Wooly Bully: Watch it Now, Watch It!

It’s Fiber Friday again, and as I promised, I am about to send you down rabbit holes aplenty and I guarantee you will never change a cloth diaper again because you will be too busy clicking around the fabulous sites for eco-minded moms.

If you are new to cloth diapering in general Green Mountain Diapers is an easy site to navigate and is written in a welcoming way.  They are very good at making you feel that you can easily manage this whole cloth diapering thing.  While they are an on-line store carrying a huge variety of diapering supplies, they also offer simple, clear help for all aspects of using cloth.  Best of all, they understand real world problems like the difference between breastfeeding poop and solid food poop.  Did I mention practicality?  Amen.

By the way, they aren’t giving me any kickbacks, though I wouldn’t mind some free samples.  Ya hear me out there??  Check out their FAQ section, and also look for the link to the lanolizing video.

Another site that is full of great info plus excellent reviews of the various products is diaper pin.  If you just don’t know which kind of diapers to buy, check out the review section.  They also have many helpful tips and simple instructions for laundering all kinds of cloth and covers.

If you are frugal like me, check out Diaper Swappers.  They have bunches of forums for buying, selling, or trading all things to do with cloth, and some things that don’t.  They even sometimes run group buys so you can get your hands on yummy wool yarn for cheap.  Just hang out and click around for a while, and you’ll start to understand how the whole things works.  Or maybe you are not like me, and you already understand the Internets.  Bully for you.

And now, ladies and gentlemen, the moment you’ve all been waiting for.  The knitty gritty:  wool links.

For those of you who are new to wool and have questions, or who are seasoned veterans and have experience to share, the wool soaker group on Yahoo! is a great resource, not to mention a fun place to hang with other cloth-diapering moms.  One thing, though: it will make you joyfully squander most of the attention you used to give to your home and children.  And if you start to see women from the group* in the news and you tell someone, “Hey, that’s a friend of mine!” it might be time to expand your horizons.

If you want to make your own recycled sweater longies, here and here are two free patterns with great photos to guide you.  I prefer the style of the DIY one (the second link), because the thighs are more roomy.  They are so simple to make.

If you are not a seamstress or crafty person, recycled longies and knitted ones from WAHMs (Work at Home Moms, if you are new to the acronym world) can be found used on the Diaper Swappers site or new on Etsy.  You can search by title and tags on etsy, which means you can narrow your search by things like color, which is pretty cool.  You can look for items made from recycled fabric from sweaters, or hand knit longies and soakers.  You could search for say, longies heart.  And you might come up with something adorable like this (yes, I am shameless).  Support handmade, be kind to the planet, and get some groovy gear for your favorite babe.

If you still haven’t gone to bed even though it’s two in the morning, here are a few more fun links to keep you going until the baby wakes up in a couple of hours.  They are in no particular order, and simply add to the basic information you now have in your arsenal.  Have fun, and don’t forget to eat.

An eBay guide for Wool Diaper Covers (take or leave the ‘scientific’ info on antibacterialism and self-cleansing; it doesn’t detract from the value of the article)

The Diaper Hyena on wool (includes some purchasing links)

Tiny Birds Organics wool (I LOVE her stuff – so adorable.  And I know from experience that the wool fabric she uses is the softest stuff around.  She offers many different products, but also has great info)

A couple of final notes:  a wool cover is great, but is really only as good as the diaper underneath.  If you have a heavy wetter, you will need to boost the absorbency of your diapers with a doubler, or use a more absorbent diaper to start with.  Sometimes compression wicking can occur when your baby is wet and the wool cover is pressed tightly to the diaper (think tight car seat straps or baby pressed against you in a sling or carrier).  Generally this just means that the cover will feel damp and any clothing over it can get damp.  If your baby is wearing wool as clothing and cover, I find that this dampness evaporates fairly quickly once the baby is out in the open air.  Just prepare for this possibility by putting a layer between you and the baby in a front carrier or having an extra absorbent diaper on him.

To felt or not to felt:  felting is the process of matting the wool fibers together and making a tougher, thicker fabric.  It also shrinks the fabric (you remember that cute sweater you accidentally washed on hot water?  now it’s felted).  For an extremely heavy wetter, sometimes a felted cover is the best option, but the wool loses its stretch when felted, so the fabric will feel stiffer and be less flexible.  One alternative to felting is using a double layer of wool, an extra wool soaker sewn into the crotch, or only felting slightly.  I can often get just enough extra thickness to the wool but still maintain its flexibility by keeping an eye on it while I machine wash it in hot water.  I remove it when I am happy with the thickness.  Of course, this should be done before you cut your pattern.  Shrinkage and all.

Thank you for joining me for another exciting episode of Fiber Friday.  I have no idea what our topic will be for next week.  Hope you like surprises!

*Emma Kwasnica (whose name I became familiar with from the wool soaker group) was photographed tandem nursing her two wee ones, and Facebook subsequently deleted her account, ostensibly because of those photos.  The whole story and a letter from her can be read here.

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