FAQ – How do I wash my carrier?

20191023_223515_0000.pngWhen it comes to babies shit literally can happen!  As can milky sick, serious quantities of drool and various dropped foodstuffs of all kind!  Correspondingly, all the slings in the library collection are ones that are easy peasy to wash!  There are some absolutely lovely wool, silk and other slings out there and available to those who want them, they are just not in my library!  I am all about making lives easier, and having something that can be washed easily is really a big part of that!

So whether your borrowing one of my carriers or have bought a new carrier of your own… what do you need to know about washing it?  Here are my top tips for washing organised by carrier type:

 

Buckle carriers  

Generally you want to wash these as little a possible.  A first wash can really help soften stiff webbing and make the carrier feel more snuggly but after that the more you wash it the quicker it will fade and start to look worn.  So my rule of thumb is if it’s really dirty (as in poonami or been on holiday all week and got various suncream/ icecream/ mud miscellane all over it) definitely do wash it!  And do so at 30 degrees and air dry overnight.  But if its just got the odd mark or odd bit of drool just spot clean but daubing the affected area with a damp cloth and this will save your carrier getting unnecessarily worn looking from over washing.  Never tumble dry a buckle carrier, because the heat can adversely affect the webbing, so always line or air dry overnight.  Another tip to protect your carrier is to use “suck pads” – little cloth squares that attach to the straps covering the area where babies most commonly like to suck and chew!  That way you can have a few pairs of suck pads that get washed regularly and are lovely and soft against baby, and your save your carrier all that extra drool!!

 

Stretchy Wraps

The good news with these is they can be washed as much as you like, and most can be tumble dried too if you need a fast turn around.  In general most cotton or bamboo based stretchy wraps can be washed at 40 degrees and tumble dried on low.  A few of the more fancier materials (modal, tencel, etc) do suggest 30 degrees and avoiding the tumble drier although I frequently forget and wash a whole bunch together and never found any adverse effects!  With a lot of washing some have bobbled slightly overtime but nothing that affects use.

 

Woven Wraps

Woven wraps are the one type of carrier where washing actually improves the carrier!!  Wovens get softer and softer over time with successive use and washing.  Washing helps to soften the fibres and make the wrap both softer against sling and more able to mold over you and babies bodies.  And they are so durable they can withstand years and years and year of washing and continuous use which means they just get better and better with time.  Which is why of all the carrier types this is the one type I often recommend purchasing second hand rather than new!  Washing temperature depends on the type of yarn used to make the wrap but most cotton wraps can be washed at 40-60 degrees and tumble dried on low.  If you have a wrap that is a blend of fibres you might need to be a little more careful, I have variously owned linen and hemp blends because again these are easy to wash and very strong! For these I wash at 30 or 40 (according to manufacturer’s directions) and tumble dry only part of the way (to iron dry on my machine) because it is possible to over dry hemp in particular… then I allow them to air to dry the rest of the way.  The key with these are to use liquid detergent (rather than powder), and detergent free from optical brighteners to avoid particles becoming trapped in the fibres of the wrap which could cause it to harden and become crunchy over time!

Ring Slings

As most ring slings are made from woven wrap material I wash these exactly as I would a woven wrap.  For the ring, if the carrier is not dirty but the rings I sometimes leave these threaded, but more often I will first unthread and then I will either pop a sock over the rings (and secure with an elastic hair band) or I will pop the whole thing in a laundry bag.  I will do this not for the carrier but for my machines!!! And for the noise!!  The sound of the ring clattering around can be hugely alarming otherwise, particularly in the tumble dryer!!

Likewise I use the same sock or laundry bag trick for washing Close Parent Caboo carriers.

 

Meh Dai and Half Buckles

For these how I wash them depends a bit on individual brands, if there is any webbing or plastic buckles on them I wash them as if a buckle carrier.  If they are made largely from woven material I treat as if a wrap.  Generally most can be washed easily at 30 degrees and often best to let air dry overnight or tumble on low if it doesn’t have any webbing or plastic buckles.

