Thursday, September 29, 2011

Free Pattern: Priceless Friendship Scarf

These instructions and any projects created from them are for personal use only.

Sometimes there is just no other way to say thank you...
The Priceless Friendship Scarf
2011 Sept Friend Scarf 4
1 Skein of Beautiful Fingering Weight Yarn
Knitting Needles US6

k - Knit
p - Purl
sts - stitches
WS - wrong side
RS - right side
yo - yarn over
ssk - slip st knitwise, slip st knitwise, knit 2 slipped sts together
k2tog - knit 2 sts together
sl - slip st knitwise
psso - pass slipped st over

Cast on 29 sts.
Rows 1 - 4: Knit Across
Row 5(WS): k2, p to last two sts, k2
Row 6(RS): k4 (k2tog, yo, k1, yo, ssk, k3) repeat ( ) once for a total of 2 times, k2tog, yo, k1, yo, ssk, k4
Row 7 and all WS rows: repeat Row 5
Row 8: k3 (k2tog, yo, k3, yo, ssk, k1) 2 times, k2tog, yo, k3, yo, ssk, k3
Row 10: k2, k2tog (yo, k5, yo, sl1 k2tog psso) 2 times, yo, k5, yo, k2tog, k2
Row 12: k3, yo (ssk, k3, k2tog, yo, k1, yo) 2 times, ssk, k3, k2tog, yo, k3
Row 14: k4, yo (ssk, k1, k2tog, yo, k3, yo) 2 times, ssk, k1, k2tog, yo, k4
Row 16: k5 (yo, sl1 k2tog psso, yo, k5) 3 times
Repeat Pattern Rows 5 - 16 until scarf measure desired length and ending with a WS row.
Knit 4 Rows and Bind off.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Our Family's Pantry Staples

I have always loved reading other people's lists of the tried and true foods they always keep on hand. I consider my "pantry" a combination of the actual pantry and the freezer and fridge.  Any long-keeping foods are pantry foods. I also try to keep track of the meals I can make from these tried and true items, so today's nap-time edition of Lonestar Knits is my list.

Sweet Bread - 1

Pantry (not counting spices, oils, etc)

  • Canned Goods
    • Diced Tomatoes
    • Refried Beans
    • Blackbeans
    • Chickpeas
    • Salmon
  • Dry Goods
    • Unbleached White Flour
    • Bread, various kinds
    • Oatmeal
    • Whole Wheat Pasta, Various kinds
    • Corn and Wheat Tortillas 
    • Brown Rice
    • Dry Lentils
  • Other
    • Potatoes (Fingerling) 
    • Onions (Yellow and Red)
    • Chicken Broth
  • Dairy
    • Milk
    • Eggs
    • Cheeses (Shredded Parm & Mexican Blend!)
    • Sour Cream
    • Butter
  • Other
    • Salsa
    • Garlic
    • Soy Sauce
    • Mushrooms
    • Carrots 
  • Veggies
    • Corn
    • Broccoli
    • Spinach
  • Meats
    • Ground Beef
    • Beef Kielbasa 
    • Italian Sausage
  • Prepared
    • Homemade Tomato Sauce
    • Mrs. T's Pierogies
    • Cooked and Frozen Beans (cannellini and others)

Pantry Meals
  1. Spaghetti (obvious), various varieties
  2. Pierogies and Kielbasa
  3. Lentils, Sausage, & Rice
  4. Salmon Patties (add fresh spinach salad)
  5. Mushroom Pasta w/Ricotta (add Ricotta)
  6. Breakfast Tacos
  7. French Toast or Pancakes
  8. Veggie Stir-Fry (add other fresh veg on hand)
  9. Pasta with Chickpea-Tomato Sauce
  10. Mexican Taco Casserole
  11. Chili, meat or veg
  12. Pasta w/Red Onions, Spinach, and Mushrooms
  13. Cannellini Bean & Sausage Gratin (with a few minor substitutions)
  14. Eggs (of course! Scrambled, Fried, Frittata, Omelet, you name it!)
  15. Oatmeal Cookies (not a meal... or is it...)
I am sure there are many other combinations! 

What are your favorite pantry foods and meals?

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Toddler Play: Washing Dishes

2011.09 Washing Play Dishes 1

Tired Momma needed a "play alone" activity today.  However, letting the little one play in the sink is not an unsupervised "Momma needs a nap" activity. Helen just loves water play lately (and making a huge mess), so, we just put down some towels scooted her chair up to the sink and let her go for it.

For a solid twenty minutes, she practiced pouring water from one dish to another. I stood nearby folding up the diapers and redirecting the pouring in the direction of the sink. After a being played with, those dishes really need a good cleaning, so she was really doing me a favor!

I love her Green Toys Tea Set it is made in the USA out of recycled milk jugs, and is not too "girly". We also have the Cookware and Dining Set.


