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10 January 2011

This grandmothering business is a fine thing

The rain fell all day and the longer it poured and the louder the thunder sounded, the safer and cosier I felt.  I was doing grandma things - I was sewing for the babies.  A lot of people have emailed worried about Hanno and I.  We are safe and sound, thank you.  We aren't where the main floods are but we've had two days now of torrential rain, on top of the almost continuos rain since Christmas - the ground is sodden, and the rain continues.  In December we had 700 mm|28 inches of rain, since new year another 200mm|8 inches and probably another few inches overnight.  When I walked out to check the creek late yesterday afternoon, I was in ankle deep water in the back yard.  The creek had reached our steps yesterday morning and it rose further during the day.  We're pretty sure it won't flood, even though it's  four times wider than it usually is and the water is rushing along it.  We're currently in the middle of a super cell that started about 3pm yesterday, so the rain is heavier than normal, but still, we're okay. 

Inside everything was dry and cosy and I started working on being a grandma.  I got out the small amount of fabric I have for the babies and started looking for patterns.  During the afternoon, I made a light receiving blanket, a fleece blanket, some wipe cloths, a pair of pyjamas pants - mainly to test out the pattern, and I finished a bamboo and cotton hat.  It will be just the thing for Kerry and Sunny's baby boy, due late March, at the end of summer.  I'm now knitting another bamboo hat that is about half way there.

It's a long time ago now but the photo below is of Kerry and Shane when they were about 4 and 5 years old, they're now 29 and 30 and getting ready to have their own babies.  They were born in July, just one year apart, and now their own babies will be born close as well.  It's heartwarming work to be making little bits and pieces for them and as I work away in my little room here, I'm thankful they have wonderful wives who will make the best mothers.

I haven't had any luck with my call to barter nappies|diapers for a year's free advertising on the blog so I'm going to concentrate on making prefolds with bamboo and cotton or hemp and cotton fabric.  If you're a young mum and have already gone along this route, can you share your information with me.  I'd like to build up a resource here for new babies so whatever you can give me, and whatever links you can share, will be appreciated. I'm interested in sewing and knitting tutorials as well as how to care for the nappies|diapers.  I'm thinking that prefolds would be excellent for everyday wear with a few fitted nappies|diapers to have on hand when going out.  Does that sound sensible?  When my sons were babies, I used terry squares and plastic pants, so I'm familiar with the concept of cloth nappies but need to sharpen up my skills so I do it well.

This grandmothering business is a fine thing, even the anticipation of it is sublime.  I think I'm going to like it a lot.

And finally, on the weekend there was an excellent post over at my other blog - the Simple Green Frugal Co-op.  One hundred ways to save money in 2011 was written by Notes from the Frugal Trenches; it is the second part of a two part post.  Anyone who is saving, or trying to save, should take the time to read both posts.

PS: I had a few requests for a Down to Earth button that some readers wanted for their own blogs.  I've finally made one and it's one the left column.  Please feel free to use it if you wish.


  1. OH, more than one grandbaby is a fine thing, indeed :) :) I'm glad you are enjoying preparing for your grandmother role ;) :) You 'll do an excellent job :) :) Thanks for the link to your other blog and that other one, too...I joined your other flag and have bookmarked the second one, so I can read the article later today. You are such a wonderful resource of information and living it out on a practical day to day basis!!1 Thanks, Rhonda!! Love and hugs to you and your family, Heather :)

  2. Grandkids keep me going! These kiddos tell everyone "oh, don't worry, my nana will fix it (or make me one)". And, I course, love it. I've been busy sewing costumes lately and it warms my heart when they put them on and won't take them off.
    Hopefully, all your rain will dry up soon and the sun will shine again.

  3. A lot of new mums I know, including my daughter with twins, use knitted wool 'soakers'..little pants that go over the nappy, like the plastic pilchers we used with out babies, Rhonda, except this newer version are made from wool, which is absorbent and warm, but doesn't stew like plastic. They're especially good at nighttime.

