How to secure your woven wrap – knots and other finishes.

Woven wraps are hard to beat when it comes to closeness, snuggliness and flexibility of use. However, despite all these pros many parents are very worried about the knotting part. They are worried it will be difficult, or they will get it wrong and their wrap won’t be secure.

There are actually 4 different ways you can secure a woven wrap. They are;

  1. Secure Double Knot
  2. Slip Knot
  3. Ring Finish
  4. Knotless Finish

Each has different pros and cons, but importantly, none of them are difficult to do and all 4 are completely secure. Here I will show you how to do each one and discuss their advantanges and disadvanges in turn.

The Secure Double Knot

Of all the four, the secure double knot is the easiest. I promise you, you already know how to do it. You simply tie a knot and then tie it again. Sure you’ll see some people on the internet go on about Granny Knots vs Flat Reef knots and blah blah blah… but it really doesn’t matter. ANY double knot will be completely secure. It won’t loosen over time, it won’t undo unless you actually undo it. In fact if someone pulls on the end of your wrap, or you snag on something, the knot will get tighter and more secure – not looser. So the main pros of this knot is that is super simple to do, it won’t slip or move so feels really secure.

It’s main disadvantage is that it isn’t adjustable, so it isn’t possible to loosen or tighten your wrap without untying the knot. So if you need to lower to feed your baby, or if the wrap has become loose and you need to tighten – you will need to untie this knot first, adjust and then re-tie.

Here is how to do it;

Note – I said this knot won’t spontaneously loosen. I often have clients who tell me that as they were walking their wrap got looser, and they are worried that their knot loosened over time and that maybe they did it “wrong”. If this is happening to you – you haven’t done anything wrong with your knot – and it is not the knot that loosened. It simply means that when you tied the wrap there were pockets of hidden “slack” (hidden loose parts), and as you walked your gentle rocking motion combined with gravity moved that slack around toward baby resulting in the wrap now feeling unsupportive. The trick is to now raise baby back to where you want them and retighten… and over time as you hone your skills you will start to notice that hidden slack and learn to tighten it out right from the start. If your struggling with this – this is definitely something I can help with and something that an online consultation is perfect for.

The Slip Knot

By constrast, the Slip Knot is adjustable. So it is a great choice if you want to raise or lower your sling for feeding, or if you’d like to be able to pretie the wrap and pop baby in or out. Or you would like to easily be able to adjust the tightness as you walk without first untying the knot. It is also a double knot so it is completely secure and is not going to loosen or untie overtime (unless you actually loosen or untie it on purpose!).

It is, however, a knot you will likely need to learn. By this I mean likely you will need to memorise the steps … I still repeat the steps under my breath every time I tie this knot!! But it really does open up a whole load of options and flexibility by learning it. And fun fact – for anyone who (like me) had to wear a tie for secondary school – this is actually the same knot as you use for a tie. So actually you may in fact already know this knot. And if teenagers all over the country can learn to do this knot and manage it in the morning when they are late for school – it really can’t be that hard! Here is how to do it;

The Ring Finish

For this we use a ring instead of a knot to fasten the two ends of the wrap together. Like the Slip Knot, the ring finish is adjustable. In fact it is more adjustable as you can tighten or loosen either end of the wrap through the ring (unlike the slip knot where only the “passive” or straight end can be adjusted). Plus it is physically easier to adjust through – it requires less hand and wrist strength to adjust through than the slip knot. So the ring finish is really useful if you want to be able to raise or lower your carry for feeding or to adjust while you are out and about without needing to undo a knot. Or you like the adjustability of a slipknot but find it too much strain on your wrists.

However, the flipside is because both ends adjust and do so very easily… it doesn’t feel quite as secure as a slip knot or the secure double knot. It won’t spontaneously undo but it may well loosen through the ring a little over time and so you may well find that you do need to adjust it and retighten from time to time as you walk.

