impossibleway: (Movingthe Soul with Color)
A young man was walking. . . He walked all night. And he walked all day. He was tired. And he was hungry. At last he came to a big house. “What a fine house,” he said. “There will be plenty of food for me here.” He knocked on the door. A little old lady opened it. “Good lady,” said the young man, “I have traveled far and wide. Might you have a place for me to sleep the night?”

The old woman did not want to let the man in but finally agreed to let him sleep on the floor. She led the man to the fireplace and he opened his bedroll.  “Can you give me something to eat?” he asked. “I have nothing to give you,” said the little old lady. “I have nothing in the house. I have nothing in the garden.”  And she began to walk away. “Well then,” said the young man. “If you cannot give me something to eat, will you give me a pot?”

 “A pot?” said the little old lady. “What will you do with a pot? You cannot eat a pot and you have nothing to cook!”

And the traveler replied:
“He who far and wide does roam
Sees many things not known at home,
And he who many things has seen,
Has wits about him and senses keen.”

“Ah,” said the young man. “I can make soup from a stone. . .”

~Enki Kindergarten Folk Tales

Stone Soup 1

Stone Soup 2

Stone Soup 3

Stone Soup 4

We all know this timeless story of resourcefulness with a touch of trickery. I think it speaks well to the kindergarten child who is just starting to really wake up to the world. Willow still remembers it from her kindergarten time two years ago, and the children put on a lovely puppet show earlier this week. They were waiting, quite anxiously, for me to finish up the puppets. They had the set all ready and wouldn't let me have a peek.

These silk marionettes are wonderful, I think, for adding a dreamier feel to kindergarten, for keeping that which is little as such for a just bit longer. Per Freya Jaffke, we made an old man, an old woman, a queen, a king, a princess, and a prince.  They can be much more than that, of course, and we have grand plans for crowns and so on.  The materials are fairly simple, as is the technique, and I'll show it to you now.

Here are the materials you'll need:
Wool batting: This comes in a roll.  That helps very much!
Silk handkerchiefs: Choose ones that are about 12"x12."  I dyed mine with kool-aid and turmeric.
Skin-colored stockniette:  This is the same kind used for making Waldorf dolls.
Wool roving for hair and felting needle or coordinating thread
Small weights of some kind for hands
Coordinating thread and embroidery thread
Strong white thread
Sewing needle
Embroidery needle, or one you can put the thread through: It must be sharp.
Measuring tape


The instructions I started with were from Toymaking with Children.  I've made many of the items from this book.  I also used this tutorial for assistance.  You  can see in this picture that I have taken a strip of batting and rolled it into a cylinder about 5" in length and 1.5" in diamter.  A cylinder this length allows the marionette to sit.  You can do a longer one if you want it to stand.


After tying some white thread around to form a neck and head about 2" down, I covered that area with the stockinette.  I didn't do a fancy Waldorf doll head here.  The stockinette fabric has been cut into a rectangle about 3" x 4."   You can experiment with this to find the size that is right for your marionette.


I stitched up the back and then did a gathering stitch around the top.  I pulled the gathering stitch firmly (but kindly!) to close up the head and knotted it in place.


Now, I cut a cross shape in the center of the silk handkerchief.  Test it out on the doll to make sure that it is not too small to fit around the neck.  Mine were about 1.5" across.  Stitch around this with a simple gathering stitch, but do not knot it.


Put it in place around the doll's neck and pull to tighten.  Knot and trim on the underside of the silk.  It can help to stitch just once into the neck to hold it in place.  Wrap some of the white thread around the bottom to give it a bit more structure for sitting.  You can also felt the very bottom to flatten it a little.


Here's the magic, or it is to my children.  Find the corners of the silk and have two folded to make a triangle out of the whole thing.  Does that make sense?  I should have gotten a picture of it.  Well, the folded edge will make up the arms and hands of the doll.  Four inches out, put in a small weight: a rounded pebble, a ball of wool, whatever is small and fairly round.  I don't think a coin would work.  You can see what I have used, but don't tell my children.  Sew this in place and repeat for the other hand.


