Sunday, February 27, 2011

Some things never change

We're sick here yet again. Maegwin was out Thursday and Friday and yesterday I started developing a sore throat. Oddly no other sinusy symptoms so I'm wondering if maybe it is strep throat since I have sore glands, muscle aches, headache, and a ridiculously sore throat. Maegwin had a cough for several days and a low grade fever that we could never get to register as much on a thermometer. I'm hoping we can get in to the doctor tomorrow to see what is going on since I don't want to use up all my vacation time being sick.

Maegwin spent some time sleeping on Daddy after a warm bath and it reminded me that some things never change.

Maegwin at one day old:
With Daddy at the hospital

Maegwin at 14 months old:

Monday, February 21, 2011

Just a quick one

For all you knitters and crocheters out there wanting to go to college, Jimmy Beans Wool has a scholarship. I had to share just in case.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

More more!

Warning-this post has lots of videos. I've been trying my best to capture Maegwin doing her signing and was able to get at least more. It started out being a video of her playing with Planck but of course she stopped as soon as she saw I was filming.

She really loves the Zany Zoo and I caught her playing with it in this one. It was from Grammy for Christmas and has lots of different things to do. Here she shows me her baby and goes in for a close up. Pardon the chocolate face-she stole a malted milk ball from me.

I also finished some socks! I started knitting these back in July when my friend Gwen came out to do the Knitters' Connection show. As a show of appreciation for her staying with us, she let me pick out some yarn and I selected one of her new bases, a very soft merino silk blend. I wanted to do something intricate with it to really show off the yarn but unfortunately that meant that they took me forever. (I of course was also knitting a certain blanket in there too).

French quarter socks

Pattern: French Quarter Socks by Anne Hanson
Yarn: Mousse by Craftsmeow in the Cherry Burgundy colorway
Needles: size 2 circs
Notes: I found that the toe decreased way faster than I was expecting so if I were to knit these again I would do another full repeat of the chart before working the toe. As it is, I decreased down to 10 stitches on each needle before grafting. The toes are a bit more pointy than I usually like but I didn't want to rip the toes out on both sides. I had grafted with sixteen left on each needle for one but didn't like how it cramped my toes so I ripped and reknit. Love the yarn! It is soft and shiny and a beautiful deep color. I think these will be my new favorite socks.

With my needles freed up I am planning to cast on a pair of lace socks today and probably a knitted monster for Maegwin. She has been looking at the pictures in my new book I got-The Big Book of Knitted Monsters. She points at them and hugs the book so I think that is probably an indication that Mommy needs to get busy.

This weekend will be busy also with seed planting. We're a little late getting started but we also plan to direct sow a lot of things this year like beans, corn, peas, and carrots. Basically we just want to start our tomatos so we get plenty of time to up-pot them and get them nice and sturdy before they go out. Maybe this year we will actually get some produce from our garden besides potatos, onions, and leeks. I think with the scarecrows we will have a fighting chance against the deer.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Vacation day 3

So, just a little update on what I got done of my list. I finished the sweater for my boss's baby just in time to present it next week. It's even blocked and dry. Hopefully today when we are out running errands I can drop by the Archivers store and pick up some nice wrapping paper.

Here's the details for those who care about such things:
baby sweater 2

Pattern: Louise Cardigan from Vintage Baby Knits
Yarn: Baby Bee Sweet Delight Pomp in the Iris Dream colorway
Needles: size 4 Knitpicks circular

This is the second pattern that I've knit from this book and so far I've been very pleased with how easy they are to follow. There was one wonky bit after I rejoined the sleeves that I think the smallest size had a mistake. I recounted my stitches multiple times and had the right count but then the next row called for one less stitch so I just decreased it. I'm guessing there was probably errata out there for it but I was knitting much of this on plane trips to Baltimore so I didn't have internet access at the time to check. I love all the little details on these vintage patterns though. The great stitch pattern on the neckline and the picot edging are just so sweet!

baby sweater buttons

The yarn was definitely nothing to write home about. I got it in a swap so I wanted to use it and I didn't want to add more yarn to the stash even if it was for a planned project. The label said it was bulky weight but it was sport weight at best since knitting it up on a size four needle yielded a very normal looking fabric. If it were truly bulky that sweater would be able to stand up on its own knitted at that gauge. There's also a little sparkly strand plied with the yarn and it is really easy to miss that strand or separate it while knitting. I had no idea what my boss or his wife would want in terms of garment care though so I went with something that could be washed easily and would hold up well.

I found the buttons at JoAnn Fabrics and I think they are just perfect for it. Nice and simple with a good roundness-I think they look a bit antique like little pearls which fits in with the vintage aesthetic. While I made the 0-3 month size I think the A-line shape gives it lots of room so hopefully she'll be able to wear this for a good long while.

