Entering into the world of cloth diapers is overwhelming. But, after a month or two you get the hang of the lingo and your fast on your way to amassing way too many diapers.
Then you hit a wall.
What’s the point? What are my child’s measurements? What type of wool do I need to buy?
All great questions that take hours more research to discover the answers to.
Let’s start with the easy one: measurements.
Measuring your child can be done in two ways
- Find a pair of pants that fit them really well (with some extra room would be nice) and measure the inseam (inner seam down leg), waist, hips and rise (top of waist band down under crotch an up to back waistband).
- Lay your child down and measure the same areas. This can be super tricky if your child is wiggly.
I always add an inch to the inseam and have my knitter cuff the leg up with a hidden stitch. This gives me extra wearing time!
Next question is also fairly easy to answer. Why use wool? What’s the point?
Untreated wool holds many amazing and forgotten properties – it can absorb up to 40% of it’s own weight in moisture before feeling wet. And even when wet, it still feels warm. Wool provides warmth, yet it breathes to maintain a comfortable temperature. So even in warm environments, wool maintains a comfortable temperature next to your skin. And wool’s natural fibers breathe, unlike synthetics.
As wool absorbs moisture, its natural lanolin is converted to lanolin-soap, which has an antibacterial effect and removes odors. So even if wool is wet with sweat, urine or breast-milk, the lanolin goes to work cleansing the wool and removing odors- it need only be washed when the lanolin needs replenishing.
LANACare wool has been tested to show that it does not contain dust mites – a growing concern as a cause of allergies. For those considering themselves allergic to wool, most actually react to the chemicals used to extract the natural lanolin from the wool, not the wool itself. No such chemicals are used on LANACare wool, in reality making it hypo-allergenic!
And wool is naturally flame-retardant! What more perfect textile could you choose when considering you or your baby’s health?
Wool is an amazing fabric!
Now that you understand why you should use wool and you have some measurements you’re still confused by all the different types of wool.
Have no fear, my favorite knitter is here to clear the air.
Denise of Molly’s Bottoms is a ridiculously talented knitter! She knits in her “spare time” when she’s not working a full-time job and caring for her family. I asked Denise to briefly explain the different types of wool for us and she (in her spare spare time) gladly obliged!
I have been given the liberty to take her explanations and edit where needed. She’s a crafter, I’m a writer…together we make perfect harmony…or something like that.
Both have a great cottony feel, very sturdy, with low pilling. Great for toddlers and active kiddos. Fabric knits up on the thicker and firmer side. Makes great longies and sweaters. Dyes take a tad muted.
Blackberry Ridge (BBR) -Made in Wisconsin at a great Mill. Generally seen in two varities, BBR 2ply and BBR 3ply.
BBR 2ply (2 strands twisted together) is very close to Cestari however a tad thinner and smoother. Has a great cottony feel and is very smooshy.
BBR 3ply (3 strands twisted together) has a higher twist and a slightly different feel than the 2ply. It makes a great fabric. Both are very sturdy and fairly soft and make a firmer fabric. Both have low pilling, with the 2ply less than the 3ply. Dyes will take more vividly than Cestari, but still a tad muted. [I LOVE LOVE LOVE BBR!]
Mountain Meadow (MMW or MMR)-a great cottony yarn, very similar to Cestari and BBR, but a tad thinner and softer. Yarn has a higher sheen than both Cestari and BBR. This is quickly becoming the yarn of choice for longies as its durable but a softer option. [Maybe I should try this one!]
Gaia, worsted-A thinner, tighter twist, 100% merino base. This is considered on the lighter side of worsted and is generally used to knit skirties and sweaters and sometimes soakers. Because it is thinner, it is not the first choice for longies. It is generally very soft, but will have some pilling with heavy use. Knits a thinner fabric and great for summer items. Many who live in warm climates choose this for longies or shorties. [My forum research showed this to be a wool that needs to be shaved after every use if you did have it knit up for longies or shorties. The consensus is as Denise stated- very soft, great for newborns, pills really badly]
Gaia, bulky-Bulky sibling of worsted. Same softness but much thicker. Many like this for longies as its very soft and thicker smooshier base for a diaper cover. Will pill with heavy use.
Single ply-Not all singly ply is created equally, but generally single ply merino is one of the softest bases in the cloth diapering community. It is almost buttery soft! This base is great for newborn items, hats, and for next to skin wear. It is the most pilling option with mild/moderate and heavy use.
3ply Merino- Also called Purewool, 3ply Uruguayan Merino-A very soft option and extremely reasonably priced. Most get this in coops from Uruguay at a great deal making this base one of the most reasonable options for hand knits. Yarn is very soft and knits up a nice fabric. However, yarn is not as sturdy as other options. It will pill and split with moderate/heavy wear.
Licorice Twist-A thinner base much like gaia worsted, except one of the plies will absorb more pigment when dyed giving the yarn a twist or tweed effect. Because of this effect, it may have slightly less pilling than Gaia. Great for the same items as Gaia worsted.
Marr Haven- a very thick, 2 ply yarn. One of the heaviest bases in the cloth diapering community. Fabric knits up stiffer than most other bases. It is considered bullet proof as a cloth diaper cover and an amazing choice for nighttime. Very durable, low pill, and sturdy made this a hit early on. Its lack of softness has turned many towards other options.
Blue Faced Leicester BFL-(name of sheep it comes from)- An early favorite in the community. It’s soft and fairy sturdy, and thicker than Gaia. The knitted fabric has an amazing drape and almost feels “heavy”. Yarn has high sheen and appears shiny and silky. Some say this yarn is pill resistant and others say it pills bad, so most go with middle of the road with this one. Its a thicker base much like BBR/Cestari but softer.
Hyena Cart is an excellent place to find knitters, crocheters, skeins of wool and instock items. Ordering a custom item can be intimidating (at least it was for me) but the relationship you build is precious.
If you see some wool you like, snatch it up. Then do a search for YYMN- Your Yarn My Needles. I’ve been told that knitters prefer to knit up a custom item as opposed to stocking a general sized one.
Many knitters also offer MYMN- My Yarn My Needles. You can choose from their wool stash (I hear knitters have a slight obsession with collecting wool) and they’ll knit it up with your specifications.
Don’t be shy! You will love the end product!
Here is Camden’s winter stash of Molly’s Bottoms longies and hats. Denise makes a fabulous hat!