Next, add on the hair.  You can felt this on or sew it here and there with thread.  I did it both ways.  Wool roving is forgiving and is easy to pull off and start again.  The women had long hair or buns.  The men had short hair (at Roan's request) and beards.  Use a very gentle touch with the felting needle, as it is easy to break one when you are putting it through the roving and the stockinette.  It doesn't need heavy felting, so just go with what feels fairly sturdy.  Then, put in matching embroidery thread that is 20" long, making the knots under the ear area.  I chose not to put strings on the hands, as the book didn't mention that.  These are meant to be used by children, so the simple design will serve them better.  We may make more complex versions later on.


Last of all, carefully stash your supplies and clean up the scraps.  Put away those sharp scissors and gather up the scattered bits of wool.  Put it all away.  Away away.  Ask me how I know these things.  In addition to saving your home from stray snips, you'll model to your children that a craftsperson (or farmer or cook) always cares for and puts away his or her tools.

All the Puppet

You can see all the dear friends here.  Some have had embellishments to their simple dress using smaller silk handkerchiefs that we had on hand.  I will say that these are toys that must be handled gently, all the time, and must never be left on the floor.  They are not meant for a child younger than four, at least at our house.  The felted hair can come off; the silk (though a good weight) can tear, the strings can come off or unwind; they cannot be washed easily.  It's important to use them with a mood of magic and reverence, for that is their intention.  Ours are stored on the mantle for now, but they may have a peg rack as time passes.  While they are still new, I do get the feeling that they will be very much a part of our homeschooling and will be beloved.  They're simple, yes, but it is best for the children to fill in the details with what is within.  It is our only true possession in this life.
impossibleway: (Snow Flame)
Dip in the water's sweet surprise,
Colorful the ripples will arise.
Which will gleam in my sparkling tail?
Are trace my flight through the open air?

"Brushtail" ~ Enki

Painting Day is the most anticipated day of the week for all of us.  We've been at it, at varying levels of fervor, for 2.5 years now.  We've made lanterns, postcards, greeting cards, signs, silhouettes and garlands from the papers we've painted.  We've done salt watercolors and ice ones, too.  We chased one piece of frozen paper all over the yard and caught it to make a star garland from.  I have never tired of watching the colors mix on the paper.  I've learned a few things, too.

Painting Day

  • I always begin with a song, "Scarlet and yellow, golden and brown, winds of October throw the leaves down . . ."

  • We use liquid watercolors, as the little cakes break too easily and don't seem to last very long.  They are also more prone to misuse.  I learned pretty quickly that broken paint and broken crayons can be very upsetting to a child, regardless of whether it's a "part of life."

  • I mix up all the paint at once, instead of guessing how much it will take to get the amount of color I want.  A little bottle of Stockmar watercolors will make about a pint of paint, maybe a little more.  Yellow is a weaker color than blue, so you may get more mileage out of your blue.  I keep it in the fridge all the time as watercolors will spoil.

  • I put the paint we will use for a painting session into baby food jars.  They rinse their brushes in a big salsa jar.  There's no need to be a big spender on such things (save that money for nice brushes!).

  • I do two teaspoons of each color and that's it.  We generally paint with two colors.  Sometimes, I mix up green or orange with two teaspoons of yellow and one of blue or red.  That's all you need for two children to cover their papers very thoroughly.


  • Painting time is fairly short, less than twenty minutes, generally.   Sometimes, I read a story, but not often.  I have found that "rationing" the paint helps things to come to a more peaceful and natural end.  And, there's less mess.

  • Children may be rough on the paper at first, but give them simple, gentle modelling and they'll work it out.  I generally use 140 lb. paper, though 98 lb. works when you can't find the other.  I soak it briefly or just rinse it under the tap.  We use prefold diapers to dry the brushes or wipe the papers.

  • You don't really need a painting board.  We have two, but I have done a lot of painting on an inexpensive flexible cutting board.  You can also use masonite or, as it occurred to me today, a waterproof table top.  I think I'll try to do it right on the table next week (which is covered in thick vinyl).

  • Fluid watercolor papers and some other brands negate the need for a board or taping or anything.  They're bound on two or more edges.  Perfect!

