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Tutorial: Making Simple Felt Tea Bags With Your Child

Southern England is really starting to cool down now.  It rains most days, and when it isn’t raining it looks like it might.  There is a lot of tea brewing in our house.  So much so that our daughter makes make-believe tea more than anything else on her play stove.  We were given two beautiful tins of tea years ago when visiting my family in Canada and I haven’t been able to throw them away.  I decided that it was time to hand them over to the playroom but first, a craft that my three year old daughter could do with me.  Make some tea bags.  I am sure there are many more sophisticated ways to do the following but that wasn’t the point of this craft.  We were sewing, cutting and using up some of mama’s scrap felt pieces.

 

What you will need:

Scissors

Embroidery Thread

Darning needle (very blunt round tip needle)

Scraps of fabric or felt

 

Cut a square of felt the size of a tea bag

Cut another square of felt the size of the tag

Measure and cut a piece of embroidery thread

Help guide your child to pull the thread all the way through the bag a few times then tie off

Repeat for the tag!

Brew

(please pardon our duct taped tea pot)

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Playsilks & Gnome Clothes Pin Tutorial

The best gift I feel I can give my children is the freedom and opportunity to imagine!  This is why I love playsilks!  They are so versatile and fun, they are only limited by our imagination. They can be capes, cloaks, skirts, head wraps, belts, backdrops, plays capes, forts, tents, flaming rocket balls & so much more.  My children play often with their blocks, gnomes, trucks & legos but not a day goes by that they don’t play with their playsilks.

 

Last year I made this playsilk and gnome clothes pin set for our cousins.  The gnomes pin up the silks on a line to make them easily accessible for play.

To read about how I dyed the silks and where to buy them read here.  For a tutorial on how to make your own gnome clothes pins read here. The gnomes could also be a fun project for your kids to make for their friends & family or for you to make one or two to clip to their Christmas stocking.  Such possibilities!

If you don’t care to make them yourself many of our lovely Natural Kids Team members sell playsilks. Team shops like Birch Leaf Designs, Gypsy Forest, Mosey & The Enchanted Cupboard.  & I sell the gnome clothes pins at my shop, MamaWestWind.

Do you have playsilks at home?  What do your children create with them?

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Tutorial: Felt Lettuce Tutorial

When my daughter got in age of playing with playfood, I became obsessed at making them. She now has a bin filled with various food I made her from vedgies to dessert to sushies. Today I want to show you how I made a lettuce!

Cut 3 vague peanut form. Run stitch an inch at the bottom. Gather.

See how they look together, edit the cut if needed.

Cut 3 smaller pieces, pin together. Sew following the piece on top untill 3/4 up.

Cut a rectangle, square or circle (I used a leftover) And push it inside.


Sew at some corners, so that you don’t see any edges from the top.

Should look like this. Stuff with wool.

Attach the biggest leaves to see where you place them.

Sew them on with an overcast stitch.

Cut a circle, Blanket stitch it to the bottom so we don’t see any stuffing.

 

Voilà!

 

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A walk through Nairobi (Toy on a Walk Series)

Hello all!

Greetings from Nairobi, Kenya!  We are bunting baby dolls from the ziezo label and we would like to take you around our garden and neighbourhood, now that we woke from our nap under the baby pawpaw tree.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is the flame tree, with gorgeous red – orange flowers blooming now that we are reaching the end of the long rains.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When we lay under the pawpaw tree, these are the dark skies of the rainy season. . . the sun is hiding behind the clouds.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The two of us like to climb trees and bushes, and there are plenty of those around in our neighbourhood and garden.  Here we are in a baby banana tree and a mango tree, unfortunately there are no fruits on them at the moment.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here we are in a small acacia tree.  It’s difficult to climb this one, because of the long thorns.  Did you know that giraffes can eat the leaves from these trees despite the thorns?  There is something in their saliva to soften the thorns and then they pluck the leaves off with their tongue.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Once in a while we visit the Waldorf Kindergarten in Kileleshwa, and we then like to hang out in this lovely shrub that smells so nice and is commonly called “yesterday, today & tomorrow” (Brunfelsia) because of the different colours the flowers turn.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you go for a ride in Nairobi, you have to be ready to wait, traffic jams are the matter of the day because of the number of cars, the state of the roads, and ongoing construction for the “Vision 2030” plan.  Here’s a view of the Nairobi Arboretum at the bottom of the hill, and some of the road construction around it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And in some places the old road has been replaced by a new dirt road to allow for road improvements, while you also can see the rapid construction of new apartment buildings that are replacing the single standing houses.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

However, after a bumper to bumper drive to Karen, reknown from Isak Dinesen’s (a.k.a. Karen Blixen) ‘Out of Africa’ it is also nice to be ending up in the lovely green environment of the Nairobi Waldorf School there.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nairobi and its environs have lots of sunshine (even in the rainy season), but one thing that is always certain as you could see in most of the pictures, there is never a lack of some dreamy clouds in the sky with many imaginative creatures.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We liked taking you on a short tour and know that we soon join our friends in the ziezo Designs shop to find a new home and explore new places on this lovely earth.  However, now it is time for a nap again. . .

