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Honour the Child

Blog Archive

BTRT Patterns (on Etsy)

Friday, 30 November 2012
Hello lovely blog readers!
I have appreciated hearing from so many of you this last little while~
on Facebook and in the shop...
I have been on a bit of a blogging break for numerous reasons,
but I sincerely hope to be back at in in the New Year when life evens out a little more. ♥
 (we have begun our family Book a Day in Advent reading again this year~ come join us on Faceboook for daily sharing with other families, too!)
To read about this (new) tradition, and our picks for last year, go here.
Friday, 2 November 2012
Reposted from 2011... 'tis the season!
At latest count, in 6 years we are at around 17 000 silks dyed in our sinks ♥

Welcome to part five (and final) of this series of informational posts to help parents and family shop for playsilks for the little ones in their lives As the holiday season approaches and you look for long lasting, beautiful, natural playthings, these posts can help you choose quality silks.

playsilk, play silk, waldorf, guide, help, explanation, explain, natural, toy, natural toy
You will find the past posts here:
Part One :: Why Playsilks?/ Is it Silk?
Part Two :: Quality
Part Three :: Size Matters
Part Four:: Of Colour & Dye

As you may have realized, I am a little passionate about playsilks.
Unabashedly so.
My latest calculation is somewhere nearing 12 000 pieces dyed in my sinks, in my kitchen, in nearly 5 years.
And every single time I get out the dye pots I am excited to see what happens!
Silk is a gorgeous, versatile, durable fabric.
As a tool for children's work of play it is definitely an investment.
But dollar for dollar, I guarantee that a single playsilk will outplay and outlast most other toys.
It will become a standard part of a child's play, used in myriad ways that we grownups cannot imagine.
It will last through years of play.

Our tagline for our silk is: "Endless possibilities, just like a child's imagination."
And we mean it.

{{You can check out an article about creating a more natural 'toolbox' of toys for kids (Declutter & Save Money) and the skeptical parents of boys might want to take a peek at our article about silks for little boys (be sure to read the comments, too!) and the amazing potential to release them from the narrow world of wheels and guns.}}

As a natural fiber which involves a fair amount of hands on human labour and care (not to mention hand stitched, hand rolled hems) silk is not a cheap fiber.
But like wool, it has merits that warrant the price tag.
It has qualities that are unsurpassed by any other fabric.
When you factor in the durability and long life of playsilks, across years of evolving play, the price tag begins to make more sense.
Add that many, many families are trying to simplify their lives, add more nature and reduce plastic clutter, again, the playsilk is a powerhouse alternative.
The price of silk has nearly tripled in the last five years, along with other natural fibers.
Silk is generally imported from China and India where the silk industries are ancient and integral to the culture and economy of these nations. Very little silk is produced outside of these regions.

At BTRT we ensure that our silk is ethically sourced from manufacturers who practice fair labour and sustainable husbandry.  Our dream would be to work one to one with a manufacturer of tussah/ peace silk (a process in which the silkworms are not destroyed, in order to achieve a vegan acceptable product), but this remains out of reach right now!

Our silk is priced to reflect the cost of the materials, time invested in creating each one of a kind, dyed-to-order piece, experience, quality and the fact that we strive to earn a living wage as artisans.

When shopping for silk, and making price comparisons take all of the information into consideration~ not all silk is created equal~experience and consistency can add a measure of reassurance when purchasing something sight unseen, and to last throughout a childhood!

All of the information in this series can help you make an informed and confident investment in tools for your child’s work of play.       

And no matter what size or seller you choose, you will be making a choice of something natural and beautiful for your kids.  I guarantee you they will be delighted with their gift and bring delight to you as well when you see them hard at play!
Monday, 1 October 2012
Introducing our BTRT customer rewards program!

We love our customers ♥ and wanted to find a way to say thank you to you for your years of support and loyalty ~ we would also love to welcome new customers to the BTRT family.   

We are launching a rewards program that earns you silk while you shop... 
and while your FRIENDS shop, too!

It's simple.
Ask to become a BTRT Rewards member.
(send an email right now OR write a note at checkout through our Shop)
We will create a Rewards card just for you, with your name and address and your unique number.
Earn ONE punch for every $10 you spend at BTRT (excluding shipping).
Earn TEN punches and we automatically send you a 35" playsilk!

But wait... there's more (said in my best infomercial voice....)
REFER your friends and family!
Earn ONE punch on your card for every friend you refer to BTRT
who is a NEW customer and spends $10 or more in the shop.
They will need to add your membership card number 
and your name in their notes at checkout.
(ie. Jane Smith, #21 sent me!)
....and.... you will earn ONE MORE punch for every person your friend refers!

