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.

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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.

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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)

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Table Top Bowling

New in shop:

This lovely, all natural, wood toy lets you play bowling anywhere! It’s a perfect game to take with you as it comes in a lovely fabric storage bag. Set the pins up on the table or on the floor. Can you get a strike? A spare? A wonderful non-toxic, eco-friendly toy that encourages skill, hand/eye coordination, activity and imagination. Comes with 10 pins and 2 balls.

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Baby Toys Set

I love this beautiful set of Montessori inspired toys for babies.  It has materials that baby will play with from a few months old right up until toddler-hood and most can be adapted for play beyond that.  The natural wood is so lovely and safe for mouthing children.  Each toy will engage a baby and help to develop many skills from gross motor to fine motor to object permanence.  I wish I had something like this when my son was a baby but now it’s available for your little pumpkin or makes a wonderful baby shower gift.

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Purim

I missed Wordless Wednesday yesterday.  I was really busy trying to finish making gifts for my Pumpkins for Purim.  So I thought I’d share some pictures from our fun today.

I thought, since dressing up is part of the holiday, dying playsilks would be a great tradition.  It’s the first time we’ve done it.  I bought plain silk scarves from the Dharma Trading Co  I went with the 35×35″ Habotai scarves.  I always thought playsilks were expensive and why were they any better than just scarves you can buy for cheap.  Once I felt the silk though, I understood.  It’s just lovely.  So smooth and lightweight yet strong, with a wonderful drape.  I fell in love with them.  We dyed them with food colouring following recipes I came across online.  It was really easy and they turned out beautifully.  The kids loved them.

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Dying the scarves with food coloring.

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Lovely colors!

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Then of course you have to make hamantaschen cookies for Purim.  We used apple butter for the center.

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I also told them the story of Esther.  I’m trying to do more story telling instead of reading from books.  It was hard for the kids to understand at first (“but where are the pictures?”) but then I found they listen with rapt attention, something they don’t always do for books.

Finally, after dinner I gave my Pumpkins their gifts I had made.  A Waldorf bunting doll and wool felt horse for Pumpkin 1 and a wool crochet dog for Pumpkin 2 (his horse is still in process of being made).  Gammie and Grandaddy also came for a visit to make everything complete.

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Fiddle Rattle

I’ve been working on this rattle for a while.  It took several attempts to get it right.

I call it the “Fiddle Rattle” because it has a bunch of objects on it for baby to fiddle with.  Beads and a spool to slide and spin and it rolls across the floor.  And like all my toys it’s natural and eco friendly.  A toy you can be proud to give your baby to play with.

https://www.etsy.com/listing/224745391/fiddle-rattle-baby-toy-baby-rattle?ref=shop_home_active_1

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Color Matching Eggs Set

New in the shop, this lovely egg and egg cup color matching set.  Perfect Easter activity.

https://www.etsy.com/listing/223976835/eggs-and-cups-montessori-toy-for?ref=shop_home_active_1

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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.

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

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

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

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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.

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

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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.

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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.”

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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).

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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:

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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…..

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…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.

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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