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

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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

Lifft Stretchy Wrap Review

FB_IMG_1488654953551This is fast becoming a favourite.  Released in December last year, the Lifft Stretchy is pretty new to the market and I first tried one at the Northern Sling Exhibition earlier this year.  As I already had 7 different brands of stretchy wraps in the library, a new stretchy wrap definitely wasn’t on my shopping list for the day…  However, before the exhibition Alex from Lifft had been in contact and I’d promised I’d try it.  I was pretty certain, I’d try it, shrug and decide it wasn’t significantly different from those already in my library, make polite comments and then be off on my merry way.  Nope, wrong,… I immediately absolutely loved it and bought one for the library on the spot.

So what makes it so great and a worthy addition to the library?

  • 20170304_122240It is very easy to tie and use.  It has both lovely stretch and great elasticity so it is very easy to pop baby in and out without worrying about baby slumping over time.
  • It is thin.   Not as thin feeling as the bamboo or tencel blend stretchy wraps, but the thinnest of the cotton stretchy wraps I’ve tried.  As the standard stretchy wrap carry involves three layers over baby, its important to consider warmth and season!  The Lifft wrap is one that I feel would work well all year round even in summer (maybe not on the hottest of days, but fine for the vast majority of the british summer.
  • It is very supportive.  Support, and thus how long the stretchy wrap will last you before you start to feel like your baby is getting to heavy and/or wriggly is a tricky one!  Often more supportive wraps are the ones that are less easy to tie or they are considerably thicker and thus warmer to wear.  I love the Lifft because it bucks this tread, it is thin and easy to use and yet it is still very supportive and will last you longer than many other brands.
  • Price point.  At £35 direct from Lifft, its a fair bit cheaper than a number of comparable brands – and that’s always nice!

My one slight nit picky con with this wrap is I find it a bit narrower than I’d like in an ideal world.  That said, my husband finds narrower wraps easier as he is less likely to get tangled or twisted!!  But I like enough width to be able to pull the centre pass up to my babies neck and then down to cover their feet (as Rachel is always kicking her socks off!).  I can *just* about manage this with the Lifft, but its not as easy as compared to other wraps that are say just a couple of cm wider.  But this isn’t a deal breaker at all and I’d still reach for this with any newborn for all the reasons above.

To read more about how the Lifft wrap compares to the other 7 stretchy wraps in the library (and to see a truly giant table) please click here!

-Madeleine

My favourite Newborn carriers

Today Rachel turns 3 months old, marking the end of the 4th trimester.  As she leaves the newborn period behind, these were my favourite carriers to use with her during her newborn phase;

image-20170104_090516.jpg1. Hana Baby stretchy wrap – I just love stretchy wraps for those early days.  Super soft, easy to tie, easy to pop baby in and out of, and perfect fit for parent and baby every time. Perfect for round the home as well as out and about… David and I would both wear her for hours on end in a Hana.  See previous posts for more on the Hana and other stretchy wrap brands.

2. Mid-Length woven wraps – namely my size 4 Didymos Prima Severn Sky and my size 3 Firespiral Brimstone Kaleidoscope.  These were great to grab for when Rachel was unsettled and needed a quick calm.  The shorter length compared to 1. and 3. meant I could very quickly throw them on and be quickly rocking her without needing to worry about oodles of fabric.  Mainly I’d use a kangaroo carry although sometimes also a front wrap cross carry tied under bum or at shoulder.  Useful for quick ups around the home and short trips out… although the reduced support would mean I’d choose something else for further afield or if I knew she’d be in there a while.

3. Long woven wraps – namely my size 7 Didymos Lisca Achat, size 6 Girasol Earthy Rainbow, and my size 6 Didymos Rosalinde Doubleface.  All three are beautifully thin and super soft and just feel perfect around a little baby.  While I used these from the beginning as well, I probably reached most for 1. and 2. during the first few weeks, while as Rachel grew, I started preferring long wovens more and more.  The extra support provided by the woven fabric compared to stretchy and by the extra length when compared to mid-length wraps meant these were absolutely great for long trips out, for around the home as she started to have longer more defined naps.  And as she started to want to stretch and flex more in a sling.  My most used carries were the front double hammock, front wrap cross carry and reinforced kangaroo carry.  Front double hammock in particular is my favourite for this age.

