Friday, 27 November 2009

More BBM!

To help keep things organised I've listed most yarn on Folksy.

I've also been selling some hairclips and there's more still to be listed.

I also had a play with Woad dyeing and listed two skeins at a bargain price of £6.50 posted.

Woad produces glorious shades of blue and both skeins are semi-solids. I did one skein of aran and one sock yarn.

Maternity leave is going well. Erin is getting into babywearing!!!

Orla on the other hand is enjoying eating parrots

Speaking of parrots, I dyed this yarn quite some time ago for The Soaring Sheep and it was snapped up.

Monday, 16 November 2009

Buy British Month

Well it's that time of year again; Buy British Month on Cloth Nappy Addicts. For anyone who doesn't know, it's a month filled with super products, bargains and one-off items from British Work at Home Mums.

This year I've mainly focussed on hand-dyed yarn & clothing, though I'm hoping to add some jewellery before the end too.

My first item was this appliqued top and yarn. I dyed the yarn and have to admit it was a bit of an experiment. I dyed it in the slow cooker by pouring 4 colours of dye into each corner of the slow cooker and allowing it to mix as it wished. I then spotted the fabric while shopping and thought it matched perfectly.

I've also added lots of hand-dyed yarn.

I also added this gorgeous set; an appliqued top, a skirt, bag with pocket in matching fabric and matching large hairclip. I decided to sell this by auction.

Coming up in the rest of the month, I'm hoping to have more yarn, more clothing, some jewellery and I'd like to make something with these two pieces of bamboo velour:

These were dyed with procion mx dyes using the low water immersion (LWI) technique.

Thursday, 1 October 2009

My 'Not Quite To Plan' Lotus Birth

I planned to give birth at home, using a birth pool for pain relief. I wanted things as natural as possible, but mostly I wanted a birth that I would have happy memories of and I hoped to avoid postnatal depression this time.

My due date was August 4th but it came and went with no sign of anything happening, not that I expected any signs though as I'd had none with Erin until my waters broke. My mother-in-law's birthday on the 6th passed. Then on the 7th August, my mum's birthday, I started getting some pains at about 8.30pm. I thought maybe they were just Braxton Hicks as I'd been taking raspberry leaf tablets for quite a few weeks. From about 9pm though they became regular, every 10 minutes, though still not painful. At about 10.15pm my husband Alan phoned the midwife to let her know what was happening and to say he was filling the pool, just in case it was to suddenly go very quickly like my first birth.

I went upstairs about 11pm and felt two much bigger contractions about a minute apart. At this point I think I panicked it was going to be very quick again and we called the midwife, who said she'd make her way over. I then started to worry I'd called too early, Erin woke up and wouldn't go back to sleep so by the time Michelle (the midwife) arrived my contractions had pretty much stopped.

Alan started topping the pool up (he'd made it too cool) with Erin laughing at him and shouting "come back here little piggy" everytime he bailed some water out. I sat on my birth ball, Michelle dimmed the lights and Alan took Erin back upstairs. The contractions started to return though not regular. Erin eventually went back to sleep at 1am.

Alan helped me with the contractions by pressing on my lower back while I leaned on the side of the pool. Eventually I decided to get in the pool as the contractiosn were getting stronger. My contractions were a mixture of small ones that I hardly felt and huge ones that were hard to cope with. I was being sick and starting to feel I couldn't cope. Michelle offered to do an exam to see how far along I was and I agreed.

It wasn't good news, I was only 1-2cm dilated and Michelle said I was most likely having a back-to-back labour. I was really upset and I think deep down I knew I wouldn't get my homebirth. We discussed the options, but at only 2cm the only pain relief I would have at hospital would be gas & air (I wouldn't have accepted pethidine because of it's effect on Erin). So I decided I was staying put and struggled on. We tried a technique to try and help baby turn but it didn't make any difference.

Eventually I got out of the pool. I was exausted, couldn't keep anything down, not even tiny sips of water. I lay on the couch with towels under me and over me. I was being sick with contractions, which were sporadic. I tried to sleep but didn;t really manage it. About 3 hours after my last exam, Michelle offered to do another as I was saying I couldn't cope any more. I was only just 3cm. I decided then to transfer in to hospital. Alan called some friends of ours and asked if there was any chance they could look after Erin, luckily they said yes! About an hour or so later they picked her up and then I got dressed between contractions to go to hospital. Alan drove me and Michelle followed in her car. In the car I cried, I hadn't wanted to go to hospital, I hadn't wanted an epidural, I was scared and I just saw all my plans going out the window. When we walked through the doors to delivery suite at 9am, I felt tears rolling down my face again. Luckily the midwife that had been assigned to me was lovely. She did a vaginal exam too and I was still only 3cm. They didn't want to give me an epidural as there's more risk having one before you reach 4 cm, though she said I could have pethidine. She took me to a delivery room so I could have gas & air while we discussed options.

