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

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

Vatanai Opportunity Heartbeat Review

20190415_153148Only the second Vatanai wrap I have ever tried, what struck me most about Opportunity Heartbeat is that it is completely and utterly different to Gaia Labrinth.

Heartbeat is a proper heavy weight wool blend, – 47% Egyptian Cotton, 46% Merino Superwash Wool and 7% tencel – with what Vatanai call a “tri-weave”.  Which means rather than the standard 1 warp and 1 weft that most woven wraps have, this has 1 warp and 2 wefts.  This tri-weave is what makes this wrap a heavy weight wrap; coming in at 366 gsm.  It also enables absolute exquisite detailing on the intricate looping pattern that changes down the width of the wrap and apparently represents how both parent and babies heartbeat changes as you wrap your baby.   This wrap actually reminds me of Liora Rae’s Bloom prototype which I tried a couple of years ago – which had a similar weave structure and exquisite detailing.  Just like Bloom, Heartbeat’s tri-weave lends this wrap a distinct “waffley” feel, that gives this wrap a feeling of lightness and cushioning combined with the robustness and support of such a thick wrap.

20190411_191642As you might expect the thickness of this wrap means it is really well suited to carrying toddlers and older children.  It absolutely shines in a single layer back carry – even with my 22kg 6 year old!  Likewise it’s plenty strong enough on the front or the back with my growing toddler, and supports her weight effortlessly.   It probably would not be my pick with a young baby, I think I would find both the thickness and the 70cm width a bit all encompassing with a young baby… but if you’re looking for a so called “toddler worthy” wrap… Heartbeat would certainly fit the bill.

Particularly, if you’re looking for something that’s strong but not overly rigid. What’s really quite special about Opportunity is that it has loads of diagonal stretch.  This diagonal stretch means despite the thickness this wrap has the ability to flex as you move, comfortably fitting and molding you and your little ones body.

20190410_135122Colours wise this wrap is a lovely deep red against a very soft grey.  It makes for a beautiful colour combination, although not really my colours.  This, the overall weight and thickness of this wrap (it weighs over 1.2kg in a size 6!!) combined with my general fear of washing wool are probably all reasons why this wrap isn’t really something I personally would go for.  And certainly hasn’t stolen my heart the way the beautiful green of Gaia Labrinth has.

However, if you are looking for a toddler worthy, thick wrap that still has beautiful stretch and moldability this wrap would make an really fab choice.

-Madeleine

 

 

 

Vatanai Gaia Labrinth Review

IMG_20190329_152953This wrap is unlike anything I’ve ever tried before!

It’s absolutely stunningly beautiful.  I’ve had the good fortune to try a good number of stunning wraps before, but where this one is different is the slubs. Slubs arise when the threads used to make the wrap is of uneven thickness … leading to some big fat bits that stick out of the wrap.  While I’ve owned wraps with the odd slub here and there before, Gaia Labrinth has these absolutely huge fluffy, textural Tussah Silk slubs.

These slubs make this wrap look and feel like a really luxiourious soft blanket.  Almost like a natural wool blanket… but with the lightness and strength that comes with silk.  This wrap is 34% Tussah Silk and 66% cotton, and it has distinct sides.  The cotton side that is smooth and the silk side that is slubby and textural.  As you might expect this side has loads of grip, while the cotton side is less grippy and more able to slide into place.  It’s a really clever mix because the slidy cotton side means that this wrap is nice and easy to tighten (you don’t feel like your having a wrestling match with friction generated by too much grip), but the silk side means that the wrap has enough grip that it stays exactly where it is put and doesn’t slip or slide or get saggy with time.

Measuring at 290gsm technically this wrap is thick, but it honestly doesn’t feel thick.  In hand it feels more like a medium weight wrap … more like 250gsm.  And certainly not hot – the silk makes this wrap really breathable and not at all hot and cloying like I’d expect from a thicker wrap.  Dimensions wise this tester is a size 6, weighing 920g and measuring at 493cm and 64cm wide.  Which is pretty long for a size 6 but relatively narrow.  I am quite finickity around width and most my wraps are around 68-70cm and I tend to find anything over about 72cm too wide and anything under about 63cm too narrow for my tastes.  But actually at 64cm this wrap was plenty wide enough to get a supportive carry with Rachel and actually the narrowness means the wrap is a little easier to deal with so on balance I quite liked it.

20190329_155949We used this wrap in front wrap cross carry, kangaroo and double hammock.  It was a delight in the front carries.  I tend to avoid carrying Rachel on my front if I can as she is getting so heavy now – but the silk in this wrap lends loads of strength and so I was really comfortably carrying her on the front during our sleepy walks.  It was great on the back too – although the grippyness did mean I had to work a little harder on getting my double hammock chest pass nice and snug… but then the pro was once in place it stayed exactly where I put it for a lovely supportive wrap job.