 

Any questions please do leave a comment below….   Happy Washing!!

-Madeleine

Woven FAQ – Knots! Part 2 – Slip Knots and Ring Finishes

In Part 1 I covered the most common knot used to tie a woven or stretchy wrap – the Double knot (Flat Reef or Granny).  While the double knot is very secure its not adjustable – if you want to adjust your wrap (maybe to feed, or maybe to alter slightly as baby falls asleep or wakes up) then you might want to an adjustable knot.  There are two – the Slip Knot and a Ring Finish.

 

The Slip Knot

As it’s name suggests the Slip Knot is adjustable – allowing you to loosen and tighten the wrap through the knot as needed while still holding very securely.   This knot is made by one end staying dead straight (the passive end – this is the one that will “slip”) while the other end (active) is used to tie 2 looped knots around the straight end.

The interesting thing to note that there are actually a staggering 8 ways to tie this knot!  Depending on the direction of each of your two looped knots and which end you use as the passive.  The important thing to realise is that all 8 variations are “correct”, secure and are slip knots.  I say this as someone who spent literally about a month watching and rewatching videos to learn how to tie a slip knot, trying desperately to follow and remember the method and which way to go next without ever understanding how the knot worked.  I am convinced I repeated untied perfectly serviceable slip knots just because they didn’t look exactly like the one in the video!

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This is because to get the classic shape you so often see on videos and instruction manuals you need to tie the second loop in the opposite direction to the first.  This is not something most of us do easily… so if it doesn’t come easily to you, don’t fret!  Just tie that second loop the same way as the first and you’ll still get a perfectly functional secure slip knot.

 

The Ring Finish

Technically not a knot at all, the ring finish simply uses a ring to fasten the two ends of the wrap.  The advantages of using a ring instead of a knot are:

  • it requires less length – so a good option if you don’t have much wrap left to make a knot with
  • it’s adjustable – both ends can be adjusted through the ring by pulling on the fabric either side of the ring
  • its pretty!  And looks fancy!

The disadvantage, however is as both sides do adjust by pulling depending on the width of your ring and how “grippy” verses “slippery” your wrap is you might find the ring finish might loosen off with time so you you might need re-adjust from time to time.  Although, if you do find this happening its worth simply switching to a smaller ring diameter.

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To create you simply pull a loop of fabric though the ring, then thread the other end through the gap created by the loop and the ring together and then pull to tighten up … trapping it between the ring and the first end.  The only part to be mindful over is the ring you use.  I always advise people purchase rings made for this purpose – rings that are safe for babies to chew on and safe to hold weight with no weak points, no weld and no sharp bits.  Sling rings come in 3 sizes – small, medium and large, and generally a medium ring is perfect for most wraps.  If you have a particularly thin or thick wrap you might need small or large rings respectively.

Happy Knotting!

-Madeleine

Woven FAQ – Knots! Part 1 – the Secure Double Knot

Knots are undoubtly the biggest thing that worries people new to or considering using woven wraps.  I frequently hear “I am not very good at knots”, “I am not sure I trust myself to tie it properly” or even “what if the knot becomes undone”.  And I remember thinking exactly the same first time I saw someone wrap.  I thought, gosh no… I never could figure out knots while in the Girl Guides and I am not going to be able to figure it out now on the minimal sleep of a new parent.

But actually its really not that complicated.  It’s not like in Girl Guides or Boy Scouts where someone is going to sneak up behind you and go OH NO, that’s not a Bowman’s Hitch thats a Sheeps Head or some nonsense.  Honestly, I’ve got no idea what either of those knots are and nor do I care.  When it comes to learning to use a woven or a stretchy wrap you really only need to know one knot – A Secure Double Knot.

