Knitting Baby Stuff: Chunky Cotton Chevron Blanket

Pattern: Chevron Baby Blanket

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Close up detail.

Source: Ravelry

Price: Free!!

Yarn: Rosàrio’s 4 70’s Cotton

Needle: 8mm circular

Rather than knitting with two strands of 10ply, I knit with a single strand of this chunky cotton on 8mm needles. I knit this while pregnant and it quickly became my nemesis. We would face off over a few rows each night as a sort of penance while I completed other more enjoyable projects. What made this a less enjoyable knit was the chunkiness of it all on short little needles and the complete lack of stretch in the yarn made it tiresome to work with. I could never quite get into a rhythm.

However, now that the nemesis is defeated and this blanket is complete. I love it. Love love love it. W spends his floor play time on this rug and it’s super soft, squishy and delicious.

I did have a slight heartbreak moment when I washed it for the first time. The yellow dye ran slightly despite a cold machine wash giving the white stripes a faint jaundiced tinge, but I figured that this blanket is destined for far worse by way of poonamis and projectile spews. So, with that in mind, I tried very hard not to cry about it.

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Just chillin’ on my chevron.

Pearls:

  • If you’re new to circulars, or cotton, or chunky yarn, or large knits or all four, be prepared for some work as you get to know these beasts.
  • I knit colours in pseudorandom sequence (e.g. A-B-A-C-B-C-A-B-A) rather than stripes (e.g. A-B-C-A-B-C-A-B-C) and think it worked pretty well.

Baby Stuff: Review – – Itti Bitti D’Lish All-in-One Nappies

Product: Itti Bitti D’Lish Sized All-in-One (AIO) Nappies

Brand: Itti Bitti

Bought from: Itti Bitti Online & borrowed from a friend

Paid: Bought a ‘Get Into Cloth’ pack for about $80 which included one small AIO. These packs change in their contents, price and availability. Check here for the latest. A single AIO goes for $26.95. Better value if you buy a stack of them.

Contents: An AIO nappy is exactly that. All in one! The shell is padded with an absorbent layer and then a microfleece liner is sewn in. This lifts up as a flap to improve drying times and also had snaps for the insertion of a Itti Mini Booster (available in bamboo or microfleece) if you need a bit of extra oomph.

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As easy as a disposable – – no assembly required!

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The microfleece stay-dry piece is sewn in but separate for quicker drying times.

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Laundry instructions are printed on each nappy.

How I use it: As per Itti Bitti’s recommendations, I prewash the nappies 5 times to get them up to a good level of absorbency. Not sure why they aren’t sold pre-washed, but I have it on good authority from a fellow Itti user that failure to prewash leads to leaky nappies.

As I have had issues, especially as W has gotten bigger, with wee leaks in the AIOs, I snap in a minibooster prior to use. The nappy goes on like any disposable with snaps to close.

At change time, I unsnap the minibooster (washing with pieces snapped together can cause the snaps to pull out of the fabric over time – not something I’ve had happen, but a friend has) and the whole lot goes in the nappy bin.

See my review of Snap-in-One (SIO) nappies for details on how I wash the nappies. The issue with AIOs is that I can’t separate out the polyurethane laminate (PUL) part of the nappy and given I am fond of a hot wash, this means my AIOs are destined to not live as long as the SIOs.

AIOs do take considerably longer to dry than SIOs, which in winter is a bit of a pain and could potentially lead to more use of the clothes dryer (not a problem for me as the vast majority of my stash are SIOs, so if I can get the SIOs dry without the dryer I don’t run out of nappies and the AIOs can just stay on the line).

Pros: Eco friendly, kind on sensitive baby bottoms, easy to use, look super cute, no snapping in required (unless you have a heavy wetter, then a booster may be needed).

Cons:  Sized nappies means buying more as bub grows (compared to Bitti Tuttos which grow with baby), expensive upfront (even more than SIOs as can’t bulk out nappy stash with extra soaker sets), whole nappy needs to go in wash at each change (c.f. SIOs which can reuse the shell and just have the soaker set changed), PUL shouldn’t be hot washed either need to tolerate cold/warm washed nappies (I’ve found this leads to problems with ammonia smell from my heavy wetting baby) or resign self to the fact that the life of the nappy may be shortened by frequent hot washing.

If I had my time again: I wouldn’t buy any AIOs (I only bought one as part of a trial pack and have three or four from a friend) as I much prefer the SIOs.