All in all I loved this and wouldn’t hestiate to recommend Vatanai as a brand making truly lovely wraps.

-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!

IMG_20181124_105306_204IMG_20181124_105306_203

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.

img_20181127_201206.jpg

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

Didymos Lisca Achat Review

20161215_110028This was the second wrap I ever bought and is still one of my absolute favourites.  I adore this wrap.  It’s just perfection.  I’ve used this with both my children and its proved itself to be absolutely perfect for tiny tiny newborns and heavy older toddlers/preschoolers alike.

What sets Lisca’s apart from other wraps is their loose herringbone weave – it gives these wraps a ususually large amount of diagonal stretch.  This diagonal stretch allows the wrap to really mold around you… to move and flex with you and your baby.  This is absolutely wonderful with a newborn as it gives a similar ultra softness and snugness of a stretchy wrap combined with all the pros of a woven wrap.

 

 

IMG_9533But this diagonal stretch sometimes worries people in terms of longevity – some worry that it won’t be supportive enough for an older baby or toddler.  But I don’t find this to be the case at all.  And I guess it depends on your definition of supportive.  Some of the wraps that are described as “toddler worthy” are very rigid! They are supportive in a cast iron, never yielding, toddler prison sense!  Didymos Lisca weaves are not supportive in that way – instead they are supportive in the same way a tubular grip style bandage is … shaping its self to you, giving you optimum support where you need it while still moving with your body.  Before I bought this wrap I had often heard the term “wraps like a bandage” and didn’t really understand it, but Didymos Lisca weaves really do wrap like and offer support akin to a super soft bandage.

20180616_114236Although I do think it helps that I have this wrap in a long size.  Mine is a size 7 (which is a base +1 for me).  This wrap absolutely shines in a multilayer carry.  It’s relatively thin (215 gsm), with a fairly loose/airy weave so even in warmer weather its not too hot to wear in a multilayer carry and it’s those layers that really contribute to that feeling of support when it comes to wearing a fast asleep toddler!  And to that feeling of security with a brand new newborn!  It is worth noting that you get thick and thin Lisca’s, and while the thicker Lisca’s may well work well as a midlength or a shortie, I’d always choose a long length for a thin Lisca.

But best of all when it comes to this wrap is the fact that it comes already super soft.  Right out of the box its already outrageously soft and cuddly.  Like a favourite blanket.  No breaking in, just ready to use.  Which will always make this a favourite choice of mine for someone looking to buy a new wrap for a newborn.  It doesn’t hurt that the herringbone weave and subtle colour choices make for a timeless classic look either.

All in all Didymos Lisca Achat is a great all rounder.  It’s easy to use, soft as anything and easy to look after (its 100% cotton so washing machine and tumble dryer safe).  While Achat was a limited edition colourway, Didymos does have other colourways that are very similar and are in their standard collection (i.e. always availible), in particular Burgund, Petrol, Azzuro, Minos, Smeraldo and Obsidian are all pretty similar to Achat, and retail at approximately £100 for a size 6.

– 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

Girasol Earthy Rainbow Review

IMG_20171003_104159_822Whenever someone is asking me about buying their first woven wrap I always say first and foremost buy something you love.  Yes things like weight and length do make difference, but you also have to love it.  If it’s a design and colour that you love then you’ll wear it loads, you’ll learn new carries as your baby grows and use it in different ways all because you love using it.

I bought this wrap because I love it.  I absolutely adore the colours!  This wrap makes me smile every time I wear it.  I reach for it on grey cloudy days because its cheers me up, I reach for it on sunny days because it looks so cheerful in the sun!  Really anyday, any weather … for me its just perfect!

20161222_132526I bought this wrap while 5 months pregnant with Rachel very much for me, but this has since become a library carrier too.  And a very popular library carrier too because;

  • The stripes make this a very easy wrap to learn with.  The stripes on Earthy Rainbow are just perfect to demo with and perfect for anyone who is new to wrapping because they make it so easy to see what is going on while your getting the hang of tightening.
  • Its really soft.  I bought this second hand and it was already soft, floppy and really well broken in.  I’ve now had it for another 2 years and its just blankety soft, absolutely perfect for putting a brand new baby in (or quite equally a growing toddler)
  • It’s very easy to look after.  It can be machine washed and tumbled dried so no need to worry about baby sick or accidently being dragged through a muddy puddle.  Likewise its a relatively tight weave so its not prone to pulls or broken threads – in fact in 2 years of use its never had a single pull which is frankly amazing in my house! All my other wraps have several. So I can feel free to throw this wrap in my change bag or in the bottom of my cargo bike without panicking about it becoming damaged.
  • It’s not too thick and not too thin. At 215 gsm this is a thin or medium-thin wrap which means it doesn’t feel too much with a brand new baby but equally is strong enough for a growing toddler.
  • Its a size 6, which is many peoples base size and thus the perfect place to start if your trying a wrap for the first time.  As this is a thin/medium-thin wrap I prefer it in a longer size as this means I can do multi-layer carries that are still very comfortable for carrying a growing toddler.  Generally speaking I prefer thicker wraps in shorter sizes and thinner wraps in longer sizes.

