Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Hand dyed wool dryer balls

Ok so I bought the wool yarn for the sole purpose of making wool dryer balls. In a previous post I showed how I dyed that yarn using kool-aid. Well after 24 hours of drying it was finally ready to start making into dryer balls.

I used the entire 8oz skein to make one pair.

Here are the steps:

Step 1: Start a core with your yarn

Step 2: Keep winding wool till the core starts to round out

Step 3: Keep winding, you're half way there

Step 5: At last 2 finished wool yarn balls

Step 6: Use a crochet hook to secure the loose ends of the yarn inside the ball

Step 7: Stuff the yarn balls into a knee high sock, tie off between each ball, toss the caterpillar into a pillow case, wash on hot water with regular laundry, dry on hot heat, rewet or wash , then run through a hot dryer again.

Remove from sock and enjoy your new fuzzy wool dryer balls. They will continue to felt with continued use in the dryer. No need for fabric softener sheets, wool contains natural oils that soften clothes.

Dyeing wool take 2

Alright so my first attempt at dyeing the wool batting didn't turn out so well. The green color was absorbed by the top of the wool before it even had a chance to reach the bottom of the batting.

Back to the drawing board I went....

What if I put all the dye into the crock pot with the vinegar and water BEFORE adding the wool?

Well part of the scientific process is trials, so here goes:

Step 1: Make a dye bath (hot water, kool-aid or food coloring, and 1/2 cup white vinegar

Step 2: submerge wool into dye bath

Step 3: Use spoon to gently squish wool into dye bath till fully submerged

Step 4: Wait about 45 minutes

Step 5: When a spoon dipped into wool yield clear water, wool is done

Step 6: Dump wool gently into a colander to drain/cool

Step 7: Once cool transfer to a towel to dry, you may have to unroll the wool batting to make it dry faster, re-roll once dry

TIPS: Handle wet/hot wool very gently, any agitation or friction will cause the wool to begin to felt.

Did it work?

Color is even on both sides of the wool!

YAY! Success!

Here is all the wet wool batting

TIP: I did end up un-rolling all the colors and laying them flat to dry because they were still damp after 24 hours and I am too impatient to wait...

This is the wool batting re rolled into bales.

Finally ready to take to the preschool on Thursday and teach the kids how to felt their toy balls!

Saturday, March 20, 2010

First times a charm, right?


Ok so here it is TRIAL 1 of dyeing the wool roving.

So first you divide your dry roving into smaller sections

Next you place your roving section into a crock pot and cover with water and 1/2 cup white vinegar, turn the crock to high and allow to slowly heat up.

Next you mix your dye, you can use kool-aid, food coloring, or gel coloring. Use HOT water, because cold water will shock the roving and cause it to felt.

Ok so now you pour the hot dye into the crock with the wool. Use a spoon to gently spread the color throughout the crock.

Cover with an inverted lid, and allow to "cook" for about an hour or till a spoon dipped into the water shows clear water in the crock.

Once the water is clear, gently dump the contents of crock into a colander that is in a sink. Be careful to not agitate the wool too much or else it will felt. Allow to drain and cool. Once cool squish out the excess water and transfer to a towel to dry.

Hmfpt? The dye didn't make it to the bottom of the wool. Crap, back to the drawing board

Rainbow butts are just more fun!

After dyeing the wool yarn, I decided to dye my prefold diapers that just arrived in the mail from Little Lions! (Edit: Little Lions diapers are no longer available for purchase.)

Here are the finished prefolds:


(L-R) Bahama blue, Tropical green, Orange, Sunshine yellow, Lime green, Ocean blue (repeat)

Now for what I did:

I ordered 12 toddler and 12 regular. I bought a rainbow of Dylon and Tulip brand colors. I was told that they are fiber reactive and would not bleed or fade like Rit brand dye. I read the directions and it seemed a little excessive to mix the dye in a cup, and then add to a sink of water. So I just filled the sink and added the dye. Stirred till all the powder was dissolved.

Tulip red was more pink so I mixed that with Sunshine yellow to make orange

Then I added my prefolds. Set the timer for 15 minutes and stirred/swished constantly. Then reset the timer for 45 minutes and came back to the sink every few minutes to give the diapers a swish. Cambree said it looked like soup. lol diaper soup!

