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Honour the Child

Blog Archive

BTRT Patterns (on Etsy)

Friday, 30 April 2010
Death is never an easy thing to talk about with children.  Partly, we are limited by our own concerns and experiences, and partly by their limited understanding.  In some places in the world, death is an every day part of life in ways that we would never wish for our children, for any child.  And few of us live on farms any more where cycles of life and death are closer to home.

So, as parents, we need to grab those teachable moments.

Being able to talk through the feelings and consider the finality of dying takes practice. It is part of our life's work of making meaning, whatever our experience or beliefs may be.

Being a preacher's kid, Rowan has been to homes for wakes, to homes when people are approaching death, even to the funeral to home colour while I met with a family for funeral planning (sitter fell through!).  Rowan forged a special relationship with 'Miss Alice' whose husband was dying, and became a comfort to the elderly lady throug the experience~ a bright spot in her home which was otherwise so full of illness and grief.  When Miss Alice passed, Ro was still a little young to feel its impact but even so, we were able to share the experience with her.

This week, our neighbours lost their dog,

Dixie's passing was an opportunity to talk about death.  To share our feelings and to imagine ourselves in their place (as our old dog isn't long for this world). It was a chance to make a card and pay a visit and share our sadness.  To see grownups moved to tears by a beloved old brown dog. A moment, rare as they are, for a child to offer comfort to an adult with genuine sympathy and connection.

These are important and weighty lessons for us as parents, as much as for our daughter.  How we will talk about dying. How we will value life and mark its passing. These are the rehearsals that let us work it out together.

And as we passed along the card Rowan had made, in which a happy and healthy Dixie frolicked outside with a butterfly (Easter imagery still large in Rowan's mind) it felt like we had added something essential to our understanding of what it means to be neighbours and to be human beings together.

So long Dixie, and thank you. We hope you love the dog bones in Dog Heaven.
Thursday, 29 April 2010
Sometimes I forget that silk is a luxury fabric.
Making children's toys and dress up wear out of the stuff, and loving it for its durability as much as for its beauty, it is easy to forget that not everyone views silk as playstuff.
 I have just completed my second wholesale order for a Canadian designer boutique in Vancouver, BC.  The winter scarves were to-die-for fabrics like silk satin and the divine charmeuse (butter, I tell you, like butter!) and the current spring/ summer batch are my first foray into the gauzy, dreamy world of silk chiffon.  It does make my dear habotai playsilks feel like plough horses next to thoroughbreds!

The way the chiffon absorbs and softens the light as it passes through makes me happy. So I thought I would share.
Wednesday, 28 April 2010
Tonight at bedtime, Rowan complained that she had a hair in her mouth.
Lately she has always got something in her mouth or throat (she has figured out the trachea/ esophagus thing and is hung up on things going down wrong).
So she was complaining about the 'hair' in her mouth.
 I gave her a drink and teasingly suggested she stop licking the dog to avoid the hair in her mouth issue.
She promptly replied, a little annoyed with me, to my shock,
"I only did it the one time and it was not tonight!"

"You HAVE licked the dog?"
I really shouldn't be surprised by these things.

"Yes. I licked Archie's little black nose. And then his tail."

I didn't ask why.
In Waldorf education, each day of the week has an associated colour, planet and grain.

Over the next while I am going to feature handmade, natural items that would be wonderful to help mark the rhythm of the week at home with your little ones.  Many of the items come from members of Etsy's Natural Kids Team (search: naturalkids team).

Wednesday is Yellow. May these handmade treasures brighten your day!

