Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Pants, bib and sling

I recently made three of the projects in Growing Up Sew Liberated by Meg McElwee. 

I started with the Bubble Pants, which were not the easiest pattern to follow for my skill level! I struggled a bit with attaching the middle bit to the legs and managed in the end. They look a bit strange seen flat like that with no baby wearing them but I think they will be good for when my baby wears bulky washable nappies. There will still be plenty of room for his bottom to wriggle around! The elasticated ankles are also a practical feature of these trousers as babies don't get their feet caught in the fabric and can play with them (suck them?) easily. Lastly, they are reversible! Which will give me double options when dressing him. In conclusion I would say that these seem like the most practical baby trousers I have seen so far.

I also made the All-By-Myself Bib from the book. I used jersey cotton for the main fabric and woven cotton for the bias and appliqués although the pattern called for rib knit (which I didn't have). It was rather easy to put together. Because I added appliqués to the original pattern I lined each half of the bib so the stitching wouldn't show on the other side. It was fun to draw the appliqués - I drew the star and my partner, Chris, drew the rocket - a real team effort! The envelope neck means that there is no fastening to this bib, no itchy velcro on the back of the neck or unpractical poppers. You just slip it on and off! If you hadn't already noticed, the bib is reversible, so if it gets dirty on one side, you can just turn it around, no need even to take it off, just turn it around the baby's neck. On the absorbency level, I am not sure how well it performs. Even my double layer of fabric does not feel very thick and I am not convinced that liquids wouldn't just go right through. I won't be able to test it on my baby though as this is not for him but for his cousin!

Lastly, I made the Ring Sling. I used normal weight cotton for it and it is very good like this. This pattern is really easy, all you do is cut out a large rectangle, hem up all four sides, pleat one of the short ends, slip it through two rings, and sew it on! The thing that took me the longest (one long day...)was to wait for the rings I had ordered to arrive. I ordered them on an Ebay boutique, Herbalbaybee, which seems to be the only place in the UK for baby sling rings. They have them in a variety of colours and two sizes and these are rings especially made for slings so they are extra strong.

I tried the cradle carry and the hip carry with the sling. Whenever I saw ring slings before it looked to me as if it was unsafe but actually trying this on feels very secure (even though it wasn't a real baby, I had to pull quite hard on the fabric to release it from the rings). It is easy to adjust the pouch to the baby's size and position by just pulling on the tail hanging from the rings. Depending on which side of it you pull, you can tighten the bottom of the pouch or the top. And if you want to breastfeed, you can leave the baby in the sling and just adjust the pouch (or support the baby if you are sitting down) to bring baby to the breast. The tail can even be used as a nursing shield if needed. 

When the baby is bigger they can sit up on your hip while supported by the fabric of the sling. The legs of the baby are not supposed to be dangling like they are on my photo, I just couldn't put the teddy right! The baby clings onto you as well with their legs. I saw other ways of carrying a baby in a sling, and I was told by a woman that she still uses her sling to carry her 3-year-old on her back. I am rather impressed by the cleverness of such a simple piece of fabric pulled through two rings!

Monday, 19 September 2011

Four months later

It has been quite a while since I last posted, and many changes have taken place in my life since May.

- I have stopped working with children but I am still passionate about methods of education and everything that revolves around young children.
- We have moved to a new geographical area and have been busy exploring its beauties.
- I have completed the first part of my Montessori training and I am now a certified Montessori classroom assistant.
- I have discovered that my partner and I are expecting our first child, due in January.

I am very excited about all this; so much in our lives already revolves around our baby although there are still four months to go before we meet him. These last years, while reading up about young children, I have also absorbed a large quantity of information about infant development and needs. I am hoping to use this knowledge to parent our son in a gentle and respectful way which I will be discussing on this blog.

Monday, 9 May 2011

Bottle hide-and-seek for readers and toddlers

I made a special toy for Alex who only started reading this year. I collected nine small objects, making sure that Alex would be able to read their names. Some are from the pink series and some from the blue. Alex has to read the first word on the laminated cards attached to the bottle and find the corresponding objects inside the bottle by shaking the lentils around.

I am preparing a toddler version of this: I took photos of the objects I had picked for the bottle, printed and laminated then. They are ready to go, I just need to find an empty bottle!

Sunday, 8 May 2011

A busy morning

Playing the Ghost Game

Exploring designs and patterns with the pink tower
Finding pairs of objects by touch
Completing a puzzle blindfolded

Montessori Insets for Design

A special request for this Christmas peg activity

Saturday, 7 May 2011

One story

A few weeks ago, in an "adventure playground" that couldn't have a better name, I witnessed a story evolving.

There were three boys who had found a den made in between bushes. They saw the many drawings sellotaped to the branches all inside it and the oldest boy declared: "It's the girls' den. We have to take over it." He showed the two younger boys how to make weapons made of a bunch of stinging nettles stabbed onto the end of a stick. They carefully went inside the girls' den and rubbed their stinging nettles against the floor, the bushes and the drawings. They told me they were "infecting" the place.

The two girls, 7, stood watching from far away. They looked to me as if they were debating whether to fight for their den or surrender. When the boys retreated to a nearby hide to watch the girls, they timidly approached the bushes where their den was built. They went inside it and looked around, not daring to touch anything after seeing the boys "infecting" their belongings. Suddenly the boys popped out from their hide, yelling "go away! It's our den!" while brandishing their stinging nettles weapons and threatening to hurt them if they didn't leave. The girls looked scared while they were running for their lives as the boys chased them. The girls didn't come back. The boys made drawings of their own which soon replaced the girls's. 

I am fascinated by children's play. I am amazed at their capacity at leaving the real world for a while to deeply enter their own. Even though the boys and the girls were enemies in the scene I have related, they were also accomplices as the girls pretended to believe that their den was infected. Even the boys knew that stinging nettles cannot "infect" a place, since they entered it themselves after the girls surrendered. They all knew it was fake, but they all kept on playing, as seriously as ever.

The drawings the girls first hung in the den struck me as "mark makers", as signatures to indicate whose den it is. The boys picked that up quicker than I did and ended up replacing them with their own.

The two younger boys were happy to let the older one command, and it may have been this organised hierarchy that led to their victory. The girls did not have a commander, they were both debating what to do and approached "timidly", without a clear action plan. Their unconfident attitude gave away to the boys, even before they had started the attack, that they would be victorious, probably adding to their already high self-confidence. 

Play definitely is a serious matter that allows children to rehearse skills needed in adult life. I am very grateful for being able to witness such scenes almost every day of my life.  

Monday, 2 May 2011

Body outline art

Alex lay on a large sheet of paper while I traced his outline. We both marvelled at how tall he was!

He added his eyes, nose and mouth while I coloured in his clothes. We used the Stabilo Woody 3-in-1 colouring pencils that turns into watercolours when you add a bit of water. Alex dipped his hands in water and smudged the colours all over. He thought it was magic and called everyone in the house to come and see!

Sunday, 1 May 2011

Painting rocks

Today I showed Leo, almost 3, how to mix colours. As he had never done it before, I let him choose pairs of colours from the six different ready mix paint bottles we had. He mixed black and white, red and blue, and red and yellow. With his homemade grey, purple and orange, he painted rocks of different shapes and textures.

 As it was very windy today and we were outside, the paint was drying almost instantly and changing to a much lighter shade. Leo didn't like that and so he kept on dipping the drying rocks into a bucket full of water that was next to him, noticing that his wet paint looked brighter and more vivid than his dry paint.

Colours, textures and experimentation were definitely the focus of this fun activity.