    There's lots of free patterns if you google 'soakers'.

    We're in for more rain, so enjoy your indoor time preparing for and daydreaming about new babes.

  4. Lovely soft baby items you are making Rhonda. I contacted Glodina (leading cloth nappy co here in South Africa) to see if they'd take up your advertising offer--but no reply yet. It is Summer holidays here, and they may be "on leave" still. Will follow up with them this week. Were 'nappy liners' available when your boys were small? They come in both biodegradable disposable or washable fleece (you could make the latter). Keep baby's skin dry and esp useful for solid waste disposal. I used to get 2-3 machine washes out of the 'disposable liners' even. We'd put one on each Glodina terry cloth nappy that we'd pre-fold to be ready when needed (stacked neatly in hanging nappy carrier). Also used plastic pants over them like you. The Snappi fastener in the front was a quick way to secure nappy -- esp when mom/dad sleepy to avoid accidently poking with a nappy pin. Check out: and for nappy liners: and and Kingdom and and

  5. gosh, being fairly new to this blog, I look forward to checking out your other one. Thrilled for you to have a grandbaby on the way. Hope to have one of those myself one of these days, so I'll be paying close attention!

  6. I know many people do like prefolds. Personally, I don't like them for young babies because the poop is so runny if they're exclusively breastfed. A fitted diaper with elastic at the leg openings contains it so much better. Our family uses Fuzzi Bunz and Bum Genius, but there are patterns for similar type pocket diapers available online that you could make yourself if interested.

    I think it's wonderful that you are making all these things for the grandbabies! Your sons and DILs are very blessed to have you as their mother/MIL.

  7. What a happy year you have ahead .. looks like you're off to an amazing start with baby gift items.

  8. Lovely little baby items Rhonda; nothing nicer than making things with loving hands and hearts for our precious grandbabies!
    Nanette mentioned the wool soakers - my one year old grandson has been in these from birth with washable nappies. My daughter bought some but made some also - she got 100% wool jumpers from op shop & pre-shrunk them before making.
    Good luck with the nappies !

  9. dear Rhonda

    so excited for you with pending bubs. your family is blessed with having you and all the support , love and wisdom you can pass on. a book that i found in the abc bookshop was my bible for starting to use cloth nappies, called "Sustainable Baby" by Debbie Hodgson, ABC books. It has all the arguements of using cloth vs disposables, extensive information on different types of modern cloth nappies, terry folding tips, care of nappies and also instructions on making own fitted nappies. It also has other tips on how to try to cut down on baby/child consumerism and also on food, cleaning and toys.

    I am not a sewer or had the time so in theend purchased cloth nappies on line. There are heaps of sites. I woyld hav to say the best nappies I have found is baby beehinds, from Brisbane. They can also be found online.

    Happy sewing

    Jill x

  10. Hello everyone and thank you.

    Nanette and Jeni, I've got some pure wool old jumpers here ready for felting. I just need to read more information and see how other women are doing these things. I'll get the hang of it soon.

    Becca, the liners were just coming in then. They were like a disposable dishcloth so I didn't use them. Even then I didn't like the disposables. I love those snappis. I think I can buy them on ebay. Thanks for the links.

    Cat, that is just the sort of info I need - what works at different stages. Thanks for the recommendations.

    Jill thank you for the Sustainable Baby recommendation, I think I've heard of that book. I'll look for it at the library and might buy a copy for the parents x 2.

  11. I am on the same mission as you for my little one on the way! Here is the pattern I have been using for prefolds:

    and her is another site with tons of info for wipes, and recipes for them.

    They know have diaper covers that are made with thin flannel, and PUL. I have been making them for my daughter, and you can have them in any pattern you choose! Very cute, and there are free patterns every where. Good luck, you will be busy! Congrats

  12. Rhonda, I would definitely recommend that you get in touch with a local nappy network. I've been involved in running the one in our region and when we show mums our demo collection, we tell them about all sorts of things. There are so many factors that help you decide the best type of nappy.

