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Honour the Child

Blog Archive

BTRT Patterns (on Etsy)

Tuesday, 29 June 2010
Rowan always asks me for my favourite colour, and I can't choose!
Since today is grey and rainy here, I thought I'd offer up some rainbows (these are all from the BTRT Etsy shop)...
Rainbow Stacker
Rainbow Fairy Silkies
Little Acorn Rainbow Pouch
Rainbow Flutterbies
Bird of Promise
Triple Rainbow Memory Coins
Oh my!  I have a lot of rainbows!
Monday, 28 June 2010
I did it. And I liked it.

I dyed yarn.

I have resisted the temptaion for so long, but I finally gave in and ordered some undyed yarn with a co-op order.  I mean, I have the dyes *right here* and I dye protein fiber (silk) several days a week, so what is a little yarn, right?! (Yes, I hear the eerie laughter of the addicted yarnies out there).

As it happened I needed/ wanted some particular semi-solids, so I was all set!

Materials:
Paper towel or cloth towels/ rags
Plastic wrap
Acid dyes (or kool-aid)
Vinegar
Containers for mixing dye (no food use after)~ I have a collection of old mugs and beer cups for dyeing
Stainless steel utensils (no food use)
Bowl/ dish for steaming (no food use)
Paint brush, sponge etc. for dye application
Gloves

Here is my process, your mileage may vary (and you may want to rely on another resource for more accurate measuring as I relied on my own experience with my dyes at hand and I dye like I cook... a pinch,  a dash... make it up as I go along)!

1)   I put three skeins on the yarn in a room temperature bath in the sink to saturate them (as wool is slow to soak) and left them for an hour while we ran errands.
 2)    I oh-so-gently squeezed out the excess water and set the yarn aside.

3)    I then laid out a double layer of towels (paper in this case, but given how little mess, I could have used/ should have used old cloth/ rag towels) and covered that with a double layer of plastic wrap. A non-food prep area is ideal if using acid dyes.

4)    I mixed up my dye. As I was making semi-solid yarn, I started with the lightest colour and then gradually added dye towards the darkest (as I needed less of the dark) as I worked.  I used Acid dyes and vinegar~ a good glug of vinegar in a plastic beer cup, some tepid water (too warm/ hot can exhaust the dye before it is applied, or too soon after, it can also felt your wool~ some dyes will take considerable mixing and need warmer temps to dissolve well, however) and a sprinkle of dye to colour (yes, that is my measurement!). Remember yarn will dry lighter than the colour it is when wet.
5) Lay out the skein of yarn on the plastic wrap, spreading it as much as you can.  Apply dye.  For a semi-solid, you can randomly apply by finger, brush, sponge etc.  To get a good base of the lightest colour, I simply poured and gently squished it through the yarn.  Repeat with each colour/ shade until satisfied.
6) Roll your yarn into the plastic wrap.  Keep in mind, if you have a lot of loose dye on the wrap, this will spread freely around on the yarn when wrapped up for steaming and will further blend/ blur colours.  If you want tidier divisions, carefully remove the excess dye water and take care not to squeeze your wrapped bundle of yarn.  As I was not too concerned about blending, I wrapped, left a small opening, and gently poured off some of the excess.  Close your wrapping completely and either bag it or wrap another layer of plastic wrap over it.
7) Steam.  The dye requires both acid and heat to fix properly.  I used the microwave~ placing my yarn bundle on an old Tupperware dish, adding some water to the base for safety.  Heat on High for 2 minutes, let rest at least 2 minutes and repeat as much as is needed for the dye water in the pouch to be clear (all dye fixed).  My pink and brown took only 2 sessions (4 micro minutes) but the red required a third and could likely have used a fourth.
8) CAREFULLY remove your yarn bundle and set it aside (I put it in the sink).  It can sit in its pouch until you are ready / until it cools.  I opened my pouch to let it begin to cool down more quickly.  Allow it to come to room temperature on its own.  Remember squeezing at this point (hot and steamy) is a great way to make felt!  Rinse with water the same temp as the yarn~ rolling and squishing rather than twisting and squeezing!

9) When you have removed as much excess water as you can (hanging heavy wet yarn may unduly stretch your fiber), hang or stretch out to dry.  We had a nice windy/ sunny day and my skeins dried in a couple of hours outdoors.
10) Yay!  You have dyed your own yarn! Here is 'Pink Flamingo' knit up and felted:
Have fun!
Friday, 25 June 2010
OK, turquoise isn't *new* but it has changed my long held stance on the blah-ness of blue. I can never pick a favourite colour, but I could always pick a least favourite. Yep. Blue.