Overall rating: Not too bad, but not my scene!

Baby Stuff: Review – – Itti Bitti D’Lish Snap-In-One Nappies

Product: Itti Bitti D’Lish Sized Snap-In-One (SIO) Nappies

Brand: Itti Bitti

Bought from: Itti Bitti Online

Paid:  $12.50 per shell (bought as value pack of 12) & $10.80 for a soaker set (bought as value packs of 6) = $23.30 per nappy

Contents: Each nappy is made up of a minkee shell – which is essentially a waterproof polyurethane laminate (PUL) layer with a fluffy outer in the shape of little pants with different snaps to allow for adjusting the size – and a 2 piece soaker set – which includes a square piece that folds into three (trifold soaker) and an hourglass shaped piece (which looks a lot like a sanitary pad) with a stay-dry microfleece surface. The soaker set snaps into place by using the colour coded snaps. There are also two red snaps on the bottom of the hourglass shaped piece which can be used to attached a mini booster (sold separately) for extra absorption.

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Itti Bitti D’Lish Snap-In-One is made up of three parts. Left to right: Trifold soaker, hourglass soaker (with microfleece on one side which keeps bub’s bum dry) and the minkee waterproof PUL shell.

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Shell with two soaker pieces snapped in

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Trifold soaker in position as I use it. Could also be folded in half lengthways to give extra absorbency up front for seriously heavy wetting boys but this hasn’t seemed necessary in W as the soaker seems to soak it up even in this flat position.

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Nappy with microfleexe hourglass soaker in place over the trifold. Ready to pop onto your baby’s bum!

How I use it: As per Itti Bitti’s recommendations, I prewash the shells on cold once prior to use and prewash the soakers on warm 5 times to get them up to a good level of absorbency. Apparently the manufacturing process leaves residue on them that makes them not hat great to start with. Why Itti don’t prewash them prior to sale, I’m not sure. I would think that this would be better for the environment as they would have an economy of scale. Anyhoo.

I snap the soaker in with both pieces lying flat with the hourglass over the top of the trifold, so that the stay-dry layer is closest to W’s skin. You can fold the trifold to make most of the absorbency at the front for boys, but this ends up pretty bulky up front and I haven’t found it to be necessary.

At change time, I either change just the soaker set (if he’s only wet or done a small poop without any soiling of the shell) or change the whole thing (if he’s soiled the shell or the shell has been in use for a few changes. I make sure I unsnap the soakers from the shell before putting them in the nappy bin. Putting nappies in a bin without any water is called dry-pailing – a term you’ll come across on cloth nappy websites.

If the shell isn’t soiled, I pop it in with his dirty clothes as hot washing (which I use for nappies) isn’t great for the elastic or PUL in the shells and will shorten their lifespan.

I wash the nappies in a front loading machine and use a wet towel to ‘trick’ the machine into using more water than it thinks it needs to as this helps rinse out all the poop. I do a rinse cycle then a hot wash with a pre-wash and extra rinse. Unfortunately, with a front loader this all takes about 4 hours! I use a low residue laundry powder (have been using Earth Choice, but just switched to Aware to give it a go). I have also tried sample packs of Rockin’ Green which seemed to work well.

I dry the nappies either on the line in the sun (when the sun is out…which it hasn’t been much as W was born mid-winter) or in the clothes dryer. Our dryer turns off automatically once it thinks things are dry and I occasionally have to give them another spin as they are still a little damp. A side effect of being pretty absorbent material. On the odd occasion that there have been visible yellow poop stains on the nappies after the wash they have miraculously vanished with natural bleaching from the sunshine.

Problems: The main problem we’ve had is with the nappies smelling like ammonia (wee) after washing. We have a fairly heavy wetter on our hands, I suspect. This smell is mostly noticeable if we use the clothes dryer. I emailed Itti about it and they were very helpful and so to try to fix it I’ve been using even more wet towels and an extra rinse.

Although I read a lot about “strip washing” in preparation for my life as a cloth nappy-er, I have since read this and it seems it is probably not a necessary chore to add to one’s list. In fact, since I started following the GroVia website advice of using a normal amount of laundry detergent (rather than the half-dose recommended by most MCN websites) the ammonia smell has pretty well vanished.

