Ella's Wool Blog
All the snow we've had on the East Coast lately, and the winter break that is coming up, reminded me of Ella's old nursery school, in Norway.
It was a pretty large school, with five classes of 2- to 3-year-olds – Ella's age at the time – and several classes of 3-, 4- and 5-year-olds.
The school was housed in a big, old brick mansion. It had a yard about half an acre big, with apple trees and a large lawn, in addition to the swing sets, sand boxes and all the toys you would expect.
In the winter, it was all covered in snow, but that didn’t stop anyone from playing outside. There were two small knolls in the yard. They were no more than four feet high, but that was plenty to make ice slides down the sides.
Mayhem on the slopes
Every day when we got to school, it was mayhem!
A dozen toddlers or more on one of those little hills at once. Sliding down sideways, backwards or head first, in their slippery snowsuits. Using each other as stepping stones to crawl back to the top.
I’ve never heard so much childrens’ laughter and delight in one small place.
The kids who didn’t crawl over each other on the slopes, would try to pull each other around the yard on sleds. It was cute beyond words: Two toddlers pulling as hard as they could to move a third one even a foot.
Every day, the kids were out there for hours.
In Oslo, the kids normally play outside until the temperature drops below 14 °F. In other parts of the country they think we’re wimpy in Oslo. In Lillehammer, for example, they’ll keep the kids outside until the mercury drops below -4 °F.
Good, warm and practical clothing
Of course, none of that would be possible without good, warm clothes. But when the teachers have to dress and undress a dozen toddlers every day, they need it to be as easy as possible.
So, all the kids wore basically the same: A single base layer of merino wool under a thick snowsuit with waterproof proof patches in the front and back.
Two-year-old Ella in her nursery school winter "uniform":
A slightly-too-big snowsuit over a thin wool base layer.
Unlike bulky, clammy cotton layers, the thin and snug base layer leaves plenty of room inside the snowsuit, and makes it much easier to move and play.
And when everyone went in for lunch, it was just a matter of peeling off the single, outer layer – all the boots and mittens still sticking out of their respective holes in the snow suit.
Indoors, all the kids would run around, dressed only in their base layers.
On very cold days, they'd wear an extra jumpsuit over the base layer. But that suit would normally also be wool, so it wouldn't restrict movement too much, nor be too warm to wear inside.
A good winter for practice
Even if the schools in Brooklyn don't let the kids spend as much time outside in the snow, this winter has still given us plenty of opportunities to practice our winter dressing skills.
And with Winter Break coming up, and the weather report calling for lots more snow, I know it's not nearly over yet.
So let's restock on base layers, and just enjoy it.
I hope you have a great winter break with lots of fun and playing in the snow!
Posted by Vibeke Johansen
Ever since I got into this, I'm often asked how to care for our wool. I think, what people really mean when they ask is: Isn't it a huge pain in the neck?
No, it's really not. Once you know a few basics, washing wool is no more of a hassle than washing a load of whites.
The first thing to know, is that wool does not need to be washed as often as other fabrics.
Unlike materials like cotton or linen, wool repels both moisture and bacteria, so nothing much really bites.
Many spots can simply be brushed off, wiped off with a damp cloth or rinsed away with tap water. Afterwards, hang your wool to air out a little bit, and it will be as good as new.
You probably don’t want to avoid machine washing completely, though. And when it's time, there are some things worth keeping in mind.
You’ll want to stay away from bleach and fabric softeners completely, and use a special wool detergent to preserve the wool fibers’ softness. We highly recommend The Wool & Cashmere Shampoo made by our friends at The Laundress.
To avoid shrinkage, avoid hot water and rapid temperature changes. Most of our wool can be washed on a warm cycle, but I still usually run my wool on a cold-cold delicate cycle.
Finally, while not all wool can be tumble dried, our baby wool can be tumble dried on low heat. Tumble driers are, however, tough on all clothes – not just wool – so if you have the time and space to hang your baby’s woolens to dry, you may want to consider it.