    Feeding: breast-fed or formula. Bf poo is runny so prefolds aren't the best for that.

    Material: is drying the most important factor or is green-ness or natural-ness more important to the mums-to-be? Hemp and bamboo are greenest and v. absorbent but take longest to dry.
    Microfibre is man-made but dries SO very quickly.

    Convenience - the new all-in-ones or pockets are SO, SO easy to use compared to two part systems. Yes, folding a terry or nappi-nippa-ing a shaped terry isn't such an effort but grabbing a nappy that is ready to go can make life just that bit more manageable for a new mum (or dad or child-minder or reluctant granny).

    Skin problems - microfibre or fleece can irritate some babies with eczema.

    Laundering - use the least powder possible (a third of manufacturer's recommended). Build-up of soap is biggest cause of stinky terries. No need to soak with modern washing machines. Just put nappies in a bucket with a lid until you have enough to wash. Throw them in with your towels, in fact.

    Oh, I could go on and on but this is already rambly.

    Really, get in touch with a local nappy network (or tell you daughter-in-laws to do this) and a volunteer mum will come and meet them with a demo collection to show them styles, fabrics, liners, pockets, wraps etc etc. It really is the best way to make sure they start off with teh right "system". Too many people purchase large prefold systems (Bambino Mio or Cotton Bottoms for example) and give up because of a poor success rate and that is so frustrating.

    Really sorry to have gone on so much. Too tired - should have done this tomorrow.

    Karen (Scotland)

  13. Hi, Rhonda!
    If you're going to make diapers, there are several forums out there with lists and lists of tutorials, and suppliers, and comments that are very helpful.
    Two of my favorite are and
    You'll have to find your way to the forum on both of those sites, but there is a lot of info.
    Have fun!
    ~Melanie in Canada

  14. Hi Rhonda, lovely post it made me smile. Isn't the rain amazing? Even down here we have had oodles of it though not the storm cells you people are experiencing.

  15. Our first baby will arrive sometimes in May, and I've been reading a lot about cloth diapers. I like the idea of flats and prefolds for the simpleness and versatility of the cloth. I've found tons of info here:,and a nice pattern for fitted diapers here: and a pattern for knitted soaker here:

    I'm also looking at renting for the newborn, and buying for when baby gets a tad bigger. Seems like a newborns smallness and unknowable size are the big issues in diapering.

    Anyhoo, hope this helps and isn't too much info!

  16. Lynda, Melanie and Rachael, thank you all for your links. I'll be reading them all this afternoon.

    Hi Rose!

    Happy Mama, thank you so much for taking the time to comment. It's given me a lot to think about.

  17. Have fun with the new members of the family when they arrive.
    Ah Rhonda, the choice of chooks for your button doesn't have anything to do with grandbabies and nesting syndrome does it? The chooks make a nice partnership to the text underneath them for your button :). Hoping you remain out of the water.

  18. You're going to be a wonderful grandmother I'm sure, and it IS lots of fun! I became a grandmother at age 45 and I thought I was way too young!!! lol
    Stay dry--we are in the midst of a winter snowstorm and we live in the South (U.S.) where it is not the norm!

  19. Hello Rhonda,

    You are having fun aren't you. And aren't your friends here so thoughtful and kind with all this info. Keep warm and watch that creek.

    Blessings Gail

  20. As per the previous posters, the Australian nappy network can be found here:

    They even have a resource for sewing your own:

    For newborn babies, I recommend using terry squares are you are changing so frequently, the fact that they are so easy to dry is advantage, just get some of the modern PUL nappy covers.

    For making your own there are lots of places to buy supplies from online see ANN (australian nappy network)for details.

    My little one is 3 1/2 and I used cloth exclusively for the first 6 months and the majority of the time until he was 2. initially it was terry squares with MCN(modern cloth nappies) for going out, then when he was older I used all MCN.

