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Mermaid with a new 'do

I made some little mermaidens for my daughters this past Christmas. Here they are in their original state, before being wrapped:
Mermaidens complete and ready to be wrapped
Their hair fell off, so I finally got around to replacing one set of locks with beautiful yarn today:
mermaid got her hair did!
I am planning on making the girls some 16" button jointed Waldorf dolls, so this was a good practice in attaching the hair. I made some mistakes and will hopefully do a better job on the second mermaiden's hair.
I had a breast infection over the weekend. That was intense and terrible. I healed myself with rest, liquids, herbs, and a little grapefruit seed extract. Phew, not enjoyable.


Wool Patches

I am fighting off another breast infection. To remind myself that I will eventually get back to something fun, I am showing you these cute patches I just hand stitched the other day:
handstitched wool patches to go on some wool diaper covers!
They are going to be on two cute wool diaper covers in my shop soon.
I have been watching some very interesting food documentaries on Netflix lately. I saw Food, Inc. a while ago, but recently have watched To Market, To Market To Buy a Fat Pig, Fed Up, Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead, Food Matters, What's On Your Plate?, Ingredients, and now Food Beware, The French Organic Revolution,. I recommend them all!


Around Our Home

I'm really enjoying summer this year. If you read my blog last summer, this is the complete opposite of my sentiments from back then! Here are a few photos of what we've been doing lately:

Mama getting a head massage from middle daughter!! Actually very relaxing!

Baby loves to climb. He got all the way up there by himself (mostly). Then he ripped the curtains down. Then he danced!! Oh, it's nice to just ENJOY the third child!!

We are trying to figure out what to do for school this fall. My oldest is enrolled in public Philadelphia kindergarten (yikes), and middle girl is enrolled in Head Start. I went to an information meeting for Classical Conversations last night, and I'm pretty sure we are going to do it! I'm excited!!!


DIY thread stand for industrial thread spools

I shop at a local store that sells fabric, notions, trims, etc. Much of their inventory is bolt ends from factories or warehouses that didn't sell. I could write a book about all the amazing finds that I've bought, but for now let's focus on thread.
I bought some huge rolls of industrial spun polyester for $2/cone. It's probably $20/cone retail! However, my home serger is not equipped for such large cones, and I couldn't rig them to feed into my machine without getting caught. I was going to buy a thread stand, but I'm cheap. I googled instructions for how to make your own, and found this Instructables. I had to alter his design to accommodate my larger cones, but I had everything I needed in my house already! I saved probably $30.
I used 2 wire clothes hangers, an old woodcut from art school for the base, and scraps from dowels from my Roman blinds. It was quite fun to use lots of tools, but hubby's drill was low on batteries =(.

DIY industrial thread stand for my serger
We'll see how it works the next time I serge a bunch of wool!


DIY lavender sachets

A few weeks ago, I got it into my head that I wanted to make some lavender sachets to keep my rebourne wool pads and wool diaper covers smelling fresh. Lavender is also an anti-moth herb. I thought it'd be nice to send a sachet with big wool orders from my shop, or possibly make them available for sale in my shop. I knew I wanted to buy supplies on Etsy, buy organic lavender, and have my logo on them.
I found this shop on Etsy, and ordered 1/2 pound of their organic lavender. I designed a tag in Photoshop and printed it onto printable fabric that had been given to me by a friend. I cut each tag out with pinking shears, and cut out rectangles for the sachets.
DIY handmade custom lavender sachets
I sewed the labels onto each one, then sewed up the sides of the sachets, leaving a small hole for my funnel. I then added the lavender with a funnel, and finished by stitching up the hole.
DIY handmade custom lavender sachets
I chose to pink the edges so they won't fray too much. Simple and easy, and super cute and delicious!
Homemade custom organic lavender sachets


Urban Container Garden

I have two black thumbs. At least until this point in my life. I know that the following are in my future: a vegetable garden, a mini fruit orchard (berries!), chickens, and a few goats. For now, I am working through the toils of container gardening in the city, with a 10x10' slab of concrete enclosed in 10' walls for a backyard! Most attempts have failed, because the plants and worms (sorry guys) just get burned alive. This year we are trying again, and it's nice to have my girls at a helpful age. It is one of their jobs to water our plants everyday: vegetables in the back 'yard', and the decorative plants and tree in the hole in the sidewalk in the front. Because we are home so much, it's easy to keep track of the plants and water them more than once daily if needed.
Here is the boy playing amidst the dirt and green:
my garden gnome
We have cucumbers, peppers, tomatoes, and eggplants. We'll see what has enough dirt to grow veggies, probably not much.


