Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Woolly warmth for babies

Ame meets the sheep not in the meadow
As the days and nights in Melbourne become cooler I am enjoying the warmth of wool.  Our world has been overtaken by fake fibres - the polyesters that never show a wrinkle and the lycras that stretch and the polar fleeces that are light and keep the cold out.  But I am convinced that nothing beats wool.

Recently a young mother, Brenna, has pointed me to her business, selling beautiful baby clothes at woollykins which are quite inspiring. 

If you share this love affair with wool and other natural fibers, I suggest you visit Brenna's blog, Cobbled together.

One of the essentials in a baby's 'layette' (I don't think anyone uses that word now-a-days) is a pure wool blanket.  The warmth from pure wool is good warmth, moisture is held without becoming hot or stifling.

Knitting and crochet are crafts that value wool.  Knitting and crochet are also activities that midwives have, over many generations, taken with us into the birthing space.  We need to be present, but we need to quietly and unobtrusively stay out of the labouring woman's way.  Lighting is dim - often a couple of candles, burning embers in the fire place, or a little daylight through the closed drapes.  Simple patterns are good - ones that can be interrupted at any stage.  We need to do nothing that will distract the labouring woman.  The repetitive nature of these wool crafts has the effect of keeping adrenaline and other stress hormones at minimal levels.  Women have often said to me that as their labours demanded more from them they felt reassured that I was quietly getting on with my crochet.

Years ago I went to Emma's home.  She wasn't labouring well - it was that frustrating preparatory stage.  I didn't want to go straight home, and it was a week-day, so I went to the local craft shop and bought a couple of balls of wool and a couple of crochet hooks.  I spent that afternoon teaching a couple of Emma's children the basics of crochet.  The next day Emma gave birth.  When I did my final postnatal visit I was delighted to see several of the children working on crochet projects.  They had found websites and learnt much more than I had showed them, and were already experimenting with colour and shape.

By the time Emma's next baby was born, the family had a couple of sheep, spinning wheels, and fleeces being spun, knitted and crocheted.  Emma gave me some of her homespun wool, the natural dark brown, as well as the white, and I have loved working with it, making shawls and squares.

1 comment:

Brenna said...

Wonderful post Joy, I've heard that said about midwives and the power of knitting/crochet during labour. I would love you to crochet at my birth! and thanks for the woolly mention xxbrenna