  • Painting is a good activity for children to putter around a bit and get lost in the activity, so just be a silent observer and join in every now and then.  I tend to paint when I have something I want to make out of the paper and am wanting a specific look to the painting.

Rainbow Watercolor
impossibleway: (Over in the Meadow)

I've been wanting to make a tutorial for homemade overalls, as I really find them useful for keeping a baby or toddler warm in the cooler months.  When purchased commercially, they can be quite expensive, and I venture to guess that many of us have un-used sweaters sitting in drawers or closets that can be used for this project.  They can be made in about one naptime, since little folks do need their rest.  [ profile] blakdove sent me several merino and cashmere sweaters just recently, so here we go!

Lots of photos inside! )

And here they are, in all their frugal, warm simplicity.


For more crafting, visit Frontier Dreams!
impossibleway: (Trillium Pin)
A little more than two years ago, I made my first Waldorf doll.  I don't claim to be an expert in this craft, but I do feel that I have gotten the technique down, having made seven dolls now.  They can be fairly inexpensive to make (but not to buy!), but they do require some unique skills and a fairly good amount of time.  I made two dolls this past week and took photos as I went along, so you all can see how it's done.

Waldorf Doll  (1)

  • Strong cotton string
  • Wool batting
  • Mohair yarn
  • Stockinette tubing
  • Cotton interlock
  • Sewing thread
  • Embroidery floss
  • Hand sewing needle
  • Dollmaking needles
  • Jersey machine sewing needle
  • Cotton fabric for clothes
  • Straight pins with balls on the end
I like to shop for supplies from A Child's Dream or Weir Dolls

Waldorf Doll  (2)

I had to clean my machine first.  All those wool sweaters I've been repurposing had filled it up with lint.  I oiled it, too, for good measure.

Waldorf Doll  (3)

After cutting out the body from the pattern, I sewed up the arms and legs.

Waldorf Doll  (4)

Then I started on the head.  This is the most time-consuming part.

Waldorf Doll  (5)

I made a firm ball of batting.

Waldorf Doll  (6)

Then I tore the batting into strips and wrapped them tightly around the ball.

Waldorf Doll  (7)

I did this until my ball measured ten inches around.  Clearly, I added more wool after I took this photo.  Then, I took one square of wool and put it around the whole ball, gathering it with my hand at the bottom.

Waldorf Doll  (8)

I tied one end of eleven inches of tubing and turned it inside out.  Then, I put in the head.  Mike helped me as I knotted the cotton string around the base of the head.

Waldorf Doll  (9)

Then I added a string around the center of the head to form the eye line.

Waldorf Doll  (10)

I added another around the head, top to bottom, to form the chin.

Waldorf Doll  (11)

I sewed the intersection of these strings in place and moved the string at the back of the head down to meet the neck.

Waldorf Doll  (12)

I pinned a square of interlock around the head, pulling the fabric skin tight.

Waldorf Doll  (13)

Then I sewed her up!

Waldorf Doll  (14)

Next, I tied string around the base of the head to form the neck.

Waldorf Doll  (16)

Now, for the face.  I put in pins where I wanted the eyes and mouth to be.

Waldorf Doll  (17)

Then I got out the scary dollmaking needles!

Waldorf Doll  (18)

Putting my needle in at the back of her head, I started the eyes.

Waldorf Doll  (21)

I used vertical stitches first, being sure to catch the eye line string as I went.  Then I smoothed it over with horizontal stitches.  I'm sorry I don't have photos, but I was concentrating at the time.

Waldorf Doll  (20)

Roan performed an inspection.

Waldorf Doll  (22)

I took a break and did something easy like cutting out clothes.

Waldorf Doll  (23)

And then there were pajamas.  Most doll patterns come with clothing patterns, too.

Waldorf Doll  (24)

Time to stuff the body.  I used a crochet hook to aid me along.  It's important to stuff the limbs firmly as they soften up with time.  My first dolls were very soft, which I think just makes them more loveable.

Waldorf Doll  (25)

I used blind stitches to sew the head to the arms and them the body over the head-arms.  Again, I was concentrating and couldn't be bothered to get the camera.

Waldorf Doll  (26)

To help her sit, I added firm stitches at the place where the legs ought to bend.