A sun goddess by Elemental Handcrafts radiates light and life.
Princess Nimble Thimble bendy dolls have been faves at our house for a while now, and one of our favourite gifts to give, too!
hand full is on my wish list. Like, everything in the shop. Pretty spinny skirt in dandelion:
So pretty!  Golden yellow acorns by Fairyfolk:
This fabulous boucle mohair yarn is dyed a deep golden yellow with onion skins by Mamma4earth.
And I am going to sneak in one of my silkies, too (as a shout out to the bright yellows!)! Sunshine by BTRT:

Tuesday, 27 April 2010
My kid loves her treasures.  Long past that sweet age when toddlers put everything into boxes and bags, she still does it.  Her bedside table has three treasure boxes and the drawer is overflowing.  Bits of ribbon, acorns and pincecones, barrettes, photographs, crayons, stones, leaves...

I stopped into her classroom at school one day. All the kids' hooks have a basket above them. Each one was tidy.  Well, except one. Which was overflowing with feathers and shoes and paper, a trail which continued across the shelf into the space of the children on either side.
 That's my girl.

So these little pouches are for that sweet spirit of my daughter who sees beauty and value in every little thing.  Durable, big enough to hold a respectable pine cone, but not so big as to lose that special pebble.  Bright, fun and natural.
 Knit, felted (fulled, technically) and embellished with upcycled wool, needlefelting and embroidery.

I have a few stocked in the Etsy shop, along with the pattern itself, if you prefer to gather up your scraps and make one for your special little collector.
Monday, 26 April 2010
It has come to my attention (probably not a newsflash to anyone else LOL) that while we read a lot of stories at home, and while a lot of stories are read at school~ we often read the same stories (if I have to read 'Olivia Helps with Christmas' one more time, it is APRIL for crying out loud!) or strories of little merit other than that they contain words and are being read (and were cheap or free to the teacher or donated to the library).  Sometimes I feel it is definitely quantity over quality coupled with a push for children to read so early that any books will do, story aside.

But literacy, in the truest sense, has as much to do with story and culture and integration of language and history as it does to do with the technical ability to read.  It is the understanding that goes along with the practical skill. It reminds me of the Jerry Seinfeld bit when he rents a car but they fail to hold his reservation.

To understand ourselves and our western culture (not to mention the rest of the world!) and to relate to the big themes of life we need to know the stories and be able to tell stories, too. This means knowing the big stories upon which so much of our culture and language have been built, it means 'getting' the shorthand of common tropes. 
 So, I am putting myself to a new task.
Storytelling (oral/ aural ~ spoken/ heard) as part of our daily life.
We do it. Actually, we do it a lot.
One of our favourite activities is to pick an image from a picture book, or even point out a house or a pedestrian while driving and create stories about them.
But I am talking about Goldilocks and Rumpelstilskin, Aesop and Grimm.
The big ones.
And the Bible. Aside from being a family of faith (Christian) I also believe that the Bible is one of those big stories we need to grasp to be literate in western culture.

I launched merrily into the Three Billy Goats Gruff last night, only to find myself VERY rusty and running back to the Town Mouse and the Country Mouse for safety.   And night time isn't always the best time.  I have always treasured the sleepy morning time when Rowan comes crawling into bed, cuddly and with a fresh curiousity for the new day.  So my plan is to learn more stories and try, most mornings, to begin our day with a story.

I would love your suggestions of favourite tales and resources!
Sunday, 25 April 2010
Spring is really here.
Writing names in the sand ~ a big deal for two almost-5 year olds!
Happy Dog.

A sure sign of spring ~ cat-tails.
Saturday, 24 April 2010
Today, Puppy turned 5.

Well, not really.  You see, Puppy has birthdays all the time. Often triggered by invitations to real birthday parties. Sometimes he is older, sometimes younger.  He has a lot of birthdays and a resume of jobs, personalities, species and genders that would rival most international spy's.  He is our own international Dog of Mystery: race car driver, dinosaur, teacher, protector, hyena hunter and constant companion. Most days lately he is a boy all day and a girl all night, but always keeps the pronoun 'he'.  Puppy keeps busy these days attending school.  He has had two unplanned sleepovers in Rowan's school cubby~ he didn't mind but Rowan was devastated (even Mommy cried the first time!).