I think the main time I get the ammonia smell now is when I’m doing a large load and I suspect the washing machine is adding the maximum water it can but it’s still not enough.

We’ve only had occasional poonamis which have leaked – and this is no more than my disposable nappy using friends’ babies. Only wee leaks have been with the All-In-One nappies (AIOs) – more on them later – or when trying (in vain) to use the SIOs overnight (a task they do not claim to be up to).

Pros: Eco friendly, kind on sensitive baby bottoms, easy to use, look super cute, up to the task of daytime use even in a heavy wetter, dry quickly (compared to AIOs)

Cons:  Sized nappies means buying more as bub grows (compared to Bitti Tuttos which grow with baby), laundry techniques require a bit of trial and error and are harder in a front loader (I gather), need to unsnap prior to laundering does require some practice not to get poop on your hands in the process, shells shouldn’t be hot washed so need separation from nappies if wanting to hot wash nappies, expensive up front, need to be ‘made up’ prior to use

If I had my time again: I’d put W in these sooner (I persisted with the prefolds longer than I should have). I wouldn’t buy any AIOs. I’d start keeping an eye out earlier for discontinued prints (often cheap!).

Overall rating: Raving about them!

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Laundry instructions are printed inside the shells.

Pearls (applies to all MCNs not just Itti Bittis!):

  • Be prepared to always have something in the washing machine … but I suspect this is the case with a baby even if you’re not doing cloth nappies! This is probably a lot faster and easier with a top loading machine (front loaders have insanely long wash cycles).
  • Be prepared for a bit of trial and error with using the nappies – what I like may not work well for you, etc
  • Consider how many you want. Are you doing cloth full time or part time? Maybe try part-time before you buy loads of them. We are full time now and do a (half) load of nappies every 1-2 days with 12 shells and 24 soaker sets. A cloth nappy library is also an option (albeit one I never tried as my husband was too grossed out by the concept of second hand nappies).
  • Don’t skip the recommended prewash when you get your new nappies unless you’re quite happy for them to leak everywhere.
  • Read the care instructions closely – things like nappy rash cream, fabric softener and the wrong detergent can cause problems.
  • Don’t get sucked into the vortex of strip washing regimens (the internet is full of them)
  • Email or call your nappy supplier if you are having issues with them (leaking, smelling, etc)
  • Use the recommended amount of laundry detergent (you do actually want to clean those things)
  • Sunshine really does bleach things. Don’t get stressed by faint yellow poop stains as you hang your soaker sets on the line. They’ll be gone in no time. Promise.
  • Find your washing machine instruction manual (online if you don’t have the hardcopy). Took me a while to work out that I couldn’t tell my machine to increase the water level and so I had to ‘trick’ it with a wet towel (adds weight so it thinks there is more laundry in there).

Crochet: The Country Women’s Association & An Owl Hat

So on Thursday evening I did something I never thought I would do. Indeed, it had never even crossed my mind that I would not do it, that’s how much I thought I would never do it. I joined the CWA. Yep, you heard me, the Country Women’s Association.

But before you envisage me in a hall full of purple-haired nannas in tartan box-pleat skirts munching on some egg and lettuce sandwiches and cup of luke-warm milky tea… let me set the record straight.

I have joined a bunch of young mums who have recently revived a local CWA branch as a way of getting out of the house (and away from the kids) once a month and organising social events and learning new skills. So, along I went to the pub on a Thursday, my knitting tucked under my arm.

Five of us (unfortunately, the 21 people who had RSVPed for the planned cheese & wine night—cancelled due to the cheese lady getting the flu—didn’t feel so enthused by a pub meal) met up for a rather good dinner, a glass of wine (thank you Feed Safe) and a natter over some knitting. And, for a CWA meeting, I had a spectacularly nice time!

The only official business of the night was deciding what we’ll enter in the crafty competitions the CWA are running. Competitions are not what our branch is really about. We’re more wine and cheese types, but the call for a “crochet novelty item” has me submitting this little number.IMG_3699

Unfortunately, I made this with left over cotton (from some delicious blankets I made… will have to post about them sometime!) which has very little stretch. Resulting in a fairly unforgiving fit when W was born with a massive head! Even if it had been the right size, the lack of stretch means it sits rather than fits on one’s head. A mistake I would not repeat. Next version will be in wool.