Waldorf Doll  (27)

While the water boiled, I started the mohair caps for each doll.  This is just like making a hat.

Waldorf Doll  (28)

I placed it on her head periodically to check the fit, super fuzzy side out.

Waldorf Doll  (29)

Roan reviewed my work once more.  We are morning people.  Everyone else slept.

Waldorf Doll  (30)

Then I took another break as I mentally prepared to do hair.  I also don't like my dolls to sit around naked, so I started the clothes.

Waldorf Doll  (31)

The Snow White dress was sewn with my special rainbow thread because I look for any excuse to add rainbows to life.

Waldorf Doll  (32)

They put on their dresses and got their hair fluffed with a natural bristle brush.  Then the girls got their picture made so you all could see where they were on their journey.

Waldorf Doll  (33)

I swallowed my fear regarding hair and started on it.  I found a book about the right size and wrapped the mohair yarn around it.

Waldorf Doll  (34)

I placed tape along the top edge to hold it in place for sewing.

Waldorf Doll  (35)

I cut the bottom and took it off the book.  Then I took a deep breath.

Waldorf Doll  (36)

I sewed across the tape using my machine.  And no, I didn't rotate this photo.  Bwahahaha!

Waldorf Doll  (37)

Then I peeled off the tape.  A little tedious, but it worked much better than my previous efforts of sandwiching the hair between tissue paper and sewing across that.

Waldorf Doll  (38)


Waldorf Doll  (39)

I did the same with the bangs, on a much smaller scale.  I pinned them under the mohair cap.

Waldorf Doll  (40)

I sewed around the cap and anchored the bangs.  Then I pinned on the hair, centering the part, and used back stitches to sew it on.  I used a sewing needle here, to avoid making holes in the skin.  Not that I've ever done that before. . .

Waldorf Doll  (41)

And here it is!

Waldorf Doll  (42)

I brushed the hair to make it look smother.  You can tell a big difference between the left, brushed side and the right, unbrushed side.

Waldorf Doll  (43)

Then she got her braids and a trim for her bangs.  I anchored the braids with some small stitches near the ear area and back of the head.  Roan tested them for me by carrying her around by her pigtails.

Waldorf Doll  (44)

Her sister got the same treatment and the girls were ready!  I'll share their photo shoot tomorrow.  Such sweet, sweet dolls.  Even the mail man admired them as I boxed them up to go off to their new home.

You can view the completed dolls here.

For more crafting, visit Frontier Dreams!
impossibleway: (The Flower Picker)

My bookmarks have been getting out of control, so it's time to clean out and start fresh!  Here are the clicks for May!

And today, a Mike in bed because his vacation wore him out, a Willow back from the dentist (glad that's over!) and a Roan napping on the porch.  I'm feeling all better and have plans to take the children out to the Old Davis Homeplace to play this afternoon while I check the mail and garden for my parents.
impossibleway: (Toadstool)
The last of the Big Snow will be gone for certain tomorrow--it's supposed to be 65!  Crazy weather we're having, but I'm riding along with it, trying to enjoy each twist and turn.  For now, a rainy day and a bunch of links to share.