I think it goes back to the awful grey blue tshirt my grandmother gave me from a trip to Florida when I was about 12.  It made me look like I had the plague, or the  pox, or some other gruesome communicable disease. Or even earlier~ back to my blue eyed mother and sister crooning 'Don't it Make Your Brown Eyes Blue' to brown-eyed-me, changing the lyrics to 'Gonna make my brown eyes blue' and evidencing the desirability of having blue eyes as they sang along in the shag carpeted back of a friend's custom painted van (yes, it was the 70s and my memory is distinctly rust and gold coloured, too).

Anyway, blue and I never hit it off.  And then I found turquoise.
Yes, this is going somewhere... Saturday is marked by the colour blue in Waldorf education...
So enjoy these pretty turquoise picks from the Natural Kids team on Etsy (search anytime: naturalkids team).

Sweet turquoise Itty Bitty Gummie Birdie by yarnmiracle:
A Flock of Sea Turtles (you thought I was going to say Seagulls, didn't you?) by curlymonkey:
 Soft cloth shoes for teeny tootsies from RubysSlippers:
Cutelittlething made this cute little thing!
ImaginationKids offers this sweet cloud stacker:
And one of my own favourite turquoise pieces for cooling down on  hot summer day!
I didn't mean to treat you bad
Didn't know just what I had
But, honey, now I do
And don't it make my brown eyes
Don't it make my brown eyes
Don't it make my brown eyes blue
Thursday, 24 June 2010
Ever have one of those days when you just *need* to set out on an adventure? A road trip? A picnic? Just get away for the sake of going someplace.

When I get the urge, it is usually to run away from a messy house, but on this day, it was both to occupy a cranky kid and to take advantage of the beautiful day that just wasn't warm enough for the beach, despite the insistence of the aforementioned cranky kid.

So we took flight to the honey farm.  Board's Honey is a little over an hour away across beautiful back roads (remember the pictures of the water lilies?) and being in need of more beeswax, it seemed like a good day to go for a visit.
Our first stop was the bee yard.  Boy, were they buzzing!  The air was electric with the sound of thousands of busy bees. And the yard itself is enclosed in a live electric fence to keep out hungry and curious bears and the like.

At the best of times I am squeamish with insects, and while assuring Rowan that the bees were much too busy about their work to bother stinging us, I did happen to read that June was 'swarming season' which promptly (but very calmly....) ended our observation of the bees at work! Yikes!
Board's creates many types of honey, my favourites being the wildflower, and when sick, the buckwheat which is dark and rich and restoring with hot lemon and they support these flavours with their own gardens.  A visit to the shop brings a chance to taste many of their creations (and we brought home creamed cinnamon, creamed blueberry and some buckwheat honey along with my beeswax!).

The farm boasts a 'Bee Bus' for education and we checked out the parephrenalia. Rowan took a turn at the wheel.  Suits her, don't you think?!
The beeswax I brought home is so rich and golden and fragrant that some of it went to my wood polish and some of it has been made into ornaments and toys ~ which I realized I'd best not list/ send until fall, when the weather (and the mail) cools down!
Wednesday, 23 June 2010
The town of Old Navy (not the store!) is ruled by King Jason Geoffrey Hymen Moneybox Dance Class Please.  The townsfolk have no power, but they do have refrigerators (solar powered?).  They eat dinosaur meat and they love to dance in festivals.

So I learned as Rowan played with her set of 'Our Town' Memory Coins last night.
This new set features the adorable houses and designs of Melissa at StudioMo (and used with permission).  Each coin is made of hardwood, stamped with non-toxic, permanent inks and polished/ sealed with our own organic lavender beeswax polish (locally sourced ingredients).  The coins are 1.5" across and this set has 8 pair (16 coins) and comes in a muslin drawstring bag.
Along with traditional memory matching (this set is best for age 4+ as the matching the houses takes close observation and is intended to be a challenge!), this set is great for imaginative play.  Create your own town (like Old Navy, LOL!), make maps of your hometown, tell stories.  Stack them, count them, roll them...  ah, I love a good open ended toy! 

Check out all of our Memory and Learning Coin sets in the Etsy shop.
And book your visit to Old Navy, today!
Don't forget to bring your rubber boots and dinosaur stick!
Tuesday, 22 June 2010

In Waldorf education, each day of the week has an associated colour, planet and grain.

Over the next while I am going to feature handmade, natural items that would be wonderful to help mark the rhythm of the week at home with your little ones.  Many of the items come from members of Etsy's Natural Kids Team (search: naturalkids team).


Tuesday is Red. For today's picks, I am using a theme drawn from Elsa Beskow's sweet and simple story: Woody, Hazel & Little Pip.  This is the story of two young children who go on a grand adventure, make a new friend and are eventually brought home safely by a kindly red squirrel.
(and yes, I realize not all my squirrels are red, but they sure are cute!)