Bahama Blue

Lime Green

Ocean Blue


Tropical Green

Sunshine Yellow

This is what they looked like right after they came out of the rinse cycle:

Bahama Blue

Lime Green

Ocean Blue

Tropical Green

(It appears I forgot to take a picture of the orange diaper, oh well it was 4am when it finished)

Sunshine Yellow

Friday, March 19, 2010

dying... dyeing... dead

DYEING! Wool yarn that is!

I finally found 100% virgin wool yarn today! I was like a kid in a candy store at Michael's crafts!  I went in for Dylon fabric dye and came out with a $9 skein of beautifully soft wool yarn. I was jumping up and down squealing with joy! (Imagine some crazy woman 35 weeks pregnant jumping and squealing in the very back corner of the store; made you laugh, didn't it).

Lion Brand

Ok, so as soon as I pulled myself back together, hoping no one I *knew* saw me, I took my lovely purchases to the counter to check out. $9.61 later and I was on my way home with my bland wool yarn.

I have been planning on dyeing wool yarn for a while so I pulled up my saved sites and refreshed my memory of the processes I wanted to use.

I started by winding the wool around a folding chair.

My little girl Em wanted to help so I let her wrap for a few.

After you have all the wool wrapped around the chair you need to secure the loop with acrylic yarn

Here is the loop off the chair

 Next you will place your loop into a dry/cold crock pot.


Add water, and 1 cup vinegar. You need enough to cover the yarn. Press down with your hands to completely wet the yarn and remove all air bubbles. Once wet turn crock pot on high.


Now it's time to start thinking about colors. Choose colors that complement each other and can blend well. The colors will mix in the crock pot.

I call these colors "bottle of sunshine"

You need to dump 2 packets of kool-aid of each color into a tall glass

Add about 5-6 ounces of HOT water to each cup

SLOWLY pour your colored water into different areas of the crock

It's hard to tell in this picture, but there are 3 different colors in there

Set a timer for 1 hour. Come back and check the progress of your cooking yarn. It is VERY important that you do not jiggle or agitate the hot yarn, or else it WILL felt.

If a spoon dipped into the crock yields clear water, your dyeing is done. Turn off the heat and take your crock pot to the bathroom. Very gently dump, er glide, the contents of the crock into a clean bathtub. Allow to cool completely. Don't touch or move the yarn, to avoid felting.

I wonder how this would look knitted?

Once cool, use a little shampoo to wash the yarn, very gently, using luke warm or cool water. Be careful to not agitate the wool too much or else you will cause it to felt. Once the yarn is washed clean, gently squish out the excess water. Lay on a thick towel to dry. Drying may take up to 24 hours.

Once fully dry, you can rewind the yarn and now you are ready to knit, crochet, or do whatever it is you plan on doing with your yarn. I am planning on felting mine.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Babywearing, co-sleeping, and breastfeeding on demand child care that's my motto...

I have a lot of opinions on these 3 topics, but just because I have decided that this is best for MY family, does not mean that it works for other families, or that it is the only good way to parent. I firmly believe that each family unit is unique and therefore has unique needs and systems that work... I'm glad for that too, because man it would be one BORING world if we all thought, and behaved exactly the same.

To me wearing my children close to my body, co-sleeping (at least part time, as needed), and feeding on demand is an integral part of attachment parenting.

The bonds you create with your child in those early days, weeks, months and years set the foundation for all future development for your child. I think that a firm early attachment that fosters a deep trust is the best for my kids. I have worn all 3 of my girls in slings or soft carriers from birth to toddler, even preschool aged. I don't think that it made my children dependent on me. In fact, for the most part the opposite is true. I have 3 little (well 2 little and one big) girls that are extremely independent. They are often headstrong and very opinionated about the world that they interact with on a daily basis. What my arms provided for them in the early years was the ability to trust.

Erik Ericson, a theorist in child development, writes about the stages of psychosocial development that children go through. The first stage he calls the trust vs. mistrust stage (birth to one year old). During this time of development babies are looking to their immediate caregivers to learn how to trust their world. They are the most venerable at this stage. Their very survival is dependent on the people trusted with their care. Children who are provided positive and consistent experience that their basic needs will always be met learn to trust. The opposite is true for children who have inconsistent and negative experience; they learn to approach the world with fear and suspicion.

All of the things, that I am talking about today help to foster this trust in children.

