I was doing so great at finishing up projects, new and old, until we got a puppy, in April. Suddenly, my great run of machine knitting ended as I couldn't go down there for more than a few minutes. Puppy couldn't come into the TV room either unless directly supervised and it's hard to knit while stopping a puppy from eating everything. But, he's calming down, and has a pretty predictable routine, so I'm getting back on track too.
Back at the May meeting of my local handknitting guild, someone was showing a baby outfit, and someone else mentioned that new moms today probably don't even know what a soaker is. I suppose I'm not a 'new' mom, but I didn't get the chance to insert my experience in the conversation. I haven't really written much about soakers here either, so I thought I'd do a post.
I'm not sure when I first learned about wool soakers. I had old knitting books, with baby "panties" and "soakers", but they went up to a 12 month size only. When Huey was born (he turned 10 last week!!), I looked into cloth diapers ("CD"), but we couldn't put out the money for the start up cost. And yes, I'm still kicking myself about that. I don't think I knew about soakers then though. When Meg was turning 2 (Nov 2007), I decided to ask on Freecycle for some cloth diapers and that was really the start of a new friendship with someone I had met in a parenting group but then connected with on Freecycle. Hi Sarah!! She told me that it was super easy to sew diapers. Oh my. She didn't tell me that it was addicting too. It's a whole new world of sewing. Specialty fabrics, notions, techniques...I'm not the best sewer (I'm impatient and don't always care about little details like matching thread), but I threw myself into it. I joined a Yahoo CD sewing group. There, many moms used "PUL covers" (like plastic pants, but it's a clear film bonded to fabric, often really cool, themed/licensed fabric). That's what I started with. Many moms though, were hooked on wool covers. Now, I'm a knitter, LOL, and knit socks, and know the many benefits of wool. But a wool diaper cover? I just couldn't quite get into it.
Eventually though, I wasn't impressed with PUL, esp. for at night. Many moms told me I HAD to try wool, esp. since I could knit. But instead, I got some old sweaters and tried sewn wool covers. I couldn't get the fit right for Meg--I think because she was already bigger than most patterns out there!
Finally, I decided to get some Peace Fleece wool as it was recommended and I could get it locally. I also had some plain blue yarn that seemed to be wool. I opted to do these longies (wool diaper covers that double as pants) on the knitting machine, and although they took awhile to get the sizing right, it was still fast. They were made in two pieces, with a seam at the center front and center bum. I added short rows to allow room for the diaper and bring the back rise up to prevent diaper crack, LOL.Rob thinks the striped longies look like hockey pants!
(Unfortunately, these longies had an accident--I was at my parents and they needed to be lanolized. To dry them faster I hung them over/next to the woodstove after a fire had been put out. The stove itself was pretty cool, but the metal trim stayed hot and burned the pants. I unravelled the leg to the burn spot, and re-knit using the rest of the yarn after cutting off the burned section. Then I unravelled the other leg to match the new shorter one).I had some yarn left over, so I tried the Curly Purly handknit soaker pattern. I wasn't thrilled with the fit, again cause Meg was bigger than the pattern (and built differently). Then I handknit the "Spare Ribs Shoaker" (not a typo) pattern, which caused a bit of headache to enlarge it. I liked that one, but the yarn I used felted very easily, so the benefit of the ribbing was lost. After that, I stuck to refining a machine knit longie.This bright orange one was Briggs & Little wool which we dyed orange. I think that was one whole skein of either Heritage or Regal. It faded quite a bit, but we still use it. I think I showed pictures before of a dusty rose longie I made, with cables up the sides, also in B&L. It's not the softest wool, but it's very affordable, esp. when bought at the Kitchener-Waterloo Knitter's Fair.I decided to 'splurge' again on two skeins of Peace Fleece. I did them on the machine, but did hand manipulated ribbing up the center front/back. I love Peace Fleece so much, I splurged and bought some to make me a sweater!This pair is one skein of Lionbrand Fisherman's Wool, dyed with Kool Aid and Wilton's icing dyes. The rise looks really long, but over a nighttime diaper, it's actually not too high. Because of Meg's belly shape, everything tends to slip down really low, unless made extra tall. Plus, she often doesn't wear 'real' pajamas, so the longer body here helps for warmth. They come down to just above her knees.
During all this knitting, I realized, a few pairs back, that I could knit them in one piece. I could put the seam up the center front, or the center back (along with leg seams on the inside). I decided to do the seam at the center front for two reasons. This allowed me to work short rows across the back side, and not have to try to remember what I did on one side to match the second side. I could work back and forth across the entire backside. Also, I could leave the casing open at the center front to tie a drawstring.
I didn't get the crotch gusset quite like a handknit longie, but it's still good. Tomorrow, I'll post more details on how I actually made the one piece longies. It won't be an actual 'pattern' as I'm sure there's not many people out there that need a pattern for a 63lb 4 year old's longies, LOL, but it'll be a recipe instead.
One other piece of the puzzle that 'new' moms know about that 'older' moms don't, is lanolizing. None of my old patterns mention it at all. This is probably for a couple reasons. Moms probably had more soakers than we use so they were in less rotation, and they probably got washed more frequently. The wool also was less processed and probably had more lanolin left in it. As well, diapers were changed very frequently, instead of the 'how long can we get' mentality that disposables have created. Lanolizing though, is the little secret that make wool soakers the ideal night time diaper cover!