A little more Waldorf

So I’ve been away for a while.  I’m now 17 weeks pregnant.  I’ve mentioned before that I suffer from Hypermesis Graviderum when pregnant.  This has been my worst pregnancy so far.  I spent 2 weeks in hospital and had to get a PICC line for TPN which made me worse and was eventually used for my IV meds.  I spent October and November bedridden and lost 18lbs.  Thankfully I’m now through the worst of it and am slowly recovering.  Baby has stayed strong through it all (if you’ve been reading my blog for a while you’ll know I had a miscarriage at 13 weeks two years ago and so this is always a worry).

However my pregnancy has not only been difficult for me but for my husband and children as well.  My husband has been amazing taking on all the responsibilities and taking care of me.  The children suffered a lot and many behavior problems came up due to lack of consistency, attention and boundaries and way, way, way too much TV.  As I was recovering I began to plan how our life would look when I was well and what we’d do about homeschooling.  I felt that the nourishing routines, simple, natural toys, and quiet rhythm  and activities of Waldorf was really what our family needed as we healed from this difficult time.  Having a mother sick and in hospital is very traumatic for a child.  Their world is turned upside down, their mother doesn’t have time for them and needs to be alone, she’s hooked up to wires and nurses come, they don’t understand what’s wrong and it’s scary to see her sick.  So I’ve rearranged the playroom (again), we’re not doing any formal school for December and are focusing on creating a rhythm, stories, songs and traditions of Hanukkah.  I purged toys and they will be getting more natural, Waldorf inspired gifts for the holidays.  I still have a lot to put back in order in my home but my strength is limited so I’m careful not to push myself or I relapse.  In the new year I’ll do a video of our new play/school room.

One thing I changed was to put the dollhouse in the basement (I’ll probably sell it) as it was so big and was rarely played with.  I put the lovely Plan Toys furniture in a basket and the kids love creating their own house with blocks.  It’s so much more imaginative and saves on space.  And now the furniture gets more play.

img_1594img_1599

 

Story Cubes

I’ve mentioned these before and how much the kids loved them.  I recently found a set with 3 cubes from 3 add on sets for sale at our local toy store and had to get them.  They sparked a renewed interest.

From the Story Cubes website:
As the brain thinks in pictures but communicates in words, having a visual aid to creative problem solving would be advantageous. Using images to trigger stories would help the brain think in new ways.

 

Story telling is beneficial in many ways whether the parent is telling the story or the child. Listening to story telling increases vocabulary, encourages the child to visualize the story in their head, promotes auditory skill and challenges their memory.  For a child telling a story it helps them develop linear progression in thought, creativity, imagination, speaking skills, memory, brain connections and more.  It’s also a great way discuss and work through anything the child is struggling with.  A parent could make up a story on the subject giving words for the emotions and ideas for solutions.  Story telling is used often in Waldorf pedagogy to address issues with children.  The book, “The Whole Brained Child” talks about getting children to tell the story of something that happened to them to help their brain integrate their emotions with the reality.  A child who is scared to relive a traumatic incident can project those events into a story about someone else.

The more stories your child tells and hears the better they will get at doing it.  You’ll also find your own brain being stretched as you come up with stories.  That’s great for preventing dementia later in life.

Here’s some snippets of a story Pumpkin 1 was telling me.

 

Bunny Love

During the holidays I made my daughter an adorable bunny she just loves.  She bring it everywhere and sleeps with it every night.  She named her Floppy.

IMG_0200 IMG_0202 IMG_0203

Floppy is made from an upcycled sweater that was Merino wool and possum fur and is stuffed with pure wool.  She’s super soft and realistic feeling.

She was just too cute that I made another for my shop complete with food to feed her all made from 100% wool or wood.  Floppy 2 is waiting for a little girl or boy to love her to bits.  (click picture for link)

IMG_0218IMG_0225

Keeping your Kids Warm

Here’s an interesting Waldorf article for musing on regarding the importance of dressing children warmly.

http://theparentingpassageway.com/2009/12/06/warmth-strength-and-freedom-by-mary-kelly-sutton/

How a Candle has Changed our Dinner Time

images

People always talk about a “family dinner”; how important it is to sit together and eat and talk.  However, our dinner pretty much looked like utter chaos.  One of us on the computer or reading the paper.  Kids eating at the little table or already ate because they won’t eat what we eat, spills, crying for something else, refusing to eat, running away, time outs, me getting up and down and up and down or not even eating because I can’t sit for more than 2 mins, my husband and I arguing and mess all over the table.  Anyway, it was far from a nice family dinner.  And a candle changed all that.

