shop these days is more effort that it is worth!).

First up ‘The Creative Family’ by Amanda Blake Soule – full of ideas and projects that I love.  I’m mostly being good and plan to update my BIG LIST rather than feeling like I have to make them all NOW, NOW, NOW.

Although I’m tempted to make R a felt crown from the book using the same design as Max’s Crown in “Where the Wild Things Are’. I think he’d like that for his birthday and it would be easy to run up on the machine before the baby arrives…

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Second (ordered all the way from Australia!) Rhonda Hetzel’s new book ‘The Simple Home’.  You can’t get it in the UK so it had to come from the other side of the world.  But I’ve read her first book (and blog) so many times I realised I had to have this in hard copy. I’ll be reading it with a pencil and stack of post it notes, marking what I want to make as I go.

Lastly the yarn I need to finished a pair of navy socks for a friend has arrived.  I have struggled to knit with this yarn.  It make my hands cramp up something fierce.  But I want to get these off my back and I’m over half-way through the second sock.  I CAN get this done before B- Day, I know I can.

I’d love to hear about anyone else spending their third trimester lying on a sofa feeling like they barely have the energy to make a cup of tea.  It would make me feel less alone 🙂

Part of a nappy stash

Cloth Nappies – the Full Crunchy

I’m sure it will surprise no-one to hear that we use cloth nappies. They reduce landfill, save money and are all round more environmentally friendly options.  Here is a great article from Which? describing the circumstances under which reusable nappies are 40% better for the environment (unless you use a tumble drier, but I’ve never needed to.)

Part of a mighty nappy stash

I thought I’d pop down a few thoughts on them and how we do it in case anyone is interested.  I’m not really trying to persuade people either way though.  In fact I get sick of all the baby advice articles. Especially those titled “the top 10 baby essentials”, or “the 10 baby items I bought and never used”.  Because whilst I think cloth nappies are better for the environment I think that all parenting choices only come down to two things – does it work for your baby and does it work for you.

Since every parent and every baby is completely different I just don’t see how the top 10 anything can be so universal. My favourite baby advice articles are 1) those which teach you how to find out enough about you and your baby in order to make the right choices and 2) those which freely give hints and tips without making judgements.

We have found reusable nappies to be pretty simple and hugely money saving! But it has only been successful for our circumstances because –

1. We had a lot of practical support and advice from an experienced friend – including many hand me down nappies to get us started.

2. We could afford the start up costs for cloth nappies. We’ve spent about £250 in total on nappies from birth to potty (mostly second hand thanks to Ebay!). You can do it cheaper – we have chosen to have a lot of spare nappies in case of emergencies. I wanted to make sure we weren’t running on fumes at any point.  A significant chunk of money this was used to buy cloth night nappies as normal cloth nappies wouldn’t do it and the only nappies which were absorbent enough were not available second hand.

3.  We have a very easy going and sleepy baby (now an easy going and still pretty sleepy toddler).  Anything else and we could easily have been too frazzled to make it work.

4. We have a lot of space in our house/garden – and cloth nappies need space to dry.  In Summer this is easier than Winter and both are easier than Autumn/Spring.  Why are Autumn/Spring so bad… it is too rainy to put the nappies outside and too warm to put the central heating on.  Drying a bamboo nappy takes AGES under these conditions… that is why we have so many nappies.

5. We both work from home and we both work part time. There is always someone available to take 10 mins to hang out a washing load or put one on.

6. We have solar panels (told you we were crunchy!) and a really energy efficient washing machine.  Any increase in energy use due to the washing machine being on a lot is offset somewhat by the solar energy savings and the more efficient appliance. We only do full washing loads to save energy and it is perfectly ok to put nappies in with your other clothes.

The most important thing I discovered in over a year of doing cloth nappies… most people use far too much washing powder/liquid in their machines.  If you use too much powder in a nappy wash then bad, bad things will happen, so you only use about 1 level tablespoon per wash.  If 1 tablespoon of powder and a 40 degree wash can get poo out of a nappy, then 1 tablespoon will get sweat out of a t-shirt.  Since we started this our washing powder consumption has dropped so much that we use less than 2 boxes of Ecover powder per year.  Much less than we used before we starting washing all those nappies.

If you are still interested after all that then you can get a free consultation from the Nappy Lady here – worthwhile as one size of nappy won’t fit every child. We didn’t buy many new nappies – but thanks to her advice the ones we got were perfect.