Yep you heard that right – a double knot Literally any secure double knot …. i.e. tie a bog standand single knot and then tie it again.  And your done.  It’s secure, its going nowhere, its as safe as houses.  And I mean this… when I do get a parent who is worried about a knot spontenously untying during use, I challenge them to try… tie a knot then wiggle it… pull on one end unevenly, jump around … etc.  Do whatever you like to it, so long as you’ve tied 2 knots its going nowhere unless you actually, purposefully untie it.  And the more you wiggle, jump up and down and so forth all that happens is the knot gets tighter and more secure!

There are 4 ways to tie double knot – and depending which you use you will either get a Granny Knot or a Flat Reef Knot.  Both are equally secure so it really doesn’t matter which you use.  The Granny knot is easier to tie because you do the same motion twice – right over left x2 or left over right x2.  So intutively its easier to do!  The advantage of the Flat Reef knot is simply that it is flatter so sits more comfortably against your body than the Granny knot (particularly if you sit down!).  If you want to try a Flat Reef Knot simply remember that you need to go the other way on the second knot … i.e. tie the first knot as you would usually and then go the way that doesn’t feel natural to you on the second… and Viola! You have a Flat Reef Knot!  But if somehow all your attempts at Flat Reef Knots end in Granny’s … don’t fret, it really doesn’t matter… you wrap job will be just as secure and just as cosy for you and baby!

-Madeleine

Woven FAQ – Brands

Buying your first woven wrap – deciding what to buy – can often be the most intimating part of wrapping.  There is a startling array of different brands, blends and designs.  It can be terrifying to work out where to start!  ‘Woven FAQ’ is my attempt to answer some of the questions I am asked the most by people buying their 1st wrap, and to cover the most important points to consider.

Next up in the series is:

What brand(s) do you recommend?

In a way this is the hardest question to answer because there are so many great brands out there.  Literally loads, and if I tried to make a complete list I worry it would confuse more people than it would help!  Instead, I have stuck to great brands which are easily accessible.  Easily accessible in that a) its easy to get hold of their wraps in the UK, b) there are always wraps in stock and c) that they are common place enough that your local library or sling meet etc are likely to have an example or two for you to try to get an idea before you buy.  Finally, hopefully, accessible in budget too.

Budget is always the most contentious point!  It can seem like a large outlay for what is essentially a long length of fabric, but when it comes to wraps there is an element of “you get what you pay for”.   There is a clear difference between wraps around the £100 mark and those around the £40-£50 mark in terms of quality and ease of wrapping with.

However, if those prices scare you, there are some real deals to be had on the second hand market.  In fact, while I am the sort of person who normally prefers to buy new… wraps are my one exception.  Generally wraps will last a long time and actually get softer and easier to wrap with with use – this process is called ‘breaking in’.  From new many wraps can be quite stiff and feel a bit like cardboard but soften with washing and wear.  While some people love this breaking in process, I for one am completely lazy.  I’d rather fast forward to the bit where the wrap feels really lovely and is really easy to use and not go through all the hard work of breaking it in myself! For this reason I massively prefer to either buy wraps second hand that have already been broken in for me or to buy new wraps that already come soft and require very little or no breaking in.  If you are buying new, how easy your new wrap will be to break in is definitely something worth considering!

It’s also worth noting that as well as catering to different budgets, different brands have different aesthetics.  So its worth looking at a few to find one that matches up with your personal style.  Because, simply put, if you love it you’ll wear it.  So more than anything, choose something that you really love.

So, below are the brands I recommend as a starting point for someone buying their first wrap.  Prices quoted are that for a basic size 6 cotton wrap.  The price will of course vary depending on what size wrap you are after and expect to pay a little more for thicker weave wraps and/or different fibre blends.  Also note these prices are based on buying new, so if are going for a second hand wrap feel free to use this as a guide to help you judge if your getting a good deal etc!

