Disability and Sustainable Living

Small Innovations + Big Changes

Being able-bodied is a temporary state. We will all face disability at some point in our lives, either directly experiencing it, or supporting a loved one with a disability. If we want to help create sustainable homes for our families, and a more sustainable world for everyone, we’ve got to increase accessibility.

YES, we need big systemic changes, but small innovations and person-to-person communication and support can make real differences in the lives of folks with limitations big and small. I notice as I’m getting older, I struggle more and more with arthritis in my hands and it becomes harder for me to do various activities for long periods like I could in my 20s or 30s.
I recently found out about a small tool that has helped me compensate for this limitation. It has made a meaningful difference in my life and reminds me that access to small innovations and tips can actually make BIG differences in the lives of folks who have disabilities.

If you’ve found strategies or tools that have increased your access to sustainable living, I would LOVE to hear about it in the comments! You can purchase a brass Victorian Sewing Bird here (affiliate link)

Thanks to  @CrowingHen  for clueing me into the existence of this lovely little tool, and for having a lovely channel whose content I enjoy binging while sewing or knitting!

Crowing Hen YT Channel

Books on Disability

(affiliate links. I make a small commission if you click the link when purchasing):

Disability Visibility
Unruly Bodies: Life Writing by Women with Disabilities
Demystifying Disability

YouTube player

FREE Baby/Toddler Vest Pattern

There is something about babies in snuggly wooly vests

Last week’s project is finally finished, along with a smaller version (top photo).  I had originally worked up a 12-18 month sized pattern to fit tricky kiddo #4 (above), but thought a 3-6 month size would be great for baby shower gifts and such, too.

I’d love to share the pattern with you.  It’s free, a quick knit, fits great, and I hope to post larger sizes in the coming weeks.  If you use my pattern, please give me credit and link back to this page.   This pattern is intended for personal, charity and gift use only, not pieces sold for profit. Thank you!

The vest is worked from the bottom up on straights, then the front two panels and the back are worked individually.  The shoulders are worked on double-points at the very end.

The pattern is really conducive to using up leftover bits of worsted-weight yarn from other projects.  The 3-6 month size uses one color of Cascade 220 for the body and shoulders, and another for the ribbed chest.

In the toddler size, I simply added stripes in the body up to, but not including, the ribbed chest.  Then the blue yarn is repeated in the shoulders.

The pattern only uses two buttons for several reasons, which may sound alternately silly or practical:

1)I am chasing four kids, my life is crazy hectic, and I don’t want to corral a very squirmy toddler and attempt to get 6 or 8 buttons done.

2)Thrift-stores are great places to find just a few lovely old buttons, but rarely a large matched set.

3) If a pattern only requires two buttons, one might be more inclined to spring for a pair of beautiful handmade ones from some talented crafty mamas.

4) A swing sweater adds greater flexibility of movement for an active little one.

Hope you enjoy, and please please please, if you give my pattern a try, and have questions, comments, or want to share your project,  drop me a comment (with your URL).  Thank you, and many blessings on the little one warmed by your hand-knitted vest.

Georgie Vest

Copyright 2012, Angela Baker

Size: 3-6 months (12-18months)

Yarn: Cascade 220, or Lamb’s Pride Worsted, or other worsted weight wool:

less than one skein each color

Needles: Size 6 US straight, size 8 US straight, size 6 US dpns


With Size 6 US needles, CO 90 (106) sts.  This will be 24 (28) for right front, 42 (50) for back, and 24(28) for left front.  You may place stitch markers at these points if desired, but it isn’t necessary.

Bottom edge: Rows 1-8: work (K2, P2) rib (last two stitches will be K2/ half a repeat)

Body (swing section): Change to size 8 US needles.  For remainder of garment, the first four and last four stitches will be worked in garter (K every row) stitch.  Maintaining this garter edge, work rest of piece in stockinette, until entire length (including bottom ribbed edge) equals 5 1/2 (7 1/2) inches in length.

(Note: if you choose to work in even rows of stripes in this section, use MC for first four garter sts, knit across with CC, and use a piece of scrap MC to knit the last four garter stitches.  Be sure to wrap the colors of yarn where they meet to avoid gaps.  This will give you a nice clean garter edge in the MC.  See white and blue sweater above for example).

Ribbed chest:  change back to US 6 needles.  If you wish to work ribbed chest in  CC, cut MC, and begin CC here.

Work 8 rows in (K2, P2) rib, maintaining the garter border on first and last four sts. You will now continue in this rib with garter border unless otherwise noted.

Work 20 (24) sts in pattern, BO 8 (8) sts, work 36 (42) in rib, BO 8 (8) sts, work 20 (24) sts in pattern (don’t forget to end with 4 sts of garter).

You will now work the front panel and back separately, still using size 6s. You can either work one section at a time, leaving the other two on the back end of one needle, or if you find this cumbersome, you can transfer two unworked sections to stitch holders.

Front left of cardigan: work 10 (12) rows in pattern (beginning with the garter border).  BO the 12 (14) sts on the inside of the garment (starting with the four garter stitches).  You will now have 8 (10) sts to work for the shoulder.  Knit remaining stitches in (K2, P2) rib for 8 rows (10).  BO.

Right cardigan panel: Attaching a new length of yarn, work as for left panel, but in reverse, binding off  at the garter edge again, and working the shoulder, but this time add two button holes as you go on rows 2 and 8 (10)  In the garter edge, K1, K2tog, YO, K1 to form the button hole.

Back: Reattach yarn, and work in (K2, P2) rib (no garter border!) until piece is same length as front panels (including shoulder.  BO.

Seam shoulder sts to back.