As it happens once I was lying down so I could suck the gas & air without feeling dizzy, I found it was pretty effective so I decided to give it a go with that for a while. I had support throughout from Alan and Michelle, Michelle would take over pressing on my back when Alan went to the loo. 3 hours later though and I was asking for an epidural! Luckily I was now 4cm dilated. At this point I was told that if the epidural slowed my labour down and they needed to give me a drip to speed it up that a lotus birth would be out, they'd have to cut the cord.

I got that at 12.30pm and it started to work about 30-45 mins later. I could still feel each contraction, just not quite as strong. I still needed to gas & air though. It gave Alan and Michelle chance to get lunch and try to get a bit of sleep. At about 3.20pm the (nhs) midwife came to check on me. I felt like I was leaking so she had a look and thought my waters had gone. She asked how I was coping and I said I'd like the epidural topped-up. She asked if I would like an exam to see how far along I was and whether I felt it was really needed so I agreed. She confirmed my waters had gone, I was 8cm and baby was halfway turned. She thought the baby would be born by about 6pm.

Just as I was about to say that in that case I'd like the epidural topped up I got two huge contractions. She decided we were probably too close to the birth to have a top-up. I had to start sucking away on the gas & air as the contractions were coming much stronger and closer together. Michelle, who was wandering past the room having had a break, heard me sucking away like darth vader! She came in and the nhs midwife started telling her the progress. At that though I needed to push. They both had a look and told me not to push because the baby was coming out really well on it's own. I sucked away on the gas & air so I didn;t push and it was amazing, I could feel my body 'pushing' her out. It was a really intense feeling and one I never had with Erin. Orla was born at 3.59pm, less than half an hour after the exam where she was only halfway turned.

We then waited about 50 mins for the placenta. The midwives suggested I try giving it a little push as they were pretty certain it would have detached. It had and soon came out.

Alan held Orla while Michelle washed the placenta. It was wrapped in terry squares and then in a hospital bag as we'd forgotten to bring our placenta bag (Oops!). The nhs midwife was interested to know more about it and I thought that was lovely of her to show such interest in it.

Once the epidural had worn off, I was able to have a bath and then be discharged. We were home just before midnight that same day.

Although my birth didn't go quite to plan I felt in control and supported throughout. It was an infinitely better experience than my first birth even though it was a harder labour.

It was interesting to see the changes in the cord over the next few days. Each day we washed the placenta and wrapped it in clean, dry terry squares. It was quite a warm time of year and we felt the bag was starting to get a bit smelly so we washed it. While it was washing & drying we had to put the placenta into a plastic bag which made it smell more. We also found that Erin (2) didn't fully understand that she had to be careful with it and kept wanting to push it away so she could get closer to baby so on day 4/5 we cut the cord. As it happens it fell off the next day anyway.

Here's some pictures!

Cord on Day 2:

Orla's placenta:

Orla with the placenta in it's bag:

Orla attached to the placenta:

I don't know if it made any difference to Orla and I don't think we ever will but we enjoyed it and it was special.

We did learn a few things from it so would probably manage better if we did it again! We would know that it's easiest to lay baby on a changing mat and wash the placenta in a bowl next to her rather than try to struggle holding a baby and wash a placenta at the sink. We'd definitely have more than one placenta bag and to put one in the 'transfer to hospital' bag.

More than 7 weeks on and there's no signs of my postnatal depression coming back.

Why I Chose To Lotus Birth

When I found out I was pregnant with my first baby, I did a fair amount of reading about pregnancy and birth. I knew there were many choices available to me, from where to birth my baby to pain relief options. I chose to give birth in hospital for the reason many first time mums do; I wasn't sure what labour would feel like, how I'd cope with it and it seemed like the safe place to be.

Throughout my pregnancy I'd happily gone along with all the routine tests. My birth plan consisted of a few simple requests like my husband is to cut the cord. As far as pain relief went I was happy to go with the flow and see what I felt like at the time.