So... ask for a reward card.
Shop. Earn ONE punch for every $10 you spend.
Refer a friend (new customer), and get another ONE punch on your card.
Also, get ONE punch for each new customer your friend refers....
Earn 10 punches and we send you a 35" playsilk!
The Fine Print
We want to keep this simple ♥
Punches will be awarded for every $10 you spend.
You MUST either ask to become a member at checkout, or cite your membership number for this to apply.
This excludes shipping costs.
There is no rounding up or carrying over, sorry!
All referrals must cite your name and membership number at checkout.
We will reward you with one punch per NEW customer you refer (first tier), and one punch for each one they refer (second tier), once they spend an initial $10 on an order. It is only one punch for referrals regardless of the dollar value of their orders after the first $10.
We will choose the playsilk to be sent, it will be 35" and multicoloured (and beautiful, we promise!).
It will be sent as soon as you have accumulated TEN punches on your card, shipping is on us, too!
Punches do not carry a dollar value and may not be redeemed for other purchases.

Monday, 24 September 2012
Make your own magical little mushrooms! 
This post is an encore presentation of one of our most popular tutorials!

In the process of planning out and preparing for our Fairy Garden we created some wooden mushrooms from drawer pulls and I thought I would share the process so you can scatter some magical little mushrooms around your home and garden, too!

 Sweet teacher's gifts and a simple way to bring a little wonder to any grey spot or grey day. Endless personalization options, too!

Age: Toddler - adult.
  • Wooden drawer pulls, size and style of your choice (available at most hardware stores and as craft supplies where wooden craft parts/ cutouts are sold). We are using 1" hardwood knobs for this project.
  • Acrylic craft paint and suitable brushes (at least one large brush and one fine/ round brush)
  • Sealer of your choice (we used a non-toxic polyturethane based outdoor sealer with a satin/ shiny finish).  If you plan to put your mushrooms outdoors, this is highly recommended.
  • Palette, water, soft cloth for cleaning brushes between colours.
1)   Prepare your painting space as suits your painters (ie drop cloth for young children).
Choose your colours and prepare your palette and water.
2)    Begin by painting the stems of each toadstool in your chosen colour(s).
Turn them on their 'caps' to dry (will dry quickly if using acrylics).
Apply a second coat if desired.

3)   When the stem are dry, begin to paint the caps. Apply a second coat if desired. Let dry.
TIP: Use your finer brush.  Load it with paint.  Turn your mushroom on its cap.  Place the brush along the outer edge of the underside of the cap and spin the wooden piece (rather than trying to make a smooth, clean  edge by moving the brush) for a nice even edge.  This may take a bit of practice!  If you wobble along, just repeat, widening the band of colour to take in the flub.

4)   Using white (or colour of choice) and your fine brush, make dots on the top of the mushroom.
Vary the size and placement for one of a kind toadstools.
If you want a little grass at the base, use a green of your choice and paint tufts of grass on the stem.
Let dry completely (the dots may take a bit to dry through).
While waiting for the spots to dry, clean up palette and paints (and kids!).

5)    Repeating the steps above (coating stems and then caps), apply the sealer of your choice.
This is best done by an adult.
Apply one or two thin coats and set aside to dry.
Avoid sealing on humid days as they will be very slow to dry.
Rinse sealer brush with VERY hot water, very thoroughly (I have lost more brushes this way...)

Variations & Ideas:
  • Paint to match a room (the brights pictured will match Rowan's bedroom)
  • Look up real toadstools and paint true-to-life as a learning project (older children, please~ we only use very 'unreal' mushrooms in play because we have a lot of real ones in our yard and woods that we do not want our child to touch for safety!)
  • Use crushed berries to colour the caps
  • Thin your paint to a wash, or use watercolours for the wood grain to show through.
  • Seal stained (as above) toadstools with flax oil or beeswax (will not work on the acrylic paint as the paint will already have sealed the pores and the oil will just slip off).
  • Spell out your child's name in personalized toadstools
  • Hot glue fairy jewels or dew drops, or a small piece of fabric for a hassock/ cushion.
  • Use your drawer pulls as.... drawer pulls!
Wednesday, 12 September 2012
Ah. Autumn.

Crisp air, cerulean skies and the coziness of warm clothing, made by hand.

As our northern Ontario nights get chilly and our leaves begin to turn,
my hands begin to move towards my needles and hooks. 
{{OK, my hooks... having been a knitter for some 25 years I have developed a crush on crochet, I'll admit!}}

So today I thought I would share some (quick!) inspiring patterns to meet the creative cravings of this new season.  These are all from Etsy shops, most of which offer a wide variety of patterns, so be sure to poke around a little when you visit (and most of the patterns are delivered by email, instant gratification!)!