Shoulder bands:  Using size 6US dpns, evenly PU and K 40 (48) sts around arm hole.  Be sure to twist picked up stitches as you knit them to avoid gaps/holes around the edge.  Work 4 (6) additional rounds in (K2, P2) rib.  BO loosely. Repeat with other arm hole.

Block sweater and sew on buttons.  You’re finished!

(Oh, yes, joining with Small Things and Frontier Dreams and Tami’s Amis for this post.)

Yarn Along

Many thanks to Ginny for hosting the Yarn Along every week.   Each week I find new patterns to add to my queue and new books to order from the library thanks to all the men and women who participate.

I’m just about done test-knitting the first three sizes of a baby/toddler vest pattern I am working up.  If you might be interested in test-knitting a 2T or 3T for me, please let me know and I’ll e-mail you the pattern.   I hope to have the three smaller sizes of the pattern up on Ravelry in a week, since all the kinks seemed to be worked out.

The yarn is vintage Bernat (1960s?) picked up at the thrift store for 25 cents/skein.  It is 90 percent virgin wool and 10% mohair, with a fluffy halo and plenty of loft.  Really enjoying knitting with it. (The other sizes are in Cascade 220 and Lamb’s Pride Worsted, from my stash).

Each morning and evening, little by little, I’m continuing to work through the Benedictine book, The Divine Hours.

Sowing Seeds in the Desert, by the thinker-turned-farmer, Masanobu Fukuoka, just came from the library.  I find Fukuoka’s idealism almost intoxicating – he dreams of restoration, and works for a verdant earth in which people are in perfect communion with each other and the ecosystem.  His writing is full of unquenchable hope, and it is quite uplifting.

We must realize that both in the past and today, there is only one “sustainable” course available to us.  We must find our way back to true nature.  We must set ourselves to the task of revitalizing the earth.  Regreening the earth, sowing seeds in the desert – that is the path society must follow. – Masaonobu Fukuoka

Test Knitting

The house is full of company at present, and the rains have returned to Oregon, bringing with them the constant grey that so typifies autumn in the Pacific Northwest.  You’ve never seen such miserable looking chickens as ours, huddled under the picnic table in the driving rain.  Definitely a good time to hide out inside, catch up on school projects, watch a documentary, make a hot lunch.

First, can I show off some recent thrift store finds?  The weaving (on the sofa seat) fits perfectly over our beat-up sofa upholstery.  The old, old quilt on the back  was $5,with a perfect palette for fall.  The weaving is cotton and I put it through the washer and dryer with no problem, but the quilt had to be hand-washed in the bathtub to preserve the delicate fabrics (some are silk).

The children finished their school work quickly this morning, so while George plays on the floor and the big kids are watching a NOVA on Viking swords, I’ve been test knitting a vest pattern I worked up last week.  Vests are so quick to knit, and so versatile for small children. Also, young kids so quickly stain and snag sweater sleeves, I find precious handknit vests hold up better than full long-sleeved sweaters.

I’m just about finished with the 12-18 mo size and have the 6 month half-way done.  Only one little error so far, and I have corrected it.  The pattern will be up on Ravelry by the middle of next week, if all goes well.  The pattern will include sizes 3-6 mo, 6-12 mo, 12-18 mo, 2T and 3T.

Lots going on with my folks visiting, garlic needing to be planted, science projects to conduct, so I may not be back to this spot until Ginny’s Yarn Along on Wednesday.  See you then!

Yarn Along – Baktus

The Baktus scarf is nearing completion. It was originally going to be a gift for my mother, but I am thinking the geometric quality of the scarf and it’s very simple, clean lines, would make it a better gift for a dear friend from college.  My mom will be getting a pattern more suited to her taste (as soon as I can finish it!).

It has been a very easy knit, but I kept putting it down to pick up more interesting WIPs, or I would have had it finished ages ago.  Quite pleased with it, though, and am thinking of making one for myself in grey and cream stripes, instead of the vibrant Noro.

A few of our homeschooling books this week.  We’re reading bits out of this book each day for a portion of our nature study.  We’re also beginning to delve into Dickens again (seems we always do when the weather turns) with a few children’s books on his life, before starting Oliver Twist later this month.

Ruth is just beginning Cornelia Funke‘s new book (well, it was just translated from German, so it’s new in the US), Ghost Knight.  Fingers crossed it’s as good as some of her other books we’ve adored (… Igraine the Brave, Dragon Rider and Inkheart.) 

This book is based on the Benedictine Rule of fixed-hour prayer from the sixth century.  It has specific prayers for different times of day, and I have mostly been utilizing the evening ones after I put George down for the night, while Casey is reading bedtime stories to the big kids.  The sections are concise, meditative, and uplifting.

Once again joining with Ginny for her Yarn Along today.

Stripey Socks, off the needles


A new pair of socks off the needles.  I have an addiction to stripes, both for looks and simplicity.   I used to like more complicated color work, but knitting with 4 kiddos running around means it’s hard to stick to a chart and actually make progress on more involved patterns.

The yarn is Brown Sheep Nature Spun sport purchased in college (eek!) and finally got around to using.  I’m doing my best to work through my yarn dresser upstairs and completely de-stash before I buy more yarn or do any extensive spinning.


I finished the blue stripeys just in time, since this week I wore a big hole in my favorite pair of striped socks, and I haven’t had time to finish darning them yet.  (For a great darning instructions, check out Wool and Chocolate’s darning tutorial.)


A view from the inside while I’m sewing in tails.  Even simple color work should have its own loveliness on the wrong side.


Good ol’ slip-stitch stripe heel.  I like using it because (obviously from my picture earlier), my Birkies wear hard on the back of my socks and I like a double-reinforced heel for more infrequent darning.


Glad my toes will be toasty warm at the Trackers pirate potluck tonight!