Wool Dryer balls finished

I finally finished these handmade wool dryer balls. To make them, I wrapped wool yarn around itself tightly, as you would make small balls of yarn for knitting. I then took a large plastic needle and fed the end of the yarn through the ball a few times. Once secured, I felted the ball by placing it inside a pair of pantyhose and washed it on hot with my regular laundry. After that had felted for a few dozen washes, I took the balls out and wrapped them again until they were the desired size. Then I repeated the felting process inside the pantyhose.
handmade Wool Dryer Balls
Baby loves "his" set of play balls (!). I should have put a jingle bell inside. Wool dryer balls are a natural alternative to dryer sheets that help dry clothes and diapers quicker, and they also cut down on static. They aren't made from plastic, don't contain synthetic scents, and don't release chemicals into the air at high temperatures! And of course, they aren't a paper product that you throw away.
handmade Wool Dryer Balls



I greatly value the skill of swimming. I was taught how to swim at a very young age, and being in the water is one of my favorite places to be. Lakes, pools, streams, the ocean, hot tubs, birthing pools (!) you name it. I remember wearing my bathing suit under my clothes as a small child, just in case the opportunity to swim came up!
Now I am teaching my littles how to swim, and encouraging a love and respect for water. I draw from my mom's guidance (from her years as an instructor, stroke and turn judge, pool manager, etc.), and my own experience teaching swimming lessons. This book is a HUGE help in my approach to swimming:

I just read it a few days ago, but my mom's philosophy all came from this book. It emphasizes a love of water and fun, as well as water safety. The author's goal is to teach mothers how to teach their babies and toddlers how to swim. She believes that this is because it is fun, but also because it could save their lives if they fell or jumped into water. Many of the lessons can be done in a bathtub, and the author encourages reiterating lessons in the bathtub on a daily basis.
Here is a page out of the book that I love:

Just the other day, while I was at our local public pool with my kids, the lifeguard asked me how I teach our kids to swim. She is an instructor! I guess I emphasize comfort, FUN, relaxation, and then I also get the babies underwater at least once while we are at the pool. The book above teaches you how to train your baby to close their eyes and hold their breath, simply by following a few steps. I want to teach Ryder how to get himself onto his back. The book says that babies can't lift their heads out of the water to get a breath until they are about 2 1/2 years old, but you can teach them to get themselves onto their back and float. They can also learn how to bob (go up and down) and get breaths until they reach the wall.
Do you take your kids swimming? Do they love it? Do you get in and hold them closely and teach them how to be independent swimmers? Do you worry about water safety? I worry about it!!


Matryoshka Complete!

I printed the illustration onto printable paper (twice), rinsed and dried it, cut her out with a small seam allowance, and sewed her up. I left a hole to stuff her, and then blindstitched (I think) her hole shut! She is super cute and I can't wait for my girls to get home from Grandma's house tonight to see her. Oops, I think I should have made two, now that I think about it! If I make another one, I will have the dark pink bleed out beyond the border, and remove the black line around her body, so that stitching her up is easier and better looking.
Matryoshka doll.

In local news, I just dropped off some toddler skirts to Lodge 215. It is about 1/4 mile from my house, and is the coolest little shop. I hope that if you're local you can check them out! I hope to bring more kids' and baby clothes there in the near future.


Free Giveaway

I am offering a free giveaway of one of my organic bamboo and organic cotton cloth diapers. Go like me on Facebook here, and leave a comment below the post. I will draw a winner tomorrow (Friday, July 8th) morning, around 9 AM, via Random.org.
I was severely sleep deprived when applying the snaps to this diaper, and put a purple and a red snap on the back of the diap. My mistake is your (hopeful) win!!