Another advantage of the ring finish is it needs less length than a knot. So it can be really helpful if you find your wrap is a little short and your struggling to get a good knot. It also looks really pretty! I will openly confess I have used this finish on many an occasion just because I liked how it looked! Particularly, when wearing a woven at an event like a friends wedding! Here is how to do it.

It is worth noting that the ring you use matters. Because the ring needs to be strong and durable enough to take the weight – it needs to be a “sling ring” rather than any old ring. It needs to be solid metal with no breaks or obvious welding or joins. I purchase mine from here. The ring also needs to be the right size for your wrap – which depends both on how thick your wrap is and how “grippy” verses “slippery” it is. If the ring is too large then it will be more likely to slip and loosen over time. Too small and you may have difficulty tightening through it. In the video I am using a medium sling ring with a fairly thin woven wrap. For a very thick or very grippy wrap I might find I need a larger ring, while for a very thin or very slippery wrap I might find I need a smaller ring instead.

Knotless Finish

The final way you can secure a woven wrap is not to tie a knot at all, but to use friction to hold your wrap instead. I appreciate this initially sounds crazy, but actually what stops a knot from untying is friction between the two ends of the wrap. What holds the wrap in a ring finish is friction created by the ring between the two ends of the wrap. It is possible to create the same friction without actually creating a knot.

The advantage of a knotless finish is it is much less bulky than a knot. So if you find a knot uncomfortable or prone to digging in, a knotless finish might be more comfortable. Likewise a Ring Finish is alot less bulky – but again the ring can be quite hard and can be prone to digging in – so a knotless finish can be a great alternative. Another advantage is they are often easier to untie than a knot, which can be helpful if you find untying knots difficult or stressful on your wrists. There are actually a number of ways to do knotless finish depending on the carry your are going for but here is one of the most common and how to do it;

While it sounds less secure – I am continually suprised by just how secure a good knotless finish actually does feel. Once tightened there should be no slippage and it should be just as secure as a knot. Plus you can tighten through it. Of all the finishes this is probably the one I use the most for the simple reason that I prefer not to have the bulk. Mastering this finish does require understanding how friction is generated and remembering to go over the strap first rather than directly under it… but once you’ve remembered that then you can merrily apply this finish to any carry you’d like!

Have you tried any of these different methods for securing a woven wrap? Which is your favourite? Have I inspired you to try a different method for tying? You can use any of these four methods with any carry …. so feel free to get creative!

Happy experimenting

-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.  I say an element of you get what you pay for because there are option that are way more and really once you go over £150, it is hard to say that you’re actually getting any more for your money at that point.  

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!  But if your happy to buy second hand you can find some real deals and expect to pay only 50-60% of the new price for a really great quality wrap that will be lovely and soft and still have tonnes and tonnes of life left in it. 

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 – £90-130.  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 their 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 – £80-95.  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.
  • Oscha ~ £150-200.  Made in Scotland, Oscha are a known for their absolutely glorious elegant designs and colourways.  They make truly visually stunning wraps, which are all woven in the British Isles and finished in their solar powered workshop in Scotland.  They pride themselves on sourcing only the most ethically and sustainably sourced materials and being completely carbon neutral and planting a tree with every wrap sold as part of a re-forestation program.  Their ethics are as simply wonderful as their designs.  Definitely not the cheapest on this list, and definitely one of the brands that needs a little bit more breaking in (mainly because most of their wraps are on the slightly thicker side, so takes them a little longer to get soft), Oscha wraps are definitely hard wearing, completely beautiful and of a very high quality. 

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

Watch me talk through both of these here, or read on below for full explaination…

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.

If you are very petite – say size 10 or below, then most likely your base size will be a 5.   If you of a relatively average build then likely a size 6.  If you are on the fluffier side then a 7 or maybe even an 8 might work better.  To put into context I am a size 14-16 and I am usually a size 6 base size.  When I have been larger, more like a 18, I have found a size 7 more comfortable – particularly as my children have grown.

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