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Honour the Child

Blog Archive

BTRT Patterns (on Etsy)

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! ♥♥
My friend is the mother of two beautiful, bright, creative boys.
And she is a great mom (and friend).

But the other day she insulted my daughter.
Unintentionally, of course.
(this isn't about what she said, but the important issue that was raised, 
so please don't read this as a criticism of another mom... just a learning moment for us both!).

My daughter and her son were in swimming lessons together.
The kids were working on swimming the front crawl
from one end of the pool to the other.
My daughter got there 1/2 a length ahead of the 2 boys in her class.
My friend called out to her son to improve his arm movements, ending with
"No more of those girly arms!".

And that struck a nerve.

"Excuse me? He wishes he had 'girly arms'!  The girl just kicked his BUTT!"

It is so easy to throw out gender based insults for our children, and I know that it goes both ways.
This was just a perfect example of how readily we give our children
the impression that the other gender is inferior...
weaker, slower, messier, whatever....

The problem is that we communicate to them that it is undesirable to be like the other...
distracted or messy or loud like a boy....
weak or cautious or bossy like a girl....
as if those qualities were somehow connected to one's gender.

Or we use these insults to control the behaviour of our children,
to herd them into acceptable gender territory.

I doubt most of us would tell our daughter's
not to climb a tree, because it isn't ladylike.
And I hope we resist the urge
to prevent our sons from picking up and cuddling a dolly.
But when we tell a boy not to demonstrate 'girly arms' 
we are telling him that being a girl,
or like a girl is something shameful and weak.
Iggy Pop, photo snagged from 7Wonderlicious

 (And I know too well the tendency to flippantly say things like "girls rule" or "it's because he's a man that [insert negative]").

Words matter.
{{as do small things}}

I read this week that the "voice we use to speak to our children becomes their inner voice".
(And having just had my mother here for the weekend, I give that a big ol' AMEN).
I hope the voice that speaks to my daughter is one that respects all people~
one that acknowledges gender differences do exist (but do not define us)...
as gifts to one another,
rather than as weapons or walls to divide. 

I know I will be watching my words more carefully.

And now we're off to swim with our boy friends, strong and healthy together! ♥
Wednesday, 1 August 2012

Super fun button craft for summer days!
Make a bunch of button bracelets to wear and share...
*  Buttons of various sizes
*  Needle and thread (embroidery floss is ideal, use 3-4 strands) 
                       (use a blunted cross stitch needle for the under 6 crowd)
*  Elastic (in notions at the fabric store), as wide as, or narrower than your smallest button (1/4” is great)

Age: 3+
(levels of assistance will vary by age and child)
Try these with your tweens, or even a group of moms!

1) Measure and cut the elastic.
Wrap around the wrist, overlapping by about 1”.
Mark (pen) the overlap on the bottom piece, cut the elastic at this point (see picture).
2) Choose your Buttons.
Lay out the elastic, choose buttons for the length (leave the tail beyond the pen mark without buttons).
Be creative! Stack and mix and match.
Do not leave any spaces between buttons.

3) Stitch the bracelet together, overlapping as when you cut.
4) Begin stitching on buttons.
For the most secure finish, when stacking, sew down each button on its own and then run the thread through the stack if possible.
So easy and so cute!

I have gotten so many compliments on my rainbow button bracelet from other adults...

Make 'em, share 'em, and please give credit to Beneath the Rowan Tree.
Photos and Text ©Beneath the Rowan Tree, 2012.
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