  21. Rhonda I agree this grandmothering business is fine. I am expecting my Granddaughter in the middle of March and I can't wait to hold the little princess:0)

  22. Hey Rhonda,

    I haven't posted before but have been reading for awhile now.

    I use cloth nappies with my little boy and have used a couple of different nappies on him. I found that the fitted cloth nappies (the ones with snaps) weren't great for him cos he had such skinny little legs that I couldn't get a secure fit around them and the nappies leaked :( Then I borrowed some nappies off a friend that used a snappi to do them up and they were much better as I could pull them as tight around the leg as I needed to. Once he got a bit bigger (probably about 4 months old) I got him some Mandy Mac nappies. We have the hemp ones (not sure if you can get these anymore). They need a water proof cover to go over them - I have been using the baby beehinds covers. This setup is working really well for us and will do us through until he is toilet trained.

    We don't use a bucket for our nappies, we have a wash bag for them to go into. I think it is made from PUL, at least it is cloth that is waterproof on the inside. When it is time to wash the nappies I just chuck the whole bag in the machine with the neck open so the nappies come out of the bag as they are washed. We have a machine that does a "bio" cycle that I use on the nappies and I do a pre-wash as well. As someone else said you only need to use a tiny amount of washing powder.

    As long as the babies are exclusively breastfed you don't need to worry about cleaning poo off the nappies before washing them, but once they start on solids it is very necessary!

    Hope that helps

  23. Oooh my those baby trousers are absolutely adorable! Why can't us adults get away with wearing such things?

    Do you know of a pattern for cloth nappies?

    I'm glad you enjoyed the saving money post!

  24. Check out for ideas and instructions. They sell diapers, of course, but they have great info too.

    I'm sure there are others, but the book 'Handmade Home' has a prefolds tutorial in it. is the author's blog.

    I prefer wool soakers to plastic pants. Also, I highly recommend snappis instead of pins! Much easier to deal with, and they're much easier to teach someone else to use :)

  25. As a young mama trying to save $ and sanity I used a variety of cloth diapers and covers. I'm now the mum of one 29 month old and a 5 month old and still going strong with the cloth.

    Bummies covers are made here in Canada, but because they work so well they're starting to make a move all over the place. They are great covers and the medium size is made just right to work with a huge size range without sacrificing comfort and function. If you get some I'd suggest only getting the covers with snaps. I could never get the velcro ones to stay so that the tape didn't rub my baby's skin.

    here's their site:

    and look they've made it to Australia!

    You'll for sure get you 19$ from these covers. I bought factory seconds for 6$ CND for my first son and they are still perfect and ready for when my second son has gain another kilo or so. The best part is that they've really come up with a cover that can be used with a variety of diapers - I've used flats made of traditional "birdseye", thick India cotton prefolds and homemade pocket diapers.

    As for the insides of the diaper I'd like to suggest Rita's Rump Pocket. Being a sewer these will be super easy for you to make - especially if you have some flannel in the house ready to be reused. My mum and I made 28 RRPs in a weekand now they're being used for the second time around. I started using them when my first son was about 6 months old and he can still wear them if pinned differently. They do have to be stuffed which takes more time than just folding a pile of prefolds, but it's something I enjoyed doing. These pocket diapers are also a great way to make frugal diapers that are still good for baby's skin because you can control the fabric that goes against the skin while stuffing the diaper with more generic stuff. We actually used mircro-fiber towels bought at the hardware store - they came in a pack of 30, hold a lot of moisture, are the perfect 2 feet by 2 feet size and were economical - and they don't hold the smell at all. Oh yes, and because you take out the soaker to wash the diaper and pieces are thin and flat they line dry very quickly which also means time and $ saved.

    Good luck on the research & congrats on being a grandma! I know my mum loved both the preparing to become a grandma and actually becoming a grandma.