I also accomplished getting my two yarn stash shelves a bit more organized and am working through repairing my sock heels. I grafted one of them but I did it too tightly so I have to rip the graft out and redo it loosely. I'm excited that my repair worked though. I basically picked the strongest row that was above the hole, which turned out to be the row where I rejoined for knitting the gusset. I figured it would be just as easy to rip back to the heel flap and reknit the short rows and then graft together. It worked great! Many thanks to the Knitpicks ladies for their wonderful youtube videos on sock repair. While I didn't use their exact techniques, they did give me the confidence to rip back my knitting and repair. Now I will have three pairs of socks back in my drawer as soon as I get through it. Like they said you may as well put in 15-30 minutes repairing when you probably spent at least a week knitting the darn things in the first place! For anyone who is curious, here are the links to the videos.

Patching: Part 1
Patching: Part 2
Swiss Darning: Part 1
Swiss Darning: Part 2
The Accidental Hole: Part 1
The Accidental Hole: Part 2

I spent yesterday with Mom and Maegwin doing a stamp camp which I hadn't been to in a while. Maegwin was so well behaved and took a huge nap in the middle so I got all my cards done. All I have is one gift box to assemble. Really I didn't think I would get that much accomplished so I was very happy. We went to dinner after and Maegwin charmed the pants off of everyone. She sat in her high chair and said hi to every person that passed by. Her cheerful sweetness is infectious! She's been doing lots of baby signs for us and I'm trying to capture it on video so as soon as I do I will share it with everyone. She can do more, milk, all done, mommy, daddy, please, and thank you. She gets this huge grin on her face while doing it too. I think she is happy to be able to communicate her needs to us and be understood.

More to come soon! Hopefully tomorrow I will have a new pair of completed socks to share.

Friday, February 11, 2011


I've been feeling pretty burnt out and overworked and decided to take a few days off to recharge. No big plans-I'm just staying at home and cleaning. I do have a stamp camp planned to go to this weekend and I think Mom is coming up to see Maegwin also. Otherwise it's all about relaxing. I even had Josh take Maegwin to daycare today so I get six hours of alone time. Here's what I want to do:

-repair three pairs of socks that have holes in them
-finish the foot of my French Quarter socks
-sew the buttons on the baby sweater for my boss's baby and wash and block it
-cast on my February SKA socks
-work on my January SKA socks
-reorganize my stash and knitting books (mainly my basket that is full of scraps)

I know, I know, this is a crazy amount of stuff to do and fat chance I'll get it all done today, but hey I've got four days!

Progress so far at 8:49 am-all seams sewed on the baby sweater and grafting on one pair of socks in need of repair. I'll check back!

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Cloth diapering-all the details

I just got back from a quick jaunt to Baltimore-up at 4 am and back home at 11 pm, so tiring!  I finally have some time to sit down and write this post.

People ask us all the time about cloth diapering.  How does it work?  Is it hard?  Is it messy?  Does it smell?  What do you do with the poo?  All valid questions and things I will endeavor to address.  We were happy to learn just last week that we inspired another family at Maegwin's daycare to switch over to cloth.  They saw Maegwin's diapers and said "What are those?? We want them!"  I will try to include links as well to all things we use in this post so if anyone is interested they can purchase or explore.

First let's do a bit of calculation.  Looking at the average cost of a disposable diaper between name brands and generics we've come up with a cost of about $0.25 per diaper and about $0.05 per disposable wipe.  So for our purposes we will assume at each diaper change a cost is incurred of $0.30.  Knowing this we can now compare the cash outlay for cloth diapers vs. disposables.

Cost of disposables:
Newborns need to be changed about 12 times per day

2 months x 12 diapers/day x $0.30 = $216

Infants need to be changed about 8 times per day

10 months x 8 diapers/day x $0.30 = $720

Toddlers need to be changed about 6 times per day

12 months x 6 diapers/day x $0.30 = $657

Children who are potty training need to be changed about 4 times per day (Pull-ups cost more but for our purposes we'll assume we're just using the same diapers)

18 months x 4 diapers/day x $0.30 = $656

Total cost for diapering a baby through potty training = $2,249

Cost of cloth:
2 dozen flannel wipes = $22

Diaper sprayer = $45

Cleaning solution (we use a solution with olive oiland tea tree, recipe here)-about one bottle x 3 months
$1.00 x 44 months = $44

Diapers-48 one size Bum Genius diapers (we find this is plenty to go all week without washing diapers)
$204 per 12 pack x 4 = $816

Laundry detergent-150 oz bottle Seventh Generation Free and Clear = $20

Total cost for cloth diapering a baby through potty training = $947

That's a savings of around $1300 and if you have more than one child, the same cloth diapers can be used for the second one!