Copper the Red Fox, by Mamma 4 Earth
Doll Longies, by The Sitting Tree
Snuggle Dolly, by Quiet Home Designs
Maisie and her Dolly, by Toy Shelf
The Gnome Hat, by Pumpkin Haus
Gnome Hat, by Syrendell
Wee Dwellings Gnome Homes, by Beneath the Rowan Tree
Blossom Mama & Petal Baby, by This Cosy Life
Nanette Doll Jacket, by Fig and Me
Grey Squirrel with Acorn, by Sweet Bauer Knits

You can also find our own FREE knitting pattern for fun fingerless mittens HERE.
Along with a bunch of freebies for fall and winter crafts on our Tutorials Page.
Enjoy! ♥
Thursday, 6 September 2012
We are blessed to live on a lake with numerous clean, sandy beaches in Northern Ontario.
In June, while visiting family during a particularly hot spell, Rowan asked how people in the city ever get cool if they don't have a lake?
The idea of not having a lake at hand was a new one for her.

On a recent trip to visit family in Southern Ontario, we had a taste of the lake that people do use to cool off.
We took a trip with my mother and sister to the very familiar shores of Lake Erie at Port Dover.

This was the beach of my childhood and teen years.
Known now for its Friday the 13th Biker blowouts, Dover has long been 'the beach' for folks from our neck of the woods.

Port Dover.
My grandparents danced there when it was the 'Spring Gardens'.
My parents had special dinners at the Erie Beach Hotel (I remember playing Barbies as a child, and using the EBH as the hot spot for the barbie doll elite... you could get *gasp* shrimp cocktail there... which I had some vague notion involved a drink with shrimp in it).
My high school class ditched and went there.
And this summer, I happily took my daughter there to see a Great Lake and to enjoy some Lake Erie perch (yum!).

She loved the perch.
She marveled at the big lake tankers off shore.

She thought it was pretty cool that there are palm trees growing there (huh?).
She found a sweet ride.
But she did not like the beach itself one little bit.
It stunk. Literally.

Even so, it was a nice jaunt down memory lane as we made new memories, too! ♥

Wednesday, 15 August 2012
About this time every year I begin to turn my needles to Nativity Sets and Holy Families.

Each year we offer a limited number of Nativity Sets (8 pieces with optional sheep) and Holy Families (Mary, Joseph and Baby Jesus, 2 pieces) in Standard (4-5" tall) and Mini (3" tall).

Each set is needlefelted with clean carded wool.
This year I am hand painting/ dyeing my own wool for the figures.
These sets are meant to be played with by little hands (unlike all those tempting sets they must not touch!).
100% natural, heirloom quality.

You can read the full details HERE.
And view our gallery of past sets HERE.

Nativity Sets may be custom ordered.
We also offer a payment/ layaway plan that can be spread over 3-4 months, contact us through the Etsy Shop for details.
Holy Families are ready made and available by chance in the shop, so check back often!

Tuesday, 14 August 2012
I wonder if I'm growing
I wonder if I'm growing
My mom says yes I'm growing
But it's hard for me to see
My mom says eat your sandwich
It will make you grow up tall
But when I eat my sandwich
I'm hardly bigger at all.

And I wonder if I'm growing
I wonder if I'm growing
My mom says yes I'm growing
But it's hard for me to see
My mom says wash your hands now
Then you can go and play
Hey! I can reach the tap now
For the very first time today.
And I think I must be growing
Oh I know I'm really growing
My mom says yes I'm growing
And now I know it's true.
~Raffi, from 'Singable Songs for the Very Young' (1976)

Taking the stepstool out of the bathroom...  

That is, until they come to pass and you find yourself looking fondly at the banged up old stepstool that has been a fixture in your bathroom for the better part of 6 years.
That stool you had to shift just two inches to the left to access the hair 'pretties' in the drawer.
The one that holds the door open on a breezy day with the window open.
The place that Puppy (that beloved stuffed mutt) has perched in quiet companionship. 
The stage for endless plays and adventures for the bathtub horses.

{{What? You don't have bathtub horses? Rowan's sole bath toy for the past few years have been her collection of Schleich and other model horses... }}

I realized this summer that she doesn't need the stepstool any longer.
She can reach the taps.  
She can see in the mirror.
And if she stands on the stool, as she has since she began to toddle, she is too tall for me to do her hair.