  • Homemade play dough from A Small Tribe :: After having bought some new play dough, I watched with delight as Willow opened all the colors and made them into one giant ball.  And then I threw it away.  I just couldn't abide by the plethora of colors and choices.  Now, I will make my own.  Someday.  Which brings me to a bonus link: Glob, natural paint colors.  They look so yummy!
  • Long Sleeve Peasant Dress :: After months away from the sewing machine, I did pick up some fabric yesterday.  I have a pattern for a short sleeve peasant dress that I've used before, but I always wanted a long sleeve version for Willow.  Maybe this one is a good place to start.  Then again, she loves nakin' arms.
  • Man in the moon puppet from Imagine Childhood:: This is a craft for teaching the phases of the moon.  Very sweet!
  • Unleashing the Power of Introverts :: Great story from NPR on the unique talents of introverted people, like me.  I'm uniquely talented. ;-)
  • A Doll for Every Child from Living Crafts :: A great tutorial for making a Waldorf doll.  Very thorough. I wish I'd had it when I was making the first doll.  It can seem like such a daunting task, but it's very simple and frugal.
  • Silhouette Transparencies :: This is a tutorial meant for Advent, but I think it works for any time.  I might do one for a Summer silhouette.  It's good to find uses for all that water color paper.  We've not wasted a bit so far.  I like things that do double duty!
  • Felted Playscape Tutorial from The Magic Onions :: I have plans in my mind to make one soon, but seeing as how I don't have a bamboo mat, I might just use a felted sweater for a base.  The things one can do with a single felted sweater are limitless!
  • King for a Day :: This is a recipe for an almond pastry associated with Three King's Day, but I think it would be fun to add to any time when your family needs a little perking up.  Whomever finds the bean gets to be king or queen for a day.
  • How to Render Lard the Right Way :: I don't know that I'll ever use this, but it appeals to me right now.  My friend Carrie renders her own lard for her soap making.  I've bought a tub of it to use for a pie crust on a day when I feel adventurous, but I think homemade would be best, like most things.
  • Chicken Tortilla Soup from the Pioneer Woman :: Made this one last week and it was a hit, even with Willow.  Used my tomatoes in place of Rotel ones.  I'm a chicken when it comes to spice.
  • Moss Plants and More :: This is the Winter of the Moss, and so I find nerdy links.
  • Poetry Foundation :: Search for poems by subject or author.  Lots of good stuff!
impossibleway: (Over in the Meadow)

This weekend is the Great Backyard Bird Count, a citizen scientist event that invites everyone in North America to watch the birds around them for fifteen minutes and turn in a count.  Hungry Mother State Park hosted a program for this event yesterday and we Friends of Mount Rogers sponsored a wreath-making workshop after the training.

Carried gathered nearly all the supplies along roadsides and fields.  I did my very small part by saving orange peels from juicing and net bags from the various citrus fruits and Camden Rose things we'd bought over the Winter.

Carrie even took the time to string peanuts on embroidery floss for our wreaths!  She is one of the hardest working people I know.

She gave us basic instructions on applying suet to the citrus peels and pine cones and turned us loose with our own creativity.

When I saw that moss and running cedar were available, I was all over that.  Birds can use these things to make new nests, along with little bits of yarn and grasses.

We worked with wire and twine on wreaths made from grape vine cuttings. 

My friend Louise made this lovely one.  A long-time birder, she was talking about putting things on a wreath that would please the birds and not caring about looks.  I think her wreath is beautiful!

And here's mine--secured to the dogwood tree and waiting for the big snow that's supposed to arrive today.  It was such a hit, I think we'll do it again next year!

For more crafting posts, visit Frontier Dreams!
impossibleway: (Hooded Girly with Basket)

I mentioned two weeks ago that I'd finished a pair of these mittens for Willow.  There were some glitches with the pattern, or at least things that were not entirely clear for those who have not made mittens before.  So, here's my revised version.  Be patient with me--this is my first time.


YARN: 2-ounces of Knitting Worsted. (I did not weigh my yarn, so I cannot verify this amount.)

NEEDLES: 1 pair size 4 single-pointed needles

Starting at the cuff,  cast on 30 sts and work in ribbing of k 2, p 2, for 2 inches. Then work in stockinette stitch (k 1 row, p 1 row) for 4 rows.

With the next knit row start the THUMB INCREASES:

1st inc.: 
K 14 sts; increase 1 in next st; k 2; inc. in next st; k 14. Purl across the next row.

2nd inc: K 14 sts; increase 1 in next st; k 4; inc. in next st; k 14. Purl across the next row.

3rd inc: K 14 sts; increase 1 in next st; k 6; inc. in next st; k 14. Purl across the next row.

4th inc: K 14 sts; increase 1 in next st; k 8; inc. in next st;. k 14. Purl across the next row.

The thumb increases will require careful attention to the number of stitches you have left on your needle.  Always knit 14, do the increase section, and finished with a knitted 14.

THUMB SEPARATION: K 14 sts; work across 10 sts. Purl back across these 10 sts. Work in stockinette st for 9 rows (the first trip across the 10 stitches does not count).  You will not need to place stitches on a holder--the needles will keep them for you until you need them again later.  Compare the length of the thumb with the thumb of the child for whom you are making the mittens.  You will want to get to the point where the thumb of the child starts to taper when you begin the decreases, ending with a purl row no matter what.  Get it?

