Saturday, July 24, 2010

Learning to Love Flat Diapers

I recently was forced to make drastic changes to our cloth diaper stash. I'll be the first to admit that I'm always up for trying new diapers, but this time, I was forced into using a diaper that I had tried time and time again with both of my girls and never found any love for. The Flat Fold Diaper.

Traditionally, flat diapers were made of cotton birdseye or cotton gauze. In fact, when I was expecting my first child, my mother gifted me with 2 dozen gauze half-flats from my own childhood. I was excited by this gift because half of the reason I wanted to use cloth diapers was because it was the "traditional" way to do things. If it worked for Mom and Grandma, why shouldn't it work for me?

Well, my firstborn turned out to be a heavy wetter. And I do mean heavy. I could not get the gauzy cotton flats to hold enough pee or create a tight enough seal to keep the pee in if I doulbed them up. So I used them for burprags. They made great burp rags.

For my second child, I was inspired to try flats again when she was tiny when I learned about the origami fold. I love origami and thought that maybe that fold would work better than what I had been trying with my older child. Also, my second baby was NOT a heavy wetter so I had better chances of loving them. In the end, I did not. Using traditional birdseye flats, the origami fold was too small for her waist and using flannel receiving blankets with the origami fold created diapers that were not only too big but too absorbant and bulky. I just couldn't find a happy medium.

Flash forward to a few months after our move into the new house. A new house means a new washer and dryer and a new water supply. All of those things, means a new washing routine. I struggled to find a washing routine that would conquer the stinkies in my daughter's diapers. It seemed like I could go only about a week before I had to do something drastic like stripping them or using bleach on them. I wasn't willing to do that many intensive washes. It was making cloth diapering much less appealing!

While searching for more hints on handling the stinkies, I came across a thread on my diapering forum extolling the virtues of flat diapers. Again, I thought, it's too bad I don't like flats because they would be easy to keep clean. One single layer of fabric would come clean for sure, no matter what my washing routine was! But I remembered hating flats. Ugh.

As I read through the thread, I noticed that a lot of mamas were using a folding pattern that hadn't been publicized when I had last tried flats. After looking at it and trying it out on the flat diapers I had at home, I realized that I just might like it enough to try flats again. So, out came the receiving blankets. Out came the flat diapers. Out came the pins.

And wouldn't you know, after only one small modification to that RoPo fold, I was loving the flat diapers on my younger daughter. Seriously, I love the act of folding them. I love the sense of tradition in using flat diapers and pins. I love the fact that laundry is a breeze. The stinkies are gone and flat diapers dry in a single cycle of the dryer, unlike other diapers which can take up to 2 hours in the dryer plus overnight hanging to dry.

The added bonus to using flannel receiving blankets as flat diapers is all the fun color that shows up in your stash! I have been picking up blankets at garage sales and resale shops all summer long and am really enjoying the different colors and prints. Since I"m buying used, a lot of my blankets are available in colors and styles that I couldn't find in the store today.

As I've added new blankets to my stash, I have come to have a great appreciatioan for the art of gender-neutral prints. There was once a great need for gender-neutral blankets as no one knew whether they'd have a baby girl or a baby boy. The prints in these older blankets are by far my favorites as they are so carefully drawn and have some truly great color schemes in them. Take a peek at some of my favorites!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

The Yarn and Its Story

Originally uploaded by LittlePoopie
Please forgive the format of this story. I decided to write from Flickr rather than Blogger and am regretting it big time. To see the entire story on this piece of handywork, please scroll down several entries, then read upwards to here. Thanks!

The Yarn

Originally uploaded by LittlePoopie
Oh, Baby! Now we're talking! I like this yarn a LOT more now!

The Yarn

Originally uploaded by LittlePoopie
Balled and skeined, it looked a little bit better, but I wasn't convinced yet.

The Yarn

Originally uploaded by LittlePoopie
Fresh out of the crock pot, this is what it looked like.

Kettle-dying Wool Yarn with Koolaid

Originally uploaded by LittlePoopie
I am LOVING this yarn. Really, how can I resist loving the play of colors on this swatch?

Amazingly enough, I hated it when I first finished dying it. I was highly disappointed and felt that I had ruined $15 worth of yarn. It looks marginally like my mental image of what I wanted, but it wasn't close enough and I felt bad. I had been saving this yarn for a year, waiting for just the right project and felt that I had failed myself.

Let me back up a bit. I was talking with a friend about some custom knitting that she was having done. She is getting a very good deal on the work and I was contemplating sending some yarn to the same knitter. I thought I would dye some natural wool yarn that I had and send it in, but in the end I realized that any hand-dyed yarn would need to be knit with alternating skeins and I wasn't convinced that the knitter in question was experienced enough to do so in a manner that would satisfy MIss Perfect.

Nevertheless, I was stuck on the idea of dying some yarn. I came across the following tutorial and fell in love with the yarn that the author had produced.

I wanted that yarn. I checked my Koolaid stash. I had almost exactly the same colors that she used!!! I made a few substitutions and viola.

I hated the yarn.

I thought it looked muddy and orange and yucky. So I put it back into the crock pot and added blue and purple Koolaid to every light spot and I also added black cherry to some of the larger orange patches in hopes of toning it down a little.

I still wasn't satisfied with it, but figured I'd wind it into a cake and see if I liked it any better. I did like it better.

But it wasn't until I started knitting a sweater for M that I decided that I really REALLY like this yarn. I would absolutely do this project again and maybe pick a few different colors or perhaps just mix the ratios differently the next time.

Kettle dying wool yarn with Koolaid is fun. It's easy. It's satisfying in a way that traditional variegation dying isn't. It's unpredictable and that is the true joy in it.