I am kind of obsessed with matryoshka dolls right now. Today, my daughter saw me looking at some cute plush matroyshkas on Etsy, and asked me to make her one. She was being a bit pushy, "Mom, how long is it going to take? Will you have it made by today? Mom, why aren't you sewing it yet?"
So we sat and sketched for a while, and she told me what she wanted on it. I scanned in the sketch, and finished it in Illustrator. Here she is, awaiting approval from the 5 year old task master:
*thank you, art school education, for the ability to jump into Illustrator and somewhat know my ropes!
Now I am going to print her onto some fabric, leave a little seam allowance, and stitch her up. I'll leave a little hole to stuff her with poly fill, and the hand stitch the hole. I'll post finished photos later!
I'm having an urge to do some hand sewing. I am not sure where that will manifest itself, hmmm!?


Haley Tricycles

A year and a half ago, I got it into my head that I wanted to have a cargo bicycle that could carry my kids and groceries. My husband works in a bicycle shop, so he was able to buy a bike and build it up to our specs. We bought a Surly Big Dummy and handcrafted some seats for our kids:
Unfortunately, I fell with the kids on the bike, and it spooked me. The bike was super top-heavy, incredibly hard to step through (even without the weight, and I am 5'9" tall). Getting the bike moving was difficult, and I just was not confident on it. We sold it a few months ago. I have had my eyes on these locally built cargo tricycles that have two wheels in front, like ice cream bikes!
I want to have one custom built for our family. My biggest concern now is just becoming another statistic of an accident. That is a whole different post. I want to be the change that I want to see in our city (more cargo bikes, moving more kids and stuff via bike, less cars, etc.), but I worry about the safety of myself and my family.


Making new wet bags

Yesterday I had the time and energy to make some new wet bags. As I find myself using my wet bags as a carry-all some days, I wanted to make some double zipper bags. One area is just for dry, clean items, and the main pocket is waterproof for your dirty diapers or wet bathing suits. I made a nice wide strap with a snap, so you can attach the bag to a handle, a door knob, your stroller, etc. I just like having something to put around my wrist, so that I can hold the baby and still open doors and get all of the kids out of the house. Cutting the bags:
Cutting fabric for wet diaper bags
Here is one of the bags for sale:
double zipper wet bag in vintage fabric
I just snapped this photo of the biggest and littlest of my kiddos. They share a special bond, and I love that this boy has a big sister like her to keep him occupied!
Biggest and littlest


Ball for Baby

How sweet it is to have a boy! He is already interested in playing with balls, but I didn't want to buy any plastic balls. I found this free pattern at The Purl Bee.
I used some of my husband's old jeans, and some hilarious $1/yard fabric with globes. It says, "http://www.worldwideweb.com/" on banners going through space!! I didn't do the circles on the ends, I found my seams matched up perfectly, and I didn't feel like doing any more hand sewing. I used polyester filling (gross) that I got from the thrift store, but would prefer to use bamboo or an eco-filling in the future.
Handmade ball


The sickness is over...

I hope I'm not jinxing myself by typing that.
The oldest had a fever, and then a stomach ache (thankfully no barfing/other end issues). It passed, and then the next afternoon the second got it. That continued and then the baby got it. He is also teething and quite fussy with that. He went from sleeping 8-12 hours at night to waking 3+ times a night. Phew, I am exhausted, if that is even an appropriate word for it.
My husband started a new job yesterday at a bicycle shop 1/2 mile from our house. I am so proud of him. It will take some getting used to his new schedule, but I think it's going to go great.
When baby was sick, he actually fell asleep on me, which is rare. I snapped a bad iPhone picture:
Sick babe
My studio has been completely moved to our basement. Husband is working his tail off for me still, working on the dust and debris issues. Our neighbor installed some lights and outlets for me, and it's starting to shape up.
While I was out on a playdate with the kids, husband made this baby gate for our treacherous stairs:

Isn't he the best?!?


Binky's Fudge is delicious.