So out it went.
I couldn't help feeling a little misty over all the times we have stood together in the bathroom.
Mama behind child, child on stool.
Before bed every night.
Getting ready for a special day.
Hair drying after a bath.
Nurturing when sick
Making silly faces, playing word games, teaching about not touching the electrical outlets, trying out hairdos, fighting over hairdos....

I never would have appreciated how much quality time was spent in those mundane daily routines if not for removing that old stool (that we have all stubbed toes on in the dark).
That stool which witnessed so much growing up and is now relegated to a corner because the child who needed it can do without it.
But the mama thinks she'll keep it around to remind her.
Friday, 10 August 2012
The first rule of Knit Club is....
Ok. So that one has been done to death.
Besides, we can talk about our club!

When a friend mentioned that a yarn shop in the city was doing knitting lessons for kids, I jumped into the breach (as is my (bad) habit) and announced "we could do our own right here in town"!
Oh yes, I did!

You could do it, too!
It is so exciting and satisfying to encourage creativity in our kids!

A date was set (2 hours on a weekday summer morning) and invitations sent out (via Facebook Events) to families we thought might be interested.  We decided to meet at the local park, under the picnic shelter.  The one rule was that parents had to stay for the duration~ we needed their hands (and if they didn't know how to do it , the kids would be lost at home).

The morning was cool and rainy, so we were grateful for the shelter.
The park was a great location as kids could take a break and play as needed.
We had 12 kids ranging from 4 - 12 years of age.
Three were boys (yay!)~ one boy stayed home because 'men don't knit' but his little brother had a blast (and the goal of knitting his mother a dress) and was proud to learn that lots of truck drivers knit!
All but one were first time knitters.

I brought along a variety of fibers and yarns and did a small introduction of the process from sheep to yarn: making stops at shearing (examining natural locks with veggie matter!), carding (passed around combed top roving), dyeing, spinning (demo with a drop spindle) and yarn types (single and three ply), resultant fabrics (examining finished items, picking out textures and changes) and fibers (we covered the gamut from plant to animal to acrylic). Making that connection between nature and knitting is an important one, even for kids who will likely be knitting with synthetic yarn!

And then, we knit!
In preparation I had made small yarn balls with some extra acrylic, one for each child, and some of the families brought along some more to share.

We started with finger knitting.
I am a big fan of the video HERE with 'Mama and Sunii' as I find the sheep and fence story engaging for young children.  I used this video several years ago with my daughter at the age of 3.5 and she was able to follow the basic steps~ don't be afraid to introduce finger knitting to toddlers with patience and guidance!

Admittedly, there was a lot of groaning and frustration when we first began.
I have worked with children for 25 years, and I have definitely seen a decrease in attention spans and in frustration tolerance. Many kids today want to get it or give up.
But we kept encouraging them and had many parental hands in the mix (even though this was new to them, too!) and almost all of the kids got the hang of it as we persisted.
I got a few notes and photos sent to me that evening that even those who did give up during the morning had it 'click' at home when they were able to focus and really get at it! {Super yay!}}
 One of our older girls really took to another style of finger knitting I demonstrated and set out to create some lovely woven work!

Our two 4/5 year olds did wear out quickly, and an able adult helped them make braided jewelry instead (and one of the kids who later 'got it' was a five year old boy!) ~ it was important that each child feel successful and have something to show for their efforts in order to help them carry on.

After a playground break, we passed out the knitting needles.
I had debated on whether to use small or large needles, and opted for large~ the length was not too much of an issue and the stitches were easier to see and work with on the big guys.
In the future, I would cast on and knit several rows for each child in advance and have experienced knitters at a 1:1 ratio.

We quickly cast on for each of the older kids (7+) and set about teaching them the knit stitch.
Knitting into the cast on edge was not easily done and in the end only our previously started knitter kept on.
The rest of the kids eagerly returned to their finger knitting and filled up the second hour with creating reams of finger knit rope!

I started hearing kids and parents talking about "when we get together next week", so we made it a date with the plan to bring along enough spool knitters and bodkins (knitting noddy, french knitting, cork knitting and other names...) for each child and give that a whirl.

How inspiring to see our kids working happily with their hands, brewing up all sorts of creative creations and feeling so proud and confident!

At the suggestion of a friend to my wondering what to do with the miles of finger knitting that is now kicking around our small town I think we need to plan a third event before summer is out...  a yarn bombing!
Creativity PLUS a little civil disobedience and graffiti sound like the perfect way to round out the summer and the kids!
Don't you agree?! ♥♥
Thursday, 9 August 2012
Yes, I make natural toys.
It's true.
And my daughter has many/mostly for very good reasons
...but we are also a little hooked on Playmobil.
(Yes, we).