Tonight, I plan to start another dying job with my older daughter, A. She has picked out a large assortment of pink Koolaid and Klaas packets to use. And a single blue one to spot in for a few purple flecks. I can hardly wait!

Friday, July 16, 2010

The Kind of Garage Sale I Hate

Yes, in fact there are garage sales that I hate. In case you're thinking that the garage sales in question are the ones with only "old people stuff," you'd be wrong.

Oh no, there is something much worse than a sale full of mildewed furniture from the 60s.

There is something worse than the sale that consists of one card table with 20 items on it.

Yes, there is even something worse than the sale that reads as fantastic in the online ad but turns out to be nothing near as it was described.

That would be the sale full of items you'd love to buy but won't because the people running it aren't garage salers themselves. Now, I don't mean to sound prejudiced. I'm really all for people trying something new and definitely behind the concept of making some money off of your off-cast belongings. The problem lies in pricing. If you don't frequent garage sales yourself, you can't price them correctly. Additionally, if you only go garage saling in the rich neighborhoods, you'll learn the prices that are fetched there, not the prices that are appropriate for your own neighborhood.

Let's take for example, the garage sale I found today. I live in a fairly rural area. Our town has 3000 people and the prices at garage sales are generally half what they are in the neighboring bigger city. Today, I saw the following laughable prices: (the appropriate price is in parentheses.)

  • onesies $1 (25 cents)
  • sleepers $4 ($1-2)
  • flannel receiving blankets $1.50 (10-25 cents)
  • outfits for infants $4-6 ($1-2)
They had a lot of very nice things which is odd for this town this late on a Friday. Is there any wonder why?

Monday, July 12, 2010

dyed vest

just a quick update as I'm being begged to cook lunch:

Also pictured is my first successful pair of socks! Rock on!

Saturday, July 10, 2010

knitting and dyeing with Koolaid

I have been knitting a lot lately. It's like I suddenly woke up to the realization that if I don't start my girls' fall and winter wardrobe NOW I'll end up making the same mistake I made last year. That is to say, put off making my own family's items until I have so many custom orders for other families' items that I just can't fit my own in!

Last year, M wore only hand-me-down longies. I shouldn't say ONLY because there was one pair that I knit for her. Amazingly enough, I frogged them this afternoon so that I can REknit them into a size that will fit her this year. Sounds silly, I know, but when I knit them last year, I had never knit with cestari yarn and it was about killing me to try to figure out how many stitches to cast on. And then there was the pooling. I have never seen yarn pool so much before. I must have started them about 5 times before giving up and letting it pool. I decided today that we weren't going to put her in those again this year. Never mind the fact that the legs aren't long enough. LOL.

So right now, I have the unknitted yarn dripping dry in my bathroom. I washed it to not only clean it but also to take the kinks out. After it dries I will twist the skeins to get the last of the kinks out and then later on I'll ball it up and knit. I want to do slimmer longer longies with owl cable pockets on them. I can see it now... Ha!

There is also another last year's failure project on my work table today. I had purchased some Purewool yarn in the Arara colorway to make linen-stitch longies for M. I must have spent 6 weeks worth of knitting time on them only to frog them this winter. They just weren't working. Plus, C didn't like the colors. I can't blame him as olive green, rust orange, and powder blue don't necessarily the best blend.

Earlier this summer I had used the yarn to test out a new pattern I was dreaming up. The pattern worked reasonably well and the tunic vest was cute enough to dress the children in but the colors are still awful. So tonight, I pulled out my Koolaid and searched through my colors to see what I had. I had 7 packets of Berry Blue and one packet of Blue Raspberry Lemonade. The vest, which I had washed this morning was mostly dry, but still slightly damp. Weighing it inaccurately, I had about 4 oz of yarn to dye with 7 packets. For those of you who know nothign about Koolaid dying, that's not a good ratio. Normally, they recommend 3-5 packets per oz of yarn.

Oh well, into the pot it went! Amazingly, I think that was the perfect amount of dye. The olive green looks closer to kelly green, the rust is now a chocolate brown and the blue is aqua. I can live with those colors! We'll see how it turns out after the dye has set, washed, and dried, but I think it has amazing potential. Yay for a saved project!!!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Sharing a Room

For about 6 months now, our eldest daughter has been asking to share a room with her sister. We always told her, "when M gets older, you can share a room with her."

Well, it finally happened. M got older and A moved in with her. We test drove the whole shared room concept over the holiday weekend while on a road trip and the girls did marvelously. They both went to bed easy and slept all night. We decided that it was time to give the girls what they had wanted, or at least what A had wanted. A shared room!

When we arrived home, we put the bunkbeds in the larger room (previously M's room) and the toys and rocking chair in the other, smaller room.

The first morning, M woke up at 7 (which is sleeping in for her) and did not wake her sister when she called out to me. M and I had breakfast and played while waiting for A to wake. We played, and played... and played.... and played.......

FINALLY, at 8:30am A woke up. I think she slept just fine in her new room. LOL.

The second night, when it came time for bed, I went to put M to sleep before I got A ready for bed. This is how I've done things pretty much since M first moved to a set bedtime, with a few small exceptions. As I was singing to M, she kept opening her eyes, saying, "Abbah?" As in, where's A?

I told M that A would be coming to bed soon. It was time for M to sleep. "Abbah?!" Yes, M, A will be to bed very soon. "Abbah?" Yes, A will sleep in here with you. We'll be right in. Finally, M believed me and went to sleep. She woke once in the night. I know because I heard her peep, but she must have looked over and saw her Abbah because she was quiet after that. No fuss, no muss, just sleep.

I knew that A wanted to share a room with M, but it surprises me that M wanted it just as much. She's not very verbal yet, but she does communicate fairly well. She clearly didn't want to go to sleep if her Abbah wasn't coming to bed with her. It's nice to know that they comfort each other.