You can read about Puppy's arrival in our lives and his prominent place of honour HERE.

At the present time, Puppy is in desperate need of a bath.  Rowan protests this by saying that she LOVES his smell (and I believe she does) and that if we wash him, Puppy won't know himself and will be very upset and lost. I think it is time for a little espionage and intrigue of my own~ a quick wash and redress (currently dressed in a red heart dress and velour leggings stolen from the Waldorf doll I gave her for Christmas 2 years ago that she rejected and gave to me, naked, having stolen all Sarah's clothes for Puppy) and return to bed might work. You think?

Anyway, Happy Birthday Puppy, you're a grand old dog and we love you.
Friday, 23 April 2010
Rowan attends Junior Kindergarten 2 days a week and day care another two.  It is not our ideal, but with 2 working parents, it is what works. So we try to make the most of our Fridays together (my day off, Rowan home with me) and have made them our special day together since infancy.

Today we started witha  trip tot the church Rummage Sale.  And I said we were bringing nothing home, and it took less than 30 seconds for me to spy and grab eight Thornton W. Burgess animal tales! Oops.  Otherwise I behaved, having a full stock of wool sweaters and old tees already waiting for attention at home.
 This afternoon we took some time to create 'Nesting Balls' based on the fabulous ideas and tutorial found at Paint Cut Paste.
 Once I got the hang of wrapping the wire (you have to twist it around and back fairly often to keep the whole thing from wriggling off the ball in a tangled mess!), we were off and running.  We used firm street hockey balls at the center and they came out fine, just needing some adjusting after pullung them out, to get back our round-ish shapes. Starting with a center stuffed full of roving or other fluff made it simpler for 4.5 year old hands to get yarn and other bits to stay on and in. Be extra sure to fold/ twist wire ends for both the kids and the birds!

Rowan had a friend over to help and we fully expect to have the prettiest bird's nests in town this year!
Thursday, 22 April 2010
I have recently joined the artisans at Lily Pad Landing. 
The group stocks on Thursday evenings (check for upcoming dates) with lots of wonderful handmade goodness ranging from diapers and slings to mama cloth, yarn, green living items, fabulous bath and body products and more.
This week the theme is FARMER'S MARKET and everyone has risen to the challenge with bright, delicious 'produce'.  Stocking at 9 pm (EST) tonight (Thursday, April 22).
A sampling of the wares:
Mini lunch bags to hold all of your finds (Joyful Earth):
 A garden of gorgeous yarns by Pulling at Strings:
 'Harvest' by Homestead Emporium:
 And some mix and match fruit and veggie playsilk fun from BTRT:
 These are just a few of the wonderful artisan created items available tonight, so take a peek!
Wednesday, 21 April 2010
Today, on our way home from music class, Rowan and I passed a field of llamas.
And without any forethought, I began to sing the song my stepsister and I composed some 25 years ago.
I couldn't believe how it all came back: echoes, dance moves and final 'boom' (wait for it).
Apparently, my daughter is officially old enough to laugh at me.

If you had some money, what would you do?
If I had some money, here's what I'd do!
I'd buy a llama, oh, I'd buy a llama,
That's what I'd do.
(bridge: rock feeling) 
I'd walk it! (walk it)
And feed it! (feed it)
And take it down the Queen E*
I wouldn't care if people made fun of me
I wouldn't care if they said I was weird,
I wouldn't care!
I wouldn't cah-ay-are.
The llama...
*the Queen Elizabeth Way in southern Ontario ~ the highway travelled to pick up and drop of the step sibs.

We  performed that number on video, at family birthday parties... in harem pants and puffy teased bangs, with rubber bangles and long pearls and white lipstick. And always the big 'BOOM' (?!?!) at the end.

Isn't it funny the way that memory works and the things we retain?  I wonder if 25 years from now Rowan will be able to sing 'Girls Don't Toot' when memory is triggered?
Tuesday, 20 April 2010
In Waldorf education, each day of the week has an associated colour, planet and grain.