 

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Photo Tutorial: How to make a mei tai doll carrier

Children love to pretend, and do just like their parents. Seeing mommy and daddy with a baby on the back is something usual for my children, and soon enough my daughter requested for a ring sling so she can carry around Victoria, her waldorf companion doll. This spring, I’ve checked on my longtime to-do list one item I really wanted, a mei tai. Both children wanted one, their size. I made two of those while they were naping at the same time…It doesn’t happen often, but today they did so I’ve jumped on the occasion and thought you might like to see how I did them.

First find 2, 3, 4 fabric you like, your child like and that goes well together.

Cut two rectangle that would be around the size of your child’s front. The bigger the easier to carry a big 18″ doll, the smaller the easier to wear for a child. This one is smaller 9×12″, I suggest to go bigger. I have an easy trick for the top strap angles later.

Cut the straps. The longer the better. I first went with 20″. This is okay for the bottom ones, but I’ve added 16″ after trying it on my boy. They are about 4″ large, so I cut them 8″ and folded them. Right side facing, sew/serge on top and the side, and flip them right side up.

Take your rectangle and place one strap in a corner. Cut. Fold vertically (on the longer) and cut the excess corner.

Take one rectangle, facing right side up. Roll your straps, it’s so much easier. Pin your longer ones at the angles.

And pin the short ones at the bottom. Leave an inch or so at the bottom.

Place the other rectangle (right side must face!) and pin around. Sew/serge the sides and top, but leave the bottom open.

Flip everything right and unpin straps. Enter the excess fabric at the bottom in and over stitch it.

If you realize, like me, that the top straps are too short, here’s how I manage to add on without unsewing anything; make straps like you first did, and tuck in a half inch inside the strap.

Inside end of strap in and overstich.

There you go! A beautiful, playful doll carrier for your little person to take his/her doll everywhere!

My son’s been carrying Albus ever since I tried it on him. He only took it out to get in the car twice and promptly asked it back both times. He also took it out to sleep, but I’m pretty sure he’ll ask for it tomorrow.

Hoping I made some of you try to make some! It’s very easy and takes no time. It’s a really good way for your child to carry around his/her doll everywhere while optimizing the chance for it to stay clean!

Please come back and share if you make one, we’d love to see it!

 

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Living on a land (Toys on a Walk series)

Please let Albus and Victoria, our resident dolls, give you a tour of our little part of earth.

For this year we decided to rent the grand-parents house of Papa, which is located on the family land on the shore of the magnificent Saint-Laurent river, in the Province of Québec, Canada. There, my in-laws cultivate potatoes and all sorts of vegetables.

Here the land takes longer to wake up. When we took our walk, only green moss and some dandelions were at sight.

But there are lots of winged friends around!

Of course, the kings of nature here are the evergreens. Cedars, Pines, Firs are what’s green all year long.

Buds are just appearing. Roses, Maples, Birch are cautious here. They don’t want to get caught with frost!

We will plant potatoes soon, as now’s the time. But the lettuce, carrots, beans, squashes and broccoli will have to wait until the end of the month; they are much more fragile.

On the land, there are ponds to sit by and watch trouts. Sometimes a heron great us there too.

Fields waiting. Oh, the possibilities!

Back to the house is one of my favorite view. A swirly earth road borded with trees, looking at summer cottage transformed into all-year home, to the river so huge we people here call the sea.

In the sand we can find many treasures; seashells, urchins, crabs shells, special rocks and tons of drift wood.

Underwater lies more treasures, and all the activity of tiny things living in it!

With the sea and the forest so near, we feel very fortunate. It is a perfect setting for a slow-paced life and a wonderful theatre for us to witness the cycle of the seasons.

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A Fairy Walk in New Mexico…(Toy On a Walk Series)

Hello from sunny New Mexico!  Today my fairy friend, Fae and I would like to take you on a walk to show you some of our favorite New Mexico plants. In the coming weeks we will have many more Natural Kids’ toys take you on a walk of their little corner of the world.  What a fun way to see the world, through the “eyes” of a toy!

Today we are walking around our neighborhood in the Land of Enchantment. We are blessed to live in this very sunny, warm, desert climate.  This evening it’s still quite warm at 80 some degrees.

This first beautiful Spring bloom matches Fae quite well.  It is the flower of a Cholla cactus.

 

Here is a larger view of it.

 

This is one of Fae’s most favorite desert succulents because of its beautiful red/ orange flowers.  These plants are giants and tower above us at about 15 feet tall.  She loves to watch the humming birds and bees weave in and out of the lovely flowers.