There are many choices in cloth diapering today.  What typically comes to mind when I say cloth diaper is the old reliable prefold diapers.  These are the squares of cloth that were probably used by most of our grandparents and maybe even parents depending on one's age.  My mom used them for both me and my sister.    The type of diaper we use is commonly referred to as a pocket diaper.  It has a waterproof shell that can be stuffed with various sizes and absorbencies of liner.

We use the Bum Genius brand one size diapers.  They have a set of three snaps that allow sizing to accommodate from around 8 lbs to 35 lbs.  We have basically used ours since Maegwin came home from the hospital since she was over 9 lbs when she was born.

We used the small size for quite a while and are still on the second set of snaps now with Maegwin at 20 lbs 10 oz.
She still has quite a bit of room in them so I don't think we'll have to go to no snaps for a while yet.
Each diaper comes with two inserts-the infant one for the smallest sizing and then a larger one that snaps down to fit either the second or third sizing positions.  Right now we double up and use the infant insert and the longer insert as well for maximum absorbency.
The real elastic around the legs and at the top around the back also help the diapers fit better than disposables and seem to keep in poo better as well. Maegwin has never had a "blowout".  At most she had mild leaking when we didn't realize she needed to be changed.  The diapers go on with velcro for the version we have but they are also available with snap closures.  I personally prefer the velcro closure because I think it allows for better custom fitting to the baby.

For wipes we use flannel and have a few bamboo as well.
I prefer the flannel because both sides are soft and can clean whereas the bamboo have an offside that isn't very soft.
They are also handy for cleaning off glasses, shining shoes, wiping faces and hands, dusting, cleaning off dvds, etc. We started out using the Bum Genius bottom cleaner, but then I read that we could use various homemade sprays. That works amazingly well and is much cheaper. I did reuse the bottles though. We refill the bottle about once a month and have more than enough for spraying on at every diaper change.

So what to do with those dirty diapers?  Well, if we're at home once Maegwin has been changed we take off the diaper and put the velcro on the laundry tabs inside.
This protects the velcro when the diapers are being washed and saves time when going to launder them. I don't have to spend a lot of time moving the velcro to the tabs and potentially missing some.
We have a diaper pail for dirty diapers with two washable Bummis bag liners. We got the diaper pail as a kit from and it came with a carbon filter and two deodorizing discs. They seem to currently be out of stock so I can't provide a link.
It easily fits a week's worth of diapers and we have it right in our bedroom and never smell a thing.
Ok, now to that burning question of what about the poo. Did you know that it is actually against the law to put untreated human feces in the landfill? Technically you are supposed to shake the poo off disposable diapers into the toilet. No one does this of course-they wad them up in a little ball and toss them in the trash.  So if the diaper is poopy, we rinse it off first. Oddly our diaper sprayer came in an order by accident but we liked it so much we called the people at Cotton Babies to have them charge us for it. It fits on the toilet with no special tools and has really good spraying capacity.  Bonus-it helps when you're cleaning the toilet out too!

If we're on the go when we change Maegwin, we have two Bummis wet bags that we alternate.  They come in great colors and hold up to six diapers easily.  We've also used them for wet swimsuits when we went to the pool and they worked great for that too.
They have a wrist strap with a snap so they can easily be put onto a stroller or hook. Our daycare hangs them on the door of the bathroom there.

Next step-Laundry! On Saturday we take out the bag from the diaper pail and head downstairs. I pull out all the inserts and unsnap them to make sure they get completely clean. I throw the diaper pail bag and wet bag right in with the diapers. We use Seventh Generation Free & Clear which is the same laundry soap we use for everything. The important thing is just that it is dye free and doesn't cause buildup on the diapers.
Rather than the normal amount of soap for a load
The diapers call for 1/8th of that amount per load.
Do not use fabric softener as this will decrease absorbency. We actually use white vinegar on all of our clothes because it doesn't damage the fabric. They will be just as soft and don't smell at all.
They need to be washed initially in cold water and then washed a second time with hot water and a double rinse. Once that is done, we separate the shells and liners. The liners can go in the dryer and the shells should be air dried. We have a stacking rack we got from Bed Bath and Beyond that I also use for my hand knits and other delicates.

That's pretty much it! It's super easy and we are very happy with our decision to cloth diaper. Our doctor says Maegwin has some of the least diaper rash she has ever seen and was so impressed with the diapers that she took down the information to tell her sister about them. We have some reusable liners for the times when Maegwin does have diaper rash because diaper cream will stain cloth diapers and make them repel water.

Final note: cloth diapers are adorable. People will randomly ask what they are and comment on their cuteness.
eating celery
Our only complaint is that clothing is now made for fitting the trimmer silhouette of disposables so we often have to size up pants/onesies/etc to accommodate the diaper. Small price to pay though.