Saturday, September 25, 2010

You put WHAT on her butt? - Cloth Diapering and Wool

OK, I confess. I didn't decide to use cloth diaper to save the planet, reduce landfill space, or any other earth saving reason. Don't get me wrong, these are GREAT reasons to use cloth diapers, but what pushed me into the land of cloth were the chemicals and particulates that disposable diapers are made with. Without BORING you with all the details, you can learn more by reading a brief overview at The Diaper Debate at Healthy Child Healthy World.

You should see looks on the faces of those who discover my child wears cloth diapers. Some seem horrified, others just pass me off as crazy. Cloth diapers of today are NOT what your mother or grandmother had to use. They are cute, stylish, and above all else, functional! Even skeptical "I'd never use cloth" parents are surprised by how easy cloth diapering can be!

The look I get from confirming that I don't throw my diapers away is nothing compared to when I tell them this: "Oh you like our hand knit skirts, shorts, and pants? They are wool diaper covers."

You'd think I said something more to the effect of "I beat my kids.

It's true, I live in the VERY warm southwest. Not only is it warm, the wonderful monsoon rain storms leave the air feeling like I've stepped into a steam room. With this climate, wool is not the textile of choice here. The word "wool" conjures up images of snow, hot chocolate, and ice fishing in Minnesota. Wool in the desert? Really? But in the sweltering heat - it seams a waterproof diaper would be akin to working out wrapped up in plastic wrap. A breathable wool cover seams like the more logical solution.

Wool has a bad reputation for being difficult to care for - as if cloth diapering isn't scary enough already, right? I confess, I was scared too! Then a very nice mama on a community forum called Diaper Swappers sent me some wool pants, often called longies or woolies, for free. I was instantly hooked! Not only were these little pants the cutest thing I had ever seen, they were so easy!

This is how you use woolies: Wear them again and again until they get stinky, soak them in the sink, repeat.

You don't' believe me??? You should try! The secret is in the lanolin. When you wash the wool (technically just soaking it) you can use wool wash that contains lanolin - or you can use a spray to apply the lanolin after they are washed. The lanolin neutralizes the ammonia (the stinky part of urine) and it helps keep the wool water resistant!

Before you try wool, I do need to warn you... Wool is addicting!!! With so many cute options like hats, and handmade clothing to match, too you won't be able to say "No." And why should you?

Sunday, July 11, 2010

The Indestructable Shoe

My very own trendy little canvas shoe was the inspiration for creating
a soft-soled shoe with toes that would withstand the test of crawlers. It seemed quite obvious that some sort of "scuff guard" is necessary to extend the life of any shoe, especially that of a crawler!

So I began to research materials that would be soft and flexible, yet durable enough to with stand even the roughest pavement. I wasn't sure what I was looking for. I'd never actually made a soft-soled shoe before. In fact my sewing skills were all together sub par, but I was determined to find something that would work.

After dozen packages of sewing needles, 11 pattern revisions, and 40 pairs of shoes later. I knew I had found the solution. I had found the shoe I was looking for. Rowan, my daughter, was to be my very first product tester. At the tender age of six months she began wearing a single pair of shoes continuously. Regardless of the color or style of clothing, she wore the same pair of shoes for nearly six months. They made it! They survived 6 full months, 4 months of it were crawling, indoors and out. They did show some wear, but were definitely in good-enough-for-hand-me-down condition.

Machine washable (and dryable), durable, and fashionable. Available in as many colors and prints as there are fabrics. Anyone can find the shoe that is right for you!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Shoe Woes - The story behind the shoes

"Barefoot is best" was a piece of advice given to me when I was expecting my first child. I thought this was fantastic! I would not have to buy a single pair of shoes for at least one year. A few more drops in the bucket for that college fund, right?


A couple months later I was pulled aside at my daughter's daycare and was informed that she could not attend daycare without shoes. I thought this was a little odd. I asked what a 10 week old infant needed shoes for. All they could tell me was, "It's policy."

I frantically zoomed around town looking for some soft-soled shoes. After stopping at 6, yes SIX, stores I found a pair of soft-soled shoes at a trendy little boutique with a $40 price tag. Sucked in a deep breath and forked over the lump of cash. It was reassuring to know that this particular brand of shoes uses leather that is rigorously tested for substances that are harmful to human health, and are socially responsible (sweatshop-free). I liked them so well I bought a second and then a third pair.

I thought these shoes were pretty slick. That was until the day my daughter decided to actually use them for something more than a fashionable accessory. She had decided it was time to crawl. I was excited about the new milestone achieved. Photos and movies were taken, emails were sent, I was the typical elated mother to a newly mobile child. Then it happened, while happily playing on the patio in her brand new fancy shoes, she crawled. I was afraid of her poor little knees getting scraped up on the rough pavement. Her knees were fine, her shoes were not. They were ruined. The paint was scraped and flaking. The embroidered design gouged. Within a few short days her little toes were poking through the holes in the shoes.

I tried just about every soft-soled shoe on the market. Not one pair survived. I was stubborn, I would find the shoe that would stand the test of crawlers. I never did find those shoes. My daughter learned to walk and I thought my search was over. I could quit worrying about her shoes. I was wrong again. All that walking has polished the shoe bottoms right into a smooth, slick accident waiting to happen. The great non-slip leather shoes were like ice skates on our tile floor. Especially if a little water was laying around. After a few good falls, we decided it was time to move onto "real shoes."

I never did think of those shoes again until I was expecting another baby. While most moms are busy worrying about a smooth delivery, a healthy baby, and what color to paint the nursery. I was stuck thinking about shoes. Then I had an idea...