Cloth Nappy Tree is also a very helpful community if you need any extra support and they have a great second hand sale section on the site.

First attempts at patching

Inspired by Make Do and Mend’s post about patching clothes in the Guardian I decided to practice on a pair hand me down trousers given to R.  They were a nice pair of blue corduroys but with a small rip on one of the knees and both knees were looking a bit threadbare due to the previous owner’s enthusiastic crawling.

A small but undeniable hole.

A small but undeniable hole.

I also thought that the decorative patching technique in the article would best suit children’s clothes.

Now R has a lot of trousers and whilst I had pulled these out for mending ages ago I never got round to fixing them because he didn’t really need them.  Then I read an article on another blog about the terrible condition of some clothes donated to charity.  I decided to fix them there and then because even if R barely wears them at least now I’d be happy to donate them to a charity shop in the future.

Because the knees on these trousers will always be subject to crawling wear I decided to make my patch out of a smaller circle of fleece and a larger circle of cotton fabric. I thought the extra cushioning would help with future wear and tear.

Patch pieces - wow that photo is blurry!

Patch pieces.

Before I started the patching process, I very quickly put a few stitches to roughly hold the torn bit of fabric together to make it more secure (even though no-one will ever see it… doubly so since I forgot to photograph that step!) Then I placed the circles wrong sides together and using a running stitch I tacked down the edges of the cotton fabric so that it enclosed the fleece.

A patch complete and ready for sewing to the trousers.

A patch complete and ready for sewing to the trousers.

Once I’d gone all the way round I pinned the patch over the worn place on the trousers with the right side of the cotton facing up.  Then I sewed around the patch using blanket stitch to make it look prettier. I used this tutorial on blanket stitch applique which was very easy to follow.

Voila!

Voila!

And finally I repeated it on the other knee.  Both knees were worn so it was worth it but I would probably patch both knees on another pair of trousers like this just to make it look more appealing.

It took about an hour in total – which might seem like a lot to time-poor parents.  But since I spent the evening relaxing in front of the TV it was easy to fit in.

The grand finale!

The grand finale!

 

Summer Trousers Completed!

For some months now I’ve been trying to finish some lightweight summer trousers for R.

A trio of summer trousers.

A trio of summer trousers.

[Did you spot the upside down patten on the front pair – too late to change it now!]

As we use cloth nappies (probably another post on it’s own!) his little baby bottom is much bigger than normal. Modern clothing is cut for thin disposable nappies, not bulky cloth and so he used to grow out of thing really fast without really growing that much. So I knew at some point that I’d want to sew a few clothes for him.

My other bugbear is colours.  Even at this young age children are beginning to get colour-coded.  We work hard to ensure R enjoys a range of colours, blue to pink and everything in between – but the older he gets the more mud coloured and navy the options become. If I made some of his clothes I can give him the colour which is obviously far too daring for a 10 month old.

I use this wonderful pattern by Rae: http://www.made-by-rae.com/2010/08/big-butt-baby-pants-sewing-pattern/

It was clear, easy to follow and any problems in the execution (upside down owl leg) are mine not her pattern’s fault!

Did you say an owl on my bottom, where?

Did you say an owl on my bottom, where?

There is a 4th pair waiting to be elasticated and after that I’ve two more projects I want to try (these are both free unlike the above):

http://prudentbaby.com/2012/01/baby-kid/shirt-sleeves-into-toddler-harem-pants/ – I have a bunch of sleeves cut off men’s shirts from when I made a circle skirt (out of men’s shirts), I reckon this is a cool way to use them up.

Secondly there is Mini-magpie’s amazing tutorial on turning an old jumper into toddler trousers.  One of my old work jumpers has developed a hole is probably isn’t worth fixing so…

http://minimagpie.com/HOWTO

it will be turned into a pair of purple trousers for the Autumn.

The rest of the weekend has been mixed so far, new pigs are arriving tomorrow so we’ve been busy for the last two days, putting in a new fence, cleaning the hutch and cutting back the grass from the fence (so it doesn’t short out the electrics).  In the process of this hard work I was clearing a tussock only to discover it was also an ants nest… ouch!

Circle beds are so far mixed, I am getting some nice growth in them and they are easy to weed.  Unfortunately they also look like comfortable cat toilets so I’ve lost half my carrots already. Life of a gardener I guess.