Waldorf pedagogy talks about the importance of candles.  Candles play an important part in many religions.  At one time fire was the only way of having light after the sun had gone down.  A candle represented so many things – light, safety, warmth, family.  What person hasn’t enjoyed staring into a flame at some point, seeing the magic of the dancing light.  For us the glow of the Chanukah candles is so warming and beautiful.  But a candle can do more than that.  Children don’t have a grasp on time.  Lighting a candle is a physical way to divide or mark time.  Since we don’t use candles for light now, they are special, lighting a candle is a significant action that gives importance to something.  Also because candles can be dangerous, they have a mystery about them and inspire awe in children.

You Are Your Child’s First Teacher” talks about lighting a candle at dinnertime.  At first I balked – candles are dangerous, you shouldn’t have candles around children, there’s so much junk on the table it’ll catch on fire.  But, I like to try new things so I thought I’d give it a try with a jar candle (after I cleaned the table off).  It was magic.  My daughter rushes to sit down for lighting the candle.  We sing a prayer and then eat.  My husband no longer has a computer in front of him.  We talk about our day.  We make faces with Pumpkin 2.  Pumpkin 1 doesn’t always eat but she stays at the table since the rule is now that you can’t leave until we blow the candle out.  She wants to be at the table with us.  We are actually having family dinners.  It so lovely and fun.  It’s so special.  When we’re done eating we recite a Hebrew prayer and then put out the candle.

There was some safety concerns.  I had to remember to stop reaching across the table over the candle to give something to my son, and my daughter knocked a small candle out of my hand today.  She was given a stern lecture on being careful around candles but that’s important to learn anyway.  And of course we keep them out of the reach of Pumpkin 2.  He likes at the end to blow and then wave his hand in the air like we do to blow out the candle and then wave the smoke away.

I never thought something as simple as lighting a candle could transform our dinner time.  Perhaps it’s not the candle itself but the act of making dinner special and set apart; of making an effort and a tradition.  Whatever it is, it has transformed chaos into beauty and I’m so thankful for that.

Of course there are still spills, and refusing to eat and I still get up and down and up and down, but overall there is a feeling of peace, of closeness and of this time being special.  It’s hard to find time together as a family with the busy life of little ones, it’s something you have to work to create and keep and is easy to lose.  Creating a tradition of lighting a candle which says, this time, this time that this candle is burning, is our time together is a simple step that has had a big impact on our family.

No Sew Waldorf Inspired Sock Doll

IMG_9760

There’s something special about a doll you make yourself for your child.

” ……a handcrafted doll is one of a kind, an individual which carries the spirit of the maker in its stitches and absorbs the spirit of the child who loves it”.

You don’t need a lot of skill or expensive materials to make a simple doll.  Infact, you don’t even have to sew to make this one.  This is what you need:

-1 knee sock in a skin tone

-2 regular patterned socks

-yarn

-scrap fabric

-string

-small square batting

-rice

-scissors

Optional

-doll making needle

-embroidery floss

First thing, take a piece of scrap fabric and start wrapping yarn around it to make a ball.

IMG_9717IMG_9719

After you have your ball of yarn, take a square of batting, double thickness, and put the ball in the center and gather the batting around it.  Tie the batting tightly with some string just below the ball.

IMG_9720

Next tie a string tightly around the center of the ball to form the eye indentation.

IMG_9722

Now take your knee sock and cut the foot off.

IMG_9724IMG_9726

Tie the sock where you cut it off tightly.

IMG_9732

Insert the doll head right up to where it’s tied off.

IMG_9734

Tie the sock just below the head to form the neck.  Now start filling the sock with rice.  I used a funnel to help.

IMG_9735

Once the sock is as full as you’d like it, tie off the bottom with string.

IMG_9736

Now this part is optional.  You can sew on eyes and a mouth with embroidery floss or you can draw or paint them on or leave the face blank.  I sewed them on.

First use pins to mark where you want the eyes and mouth to be.

IMG_9741

Then thread your long needle and push it through from the inside of the eye to the top of the head.  Remove the needle and knot the thread and put tight from the front.