An adorable (and eco-friendly!) woodland mobile for baby by Pink Perch:

Just Hatched has a sweet set of four woodland animals:
How about a red squirrel pillow from Manitoba artisan Marathon1981?
Smooth and chewable! From Little Sapling:
And inspired by another Beskow story, a playset by Boridolls:
And just because this one made me giggle~ it is wonderfully done!!  'Battle Cry' ACEO by BeaumontStudio:
Monday, 21 June 2010
As a mom, it surprises me the milestones that I never thought of as milestones.  You know, the ones you never pictured... I mean, you picture your child learning to walk, you wait for the loss of that first tooth... but there are so many milestone moments I could never have anticipated.  The ones that take you by surprise and fill you with both pleasure at your child's initiative and bittersweetness that they are growing up, already.

Today, we passed one of these.

Rowan asked to make her own sandwich for lunch.
This was kind of a big deal since this kid doesn't *eat* sandwiches.  I have been able to get her to eat church sandwiches several times, but everyone knows those are in a class all their own!  And following up those successes with elaborate displays of making Rowan a sandwich 'with love like the church ladies' have only resulted in my foolishly standing at the counter crooning about all the love I am applying to the bread in mustard form. Ew.
So I stood back and let her work, stepping in only to slice cheese and tomatoes as directed. Exactly as directed.
She scoured the (empty-ish) fridge and came up with an eclectic mix of tastes.
The end result was an interesting creation of dill relish, grape tomatoes, marble cheese, green olives, dairy free margerine and summer sausage on whole wheat/ white blend bread. What was so interesting was that the application of fixings was done in grouped areas~ all the relish in one corner, all the olives in another... very avant garde.  It reminded me of my brother's first sandwich some 20 years ago that I had forgotten: blueberries, Honeycomb cereal and mustard. So this must be a milestone!
The good news? She ate an entire half + all the 'stuff' out of the second half. Hooray!
I guess this means my baby girl is growing up. *sinffle*
Sunday, 20 June 2010
I think I just might be a born again knitter.
I haven't knit in years. Too boring. Too many other things to do.
But then I am continually surrounded, online, by the most gorgeous hand dyed yarn.
And I am such a sucker for fiber and colour.

This most recent project has firmly landed me back in the land of the knitting.

This is the adorable and versatile Maxi Dress pattern (free HERE) from Knitting Adventures.
I used Mosaic Moon's Black Rainbow colorway on Uruguay 3 ply Merino with Paton's Classic Wool in black for the trim.  I am so pleased with the simple tailoring of this dress (and that I pulled it off~ I mean, everything matches up evenly and neatly, woohoo!)~ it is one piece all done in the round.  And with any luck and no laundry accidents (I really should have considered using a washable yarn, doh!) we should get a couple years out of this as a dress and a tunic/top.
 I worked out my own little flower, and I think I am going to make a few more for brooches with some of the small amounts of pretty colorways hanging about!
My next project is undecided, but I do have a little of this on the way and suggestions are welcome (8 oz)....
(Winter Solstice Sky, Mosaic Moon)
Saturday, 19 June 2010
As a toy maker, nothing makes my heart happier than hearing about happy kids engaged in imaginative play sparked by our toys!  Parents are often amazed at how much play children can derive from simple, beautiful things.
 One mom recently described the day her three kids, aged 3, 5 & 8 spent playing with 6 little Fairy Silkies™ ~ she was shocked at how much play value was in these little 11" squares.  Her kids played doctor and made a magic show, covered up dollies, flew on tiny wings and so much more.  Her greatest pleasure came from the fact that all three children played together ~ something very few age specific toys can offer~ most natural toys span a wide age range effortlessly.

Another mom wrote to tell me about the success of a pair of Sunrise Flutterbies™ in her home:
They are a HUGE hit here!!

They arrived today and I gave them to Emy who spent a good hour running around pretending all sorts of things from being a bird, to a fire guy to a super hero.  We just saw that Cirque Montage last night and they used similar type things in some of their acts so he was full of imagination that he was one of them as well.

Then Alekz seemed to notice how much fun Emy was having with them and he convinced Em to share one. So they began battling villians with their "fire powers".

Next, I hear music for awhile and lots of laughing and counting and instructing from Alekz.

A bit later, they come proudly to me and play MC Hammers "Can't Touch Tthis" song while they perform their dance using the Flutterbies. It was hard not to laugh but they were soooooo into it!

Then they fought bad guys some more.

So 2 little Flutterbies kept 2 boys, ages almost 10(1 week til his birthday) and a 4 yr old completely content and playing for a good 3-4 hours.
♥♥♥
I am such a believer in the power of natural and open ended toys to bring out the best in our kids.  I feel sort of like the 'Hair Club for Men' guy (Sy Sperling)~ I am not only the president, I'm also a client.... I'm not only the toy maker, I'm also a mom!
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