The thing I detest about Playmobil (and Lego) is all of the tiny pieces... everywhere!
Especially since our 4.5 lb. Papillon dog has a penchant for chewing the little bits to bits.
And we all know the pain of stepping on one of these little pieces!

And I am something of a geek for organizational things.

I adore drawers and bins.
My dream piece of furniture is an enormous apothecary cabinet with a million little drawers.
I lust after label guns.

Bless my friend, for being the same (on the Playmobil and the storage).
Last weekend she texted me a picture of the toolbox they snagged for her sons' Playmobil bits.
(We had had a long and passionate conversation earlier in the week~
two grown women enthusing about whether the horses would blend with the dragon castle and considering if the spies could work for the police...).
As luck would have it, we were on our way to the city and made a stop to grab one, too.

Almost all of the pieces fit into the little (removable) storage cups inside this two-tiered, portable tool box.
The larger pieces (bases and so on) fit easily into one bin of our beloved Ikea 'Trofast'.
My daughter, bless her geeky heart, was as excited as me to sort her toys, and we worked eagerly side by side to re-do the whole play room for the reward of organizing the Playmobil.
Seriously. ♥♥

Ooh! Super easy and cheap...
(let that not be said about *me* however!)
Tshirt yarn is so much fun!

Earlier this week I posted my top 12 favourite tshirt recycling ideas ~ one of which was making yarn out of old tshirts.  This has been on my 'to do' list for a long time (especially since I have a heaping box of old tees awaiting new life!).

So I gathered up the larger tees~ definitely look for large and plus size ones to get the most yarn out of them.
(And stole  few of my big husband's worst looking tees from the laundry, score!).
Dyed them ('cause that's how I roll).
And made yarn.

What you'll need:
Sharp scissors
Rotary Cutter & Cutting Board (optional)

Depending on your intended project(s) you may want to avoid tees with side seams.
Most ladies fashion tees have side seams, most promotional and basic tees do not.
If your tees do have seams, there will be little bobbles of seam throughout your yarn...
fine in my case as I plan to make a rag rug.

Here are a few tutorials with instructions for cutting and finishing your yarn:
DIY Tshirt Yarn from Polkadot Pineapple
Tshirt Yarn from Let Birds Fly
Yarn from Tees at Craft Passion

Now what?
You can knit, crochet, weave, braid... you name it!
Try some of the projects I have pinned on my Tshirt Recycling Board!
  • coasters
  • placemats
  • bath mat
  • dish cloths
  • 'swiffer' duster attachment
  • bracelets
  • flowers
  • pom poms
  • scarves, oh so many scarves!
Good luck! and have fun ♥♥
I am off to find myself a great big crochet hook to make a washable rag rug for my daughter's play room!
Wednesday, 8 August 2012
We are excited to announce our first photo contest!

Enter pictures of your BTRT toys, patterns or clothing at play or in use for a chance to win a variety of prizes, including a $100 Gift Certificate to Beneath the Rowan Tree!

Click HERE for full details and get snapping!

Monday, 6 August 2012

 I am a tshirt hoarder.
Ok, not *really*.
But I do keep collecting cool tees with high hopes of engaging in some tshirt upcycling projects in my *ahem* 'free time'.

To light a fire for myself, or at least to enable YOU
{{insert evil chuckle}}which might be even more fun...
I thought I would share some of my favourite tshirt projects from my growing 'gotta try that' list
(also known as Pinterest!).
That way you can do them and tell me how they turn out!

These are my TOP ELEVEN projects to try...
(and one I have done!)

The credits for photos and text of each of these tutorials belong to their creators.
Please visit their sites~ click, create and have fun!
#1  Ring of Ruffles Skirt by lilygiggle at Craftsy
#2  Rag Tshirt Rug (I am a terrible tease, this one is just an image!) 
                            but try this tutorial....for a similar idea! 
#3  Tshirt Painter's Smock from Just Another Day in Paradise
#4  Hoop it Up from Betz White
#5  Pretty Tshirt Top from Sutton Grace
#6  DIY Tshirt Yarn from Polkadot Pineapple
#7  Bleach Pen Love Letter Tee from sewwoodsy
#8  Ruffled Leggings from a Tshirt from Inspiring You
#9  Josephine Knots from Hot Polka Dot
#10 Market Bags from More Design Please
#11 Tshirt into Nightgown from Beneath the Rowan Tree
#12 Lengthen a Tshirt from Discover. Create. Live.

I think I will start with #6 and turn it into #2.
Or maybe #8, with the scraps to #4...
Or maybe... you should share what you come up with! ♥♥
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