Friday, July 8, 2011

How Cloth Diapers Changed my Vacation...

A little over 3 years ago I made the decision to cloth diaper my second son.  I didn't know then how much this simple decision would affect my life in so many ways.  Last week I was blessed to travel to Hawaii, and even though my kids were not there with me, cloth diapers changed my vacation.  But how?

When I first started researching cloth diapering systems I started with mainstream brands and online cloth diapering stores.  Through some reviews on cloth diapering message boards I discovered some smaller brands of diapers made by these people called WAHMs - Work At Home Moms.  These diapers soon became my favorites and I loved that I could not only diaper my baby in quality products, but I was also helping support another mom and her family through her business.

Fast forward a few months, and I discovered how wool could be an effective, breathable option for diaper covers.  I then dove into the world of knitted diaper covers and gorgeous hand-dyed yarns, again, mostly made by WAHMs.  Now that my son is on his way to being diaper free, I still enjoy knitting with  these beautiful yarns.  I then went on to discover a whole other world of handmade items, delving into the world of Hyenacart and Etsy and even opening my own business as well.  I love shopping for unique handmade items and supporting the artisans who make them.

You may be wondering still, how this all affected my vacation last week though.  Well, let me explain.  Over the last several years, I've been fortunate to travel to Hawaii, specifically Maui, four times.  I know the island fairly well and enjoy the trips full of good food, lovely weather and of course, shopping.  In my previous trips, we hit to typical tourist shopping areas.  Large shopping malls, strip malls and even a few craft fairs.   I would load up my suitcase full of trinkets and souvenirs mostly from the infamous ABC stores, Hilo Hattie or other souvenir shops.

But this trip was different for me.  Yes we still visited all those shopping areas, but I wasn't as excited to dig through all the tourist junk shops.  I wasn't content to fill my bags full of "Hawaiian" souvenirs that were made in China and other parts of the world.  I noticed myself specifically searching out the locally made sections and galleries that focused on island-made items.  Even at the craft fairs, I was able to distinguish the difference in booths that featured imports versus hand-made items.  My experiences with handmade items in the cloth-diapering world had carried over into my regular life.  I wanted to seek out the handmade artists and support them with my business, not large foreign corporations.

The most enjoyable part of this experience was being able to  talk with the artists who made the items.  During my trip, I conversed with a man who made jewelry from sea glass he found on the beaches.  He was able to tell me about the how the different colors of glass develop and the rarity of certain colors of glasses.  He told me about hiking over steep terrain to find the best beaches to find the glass.  Whenever I wear the earrings I purchased, I will think about his story and his friendly smiling face.

I spoke with another woman who wove baskets out of native palms and grasses.  She described the process of collecting the materials, preparing them for weaving and the actual weaving process.  When I look at the basket I purchased from her, I see the hard work put into it and the love she had for her craft.

At one shop, I was saddened to hear from that one of my favorite artists, a woman who hand-dyed silk scarves and sarongs, had recently passed away.  I had purchased one of her silks at each of my visits in the past and now I will treasure them even more knowing they will never be able to be replaced.

I have so many more stories of my travels and conversations with the crafters, and to me, the stories are almost more precious than the items I brought home.  In these conversations, I was able to receive more than a souvenir or gift for a family member, I was able to see the heart of the people who loved their island home.  I may have brought home less physical items, but the memories will last much longer!

Who knew that a simple choice on how to cover my child's bottom would take me so far?

A selection of items from my travels: a hand-turned vase made of Mango Wood,  a hand-woven basket of native palms and grasses, hand-made soap, a screen-printed tea towel and hand-made sea glass earrings.


  1. what an amazing story, thanks for sharing! one of my favorite things about buying handmade are the stories behind the items- i love that you took the time to discover more about the processes and how they are made/where they came from and the artists own journey. would you mind packing me in your suitcase for the next trip?

  2. Sure Jenelle! You can ride in my suitcase as long as you don't go over the 50lb weight limit! LOL