IMG_9748

Make the eyes by rethreading the needle on the other end and inserting it to the outside edge of the eye and through the head coming out on the inside of the other eye.  Repeat on the other side and repeat again.  Then insert the needle on the outside of the remaining eye up through the head and knotting the thread at the top of the head.

IMG_9750

Repeat the process for the mouth only knotting at the back of the neck.

IMG_9752

Next take your other sock and cut the ankle off.

IMG_9738IMG_9739

Put the sock on the body of the doll as a blanket.  Cut the other sock across about the middle of the foot and roll up the edge to make a hat.

IMG_9755

And voila – an adorable sock bunting baby for your child.  So simple and so quick to make.

IMG_9761

When I gave Pumpkin 1 her new baby she said, “I love you Mommy!  I love it!”.  I was actually surprised that she fell in love with it so much.  She was singing to it and rocking it.  She names the doll “Quinn”.  Children really don’t need fancy toys.  They just need toys made with love which they can fill with imagination.

IMG_9763 IMG_9764

Why I’ve Decided on No Media For My Children

So, this is probably going to be a controversial post.  I know when I would read things about no TV I’d get defensive.  “It’s too hard to have no media”, “sometimes I just need a break”, “it’s a great educational tool”, “it’s the only way I can get some work done” were all things I’d think.  But I’ve come around in my thoughts and seeing the effects of no media on my children has affirmed that this is the right decision for us.  What you decide for your family is totally up to you.  One answer doesn’t fit all.  This isn’t a post to tell you what to do.  It’s a post to tell you why I’ve changed my mind.

So, recently we’ve made the decision to stop all exposure to television and media for our children until they’re older (no set age yet).  The overwhelming evidence shows that media exposure (television, computers, ipads, ipods, smartphones) is harmful on the developing child.  The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends “children under the age of two watch no screen entertainment at all because television ‘can negatively affect early brain development‘”

Research published in the world’s most reputable medical and scientific journals shows that the sheer amount of time children spend watching TV, DVDs, computers and the internet is linked with significant measurable biological changes in their bodies and brains that may have significant medical consequences.

How much TV are kids today watching?

By 7 years of age the average child will have watched screen media for over a year of 24 hour days!  The average European young person by the age of 18 will have spent 4 years of 24 hour days in front of a screen.   By the age of 80 these children will have spent over 13 years of 24 hour days just watching TV.

40% of infants are regularly watching television by 3 months of age and by the age of 2 years 90% are.

Children in Britain between 11–15 years spend 55% of their waking day watching screen media, that’s 53 hours a week, seven and a half hours a day.

How does media and screens negatively affect children?

Studies have demonstrated a deleterious effect of watching more than one to two hours of television per day on academic performance [31]. Excess television viewing causes poor peer relationships and thereby increases the risk of social isolation, anxiety disorder and agoraphobia [32]. Studies have shown that TV viewing may play an exacerbating, if not causal, role in the development of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder [33] and that excessive TV viewing in adolescence is a risk factor for development of depression in young adulthood. [34].  http://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/EJ989518.pdf

Good evidence suggests that screen viewing before age 2 has lasting negative effects on children’s language development, reading skills, and short-term memory. It also contributes to problems with sleep and attention. If “you are what you eat,” then the brain is what it experiences, and video entertainment is like mental junk food for babies and toddlers.

Just having the TV on in the background, even if “no one is watching it,” is enough to delay language development. Normally a parent speaks about 940 words per hour when a toddler is around. With the television on, that number falls by 770! http://www.healthychildren.org/English/family-life/Media/Pages/Why-to-Avoid-TV-Before-Age-2.aspx

Let’s break that information down:

The effect of media on socialization:

Using media reduces the amount of time a child spends interacting face to face with others.

Over the last twenty years social interaction (eye-to-eye contact) has gone down while eye-to-screen-contact has gone up. Just before the year 2000 life became literally virtual: people would spend more time in front of a screen than spending time interacting with other human beings

For every hour spent in front of a screen, there is a reduction in face-to-face time with the family by 24 mins.  A study by the University of California–Los Angeles has found that “social disengagement is now rapidly increasing, as side-by-side and eye-to-eye human interactions are being displaced by the eye-to-screen relationship.

A study of brain function in adults found that when using the internet, the areas of the brain associated with empathy showed virtually no increase in stimulation.  In particular, there seems to be a decline in the subtle skills of reading the nuances of other’s emotions.  The biggest drop in empathy has been found to be after the year 2000. College kids today are about 40 per cent lower in empathy than their counterparts of twenty or thirty years ago.