Over the next while I am going to feature handmade, natural items that would be wonderful to help mark the rhythm of the week at home with your little ones.  Many of the items come from members of Etsy's Natural Kids Team (search: naturalkids team).

Tuesday is Red.
 Fair Trade Family makes fabulous food!  We have bunches and it is well loved and  has stood up to several years of gregarious play with no signs of wear!:
This is amazingly sweet!  Made by Three Fish Shop
 I love everything in this shop~ we have a darling little Rowan Fairy on our mantle ♥~ this is a Red Rose Fairy by Rjabinnik:
A special little someone to snuggle on Tuesday and all week through? 'Tulipa' Waldorf doll by new Etsy seller Kristinebg:

And at the end of a busy Tuesday, time to curl up in a beautiful organic quilt (baby size!) by Sewn Natural :
No toadstools?!
I think they deserve a feature all their own! And it will come...

Sunday, 18 April 2010
When the first baby laughed for the first time, its laugh broke into a thousand pieces, and they all went skipping about, and that was the beginning of fairies.  And now when every new baby is born its first laugh becomes a fairy.  So there ought to be one fairy for every boy or girl.  ~James Matthew Barrie, Peter Pan
Of course, Peter Pan goes on to say that every time a child says they don't believe in fairies, a fairy 'falls down dead".

Rowan and I took her first trip to a live theatre production today and saw a delightful production of Peter Pan (The Musical).  She gasped when she heard this about the fairies, and was fully committed to helping revive a poisoned Tinkerbell by calling out "I belive in fairies!" (despite her having told me recently "You know Mommy, fairies are just pretend, but we can pretend because you like them". Little stinker!).

I am going to make her a tee in her size in one of my favourite Daydream Believer designs, now that she 'gets' it, if only for my sake!
Saturday, 17 April 2010
I realized, upon reflection, that my creative process for toy making is very similar to my creative process for sermon writing.

I need to start by inputting the ideas/ material.  For sermons, I study on Monday and gather all of the relevant information that I can about the text in question.  For toys, I often purchase, or gather materials with only the vaguest notion of 'I'd like to make something with *that*'.  For the Four Seasons Children, I had the peg people sitting on a shelf, waiting to be born.  Sometimes, I make the basic piece~ a piece of wet felt or a knitted pouch, and then set them aside and wait for the ideas to coalesce.

Like a sermon, with the toys, I often go back and handle the materials. Turn them around, hold them, tinker with various ideas and then set them back on the shelf for a while longer.

Now a sermon has a timeline, but thankfully, the toys can wait until I am ready.

When an idea starts to gel, having drawn on the influences around me:  listened to stories, watched my daughter play, considered what I feel drawn to creating, I talk it out.  My poor husband, thankfully he is a good listener (or can fake the appearance of one). For the Four Seasons Chidlren I wanted something different than the other peg people out there (wonderful toys!) and the watercolour seemed like a good start over my more familiar acrylics.

Another factor in my process is to bear in mind the shipping costs with Canada Post and to strive to create sets that will give the customer the most value for the postage paid.

With a sermon, I generally allow the ideas to become 'full' in my mind~ it is a sense of being ready and a timeliness for the ideas and inspirations to come together.  And then I say a prayer and start to type, allowing a free flow of ideas for the first draft.  Once that is done, I walk away from it, for a night if I have the time.  And then come back to it to edit.  Generally, the editing is minor, although I will have spent a night sure that it is all completely unusable!

For toys, once I feel that I have all the ideas percolating together, I begin.  For the Four Seasons group, I knew I wanted to do the mushroom caps as a nod to Elsa Beskow's beloved children.  Other than that, I knew I wanted the translucency of watercolours so I set out all the supplies and made a start.