DECREASING THE THUMB:  * k 2 sts, k 2 tog, repeat from * across the row. Purl 2 sts tog, across the row. Break the yarn leaving 8 inches. Draw through the remaining sts and fasten tight on the wrong side. Sew up the thumb.

Tie yarn into the first st of the right-hand needle and cast on 3 sts at the thumb.  Continue working across the left needle.  Work back and forth in stockinette stitch until the mitten measures 3 inches above the ribbing.  Again, compare with the child's hand, always ending with a purl row.


1st dec:
* k 3 sts; k 2 tog, repeat from * across the row. Purl across the next row.

2nd dec: * k 2 sts; k 2 tog, repeat from * across the row. Purl across next row.

3rd dec: * k 1, k 2 tog, repeat from * across row. Purl across the next row.

4th dec: K 2 sts tog, across the row. Break the yarn, and finish off as on the thumb. Sew up the side.

Make the other mitten just the same! :-)

impossibleway: (Ferny Mei Tai)

I just laid Willow on the bed after gently wearing her to sleep in the mei tai.  For now, she's laying on it.  But when she wakes up, I'll fold it neatly in preparation for our upcoming trip to Hotlanta.


Don't leave your mei tai like this!  Why?  Well, fabric has a memory and it will well remember the way you wear your mei tai and what you do to it after you take it off.  The straps will stay scrunched up and won't be as comfortable for future wears.  You can try ironing your straps, but who really wants to get out an iron in July?

Let's fold it up!

Start by folding it in half lengthwise.  Match up the shoulder straps and match up the waist straps, smoothing them out as you go.

Fold the waist strap across and then back on itself, matching up with the width of the mei tai body.

It will take about three accordion-style folds and then the waist strap will look like this.

Now, let's take care of the shoulder straps.  Fold the straps across, perpendicular to the mei tai body.

Continue folding them, accordion-style, until it's all neat.    No, the straps are not two different lengths--it's just the folding. ;-)

Here are the accordion folds from the side.

Now, fold your mei tai into thirds, shoulder straps first.

All done!  Pardon the toes.  I didn't see those until now.

What a neat little package!  Now your straps will stay nice and smooth for hours of comfortable baby wearing!
impossibleway: (Thread Rainbow)
Seriously?  Is that all I can come up with?  Oh, well.  Here it is folks--a simple way to make the legs for shorties fit the legs that wear them.  Revolutionary, really.

Willow is doing this right now (in her better-fitting soaker),
so I have time to tell you about the new way
I'm finishing off leg opening for her shorties.

First off, I use this pattern.  If you're not logged into LiveJournal, it will ask you if you are 14.  I'm not sure what the [ profile] punk_knitters  are doing over there that makes them all racy, but this pattern is not, so just click on through.  I like this one because it is free and requires no special skills to pull off.  It also has a crochet conversion, if you prefer doing things that way.  I have made 12 soakers from it.  One note, it does seem to run a little big, even if your gauge is correct, so make the next size down and see how that fits your baby.  Willow still fits in the 6-12 months size (which she is obviously not). ;-)

Here you can see the differences in leg finishing on this newborn soaker.  The leg on the left shows what you have when you finish the shorties according to the very basic pattern.  The leg on the right shows what happens when you finish it off.  It's a smaller-looking opening, but it stretches nicely to accommodate your baby's legs.  Why finish off the leg?  Well, you don't want the diaper sticking out even the smallest bit, since it could wick moisture onto your baby's clothes or yours.