The University of Michigan study concluded that the rise of social media may also play a role in the drop in empathy, ‘The ease of having “friends” online might make people more likely to just tune out when they don’t feel like responding to others’ problems, a behavior that could carry over offline.’ Electronic media has also contributed to a social environment that works against slowing down and listening to someone who needs a bit of sympathy.

Television affects language development:

Despite claims that educational DVDs and videos are beneficial to young children, a study published in the medical journal Pediatrics found that the use of such productions might actually have a negative effect on language development.  Even ‘educational’ television programmes, DVDs and videos have shown no positive effects on children age 2 and under whether they were educational or non-education media.  Even if parents sat and watched the show with the children it made no difference to the outcome. Researchers have found that for every hour spent watching specially developed baby DVDs and videos such as ‘Baby Einstein’ and ‘Brainy Baby’, children under 16 months understood an average of six to eight less words compared to children who did not watch them.

Media has a major effect on the brain:

…the World Federation of Neurology as “[computer games are] halting the process of frontal lobe development and affecting children’s ability to control antisocial elements of their behaviour … alarmingly, computer games stunted the developing mind”.

Even just a few minutes of television viewing has a negative impact on the intellectual functions carried out by the by the frontal lobes of the brain in 4 year old children.  “‘Just 9 minutes of viewing a fast-paced television cartoon had immediate negative effects on 4-year-olds’ executive function”  and “A new study is even more specific, reporting ‘widespread reductions’ in the condition and size of brain cells in ‘major white matter pathways… throughout the brain, including the orbito-frontal white matter, corpus callosum, cingulum, inferior fronto-occipital fasciculus, and corona radiation, internal and external capsules”

Media exposure causes sleep disturbances:

A study of 2068 children found that television viewing among infants and toddlers was associated with irregular sleep patterns. The number of hours of television watched per day was independently associated with both irregular naptime schedule and irregular bedtime schedules. (Thompson and Christakis 2005) Another study of 5-6 year olds found that both active TV viewing and background ‘passive’ TV exposure was related to shorter sleep duration, sleeping disorders, and overall sleep disturbances. Moreover, passive exposure to TV of more than two hours per day was strongly related to sleep disturbances

Researchers have reported that when children aged 6-12 were deprived of their media, their melatonin production increased by an average 30%. Melatonin is a sleep-promoting hormone produced in the brain.  “Exposure to a screen media was associated with lower urinary melatonin levels, particularly affecting younger children at a stage of pubertal development when important changes in melatonin’s role take place.”  Does your child have trouble sleeping?  Try cutting out their media exposure, especially before bedtime.

Media exposure affects a child’s attention span:

Early television exposure is associated with attentional problems at age 7. Children who watched television at ages 1 and 3 have a significantly increased risk of developing attentional problems by the time they are 7. For every hour of television a child watched per day, there was a 9 per cent increase in attentional problems.

The study concluded: ‘Childhood television viewing was associated with attention problems in adolescence, independent of early attention problems and other confounders. These results support the hypothesis that childhood television viewing may contribute to the development of attention problems and suggest that the effects may be long-lasting.’

Media exposure affects academic performance:

Television viewing amongst children under 3 is found to have ‘deleterious effects’ on mathematics ability, reading recognition and comprehension in later childhood. Along with television viewing displacing educational and play activities, this harm may be due to the visual and auditory output from the television actually affecting the child’s rapidly developing brain (Zimmerman and Christakis, 2005). A 26-year longitudinal study, tracking children from birth, has concluded that ‘television viewing in childhood and adolescence is associated with poor educational achievement by 26 years of age.

For every additional hour of television at 29 months there is a correspondence years later to a 7% and 6% unit decreases in classroom engagement and math achievement.  “Higher levels of early childhood television exposure predicted less task-oriented, persistent, and autonomous learning behavior in the classroom.”