I was prepared for Father's Day, for once. I got smart and ordered my husband something that both of us would enjoy: fudge!
I had heard about Binky's Fudge by hanging out in the forums on Etsy. It seemed like a smart decision, and boy was it ever. Look at this stuff:
I can't recommend it enough. This is the peanut butter chocolate. I will be ordering some for my dad for his birthday in a few weeks. It gets delivered via Priority Mail, and she ships on every business day. It's a ridiculous amount of fudge. YUM. Check out her Etsy shop: Binky's Fudge!
(No, I wasn't paid for this, I just really, really like her fudge!)


Toddler Shorts

My daughter is turning 5 this week. One of the most exciting things about that, for me, is that she is finally done with her princess stage. Amen.
The thing that is not so great about this is that she won't even wear skirts anymore! She doesn't like the shorts I got for her at the thrift store. I could easily go to Old Navy and buy her some shorts, but I knew I wanted to make her some.
I just traced a pair of her pants and added some seam allowance, as well as hem allowance. I added plenty of room at the top, as I knew I wanted to use wide waistband elastic.
Toddler bike shorts
(This is little sister wearing them: score! they fit everyone!!! Click photo to see more on Flickr)
Here's a mini tutorial:

I'm happy with the way they came out. I sewed them all during nap time yesterday (they were cut a week ago). There are some minor flaws, but I think they will work for now. Please tell me if I'm leaving something out of this, I am NOT accustomed to making tutorials, and most of my "knowledge" of sewing is from making my own mistakes!!


Keeping the kids busy

Here are two things keeping my kids busy, homemade play dough and paper:
Home made play dough
Busy with never ending paperwork
so that I can sew cute stuff like these harem pants:
Harem Pants wool diaper cover


Standing tall

There is a beautiful mosque a block away from our house here in Philadelphia. The outside of the building has many tiles and small murals, and this one stuck out to me the other day:
mosque wall
I just love the geometry.
Baby R is pulling himself to standing, and was very proud of himself here:
My boys
My studio is almost all moved down to our basement, and I am quite excited for the kids to have more room to play. Photos once I have everything in its right place.



My eldest daughter, S, is turning 5 in a few weeks. I have been pregnant or breastfeeding for almost 6 years.
I am glad that I've nursed my babies, but it is times like now, amidst a clogged milk duct, that I resent it. I've been under the weather for 2 days now, and taking echinacea, vitamin C, my usual vitamin/immune system supplements (green based prenatal vitamin, probiotics, vitamin D drops, and astragalus). I'm trying to drink a ton of water, massage, apply potato compresses and warm ginger compresses. I'm nursing in all kinds of weird positions, nuff said on that. I'm still wiped out and on the verge of tears and impatient with feeling sick. Oh, and the baby has another ear infection (which may have been why he wasn't nursing well on the side of my infection). Oh and it was 90-something degrees yesterday (heat index of 100, the city closed school early).
I think I'm going to go find a funny Netflix movie and veg out.
Have you had a breast infection/clogged duct?
In happy news, boy is crawling and scooting and pulling himself up on everything! What a ball of edible cuteness, here with his friend Milo:
Milo and Ryder
ps: didn't my hunk of a husband do a good job on that floor!?!?! Ignore that trim in the background, it'll all be painted soon.



We are renovating our basement, and that means a lot of non-studio time. My husband is plugging away with every free second he has. He is painting, priming, removing dust, moving shelves, etc. etc. etc. Our basement walls were crumbly and nasty, with exposed brick. There were some moldy spots, and a dusty film would develop on everything. Thankfully, the basement is not wet.
We had a local family of cement workers parge the walls for us. Now we are sealing the walls and painting them with waterproofing paint. We hope to get rid of a lot of stuff we had in our basement, but much of it is family memorabilia. We will probably put it in storage to free up space.
We are moving my studio down to the basement to make room for the kids. Hooray for making good use of our 850 square foot house!!
While husband works, F and I made these cute fairies!
Wood clothespin fairies


Singer 301

My grandma gave me this machine, and it has been in my basement for a few years:
I have been lusting over another industrial machine, like maybe this Juki?
For that perfect straight stitch through lots of layers of bamboo fleece, you know? Oh, who am I kidding? I just love the exhilaration that comes from operating an industrial machine, like I could sew the whole world in an afternoon if I wanted to. Or sew to the moon? Simultaneously terrifying and amazing!!
I am going to first try to fix up the Singer and see how it handles layers. The foot pedal is SUPER annoying to use, and I'm used to my Bernina and Consew's leg presser foot lever (so vital in my book).
Have I mentioned how we got our basement walls parged and we are moving my studio downstairs? Well, I'm really excited. Husband is down there now painting the walls with primer glue stuff. Yay!