4. The Connecta Baby and the Izmi Baby.  While I generally preferred the perfect fit, comfort and closeness afforded by wrap style slings for this 4th trimester phase… there were days where the simplicity of a buckle carrier was really useful.  I.e. on days we were going to the doctors or health visitors and I knew I’d need to get her in and out of the carrier quickly and probably in a confined space.  Or on days when it was raining heavily and I was likely to need to retie while outside…  On these occasions I loved the Connecta and the Izmi.  Both are very light and can be easily sized down to give a lovely snugly fit for a little baby.  Which one I choose simply depended which one wasn’t on hire.  I marginally preferred the Izmi, but as it was out on hire so much I didn’t get to use it as often!  Please see previous post if you’d like to see how both of these sized down for a newborn compared to other buckle carriers.

Please note that these were my personal favourites.  Carrying your baby is a really personal thing and different people prefer different things.  Its always always worth learning about different carrier types, trying a few different brands and finding out what fits you best.  Both in terms of physical fit and fits your needs.   Its worth noting that both the Caboo and Ring Slings are really popular choices for newborns and ones I’ve seen work many many times with many parents.  I personally preferred stretchy wraps to the Caboo as these fit my body better, but I’ve met so many parents who’ve found the ease of simply slipping the Caboo over their head has meant that this is the best fit for them.  Likewise I often compare ring sling to marmite… you love them or you hate them.  They just aren’t my jam, but I’ve had so many clients for whom the ring sling is the perfect newborn and beyond carrier.

Ultimately its all about finding your personal favourite or favourites!

-Madeleine

(Photo of Didymos Rosalinde by the talented Alex Cetera)

 

 

Hana Baby Wrap Review

image2 (1)I love stretchy wraps for the newborn stage, they are so snuggley, soft and comforting during that 4th trimester period. And of all the stretchy wraps I have ever tried, the organic Hana Baby Wrap is my absolute favourite. I hadn’t heard of it when my son Tom was born but it was the one I bought for my sister-in-law when my beautiful niece was born and its the one I plan to use with my daughter due in a few months. And clearly its the most popular in my library – I have 6 at the moment and they are almost constantly all out on loan!

The sceptical among you are probably thinking yeah but that’s because its your favourite and this biases people toward them … and maybe this is a factor… but usually when a parent asks for a stretchy I simply pass them a pile of 4 or 5 different brands and almost always the parent in question runs their hands over each and pulls out the Hana. That’s because the Hana is sumptuously soft and light. It stands out to parents because unlike the majority of stretchy wraps which are made from cotton, the Hana wrap is made predominately from Bamboo (68% Bamboo, 28% Organic Cotton and 4% Elastane to be precise).

Dan Hana BabyBamboo is a thermo-regulating material so it feels light and cool in summer but will still keep you warm in winter. Parents are often understandably worried about babies (and themselves!) overheating in the 3 layers of material in a stretchy carry, so choosing a lightweight wrap such as the Hana can be a really help prevent everyone getting too hot whatever the season. Bamboo also has natural anti-microbial properties and is machine washable so absolutely no need to worry about the inevitable poo-plosions or baby sick.

In addition to feeling lovely, this wrap is one of the easiest to use because its both very stretchy and has a good level of elasticity. It is a two-way stretchy which simply means it has both length-wise and width-wise stretch and this means there is quite a wide ‘window’ or tolerance zone between tying too tightly or too loosely which makes learning how to tie much easier than other stretchy wraps with a smaller window. The elasticity simply refers to the ability of the wrap to spring back and not just stretch out and sag, and consequently makes this wrap pretty supportive and strong as baby grows. That said while I feel this wrap would happily support bigger babies, I do find a lot of babies ‘grow’ out of stretchy wraps (although Hana’s slower than many other brands available) – more developmentally than physically. Many parents, myself included find them worth their weight in gold for the 4th trimester period, while others are put off by the idea of buying something that will have a relatively limited lifespan. If you fall into this camp – I, and many other libraries, do offer long term hires on stretchy wraps which can prevent you ever needing to buy one yourself.

-Madeleine