Media is associated with less reading:

We have heard over and over how important reading is to a child’s development, however “Pre-school children spend three times longer in front of a television or computer than they spend reading”.  Researchers have found a link between the use of computer games and lower attainment in reading and literacy.

a European based study of 15-year-old students in 31 countries concluded that those using computers at school several times a week performed ‘sizeably and statistically significantly worse’ in both maths and reading than those who used them less often

The effect of media on physical health:

a study published in The Lancet, conducted at the Dunedin School of Medicine, University of Otago, New Zealand, tracked the television viewing habits and health of 1,000 children over 26 years. It found that children who watched more than two hours of television a day between the ages of five and 15 developed significant health risks many years later

Each extra hour of watching TV is associated with an extra 1 kg of body fat. Harvard researchers reported that “beyond merely displacing physical activity, TV appears to slow metabolism and burns fewer calories compared with other sedentary activities such as sewing, reading, writing or driving a car”.  Watching television actually makes us eat more.  “A recent US study found that even children who watched a below average amount of television (less than three hours a day for an average of 2.7 days a week) ate roughly the equivalent of an extra meal a day more than those who watched none”.  Watching television candisrupt the natural link between appetite and eating.

Media also increases our risk of cardiovascular disease:

Children watching 2 to 4 hours of TV a day had 2.5 times the likelihood of having high blood pressure compared with children watching 0 to less than 2 hours. While those children watching 4 or more hours of TV were 3.3 times more likely to have high blood pressure

Media can also affect the hormonal development:

The lead author speculated that girls are reaching puberty much earlier than in the 1950s. One reason is due to their average increase in weight; but another may be due to reduced levels of melatonin. Animal studies have shown that low melatonin levels have an important role in promoting an early onset of puberty

But can’t media be educational?

Infants may stare at the bright colors and motion on a screen, but their brains are incapable of making sense or meaning out of all those bizarre pictures. It takes 2 full years for a baby’s brain to develop to the point where the symbols on a screen come to represent their equivalents in the real world.  

The American Academy of Pediatrics has issued a report stating: ‘children learn more from live presentations than from televised ones. … Young children learn best from—and need—interaction with humans, not screens. … Unstructured play time is more valuable for the developing brain than electronic media.’

‘When learning from videos is assessed in comparison to equivalent live presentations, there is usually substantially less learning from videos’ (Anderson and Pempek, 2005). A phenomenon called the ‘video deficit’ is being used to describe the observation that toddlers who have no trouble understanding a task demonstrated in real life often stumble when the same task is shown onscreen

Studies have found that “‘the introduction of home computer technology is associated with statistically significant and persistent negative impacts on student math and reading test scores”

Malamud and Pop-Eleches (2010) compared the educational effects of government provided home computers on Romanian school children, and concluded that children given these home computers ‘had significantly lower school grades in Math, English and Romanian but significantly higher scores in a test of computer skills’.

Researcher have concluded, after examining certaim measure of cognitive development, that, “An 11-year-old today is performing at the level an 8- or 9-year-old was performing … 30 years ago … “. The decline was attributed in part to the growing use of computer games.

Also a child cannot learn a new language from watching TV.  Language learning requires interaction.  Studies have found giving babies just 12 sessions in front of a Mandarin-speaking instructor dramatically increased their ability to differentiate Chinese sounds. However, this effect is not there if the exposure to the language is by TV or radio, instead of a human.  Going back to the earlier studies I mentioned, TV watching is actually associated with poorer language skills.  being. http://blogs.vancouversun.com/2011/03/01/why-your-kid-cant-learn-foreign-languages-from-watching-tv/

Don’t children need to be exposed to media so that they are able to function in a technological world and know how to use it when older, especially in today’s workforce?

Research has actually found that even monkeys are comfortable with, and capable of using, the same screen technology that children are exposed to.  Technology today is rapidly changing.  The media children are using right now will not be the media and technology they will be using as adults.  Researchers at Harvard Medical School have stated, “There is no data to substantiate the claim that young children need to learn to become comfortable with screen technology.”

But the TV is just on, no one is watching it, it’s just background noise.

In case you thought you could turn off Barney for your baby but keep the Bachelorette re-run buzzing in the background, think again. For the first time, the AAP statement weighs in on “secondhand TV,” the group’s version of secondhand smoke. Up to 60% of families report that the television is always or often on, even when no one is watching. “When you think no one is really watching, someone is watching, and it’s your child,” says Brown, citing research that shows young children playing with toys while an adult show is on will look up at the screen every 20 seconds. 

My personal observations:

I used to try to just limit tv and media.  But I was finding it easy to just put it on when my children were being difficult, which children often are.  And just a few minutes would quickly become an hour or two while I got engrossed in my work.  Not to mention the tantrum that resulted when it was turned off.  I also could see how much of an influence it would have on Pumpkin 1.  She’s start talking like how she heard the characters in the show talk.  She started calling me “Mom” like Franklin calls his mother even though before I was always Mommy.  These were innocent things as she mostly only watched Franklin, but they were having such a profound effect on her that I can only imagine how darker or more serious shows would affect her.