Pattern: Newborn Owl Hat (by Sarah from RepeatCrafterMe.com)

Yarn: Morris & Sons Avalon 10ply cotton (gorgeous yarn… not recommended for this project)

Also on the list of items for entry – a crochet coat hanger! Can I bring myself to do it? Inspiration here. We’ll see.

Knitting Baby Stuff: Vintage Duffle

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Rockin’ the green duffle with ugg booties by Grandmama.

Pattern: Vintage Duffle

Source: The fifth little Sublime hand knit book

Price: Can’t remember – have had this book forever. You can buy it here for $35.00.

Yarn: Sublime baby cashmere merino silk DK

This is a reasonably simple knit in terms of the stitch (all stocking and garter) but does end up in a strange mess as the front panels are knit on a different gauge needle but are attached at the base. This results in rather messy odd looking piece in the later stages of the project. Persevere though as the resulting coat is just adorable!

I made a green one for W while I was pregnant and have just finished up a grey one for next winter in a larger size. Already looking forward to getting him into it with something like corduroy pants and leather boots!

Pearls:

  • Be prepared end up with a rather odd looking piece prior to sewing up
  • Don’t forget to count the buttons on the sleeves when you are buying… after buying 8 beautiful timber toggle buttons for the grey coat that were too big for the holes, I returned to buy 8 smaller toggles…and then again when I realised I needed two more for the sleeves. The lady at the Button Bar knows me pretty well now.

Knitting Baby Stuff: Newborn Cardigans

Pattern: Puerperium Cardigan by Kelly Brooker

Source: Ravelry

Price of pattern: Free!

Yarn: Debbie Bliss Baby Cashmerino & Sublime Baby Cashmere Merino Silk DK

This pattern is a firm favourite and I have just finished up my 5th incarnation! It’s a very simple knit (even simpler if done as a short-sleeved version to avoid the tedium of knitting in the round on double-pointed needles for the long-sleeves) and in the right yarn and button combination can suit boys or girls.

For W, I made a long-sleeved from a Debbie Bliss Baby Cashmerino – which is less than 8ply – which worked very well, though was a looser knit, and a short-sleeved in Sublime Baby Cashmere Merino Silk DK.

I’m now finishing up a short-sleeved one in red for a friend who is expecting a little boy next month… but I’ve made a dud button choice (too girly) so will be heading back to the Button Bar for a rethink.

Pearls:

  • If you are put off by the call for double-pointed needles, make the short-sleeve version. It requires only 4 rows of garter stitch on your DPNs. The pain is over in no time.
  • This is knit from the neck down… knowing this helps to get your bearings!

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    Puerperium Cardigan in Debbie Bliss Baby Cashmerino

Baby Stuff: Review – – CJs BUTTer Sticks

Product: CJs BUTTer Stick (Blueberry Crumble)

Brand: CJs Butter

Bought from: Gift!

Paid: Nada

Contents: 56g stick of CJs BUTTer in Blueberry Crumble ‘flavour’

How I use it: This was a gift from a friend who was very keen to help me get started with my cloth nappy aspirations. It is a non-toxic moisturising goodness that is excellent for preventing nappy rash on little bottoms and, unlike most nappy rash creams, it is completely safe to use with cloth nappies. No liners required!

I initially used this by scraping some off the end of the stick with my finger and then applying it to said little bottom. This appealed to my sense of hygiene (never went back to the stick with a bottom-exposed finger) but resulted in (a) greasy fingers and (b) crumbly bits on the bottom. The ‘butter’ goes a bit grainy if it gets warm then cool again – a frequent side effect during transport according to the CJs website – and so using this method was getting the grainy goop on bub. Not an issue per se, but not aesthetically pleasing.

So I now use it as a stick. Think giant lip balm for bottoms. This keeps my hands grease-less, the little bottom free from grainy bits and seeing as I’m only ever wiping his bottom with it and not using it as an actual giant lip balm, the hygiene thing was pretty much pointless anyway. And I’m only ever putting it on a clean and freshly wiped bottom, so it’s not like I’m smearing poop all over the place!

Pros: Smells delicious, keeps W’s bottom in perfect nick, safe on cloth nappies, so non-toxic that CJs claim you could eat it (though they stress this is not recommended)

Cons: Grainy bits.

If I had my time again: I’d ask my friend for a second stick of Blueberry Crumble – they’re out of stock so I’ve ordered a few other ‘flavours’ to try. Will let you know how I go.

Overall rating: Raving about it!