Pretty much everything I'd read and been told suggested the average first labour is 12 hours so I'd prepared myself for that. When I did actually go into labour (2 hours after my waters broke) the contractions were full on. Unfortunately the midwives kept telling me I'd have 12 hours of it, refused pain relief until they realised I wasn't going to stop shouting until I got it. Then they gave it with no internal exam. I was treated throughout at as over-reacting first timer. Well you can imagine everyone's surprise when I gave birth 2 hours 20 mins after labour starting. Unfortunately it meant Erin was very sleepy from the pethidine I'd been given at the wrong time of labour. Because of the attitude of the midwife I refused to have my tear stitched as I didn't trust her.

I ended up with a baby too sleepy to breastfeed, weeks of pain with my tear and my back (I managed to knock my coccyx out of place giving birth) and months of postnatal depression.

As you can imagine I didn't want to repeat this with my second pregnancy. When I found out I was pregnant I started going along to Choices In Childbirth meetings to find out more about birth and also for some support while I planned a homebirth.

It was at one of these meetings that I was given a back issue of The Mother, in which I read a story about Lotus Birth; where the umbilical cord is not cut and the placenta is left attached until the cord falls off of it's own accord.

I decided as soon as I read the article that I wanted to lotus birth. Whilst I liked the spritual side of it, my main reason was wanting control over the birth.

We then had a couple of problems with the NHS. They weren't happy I refused to see a consultant because "postnatal depression" is on one of their tick-boxes for 'refer to consultant'. I refused the booking-in blood tests because they had most of the information from my last pregnancy; the midwife couldn't seem to understand why I wouldn't just have it done "like everyone else".

So I decided to use my maternity allowance and pay for an independent midwife. By this time I'd grown attached to the idea of a lotus birth and the spiritual side of it had really began to sink in, so we decided to continue with it.

Sunday, 26 July 2009

Yarn Dyeing

So I thought I'd do a post showing the stages of my dyeing. Not one to do things by halves, I dyed a kilo of yarn yesterday evening in my small-ish kitchen with a toddler occasionally interrupting!

First step was to plan out what yarn I would dye. I decided that to save me having labels everywhere I would only use BFL and do the organic merino another day. So I worked out how much I could dye with 3 stock pots and a couple of microwave tubs and planned the colours & dyes. This resulted in me having 300g Aran, 200g DK and 100g Sock yarn to soak for procion dyeing as well as 200g Sock and 200g DK yarn for Kool Aid dyeing.

The yarn for Kool Aid dyeing needs to soak in water for about an hour. I always use lukewarm water. The yarn for procion dyeing I soaked in lukewarm water with 25g salt and 100ml of vinegar added per 100g of yarn. To keep things organised I used the balck buckets for the procion soaking and grey washing up bowls (kept for dyeing!) for the kool aid stuff.

While the yarn was soaking we were treated to some Baby Ballet

Then the dyeing started.

The stock pots were roughly half filled with lukewarm water and sat on the hob waiting for the dyes & yarn.

First up was some sock yarn being procion dyed. So I started by adding some pink dye to the water then adding the yarn and heating the pan until just below the boil (i.e. water shouldn't be bubbling). As it was 'cooking' I sprinkled more dye powder at roughly 5 minute intervals to create darker patches on the yarn.

I did a similar thing with the sock yarn being dyed with Kool Aid. I started with a couple of packs of lemonade in the stock pot to create a pale yellow base colour. I added the 2 skeins of sock yarn so that each was laying in one half of the stock pot. I made up a packet of Orange Kool Aid by adding 250ml of lukewarm water and poured it into the centre of the stock pot about 5 mins after the water had heated up. About 5 mins later I made up a packet of Mango and poured this in a circle around the edge of the stock pot.

In the third stock pot I dip dyed some BFL DK using Grape Kool Aid. I started off with one packet dissolved in the stock pot. and hung one end of the skein over a wooden spoon. Every 5 minutes or so I lifted a bit more out of the dye bath and added an extra packet of Kool Aid (made up with water) to the dye bath. This did take some balancing of wooden spoons!

For all of these I then keep the yarn just below bubbling for about 30 minutes to set the dyes in. They are then left overnight to cool.

I then moved on to the dyeing using the microwave to fix the dyes. I started off with Kool Aid dyeing. This is me making up the solutions of Kool Aid.

I didn't photograph the rest of the Kool Aid dyeing as it's pretty much the same as for the procion dyeing!