Faces first, and then caps. And then, as always, the colour called to me!  I made the fall child first, having to go back over finished portions to make it all work together, but once the design and the process was worked out, the rest unfolded very easily and the Four Seasons Children were born.   As I operate with basic principles for all of my toys, some of the process is now automatic (open faces in the Waldorf style, safety first ~ smooth edges, no small parts etc.).
  They are finished with our organic beeswax polish for a beautiful warm glow and child-safe seal and grouped into unbleached cotton muslin drawstring bags for storage and toting about by little hands.
Thursday, 15 April 2010
A natural twist on a spring classic.

Skipping ropes are easy to come by this time of year, but truth be told my daughter needed a lasso.  She uses playsilks for just about everything, but they lack the weight to successfully rope and hog tie a stampeding T Rex or Daddy from the back of Jester, her junkyard reclaimed/ recycled spring horse.

So I made her a lasso that also works as a skipping rope.

I think.  Rowan can't skip yet and I am afraid to try as it has been a few decades!
But we did give it a whirl!

PLEASE do not leave young children unattended with ropes or cords of any sort.  Please use only with supervision for children under 5 or 6 (you know your child best). Play safe!

  • scissors, ruler
  • WOOL yarn (scraps are fine if you are prepared to weave in ends)~ any weight, I suggest worsted or heavier to get a rope with enough thickness for the purpose. If using scraps make sure they are all one weight. In order to felt, you must use wool yarn.
  • needles (DPNs are ideal, though regular needles will work) I used worsted yarn and 7 mm needles. It is an inexact science!
Most skipping ropes for play are approx. 7' long.
In order to allow for some shrinkage with felting + handles, knit 7+ feet (that is one long i-cord!).
7' is a LOT of rope for my 4.5 year old at a height of 42".
Adjust accordingly.

Step 1: Knitting the I-Cord
Cast one 4-6 stitches and begin to create an i-cord in knit.
New to i-cords? Use your favourite online knitting resource for instructions and videos.
Try this one or this one.
Continue knitting, changing colours as you desire (be careful to weave in the colour change to prevent holes or gaps).

Step 2: Finishing the I-Cord
Knit to the desired length.
Bind off in knit.
Weave in all ends.

Step 3: Handles
Fold over each end of the rope to create a handle.
Tie in place with wool yarn.
I made my handles with a 3" opening. Never make them large enough for a child's head to pass through.
This meant folding over roughly 4.5" of rope and stitching it down.
Then wrap the juncture with wool yarn and stitch in place, again with wool yarn so it will felt with the rope.
For an older child you may want to embellish your handles after felting: beads, tassles and other fun stuff!

Step 4: Felting
I use a top loading machine for felting.
I understand front loaders will work, but you may want to look up special instructions for machine felting with a front loading machine.
**Place your rope in a lingerie/ net bag or a tied off pillow case to prevent 7+ feet of rope snaking its way around the innards of your washing machine!**
Toss it into the machine. 
Add a pair of jeans, old canvas shoes or anything that will act as a beater to help the felting process.
Being long and thin it may take more than one cycle to get your rope to felt up to your tastes.
Yes, I use rubber duckies. I don't know how we ended up with so many. It makes me giggle!

Run the HOT cycle.
Add a capful of dish soap NOT laundry soap.
I usually pull my items out after the hot wash cycle to check their progress.  If the rope needs more felting, rather than proceed with the cold rinse, restart the hot wash portion of the cycle.  When it is felted as you would like it, let the machine finish out the cycle.
Massage and smooth out any bumps or rough parts with your hands.
Lay flat to dry (don't hang as it may stretch the rope).
Check your handles, they may need a security stitch following their felting.

Step 5: Skipping!
Or Lassoing, as your needs require.

Have fun!
I'd love to see pictures!

Copyright Lori Campbell, 2010.
Copyright protects my images and instructions.  Feel free to make and share skipping ropes for friends and family.  Not for commercial use.  No part of this document may be reproduced, altered or sold for profit.
Share and play nice ♥ Thank you.
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