  • Didymos – £95-120.  Didymos are #1 on my list for a reason – they are a family run business that have been making wraps since 1972 and really know what they’re doing.  Plus they have a staggering range of different weaves and styles.  There’s literally something from everyone.  While that standard stripes are a little harder work to break in, their Jacquard wraps are utterly gorgeous and usually break in and become absolutely lovely really fast.  In particular if your buying for a new baby take a look at their double face range and their Lisca range as these are normally lusciously soft right out of the box.  But really any of their Prima’s, Ada’s or limited edition Jacquard weaves soften up pretty quickly and are mighty fine wraps.
  • Girasol – £70-85.  Girasol are renowned for their beautiful stripey wraps.  Stripes definitely help flatten the learning curve, and in particular Girasol stripes are brilliant because they are beautiful but also their wraps are really easy to care for – easy to wash, not prone to pulls or snags and are absolutely brilliant newborn all the way to preschoolers and beyond because they are thin yet supportive.  All their wraps are handwoven in Guatemala by local artisans, Girasol are big believers in fair trade and have been making wraps since 1981.  While these cotton wraps do usually start of a bit stiff they do go really floppy and soft with a few washes and use.
  • Firespiral ~£150.  British made, mum made… designed and made entirely in the North of England, these wraps are just lovely.  Luxurious, beautiful, and softer than a kitten belly.  Firespiral have the knack of making wraps that can practically wrap themselves!  They are so soft they are lovely for the tiniest of newborns but still strong enough and supportive enough to carry preschoolers and beyond.  Yes they are more expensive than others listed here, and they are a little pull prone, but I do think they really worth it.  Plus if you are totally new to wrapping Firespiral do run their excellent Fledgling scheme aimed at reducing the learning curve and price hurdle of purchasing your first woven.
  • Jacq and Rose ~£140.  Another British, mum made brand.  These wraps are super soft from the get go and so easy to learn with.  They are the ultimate teaching wraps with their contrasting sides and a pattern that helps you easily distinguish the top from the bottom and divides the wraps into thirds.  They are teaching wraps that don’t look like teaching wraps! Just stylish and geometric!  Perfect for beginners and seasoned wrappers alike.

If buying second hand and looking for a bargain I’d also take a look at Hoppediz, Storchenweige, Lenny Lamb and Joy and Joe.  These are all lovely once broken in and not budget busting and while maybe not my first choice from brand new as they can come a little stiffer … they can all be great once broken in.

-Madeleine

 

Woven FAQ – What does gsm mean? How thick or thin is that?

Buying your first woven wrap – deciding what to buy – can often be the most intimating part of wrapping.  There is a startling array of different brands, blends and designs.  It can be terrifying to work out where to start!  ‘Woven FAQ’ is my attempt to answer some of the questions I am asked the most by people buying their 1st wrap, and to cover the most important points to consider.

Second in the series is:

What does gsm mean?  How thick or thin is that?

Gsm stands for “grams per square meter” and is a measurement of density.  For woven wraps, the gsm gives and idea of how thick or thin the wrap is – how much a wrap weighs as a proportion of its size and width.  Generally speaking;

  • less than 180 gsm = really thin
  • 180 – 220 gsm  = thin
  • 220 – 260 gsm = medium
  • 260 – 300 gsm  = thick
  • greater than 300 gsm = really thick

One way to easily visualise this to compare knot sizes – the thicker the wrap the bigger the knot!

Annotated knots

For a first wrap, I would start with a thin-medium wrap, something in the 200-260 gsm range.  Thicker wraps are generally tougher to tighten if your new to wrapping and a bit inundating with a little baby. They do have their advantages – thicker wraps are often more supportive and can be more forgiving of a sloppy wrap job, but the extra thickness and weight can be a bit warm and get in the way while you’re learning or feel like your wrestling to get the wrap done up in the first place!  Conversely, while very thin wraps are much cooler they can require you to be very precise in your technique to prevent the wrap either digging or sagging, especially as your child grows… so something in the middle gives you the best of both worlds and should work well all the way from tiny baby to bigger child.