  26. Hi Rhonda,
    I have been following your blog for a while now, I check it every day!
    I have a 4 month old baby, we use cloth but had a rough start! Mainly to do with sizing. I was very keen and made all my pocket nappies before he was born only to find that he had skinny little legs and those nappy never fitted him! So now I am making the 'darling diaper' pattern and this is perfect for him. I wish I had waited until he was born so I could try out a few designs before making them all the and learn I guess! So my suggestion would be to make a few different ones, wait until the babies are born and your daughters in law are able to try them out and see which system suits them, then go ahead and make more. My theory is that it's better to use a few disposables while figuring it out rather than wasting all that time/effort/fabric like I did! But you really don't need a huge amount anyway, at the moment I am getting by with 6 nappies, I wash each night and they are dry by morning (a benefit of pockets) in Brisbane, however I use disposables at night.
    Good luck with the nappies!

  27. Making prefolds is a great idea Rhonda. Simple to make, simple to use and quick to dry. I've tried a few online pre-fold patterns, but my favorite is probably:

    I made my prefolds from old flannelette sheets and t-shirts with strips of towelling (from old towels) added to make them easier to use a snappi on.

    Prefolds are so vesitile. When the bub is little you use then with a snappi. Once they get bigger you can then simply trifold them and place them in a cover.

    Have fun :-)

  28. My sister is due to have her second child at the end of March. There is something equally special about being Auntie in my own biased opinon. To quote what someone said to me "Before it happens, its hard to imagine that you'd love a grandchild every bit as you did your own but if anything you love them more."

  29. Dear Rhonda, I really hope the rainfall will stop soon at your country. A little part of Holland has the same issue: a lot of water due to the melting snow. There is not much you can do about it, only hoping and praying it will not come into your house to destroy everything.

    Love to read about your way becoming a granny. Nice hat and pants you've made! Those little two babies to come... they are so fortuned with a granny like you! God bless!

    Love from Holland

    (btw: thank you for your approval!)

  30. Yes, that's another huge factor that I forgot. Skinny babies or chunky thighs mean some styles just won't work for particular babies. I'd second what someone says above and wait until baby is here before making lots. Try making a variety of styles to start with. You'll still use them. Chunky nappies are great for nights. Slim nappies are great for fitting under that pretty little trouser outfit. Slim nappies are also great as the nappy bag nappy. Not too bulky in the bag but you've got one if you need it.
    The advice we give to mums-to-be is to get a variety of styles/fabrics/fastenings - sometimes nappy networks or councils sell (subsidised) Trial Packs which help you find the best style for you. That's what we used to do - the pack is selected by experienced cloth nappy users to cover a variety of fabrics.

    Rhonda, did you contact any Australian nappy manufacturers directly? I'm sure if you emailed them and asked for a free trial nappy that you would review on your (very successful and well-read) blog, some of them would send you free ones to do just that. That's how we mostly built up our demo collection for the network.


  31. Your grandchildren are going to be the best dressed babies in town! You're producing such a beautiful stockpile of goodies for them.

    Your delight shines through in your posts :)

    You do have a wet backyard! Hope it eases off soon.

  32. Hello

    I'm so happy for you that you are having two grandchildren close together.

    Once the babies are a little older, in the winter, they might like a knitted or crocheted blanket to keep them warm in their prams or cots.

    I made several crocheted ones, and they were very useful to have around the house, ready to scoop up the little baby to go in her pram or cot, or for a little sleep on the sofa.

    You can buy lovely cot blankets, but I couldn't find any that were not made in a third world country. I didn't want my child sleeping in a blanket potentially made by another child.

    Mine were made in 100% wool, because it is cold up here in Edinburgh, but a lighter alpaca or even soft cotton would also work well.

    Here is an example from my blog. Hope it is ok to put a link here.

    Best Wishes

  33. If you suddenly find that your eyes are moist, your mouth dry, your throat constricted(unable to talk), your heart beating wildly and about to bounce out of your chest - either you have the flu OR you have just become a new grandmother.
    And, OH being a grand mother is so much fun, I highly recommend it.
    Congrats, JudieJ

  34. Weren't your fellas just precious as young ones!
    Yes, this grandmothers business is grand. I've got 6 now and am lucky that they are all within an hours drive.
    So glad you are okay. You were the first ones I thought of when I saw the floods on the news.
    How fun to have 2 new babies expected so close together. My Ava and Talynn were born 8 wks. apart to my daughter and her husband and to my son and his wife. Such a blessing.
    Have fund making for the babies. Stay safe.