How does babywearing foster trust? Well it's quite simple really. When you hold your baby close to your body, wrapped snugly in a sling you are mimicking the womb. This is where your baby spent 9 months growing and developing. This is a place where his need for food, oxygen, and warmth were met immediately. This was your baby's first safe haven. So now that your baby is out of the womb, a sling reminds him of that peace and security. From this position you have the most control of your baby's needs/wants. You are able to see and feel the early hunger cues; you can tell if he is too hot or too cold and adjust accordingly, you have the most power to provide protection for your child. From this new safe haven your baby can experience his world, knowing that you will make sure that he is safe and taken care of.

My youngest girls taking part in babywearing with their toys and their mom-made slings

Ah co-sleeping, I know it may not be for all families. For me, I don't see how your child's need for your comfort and protection end just because the sun went down or the hands on the clock read 8:00pm. Caring for a child is a 24 hour a day commitment. This is also why I don't even bother with night time sleep training. I don't mind my baby waking in the middle of the night because she is hungry and wants to nurse. This is where co-sleeping even if just part time comes into play. This is what it looks like in our house:

For the first year or so, the baby will have a crib right next to my bed. This way baby can have a safe place to sleep until I am in bed for the night (I tend to be a night owl, that's when I get all my creative work done). When baby wakes for the first time of the night to be fed, changed or just loved, I bring them back to my bed, where they remain till morning. I honestly couldn't tell you after that first wake up how many more times my kids wake at night. Everything the baby needs is right there in bed with us, or really close by. I sometimes call this lazy parenting, because I honestly like not having to fully wake up and go down a hall to get the crying baby. If she is right next to me, in a half awake state I can quickly change a diaper, then nuzzle her to my breast where we can both fall back to sleep safe in each other’s arms.

Can you see how this sleeping arrangement fosters trust? If, not let me explain. When your baby is in bed with you (or even right next to you in a bedside co-sleeper) you are telling your baby that you are there for them, that they are important even in the middle of the night. No matter how many times a baby wakes you are right there, ready to comfort and protect them. It's kinda like saying, "I got your back kid." Co-sleeping makes it so much easier for you to recognize your baby's early cues that he needs something, long before the crying begins.

Now let me also touch on the fact that there are times when baby should not be in your bed, for safety reasons. If you or your partner have been drinking or taking medicines that effect your alertness, then the safest place for baby to sleep would be his own crib. I know that there have been times when I have had to take pain medicines and it sucked having to get up out of bed and feed my baby in a chair so that we didn't fall asleep in bed. This is why I call it lazy parenting, because co-sleeping is so much easier.

Lastly, feeding on demand, ah to me this is just common sense. Do you as an adult eat and drink on a strict schedule, regardless of what your body is telling you? If it is a hot day and you feel thirsty you grab a drink, don't you? I know I do. To me it just makes sense... Why would I tell my brand new baby that they can't nurse, because it's only been 1 hour since the last feeding? Seriously, if I eat and an hour later feel hungry again, I get a snack. Shouldn't we offer the same to our children? Why are schedules so important? I personally think ignoring and teaching your children to ignore their natural hunger cues is very dangerous. I think it plays a big role in childhood and even adult obesity. Your body knows what it needs, and when it needs it, so does your little baby.

Also, when you have a baby that is showing signs of hunger and you ignore the early cues and watch the clock instead, you are sending a message to your baby that their natural instincts don't matter, the clock does. Your baby will have plenty of opportunities to "watch the clock" as they grow up. Right now they need to learn to trust themselves and you, and the best way to do that is to learn to listen to their cues.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

I am loving making cloth diapers

I guess if some people, I won't name any names (Scoot), can have a weird Twilight obsession, then I am entitled to my cloth diaper sewing obsession.

So I picked up a pack of cheapo Gerber prefolds from Walmart the other day. They totally suck as diapers, because they are filled with poly batting. I really, really, really wanted to try my hand at converting prefold diapers into fitted diapers.

I found several tutorials online and thought it was super cool. Here are some of the tutorials I found: (This is the one I used) (This one has useful info too) (The pimped version that I will try next)

For practice I followed the tutorial exactly. Here is the finished product. I made 6 of these and gave them to the girls to use on their baby dolls and stuffed animals. I also sent some to daycare with them to spread awareness of cloth diapers to the other families. I did add velcro closures because I didn't want to give a bunch of 3-5 year old children cloth diapers with pins in them.

The girls love their new cloth diapers so they can diaper their "babies" too! I was on such a roll that I decided to whip up some doll slings for them too!

Proud baby wearers!