Monday, September 19, 2011

About Cloth Diapers Size Small to Large

One of the biggest trends in cloth diapering right now is the move towards the One Size Diaper - the diaper that is supposed to fit your child from birth to potty training.  The idea is that you only have to purchase one set of diapers and then adjust the sizing with inserts and snaps to custom fit your child.

2011 Sept Cloth Diapers 1

There are two main issues with the One Size type of diaper:
  1. You use them for so long (birth to 2+ years) that they see a lot of wear and may need replacing for child #2.
  2. The custom sizing really isn't all that custom, and there will be times that they don't fit well (birth) or don't fit at all (2+ years). So you may end up buying three sets of diapers anyways.
This said, I do like many of the One Size diapers, and I am certainly not opposed to buying them (I have several).  I just want to make it clear to those building their own stashes that it is important to leave some wiggle room in your budget to purchase other sizes and types if necessary in order to make cloth diapering a successful endeavor.

My Cloth Diapering Plans for size small to large:

Currently, my little 5 week old is just now fitting into the smallest setting of the BumGenius One Size diapers. I have many of the older 3.0 version and a few of the newer 4.0's.  My 3.0 diapers were purchased used off of Craigslist, and I am currently in the process of replacing the Aplix with Snaps.  This is usually the first part of the diapers that needs replacing. They fit, but they do seem large still on such a little baby. My toddler also still fits into these diapers (on the largest setting) though, they really won't fit for much longer.  She is 2 years 3 months old and almost out of a size 3T! I can't believe I am buying 4T winter clothing for my 2 year old!

For baby Clare, I am mostly tri-folding her orange edge prefolds (because they are too small to snappi) in the XS Thirsties covers (which still fit great), and I am starting to use the Cottonbabies Infant size prefolds which still fit very nicely while snappied. I really don't recommend tri-folding as a main method of diapering unless you have a lot of covers. Tri-folded prefolds do not contain infant poo at all!

2011 Sept Cloth Diapers 2

Next, I plan to use my supply of Red Edge Medium prefolds from Green Mountain Diapers(GMD). They are listed on the site as fitting babies from 15lbs to 29lbs, and I have a variety of Thirsties Covers size small to large and Thirsties Duo Size 2 to use with them.  I will also be making use of the One Size BumGenius diapers as long as they hold up to a 3rd child using them! Most of the wear I see is the Aplix (which I am replacing) and the Elastic in the waist and legs (which I am going to just deal with because I don't want to go through the trouble of replacing elastic!).  I am also keeping an eye on the absorbency of the inserts and the waterproofness of the PUL. I am choosing to rely mostly on prefolds because they are less expensive and very easy to wash and care for.

How many Cloth Diapers in these sizes do you need?

This question is best answered by estimating how many diapers your child uses in one day and then deciding how often you want to do diaper laundry. I do not recommend waiting more than 4 or 5 days at the most in between loads, because those diapers start to stink! I have enough diapers for about 3-4 days, but I usually wash every two days because with two kids in diapers that is about when I have a full load, so I go ahead and wash them.

I have in my collection of size small to large diapers:

24 GMD Red Edge Prefolds
3 Thirsties Small Covers
3 Thirsties Duo Size 2 Covers
20 One Size Diapers (Roughly, and most of these are BumGenius)
6 Fuzzibuns Size Large
5 Thirsties Fitteds Size Large
6 GMD Brown Edge Prefolds
2 Thirsties Large Covers
        (This seems like a lot, but keep in mind the One Size Diapers are shared between two children)

What to do when the One Size no longer fits:

2011 Sept Cloth Diapers 3

The diapers that fit big sister Helen the best are the sized diapers.  Fuzzibunz size large, Thirsties Fitteds size large with large Thirsties covers, and GMD Brown Edge size large prefolds also with the Thirsties covers. I am hoping to potty train her before she outgrows these!

Next up in the Cloth Diapering Series, I will be sharing how I wash and care for my diapers, including tips on extending the life of your diapers! If you missed any of the previous posts, please check out The Family Room page.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Cloth Diapers and the Newborn

My little Clare is four weeks old, and just four short weeks ago I took a deep breath and snappied the first of many prefold cloth diapers on her little bum. I had already cloth diapered her big sister for eight months, but how different would newborn diapering be from toddler diapering? Would those little covers contain the exclusively breastfed (EBF) poo that I remembered shooting out of the disposable diaper and up the back of my sweet Helen when she was a newborn? Would she be comfortable or cry constantly to have her wet diapers changed immediately? What about outings? What about nighttime? What about rashes? What about???

I am happy to report that all is well in the cloth diapering world.
(Warning: This is a LONG post)

My newborn stash was a very lucky Craigslist find.  Early in my pregnancy I decided I would be exclusively cloth diapering both of my children and that I would begin as soon as possible with Helen to learn the ropes. One of the ways I saved money on the huge initial investment of cloth diapers was to seek out gently used diapers.  My first find was the entire newborn stash of a mom whose baby had outgrown them.