Almost Crawling Boy

This boy of mine is almost crawling. To avoid the annoying proud mom voice, put your computer on mute before watching!!

Here are two photos I took right around my house. I love the colors and fonts.


Remember how much I love ikea?

Here is a perfect example of how handy the straps on rebourne wet bags can be: holding extra diaper, wipes, and lunch for our outing. My how I love the meatballs.



Isn't it a treat to have a good 24 hour chunk away from your little ones? I got the rare treat of spending time with my boys while the girls stayed with their grandma. We had a wedding to go to, and figured we could swing it with just the baby. Hah! You would think we would learn our lesson. It is just so much work getting the kids in their respective spots, and getting ourselves ready for a wedding (nice clothes, gift, driving), AND juggling a 7 month old. We had a good time, and enjoyed the little peace and quiet away from the girls. I especially enjoyed getting to see my husband all dressed up, having the time to prepare a handmade gift, and draping and making and wearing my first dress.
Wedding gift
I embroidered this based on their invitation imagery.
me in the dress before hair and makeup (!)
My outfit before doing my hair or anything.

My handsome guys.
I didn't get to see the ceremony and we didn't get to eat dinner, but it was fun to get lost on the back roads and enjoy the scenery for a little while with my man!


Art Openings

Last night I took my girls, ages 3 and 4, to an art opening at The Crane Arts Building. I thought it was a pretty good show, but I did feel a little old and removed from the art scene. The girls really liked a few of the pieces, and when we got home they proceeded to make this piece of art:
The artist and her creation
I am working on some baby and toddler hats for this sunny weather, and stocking as time permits.


Sewing things for my kids...

and not for "work."
Today I took the time (husband is home today) to sew a wool play mat for my girls, ages 3 and 4. As a work-at-home mom, I sometimes feel guilty for not taking time out of "my" sewing time to make things for them. When I finally have time to work in my studio, I like to make the most of it, and I focus more on profit than my kids. That is embarrassing to admit, but I'm sure I'm not alone.
I just signed on as a sponsor over at Clean, and I've been very inspired by the simplicity in Rachel's parenting style. Her kids are being raised without TV or commercialization or plastic toys.
I threw out almost all of our plastic toys the other day, and no one seemed to notice. Today I sat down with F, age 3, to make the wool play mat.
My living room while making a wool play mat with middle child
She played with it all afternoon by herself, and she and her sister played with it all evening together. Unlike most days, she didn't whine for a movie because she was bored: she had her little imaginary world and she was lost in it for hours.
Wool play mat complete
We still have too many toys, but I am going to keep working on it. As I'm sure some of you can relate, we have grandparents who like to buy toys for our kids that we don't need or want. Then the kids see the toys, want them, play with them for a day or two, and forget about them. These are not quality, handcrafted toys; these are mass-produced, McDonald's Happy Meal, (Chinese), plastic, and imagination stifling toys. I don't want them in our lives, but rejecting gifts is hard, and you can only express your desires about gifts so many times before just giving up.
The whole sentiment of "quantity over quality" with regards to food and possessions is just so ridiculous.
So how do I switch to being a toy freak who doesn't let her kids accept gift bags at parties, or presents at Christmas, or candy and toys at Easter? How do I control other peoples' gift giving, without being rude or ungrateful? What about those people who don't listen to your multiple requests?
Sorry this is a little vent on my kids' grandparents--but I could use some advice. I think I need to start with just screening what actually comes into my home.



This past weekend was exciting: I felt inspired and got to meet my brand new nephew!!
I made some baby food for R: some carrots and apples. I snapped some photos while out and about and look forward to seeing how they influence my work over the next few months.
making baby food: organic carrots and organic apples
InspirationInspiration. my house is on the other side of that warehouse in the middle.
Follow the links to flickr to see more.