 

The Yucca, New Mexcio’s state flower, which is really a plant.   Aren’t these flowers so unique & beautiful? The Yucca’s spiky leaves were used by Native Americans as fiber for ropes & baskets.  The roots of certain varieties of Yucca were used for soap.

 

Fae thinks this Agave plant would be so much fun to slide down if it weren’t for those pointy spikes on the ends!  The agave has many uses.  Agave syrup for baking, Blue Agave is grown to make tequila.  We see tiny little Agave plants and giant 6 foot Agaves in our neighborhood.  They are fascinating plants and have an amazing and beautiful end to their lives.  I wrote about that here.

 

Fae loves this plant, not so much for how it looks but for how it smells during and after a rain.  In New Mexico it rarely just sprinkles, when it rains it pours.  And when this evergreen shrub’s waxy leaves are disturbed they become very fragrant.  They fill the air with a lovely fresh green smell.  Some people don’t like the smell but fairies love it!  The creosote shrub is fascinating.  They can live for two years with no water and most will live to be about 100 years old.  In the Mojave desert there is a creosote shrub that is known to be almost 12,000 years old!

I hope you have enjoyed our walk in beautiful New Mexico.

Visit Fae at my etsy shop, Mama West Wind.

 

Becca Thornton is a stay at home Mama of two sweet little boys & wife to her high school sweetheart. They are Northeast transplants living in the sunny Southwest.  A typical day finds them soaking up the sun playing, gardening, baking, crafting & homeschooling.  Find her at her blog, Chocolate Eyes, & visit her shop, Mama West Wind, where she sells Waldorf inspired toys & decor.

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Folk and Fairy Tales in Your Home

Children are natural storytellers who will often imagine their own stories based upon their outward surroundings and their internal landscapes. We grownups, however, often need some assistance with reawakening our imaginations.

Here comes the NaturalKids Team to the rescue! Sure, you can tell a convincing Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs with salt and pepper shakers, condiments jars, plus seven thimbles. However, the talented members of Etsy’s NaturalKids Team have hand-crafted a variety of figures for your folk and fairy tale storytelling as well as open-ended play. All fairy tales in this post link to Sur La Lune Fairytales.com

Three Billy Goats Gruff byMuddyFeet

Story: Three Billy Goats Gruff

Snow White and Rose Red by Nushkie (plus you could add a bear by Woolies and gnome— to play the dwarf– by Little Elfs Toy Shop):

Story: Snow White and Rose Red

Cinderella by The Enchanted Cupboard:

Story: Cinderella (Charles Perrault version)

The Gingerbread Man, by lovealittle

Story: The Gingerbread Man (sometimes The Gingerbread Boy)

The Fisherman and His Wife
, by Driaa:

Story: The Fisherman and His Wife

What are stories that you enjoy telling with your children?

–Farida Dowler is a children’s librarian in semi-retirement. She works as a freelance storyteller and makes dolls for the Etsy shop Alkelda.

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What’s new, and well, natural, from the NaturalKids Team

Welcome! I continue my trek backwards through the alphabet to bring to you the most wonderful and imaginative treasures. They are all handmade with natural materials from…yes! the NaturalKids Team on Etsy! This week, we feature wonderful variety of artist from who have one thing in common – they all work with natural materials.

Marie in the Garden

Farida hails from Seattle, Washington, USA. As she was born on the feast day of St. Alkelda, it seemed only right to name her shop “Alkelda” …Old English for “healing spring”! Alkelda: Dolls for Storytelling creates natural, beautifully embroidered wool felt figures for use in nature table displays, storytelling, and imaginative play.

Here is one of her most recent treasures…Marie in the Garden!


Woolie’s Lace Shawl Pattern

Sara creates her artisan stuffed animals and toys from Tucson, Arizona, USA. Her shop Woolies features her natural hand-knitted and cloth treasures, as well as patterns to make your own. Here is her latest… Lace Shawl Knitting Pattern.

Dollhouse Doll Rosie

Natalie works from British Columbia, Canada. Her shop, Woolhala, features all-natural Waldorf & dollhouse dolls, doll clothe and wool felt animals. Here is her newest dollhouse doll… Rosie.

From patterns to wool stuffed storytelling treasures to doll house components, these are just a few of the natural treasures you will find from our shops hailing from all over the world.

Thanks for joining us this week! Please do return again next Monday as we continue to feature all the wonderful members of the NaturalKids team on Etsy. Until then, I invite you to browse all our wonderful shops.


Warmly,
Rebecca aka Nushkie
Nushkie on Facebook

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How to Care for a Waldorf Style Natural Doll Baby

I wrote an article on Waldorf doll care on my GermanDolls blog previously. You can read it here. But since many people who own natural cloth dolls may have these questions, I wanted to make a renewed effort in giving directions for cleaning your doll babies and doll clothing on the NaturalKids Team blog.