The newborn collection included:

After four weeks, I am now ready to "destash" what we didn't really need and didn't really like because we won't miss them when and if there is a kiddo number three. The list above is honestly way more diapers than you really need for a newborn. During these four weeks Clare's weight has ranged from just under 8 to just over 10 lbs.

Here are my findings:
  1. I love prefolds. The GMD are wonderful and thick. They are much shorter in length than the infant sized Cottonbabies, and they fit beautifully into the XS Thirsties Covers. The Cottonbabies are super soft and are similar in size to the GMD yellow edge.
  2. I like the sized Thirsties covers better than the multi-sized Duos. The Duos work fine, and it is SO nice that you can use them for a longer amount of time, but the sized Thirsties are roomier in the bum and fit the snappied prefolds better than the Duos.
  3. Thirsties covers in general are my favorite... they catch EVERYTHING. Not a single drop of that EBF poo has escaped. The Bummies cover is really nice, thick, and soft but I didn't have a XS to try so the size small was still just a bit large on my little girl. The Fishnoodles cover was cute, but didn't fit tight enough around the legs, though it also is a small, so it might fit better later on. And, I don't really have an opinion on the prowrap because it has pretty much just lived in the diaper bag as a backup. I pretty much considered the Swaddlebees a cover because it didn't come with an insert, and I think it was a bit too used because the PUL didn't seem to be in good condition - we only used this once while waiting for diaper laundry to finish.
  4. The BumGenius diapers were nice in theory.  We used them mainly at night and when we went out because one piece to take off and put on is really easier than two pieces, but these diapers did not seem to fit as well as the prefolds and Clare outgrew them sooner which meant wet sheets when daddy would put her in one in the middle of the night. We really didn't use the Bamboo fitteds either because we honestly just had too many diapers. Though, they are really nice little diapers.
Overall, we are very happy. Clare has had no sign of diaper rash, she always seems happy and comfortable (unless of course she has made something truly terrible in her diaper), and nights and outings work the same as always (change newborn's diaper at feedings, and don't forget the diaper bag when going out!).

If I were to go back and purchase exactly what I wanted based on the knowledge I have now, for this newborn stage I would want:

  • 3 Dozen GMD orange edge prefolds
  • 8 Thirsties XS Covers
  • 3 Snappis
  • 6 BumGenius AIO's
That adds up to $169.55 for the GMD's, Thirsties, and Snappis, and $74.70 for the 6 BumGenius. This is less than $50 a week for the first five weeks (we will be getting at least one more week out of the GMD). 

On a slimmer budget, I would recommend:
  • 2-3 Dozen GMD orange edge prefolds
  • 6 Thirsties Duo Size One covers (or you could do XS if you planned to switch to all One-Size diapers after the newborn stage)
  • 3 Snappis
$153.05 with 3 Dozen, and $129.05 with 2 (Though you would have to do laundry every 1.5 days).

When it comes to choosing your diapers, everyone has different tastes.  Try a few and buy what you like. I am not endorsed by any of these brands... these recommendations are just my humble opinion. I found for me that buying used was the best way to try a large variety without feeling like I was over-spending. 

In an attempt to not lengthen this post, I will share our plan for the next stage of diapering (the "Size Small to Large or One-Size" Diaper Phase) later this week. Please feel free to comment or email me if you have questions or are interested in cloth diapering - I love talking diapers! lonestar(dot)knits(at)yahoo(dot)com.

If you are interested in reading more about my cloth diapering research and experience, check out the Family Room page for more links.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Toddler Painting

Previously, I mentioned my desire to plan and implement a home preschool for my toddler.  This has been more of a challenge than I anticipated and as of now, we do not have a steady daily structure in place. However, when it comes down to it every little effort is a step in the right direction.

Today, we painted.

2011.09 Painting

First, we anticipated and prepared for the project. I find it helpful to make Helen a part of the "set up". We chat about how much we like painting while I pull out the supplies.  She names the colors of the paints and helps me tape her paper down to the table.

2011.09 Painting 3

Then, that leads right into talking about the "rules" of painting (which change as needed).
  1. The paint brush should not touch your face... or your mouth... your tongue... your hair.
  2. Leave your paper taped to the table.
  3. We wash our hands when we are finished painting.
2011.09 Painting 1

Next, we start! I re-purposed a plastic container to use as her paint palette. This works quite efficiently to keep the paint contained while giving her the freedom to dip her own brush into paints.  A nickle sized squirt of each of three colors is enough to keep a two-year old busy.

Then, I just let her go for it. She started by dipping her brush into single colors. Then she started mixing, and finally, she started painting her hand to make hand prints - one of her favorite activities when finger painting. I just observe, compliment... and make sure that brush stays out of her mouth!

2011.09 Painting 2

Don't forget to photograph your little one's artwork - otherwise you might be tempted to save it - however, it does make very nice wrapping paper.
Please, do not reproduce any content from this site without my written permission. You can reach me directly at lonestar(dot)knits(at)yahoo(dot)com. Thank you.