  35. I love the baby projects you're working on. My favorite diapers are prefolds and Motherease covers. As long as the leg was tight we never had a problem. I love wool but wasn't good at washing it. I also bought used diapers from a local parenting forum, so I had a mix of Fuzzi Bunz and others but prefolds were my favorite. Good luck and I hope you find an advertiser for diapers.

  36. A few thoughts on cloth diapers:

    There are so many options now that it can be confusing to know what will work best for. Like many things, the old, tried and true things are best. Many diapers now have polyester lining inside and it is not ideal for the baby's delicate skin. If you order diapers, please be sure that the diaper is 100% cotton or another material that you feel comfortable putting on your baby. The wool covers (also called wool soakers) are a wonderful option. They are older than the plastic pants and better for baby. I'm currently working on knitting some for my newest son.

  37. I think you would enjoy this pattern very much:

  38. Oh, your little boys were so cute!!
    You are going to make a wonderful Grandma Rhonda- and have a heap of fun too.

    I did up the wool nappy/diaper cover tutorial and popped in on my blog this morning:

    Have fun!


  39. Thank you all so much for this information and support. It's more than I'd hoped for.

    PLEASE NOTE: the address above should be

  40. Hi Rhonda, I've never posted a comment on any blog before - and when I tried it was too long. Rather than risk losing it - i've sent it to your email. I hope it's got some useful links in there for you. Congratulations, and happy crafting for those lucky babies!!

  41. Thanks Trina, I got your email, and replied.

  42. Snappi fasteners are available in some supermarkets and Big W, Target etc.
    For nappy fabrics and some info
    the latter site has a list of websites for free patterns.
    I use both sites for supplies.
    If you are a member of Ravelry (like FB for knitters)there are links to nappy covers/longies/shorties there. This is the pattern that I use
    Hope this helps.

  43. I cannot recomend Baby Beehinds - a QLD company high enough. They have some great specials at the moment too (I think?)

    Be wary of true all in ones as in QLD weather they take forever to dry and I've even found they go mouldy:(

  44. HI Rhonda,
    I use MCN with my babes. I really recommend you get in touch with Michelle at
    she has beautiful nappies and soakers. You really need to get yourself a pattern for knitted longies. Are you on Ravelry, (if not as a knitter you should be) if you are just search for longie patterns, there are heaps and get knitting.

  45. Just thought of another site that is a wealth of nappy info. I believe it has the best list of links to free patterns in the DIY section

  46. Also the forum on the website I mentioned in my previous comment
    has a lot of info :)

  47. Would you be willing to share your pattern for the baby hat? My daughter is expecting our first grandchild in early June :) I can't wait to get started making things for him!

  48. ann, I'm happy to but I'll have to do it tomorrow.

  49. Hi Ann. I can't find the pattern I used online. I downloaded it about six months ago and now it's gone. My pattern was called Fresh Picked Knits Baby Hats. However, there are many very good patterns here to get you started. Happy knitting and congratulations on being a grandma!

  50. I realise thie is an older bolg entry so you may well have found this...
    'Oz cloth nappies'
    is a great info site with an associated google group & links all over the place. I found it immesely helpful about 4 years ago re cloth nappy options.

  51. I'm quite late on this and there are a lot of comments already. I have a napping, sick two year old at the moment so don't have time to read all the comments to make sure mine is not a double up.

    Anyway, I did soak the pooey nappies, but only in baking powder. And I used white vinegar as the 'softner.' They always came out clean and fresh and I enjoyed not using too many chemicals (All the women I told I was using cloth said "Oh, but after you put all those chemicals into the environment, why do you bother?" I had the perfect response - very little chemicals in fact.


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