Question #1: Can I wash my doll?

If you are the proud owner of a natural Waldorf style doll, no matter who the maker is, your doll should be stuffed with sheep’s wool. If you are not sure about your doll’s stuffing, you should ask the maker to be absolutely certain of it. My dolls are ALL stuffed with clean carded wool.

Being stuffed with real wool is of great advantage! Not only does the wool give warmth and softness, these benefits aside, sheep’s wool has natural antibactirial properties. Wool is less likely to pick up germs and dust to begin with. Wool stuffing means your doll is washable, and that it is okay to fully soak your baby in water and give her/him a complete bath!

Unlike polyester filled dolls, that will matt down and flatten, Wool stuffed natural dolls will NOT lose their loft. Though spotcleaning is preferable and less hard on the doll, if there should be an accident (bad fall in the dinner plate or puddle) your doll can go take a bath! Here are a few points you need to remember when giving your doll a bath:

  • make sure the water is lukewarm and NOT hot. Just as giving a bath to a sweet babe.
  • Don’t use harsh detergents or cleaning agents. Best is a product you would use for a wool sweater such Woolite or a gentle shampoo. You may even want to give your doll and your child a bath at the same time. Just make sure that the soap used at bathtime is colorless and a mild one. You can apply mild soap directly to a bad spot and gently massage that area.
  • Then rinse out the doll until all the soap suds are gone.After the bath you must gently squeeze the dolls’ limbs and mid-section to get most of the water out. Don’t sqeeze the head! Since it is formed and shaped with string it should not be squeezed or treated too roughly! Too much squeezing might damage the shape of it.

Set your doll on thick bathtowel for drying. If it’s summer time or you live in a warm climate you can put it outside. In the winter I dry my dolls on the radiator. Depending on the climate you live in drying time may vary. Where I live (Colorado) it’s really dry and my dolls dry within a day. In a humid climate you may have to wait a couple of days…

Question # 2. What about haircare? Can my child brush the dolls’ hair?

A Waldorf dolls’ hair is usually made of worsted wool, mohair yarns, or combinations of natural yarns. Sometimes dollmakers use the loopy curly kind, known as boucle yarn. You should NEVER EVER brush your doll’s hair with a real hairbrush. It should only be styled using fingers. Rough brushing of the hair will thin the hair out and destroy the loops of the mohair.

Maybe this has already happened to your dolls’ precious tresses. Don’t get too upset. It is fixable! The great thing about Waldorf dolls is that you can repair them!

Dollmamkers use varying techniques to sew on dollhair. It kind of depends on the make of your doll. My dolls usually have a crocheted wig. If the doll has long hair the hair is sewn onto this wig. If the hair is damaged you can remove the layers of damaged hair and sew on a new layer. Just search for the tiny stitches and gently undo them. You could even get creative and give your doll a whole new look and different haircolor.

I will write another article on this topic to help you out! So keep watching my blog!

Question #3 What about the doll clothing? Can it be washed?

I recommend hand washing all little doll clothes. Why? Because most US washing machines I have come across are quite violent and have ripped my own clothing – even when set on a gentle cycle – to shreds. If you absolutely don’t have the time and energy you could put your dolls’ clothes in a protective net and wash them on cold in a machine.

I would never do this to items made of felt though. Felt might pill or react in some funny unexpected way…

General tips and Suggestions:

If the blush on your dolls’ cheeks has faded, a wee bit of red beeswax crayon can be applied. If you don’t own such a crayon, you can use a non-toxic red pencil to gently rub some new blush on the dolls’ cheeks. Don’t overdo it though! But also don’t be afraid. I believe the true beauty of these dolls lies in the fact that they can take some loving and still be adorable.

My daughter has a Hispanic doll I made her long time ago. The dolls’ hair is matted, and she got some spots from “eating strawberries” but my child would not have me change a thing about her. I’ll never forget the trauma when her American girl doll lost an arm a while ago. How do you put a plastic arm back on? My clothdolls have never lost a limb…

But since natural dolls are made of cloth, small holes or tears can be fixed. Don’t be afraid to take a needle to your doll! You may even find you enjoy it and decide to make a doll of your own!

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Please, let me know if you have any other questions about doll care. I’d be glad to share my kwowledge to help you keep your baby clean and pretty looking! If you are a dollmaker I would love to get some of your cleaning tips and suggestions, too!

 

Ulla Seckler  is a dollmaker who was born and raised in Germany. She lives in beautiful Colorado with her husband and two kids. You can find her Notes by a German Dollmaker on her blog where she shares some great German recipes, pictures of her sweet dolls, and life lessons learned.  Don’t forget to stop by her Etsyshop and take a peek at her wonderful doll creations.