Here's the made up procion dyes:

I make them up in old drinks bottles as it's easy to mix it by shaking well and easy to squirt it onto the yarn where you want it. As you can see I've already put 2 strips of cling film over the kitchen table ready for the yarn.

I lift the yarn out of the bucket and squeeze gently to remove the excess water. The yarn should be wet but not dripping everywhere! I then lay it out on the cling film.

I then squirt the dye where I want it on the yarn.

I do each colour in turn and take care at the ends of the skeins to make sure all the ayrn is covered with dye. As I pull the cling film over the yarn I gently press the dye into the fibres to make sure they're all covered. I tend to do this through the cling film just so my gloves don't get covered in dye as I can guarantee I won't have got some water ready to wash them!

Once the yarn is wrapped in cling film I put the whole lot in a microwavable tub. This goes in the microwave for about 5 minutes though I try to check on it every minute or so. The yarn should get hot & steamy but shouldn't dry out.

Again this is then left overnight to cool. If I run out of tubs I do tend to tip the hot one onto a tub lid and use the tub again for the next lot of yarn.

In the morning when it's all cooled, I rinse it in lukewarm water and then hang to dry. I'm always impressed & amazed that there's no colour left in the dye baths (the dye has been exhausted).

Typical British weather though; it was gorgeous and hot yesterday when I started the dyeing but today when I want to dry my yarn it's raining! So onto the airer it is!

Thursday, 9 July 2009

Longies & hand dyed yarn

Well first off a big thank you to my mum who knit some longies from the hand dyed yarn in my previous post. I'm sure the new baby (due August!) will look gorgeous in them.

I'm really pleased with how the yarn has knit up. It looks a lot more rose coloured in real life!

I did a huge lot of yarn dyeing on Sunday. Of course the weather decided to go from hot, hot, hot to dull & wet as soon as I needed to dry the yarn! Got it dry eventually though.

Some of the colours were unexpected and some were experimental.

One skein was dyed for the dye-along competition on Ravelry's I'd Dye For Britain Group using procion dyes. I made standard strengths of royal blue and scarlet red. Then I mixed from these to get three solutions as follows:
1) 1 part red, 3 parts blue
2) 2 parts red, 2 parts blue
3) 3 parts red, 1 part blue

Then I put the first solution over one end of the skein, the third solution over the other end and the second solution over the middle sections. This resulted in the following:

Here it is reskeined:

Reskeining makes such a difference to the colours and I've gone from looking at a yarn thinking "Not sure about those colours" to going "Wow, that's the sort of colour yarn I'd buy" just by reskeining. So, here's some of the yarn I've reskeined:

Tuesday, 23 June 2009

Dyeing & Reskeining

Well I did some more dyeing the other day. There was a competition thread on Ravelry and the theme was dip dyeing so I thought I'd give it a go.

I used three tubs each with different amounts of Black Cherry Kool Aid, then dipped roughly a third of the skein of wool in each (after soaking it). I let the colours work up the sections in between the tubs. It was then covered and microwaved to set the colours and left overnight to cool. Here's the result

After much debate I decided to go ahead and buy a niddy noddy so that I can reskein my dyed yarn. I was tempted to wait until Woolfest but curiosity got the better of me!

I got one of these beautiful ones (a large) from Michael Williams, who was very obliging and let my husband call at his house on a Sunday to get it.

So after reskeining, my dip-dyed yarn looks like this:

So the plan now is to reskein all the yarn I've dyed so far.

I also really, really need to do some more dyeing cos it's just soooo much fun. I did buy a second stock pot (i.e. now have 2 for dyeing in) but this one also has a steamer section in it so lots of experimenting to do. Am itching to find out what effect I'll get if I do one skein in a dye bath in the bottom of the pot and one skein steamed in the top if I do a base colour in the dye bath and then pour colours over the top skein and let them drip into the bottom.

Tuesday, 2 June 2009

Thought it was about time to update this!

Well I'm now 31 weeks pregnant (where did the time go????) and have my birth pool. Everything's looking good so far for a homebirth.

Am getting things ready for the new baby and, after ordering two and loving them, I'll be stocking Itti Bitti D'Lish nappies soon - hopefully they'll be here early next week.

Have also been doing some fabric painting & dying (no pics yet but will get some soon). Meanwhile I've also been trying out some yarn dying. Found a fab place to get undyed yarn that's just down the road. Anyway here's the results!