I decided that it was better to go all out no tv then to do limited.  At first it was hard.  She was cranky and bored and driving me nuts.  It seemed to take 2 or 3 days to get it out of her system and then she changed.  She started playing independently with her toys for hours.  Her imaginative play increased.  Her tantrums reduced.  She was happier and more engaged.  I was able to get work done without having to entertain her or turn on the TV because she was able to play on her own.  When I let her watch a movie one Sunday, the effect was so noticeable.  The next day from when she woke up she was miserable, cranky, throwing tantrums about everything.  I was actually shocked by the change in her.  After a day of no media she was back to herself.

Pumpkin 2 has seen very little tv.  He will sit for forever and let you read stories to him.  I’ve seen a real difference between my children and my daycare children.  They can hardly sit still through a story whereas my children sit as quiet as mice, completely enthralled in the book.

So are we going to freak out if our kids see a little TV for a relative lets them play on their electronic device?  No, it’s not banned outright.  It don’t think it’s good to be obsessive about anything.  But in our home, we’re working hard to make it media free for our children while they’re young.  We’ll revisit our decision as they get older.

Goodnight Poem

I’ve been researching Waldorf to incorporate it into our family life.  It has similarities to Montessori but lots of differences.  One of the things I like about Waldorf is the daily rhythm and the creation of family traditions.  These are things that make childhood magical yet are simple to do.  One aspect of this is using poems and rhymes to mark transitions during the day.  I’ve been trying to find a poem for bedtime but didn’t find one that was just right.  So I made my own.  Here it is:

The sun’s gone down

The moon is high

It’s time to sleep

Now close your eyes

Snug and cozy

In your bed

With lots of kisses

On your head

May Angels come

Watch over you

And Jesus keep

You safe too

It’s time to sleep

Now I must go

Don’t make a peep

I love you so

IMG_9597

My First Waldorf Doll – DIY

My son, 19 months, was starting to show an interest in nurturing dolls.  He’s mostly into cars, cars, cars and lady bugs, but I thought it’d be good to encourage this tender side .  I believe dolls are important for all children, regardless of gender.  Many boys will grow up to be fathers one day and often nurturing is something men feel at a loss with.  My husband teased me saying he wanted him to “be a man and kill bears with his bare hands”.  “Yea right,” I said, “you can’t even do that”.  “But you’ll make him a sissy”.  I proceeded to lecture about how many dead-beat dads there are out there and that maybe something is wrong with our society’s focus on “be a man” and instead more boys need to learn how to love, care for and nurture and what better way than with their very own doll.

I’ve been looking into Waldorf and I am moving toward more simple, natural toys.  Waldorf dolls are lovely, made of natural materials, stuffed with wool which absorbs warmth making the doll warm.  They have simple faces which allow the child to imagine all sorts of emotions for them.  And they’re soft and cuddly.  However, they have a hefty price tag.  This is because the natural materials are not cheap and the dolls take time and expertise.  But, at this time in our family, a waldorf doll just isn’t in the budget.  So, after much thought and a little nervous, I thought I’d attempt to make my own doll.

First I gathered my materials.  I decided to use old birdseye flat diapers for the skin.  For the head I had some old cotton yarn.  From Fabricland I purchased wool batting (80% wool 20% polyester), embroidery thread, 100 wool yarn, cheese cloth and doll making needles (they’re super long).  Fabricland was having an awesome sale at the time.  At Michaels I found some wool roving that’s used for needle felting.  In all I spent about $30-$35.

I followed this tutorial for making the doll head.  It was the part I was most worried about but it was pretty easy.

I wound the cotton yarn into a ball.

IMG_9404

Then I wound the wool yarn over it until it was 11″ around.

IMG_9407

Next I cut out the wool batting (doubled over) and put it over the ball.

IMG_9409

I cut out a piece of cheese cloth to fit and sewed it into a tube and inserted the “head” into it.

IMG_9410

Then I tied a string very tightly around the neck.  Next was to make the indent in the face to give it shape.  It didn’t make a very deep one, I think because wool batting isn’t as poofy as roving but I didn’t have much roving and I wanted to use it for the body.  Wrap the string around twice and pull very tight and tie.