Here's how we do it:
  • Complete one pair of shorties according to pattern.  Did I say no special techniques?  Well, there is one--weaving.  Here's a great tutorial.  It really helps to have quiet and to say "knit, purl, purl, knit" to yourself while you do it.  It is easy to undo if you mess up.  Which I still do.  After all, I have a baby.
  • Uncurl your leg openings.  If you've knitted in stockinette stitch, you know that it will curl on the edges.  Simply uncurl it with your fingers and find the stitches closest to the edge.  See above and click to enlarge.
  • Get your crochet hook--I use an F or a G.  Start by doing a single crochet into one of your stitches that you've just uncurled.  Then. . . Single crochet, skip one, single crochet, skip one, single crochet, single crochet in the very next stitch.  Make sense?  Repeat this sc, sk 1, sc, sk1, sc, sc around.
  • Take care around the top of the leg opening where the knitting could be a little stretched or weak.  Make sure to grab both sides of this around so that things will look neat.
  • Once you reach the end of your first row, do a slip stitch to join up with the first stitch of the first row, chain one and single crochet around.  You may do another row, if desired.  On my bigger soakers, I do three rounds total.  On the newborn possum yarn one above, I did only two.
The reason I like this method is that it's quite customizable.  I tried doing a knitted ribbed edge, but it was too tight for Willow.  My beloved scalloped edges seemed too loose and resulted in wicking.  In addition, this simple edging results in diaper covers that are unisex (as long as your yarn is).  If your baby has very chubby legs, don't skip as many stitches.  If your baby is trim like mine, do it this way.  I like to do one leg, wrestle my child down and put them on her, and then decide whether I need to redo it or finish up as planned.

It's really only revolutionary in that it works.  And sometimes enough is as good as a feast.

Here are some helpful links on using wool when diapering:
impossibleway: (Thread Rainbow)
I firmly believe in the power of babywearing to heal a mountain of parenting woes and anything I can do to further it, I will.  And so I present The Mei Tai Tutorial.  Do pardon the low quality on some of the photos--we have been inundated with rain and clouds.  Of course, that's perfect weather for sewing.

  • 2 yards of 60" wide cotton duck or otherwise sturdy fabric.  If your fabric is not 60" wide, you will need to adjust your yardage accordingly.  Quilting cotton will not work.
  • Spool of coordinating thread--Dual Duty or something like that
  • Scissors
  • Straight pins
  • Seam ripper
  • A paper bag (optional)
  • Decorative fabric for the back
  • Baby
Read more... )
impossibleway: (Toadstool)

And that's why I like it!  It requires no fancy appliances, no special equipment--just things that all of us have in our kitchens already!  So, here you have it folks, The Kefir Tutorial. :-)

Here's your tools--bottle for storing finished kefir, quart jar, funnel (optional), mesh strainer, bowl.

Open jar.  Pour kefir and grains through strainer.  As you can tell, I have a lot of grains, so my strainer is a little small for this job.  I have a bigger one, but this one photographs better. ;-)  Shake strainer gently to remove the liquid kefir.

Pour kefir grains back into your jar (you may wish to clean it).  Pour new milk over your grains (one cup per tablespoon or so).  Pour completed kefir into your bottle, put the lid on and stick it in the fridge.  I use an old glass milk bottle, so I need a funnel.  You may be quite skilled and not require one.

How do you know your kefir is done?  Well, swish it around in the jar a little and look for the tell-tale curds along the sides, or kefir deltas.  The kefir in the picture had been culturing for maybe 24 hours and could have gone a little longer.  I swish mine once or twice a day, just for good measure.  You can also tell it's ready when whey starts to form at the top, much like the liquid in whole buttermilk or yogurt.  Once it's done, start again!

Here are some additional kefir tidbits:
  • Your grains will grow and grow as long as you love them--share them, eat them, make gallons of kefir or compost them!
  • Fermentation times vary widely--your home may be cool, warm, humid or dry.  My kefir grains will ferment milk to my liking in as little as 12 hours in the summer or as long as 48 hours in the winter.  Experiment with different times to find the thickness that suits you.
  • Straining kefir through a mesh sieve will not hurt the grains.  I find that it helps to un-separate my kefir, reuniting the whey and curds, resulting in smoother kefir.
  • Do no place kefir grains in direct sunlight--this will kill them.
  • You can place your kefir grains "on vacation" by putting them in the fridge and changing the milk once a week.  This is great for when family comes to visit or you have to leave for a little while.
  • Kefir will ease your troubled tummy after a round of antibiotics, which is the best part.
You can learn all you wanted to know about kefir, its nutritional benefits and what to do with it here: Dom's Kefir In-Site.


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