Posted by Christian Nordtomme
Everyone knows to dress in layers when it’s cold. But did you know that the wrong layers will defeat the purpose?
So, how do you dress your baby to be comfy and warm all winter long? We've put together an infographic that shows you how.
Did you for example know that the neck and upper back is the perfect place to feel if your baby is too warm or too cold? (If it feels wet, remove one layer.)
Did you also know that when wool gets wet, it will still keep you warm?
Wearing a base layers in soft merino wool it's the safest and best. Take it from a Norwegian.
GET IT HERE.
Below you can see the full infographic, and learn when to put which pieces of clothing on your little one too keep her comfy and happy.
Posted by Vibeke Johansen
As we enter the holiday season, many of us prepare for travel.
There’s a lot to think and worry about, especially if it’s the first big trip for the youngest members in the family.
At Ella’s Wool we like to keep things simple. By dressing them in wool, we simply have fewer problems to worry about.
1. How to dress for long flights and drives?
Planes can be cold, cars can be hot, and with the kids being strapped in a seat for the journey, it’s not easy to dress or undress them. By having the kids wear a base layer of thin wool, we make sure they are as comfortable as can be.
That will keep them warm against cold draft, but not too hot if the temperature rises. It’s easy to add or remove outer layers, and it stays warm even if it gets wet.
2. How to keep clothes looking good?
Wool clothes looks good, even when they have been stuffed into a suitcase or small bag. Shake off any creases, dress kid and you are ready for whatever social event that’s on your calendar.
Quality wool always looks classy and fresh. No iron needed!
3. How to keep clothes clean?
Kids spill and get dirty, but because of the self cleaning qualities of wool, you don’t have to wash it as often as other fabrics. That means they can be worn longer, which is practical when you can’t pack that many shifts. Stains can be removed by a damp cloth and smells can be aired out.
4. How to get them to sleep?
Getting kids to sleep in new locations can be tricky. Different bed, lighting and sounds keep the young ones up way past bed time.
One thing you can do, however, is to at least make sure they're as comfortable as they can be in their PJs. Wool transports night sweat away from the body, keeping your kids warm and dry, and that will help calm them down faster.
If you don’t yet have a set of wool pajamas, you can let them sleep in the base layer.
5. What to pack?
You want to keep it light, but have to pack enough for the whole family.
Wool is lightweight, doesn’t crease, doesn’t need to be cleaned that often and can double as sleepwear. That should make packing easier, right?
Now, if only wool would prevent us from eating too much good food this season…
Happy Holidays to you all!
Posted by Christine Surlien
Halloween is around the corner, hooray!!
What kind of costume will your child wear this year? Are you dressing up, too?
In Norway, the Halloween celebration is pretty new.
In the 80’s when I was a young girl, we did something called “Julebukk”, which was similar.
Julebukk takes place between the 1st day of Christmas (what’s called Christmas Day here) and New Years Day. To “walk” Julebukk, you dress your kids up as cute Santa’s helpers. Then you walk around the neighborhood, ringing the bells at peoples homes and singing a Christmas carol or two when they open the door. Then they’d give the kids candy afterwards.
(In the 80’s we walked around without the parents - I’m not sure if that’s the case anymore!)
Since the average temperature in Oslo, Norway at that time of year is around 25°F, we had to do something clever to keep our kids warm without ruining the Santa’s helpers’ costume with a big coat over the top.
The answer was a thin layer of soft merino wool underneath the costume: simply a merino wool top and a merino wool longjohns. Your kids will stay warm!
For the smaller toddler or baby, a merino wool onesie and merino wool tights will do the trick.
We’ve brought this “wooly” tradition into our yearly trick or treat tradition here in Brooklyn. Now Ella’s friends have also learned to wear a thin layer of wool underneath the costume every Halloween.
Have a great Halloween celebration this year, and best of luck with the costumes!
Posted by Vibeke Johansen