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January 25, 2011

Look, ma!  I made a wool soaker for LM:

Argyle = classic.

What is a wool soaker?  Sounds wet, that is for sure.  But NO, it’s not.  In retrospect, I really wish I had understood the whole concept of wool diaper covers when LM was a newborn.  I saw them, and a few people I know used them on their babies, but I was too stupid to ask how they work.  I assumed that they had to be washed after ever use (like other diapers) and wool is such a pain!  Besides, wool is sort of a fabric so wouldn’t it just soak right through? (The name is a serious misnomer, and one of the reasons I remained ignorant of the benefits of wool).

Well, a lovely friend recently noticed that LM was getting some redness in the diaper region and suggested I try one of her wool soakers over just a prefold diaper, because wool naturally breathes and will allow more air circulation and hopefully prevent diaper rash.  Still being ignorant, I mumbled something about not knowing how to clean or care for a wool soaker, and she told me that you can just let the soaker air dry, and that wool is naturally antibacterial and water repellent.  Duh.  I felt like a total idiot and realized that this is such a great and potentially CHEAP diapering solution!  I’ve seen the concept of upcycled wool soakers here but again I put aside the idea because I thought there was a lot tedious wool care involved.  Nah, as long as no poop gets on the wool, it can basically be air dried and reused almost indefinitely (!!) but an occasional wash with lanolin will help maintain the water-repellent nature of the wool.

I need my own soakers!!  Since LM has since been diagnosed with her first double ear infection and started her first course of antibiotics, they have wrecked her digestive tract, making her poop thin but sticky, and much more frequent, resulting in her first genuine diaper rash ever.  So, a more-breathable diapering solution is in order, since it’s too chilly to let her roam around diaper-free as much as I would like.

Knitting one is an option, but I am not that skilled at knitting (yet) and I really ought to finish the baby sweater I started before LM is born, which is probably already too small for her.  Sigh.  I turned the knitting project over to my skilled mother.  That left upcycling from old sweaters, best obtained at thrift stores.  Confession:  I don’t like thrift stores.  I love the IDEA of thrift stores, but there is something about the way that EVERY thrift store smells that really bothers me.  What subconscious memories the scent of dusty old clothes conjures up, I couldn’t tell you, but it gives me the willies.  Plus, they are never organized for crap which makes hunting for sweaters with a squirming baby I real challenge, but I braved the Goodwill for this project.

I succeeded, and scored two neat sweater vests and one long sleeved sweater for $14.  In researching different ways of making a soaker, a lot of people felt the sweaters first to make the knit tighter and easier to work with, as well as softer.  I was dubious about chucking my newly acquired wool treasures into a washer of HOT water, but I figured I’d only be out $7 if it failed.  But it didn’t!  They didn’t shrink much after one hot wash/cold rinse and being dried in the dryer at low heat, but the knit definitely tightened up and made the one I cut into easier to work with.

I followed these basic directions with a few small changes:

1) I didn’t actually measure.  I eyeballed how big a waist one half of the circumference of the sweater would make and figured it would work. Shazam.

2) Because the waistband of the sweater was so wide, I started the triangle from the bottom (top?) edge of the waistband and just followed the lines provided by the argyle.  Then when I stitched it together, I stitched the waistband straight so it would be more fitted, then brought the point of the triangle right under that.  This negated the need for the (cheesy, I think) drawstring.

3) I used the arm holes of the argyle sweater vest for the leg holes, cutting about an inch back from the binding so it would give my soaker a slightly more “shortie” appearance.

Best for crawling around on the golf course.

OH, before I cut (and this wasn’t strictly necessary) I just straight stitched the wool right next to where I was going to cut, just in case it started to unravel.  When I actually pieced it together, I straight stitched AND then zig-zagged the waistband, down from the point of the triangle to the leg holes, and then on the leg pieces themselves.  When I joined the leg pieces to the soaker body, it was a bit difficult to maneuver the two layers of wool in my sewing machine, in such a small space, that I just left it with a tight straight stitch.

To make the soaker, I only used the front half of the sweater vest, so I’ll be able to make a whole other soaker out of just that sweater, which set me back all of $3.50.  I also got a cream colored cable knit cardigan vest for $6.99 (which I did not felt because it is hella thick and tight already!) that will probably only yield one soaker but it looks neat; and I got a mens XL blue sweater with a burgundy stripe that will yield two soakers from the body AND a pair of longies from the sleeves, also $3.50.  I did surf the women’s racks but found no cute, feminine looking sweaters to use.  Oh well, these are mostly just going to be for around home anyway.  Five soakers and a pair of longies for $14.  Thatsa veruh nice-uh.

So I feel very productive.  LM is sleeping in her crib in this soaker right now, so we’ll see how water-repellent the wool is without having been specifically treated with lanolin yet.

Such a classy muffin butt.

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. January 26, 2011 12:01 am

    I’m glad you’re liking the wool, I love how breathable it is. Audrey got a stomach bug on Sunday and got a diaper rash from that so we will be rocking the wool for a bit. Thanks for the tutorial. I haven’t had time to knit Audrey as many soakers as she needs and she’s outgrowing the ones we have. We’ve found the lanolin really helps keep stuff water-proof, though depending on the sweater you used it might still have some. I know you can get the lanolin soap at Grandma’s Spinning Wheel (I think they have Eucalan?). It’s up near the register and you can just ask for wool wash with lanolin which lets you wash and lanolinize in one step. You can probably find it at some of the other knitting stores in town too, I just haven’t looked. I got a different brand online from CottonBabies before Audrey was born and am still on the same bottle and am just now starting to run low. If you want to bring your soakers over tomorrow you can use some of mine to see how you like it before buying your own.

  2. May 28, 2013 10:50 pm

    I love your interpretation of the ‘bumsweater’ pattern it looks so much better when you sew the waistband together and then move on to the triangle part. gives that extra rise too. I have been playing around with the Bumsweater pattern a bit on my blog and have linked up to your post as a lovely example I hope that is ok http://hatchlingsclothnappies.wordpress.com/2013/05/24/diy-longies-and-covers-how-draft-your-soaker-pattern/

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  1. DIY Longies and covers – How draft your soaker pattern | Hatchlings Cloth Nappies

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