That said gsm isn’t the be all and end all, the weave of a wrap can have a big impact too.  At 260 gsm my Firespiral alchemy weave Librarian is right at the upper end of midweight but its loose weave means it behaves like a thinner wrap – easy to tighten, very comfy and very breathable, so not at all hot.  In fact while in general thinner wraps will feel cooler than thicker wraps, weave can play just as an important role … i.e. my Didymos Lisca and my Girasol Earthy Rainbow are both 215 gsm but the Lisca with its herringbone weave feels like a smooshy warm blanket while the Girasol feels thinner and cooler.

Finally, when considering thickness, consider also your chosen length and what you intend to do with this wrap.  If you are getting a base size wrap to do carries with multiple passes around you and baby, err on the thinner side as those extra wraps around each of you will heat you up!  However, if your going for a shorter wrap – thicker wraps are stronger and will feel more supportive in a single layer carry like a simple ruck.

– Madeleine

(Note all gsm quoted above are measured by me post wash and wear.  Wraps do shrink a little after their first wash and in fact stretch out with use and spring back in the wash,.. so true gsm will fluctuate a little and may well differ from the loom state gsm published by the manufacturer.  I.e. Didymos Rosalinde is quoted at 180gsm but post wash and wear it measures at 190gsm).

 

 

 

Woven FAQ – What size wrap do I need?

Buying your first woven wrap – deciding what to buy – can often be the most intimating part of wrapping.  There is a startling array of different brands, blends and designs.  It can be terrifying to work out where to start!  ‘Woven FAQ’ is my attempt to answer some of the questions I am asked the most by people buying their 1st wrap, and to cover the most important points to consider.

So to kick off this series is the most common question of all:

What size wrap do I need?

The most common wrap sizes run from a size 2 (2.7m) to a size 7 (5.2m) in 50 cm intervals.  Which you’ll need depends on two things:

  • First and foremost – what you want to do with it
  • Secondly – you and your baby’s size

For the second point – the best way to work out what size you need is to try different sizes on and determine your ‘Base size‘.  This is defined as the size you need to do a front wrap cross carry.  Please note that I say your size and your baby’s as I need 1 size longer to wrap my 3.5 year old verses my newborn!  But the biggest determiner on this will be your size.  Most people are between a 5-7 for this.

Then as I mentioned it depends on what you want to do with your woven;

With a base size wrap you can do almost everything – front wrap cross carry, front cross carry, double hammock etc!  In general, carries where the fabric passes 3 times around you and your baby’s body.

 

 

A medium length wrap (base -2 or so) will enable you to do carries with 2 passes around you and babies body, such as kangaroo, short cross carry, Robins hip carry, ruck and short versions of double hammock.

 

 

While with a short wrap (base – 3 or 4) you can do single pass carries such as hip carry with a slip knot, classic hip carry, ruck tied under bum or at shoulder etc.

 

 

In general carries with more passes around you and baby are going to feel more supportive – as there is more cloth to spread the weight evenly with. These carries can also be a bit more forgiving if you are new to wrapping. But the trade off is that more cloth to deal with can sometimes feel a little overwhelming or a lot to deal with if your new!  Or a lot if you are attempting to back wrap a very wiggly toddler for the first time.  Carries with just a single pass around you and baby require a little more precision over the tightening to ensure comfort but do have advantage of requiring less length and being cooler on hot days.  In fact short or mid length wraps can be a great choice for an up down toddler because the wrap will fold up small enough for a change bag when not in use or can even double up as a scarf.  So the key is to pick the right size for what you want to do and your body size – i.e for front carries with my newborn I prefer a size 6 or 7, while if you are petite and mainly planning to back carry in a simple ruck a size 3 or 4 might be more appropriate. As ever your local sling library or sling meet is a great place to have a go and take the guess work out of what size to buy.

-Madeleine