IMG_9412

Then tie a string the same way from the top to the back of the head.

IMG_9415

Then sew a few stitches over where the two strings meet on each side to hold them in place.  After that, using a crochet hook, pull the string in the back of the head down to the neck.

IMG_9416

Now to make a nose.  You don’t have to do a nose but I think they look so cute.  Draw a circle.  Don’t use pen like I did.  It’ll show through your fabric.  Make a very light line.  The blog I used as a tutorial above explains how to do the nose really well.

“Start at 3:00 put your needle in across and come out at 9:00.  Move to 10:00 and come out at 4:00, pull gently, Move to 5:00 PM come out at 10:00.  Move on to 12:00 and so on, repeating the pattern until you go all the way around.  Pull your thread and the wool will draw up into a little ball.  Put a little glue to hold the shape of the nose and let it dry.”

IMG_9418

Next I cut fabric out for the head and sewed it.  I estimated and drew the shape on the diaper with chalk, cut it and sewed it.  However, diaper fabric doesn’t stretch so my first one wouldn’t fit over the head. What I had to do was not make the neck part as narrow and only sewed down to the curve and not past it.

IMG_9441

Also leave a gap at the top so that you can pull the fabric back and sew it down.  Again tie a string very tightly around the neck pushing any puckers to the back of the head.

IMG_9443

To make the body I just drew my own design on the material.  I followed this pattern. I lay the material over the head to see the proportions.  You can see how I had to paint around the nose to hide the pen marks.

IMG_9439

IMG_9440

Next comes stuffing the body.  I cut rectangles from the wool batting and rolled them up and covered them with the wool roving and stuffed into the limbs.

IMG_9445IMG_9446

For the body, I wanted the doll weighted a bit.  I had some little bags from Chanukkah so I took two and filled them with dry lentil and sewed them shut.  I only wound up using one in the body though.

IMG_9448

I stuffed the body with a extra wool roving in the bum and then the bag I put into the fabric of the neck from the head and stuffed it all into the body.  The body needs to come up over the shoulders as in the tutorials in the above blog.  I got into my work and didn’t really take pictures of how to sew the body together and to the neck but the tutorial at Living Crafts with give clear instructions.  Here it is again (click the photo).

doll22

To make the face, put pins in first where you think you want the eyes and mouth.  Then use the doll making needle to embroider it on.  Thread your needle and push it through the head just above to the left of your pin for the eye.  Un-thread your needle and tie a knot in the thread at the back of the head and pull tight from the front.  Then re-thread your needle from the front of the head now and embroider your eyes. Living Crafts has photo showing how to do this.  Make the mouth very simple with only a very slight smile.

After the face is done you can sculpt the body if you want.  I did a little bum and sewed the leg crease so the doll would sit better and made a belly button.

IMG_9449IMG_9450

The legs were too short though for the body and it was bugging me so I made feet by sewing around a circle of fabric, stuffing it and pulling it tight and then sewing it to the end of the leg.

IMG_9456

For the hair, I just used some yarn I had, it wasn’t natural yarn but I thought it’d make hair easily by just crocheting a cap and I was right.  It was late at night by then and I wanted it done for my son in the morning.

I then sewed the cap to the head.

IMG_9454

I added some of my own natural blush to the cheeks, dressed the doll in my son’s old newborn sleeper and here is the final product:

IMG_9453

IMG_9455

I was surprised at how well he turned out.  He’s far from perfect.  One arm is longer than the other, his skin is too white and his legs too short, but you know what…..

IMG_9461

…my son loves him!

My Etsy Store

So I’ve been MIA for a while.  I was busy finishing some afghans I was crocheting as Christmas gifts and then the holidays were busy and…..I opened an Etsy store.  I started off with a peg people color grading activity that sold out fast.  Now I’m selling other wood Montessori and Waldorf inspired toys.  It’s very exciting and I’m very passionate about my items.  They’re all natural, carefully sanded and finished with my own homemade finish of beeswax and jojoba oil.  It leaves a lovely dark shine and jojoba oil won’t go rancid like olive oil will.

I hope you will pop over and check it out.

banner_v3

Montessori Wood Infant Toy, first knobbed cylinders, natural peg and cup toy

Montessori Wood Infant toy - Ball and Jar, Natural Wood toys for toddlers and infants, develops object permanence and fine motor skills

Wood Kitchen Pantry Toy set, Waldorf inspired natural toys