-Madeleine

DidyKlick Review

Didymos are best known for their wonderful woven wraps, and their new half buckle carrier – the DidyKlick – sees them marry wraps and buckles together into one perfect package.

20171124_115259I would describe the DidyKlick as a great halfway house between a woven wrap and a buckle carrier.  It combines the pros of both – the perfect fit, softness and flexibility of use of the woven wrap combined with the intuitiveness, ease of use, solid waist support and satisfying ‘click’ of a buckle carrier.  In fact it does seem almost literally like half and half of each – with the bottom half most resembling a buckle carrier and the top half behaving and feeling more like a wrap.

It has a heavily padded waistband that feels very supportive and does a great job of taking the weight off of the shoulders and onto the hips and waist.  The buckle is to one side and tightens in one direction only.  So very easy to use and very secure.  Although I have to say I personally don’t like having the buckle to one side as much as central but that’s a very personal thing! I know other people who find it easier at the side.

20171204_082552For the baby the panel adjusts in two ways.  Firstly the overall width of the seat can be adjusted via velcro attachment to the waist band.. the whole thing can be scrunched down to fit a smaller baby or pulled taut for a bigger child.  I was really impressed by just how big a size range it covers.  There are no preset ‘jumps’ its possible to get an exact knee to knee fit all the way from a tiny baby to bigger toddler.  There is also a drawstring to help make a pouch for a smaller baby.  I would say realistic age range would be a month or two all the way to at least 3 years old.  In fact I was honestly staggered to find it gave a reasonably good fit for my 4.5 year old and he certainly found it comfortable!

While the panel doesn’t adjust in height, it is possible to adjust the height by altering how you put the baby in – putting a smaller baby in deeper to shorten the panel and visa versa sitting an older child directly above the waist band to lengthen the panel.  For me this is the one thing I’d like to see altered about this carrier – the width adjustment is really amazing and covers such a range, it would be absolutely brilliant if the height adjusted to the same extent and as smoothly.  However, this really is quite a nitpicky thing, it works absolutely fine without it!

The hood, however, does adjust smoothly and attaches via loops onto the straps, with simply to use poppers to secure.  I love that the loops have been included on both sides of the straps so it’s possible to purposefully twist the straps if desired.

The straps are what really makes this carrier so comfortable and fit your body like a glove.  Made from wrap fabric they just hug your body and go where you want them too!  Like them really spread out? Or prefer them bunched up?  You choose!  You have complete flexibility to do what you like just as you would with a wrap.  As mentioned you can even purposefully twist the straps – which seems like an odd thing to do but something I often teach to parents with nosy babies as it gives babies more space to see things while still giving great support and comfort for the parent’s shoulders.  In terms of length the straps were plenty long enough to come round under babies bottom and back behind me to tie, but not so insanely long that i couldn’t tie in front with bow if I didn’t want a knot in my back (i.e. for sitting down).

 

But what’s really fab about this carrier is the flexibility of its use.  As well as covering a huge age range it offers 4 carrying positions.  Front, Hip, Back and even a Onbuhimo style carry.  Most buckle and half buckle carriers offer the front, hip and back carry positions and while front and back are usually pretty straightforward the hip position is often less comfortable or more of a faff.  This is not the case with the DidyKlick, the hip position is every bit as comfy, mainly because there are no bulky straps to get in the way – the wrap straps can be adjusted perfectly to make this position really work.  Which is great as a hip carry is a great option for a nosy baby or in our case one who wants to ‘help’ with dinner.  Additionally the instructions for this position are really good and easy to follow, making it really easy for someone new to carriers to pick up.  Likewise the back carry position is really easy and straightforward to do, and the long straps give you lots of flexibility to tie how you find comfortable or even play around with fancy tie-offs!

IMG_20171212_142613

But it was the Onbuhimo carry that really fascinated me.  You see an Onbuhimo is a totally different type of carrier entirely – originating from Japan, Onbuhimos are a waist bandless carrier used for wearing baby high on the back, just like a rucksack.  I have only ever tried one once before and don’t currently have one in the library currently as I see them as quite specialist…  they work best for older babies and I see them as great for people who are pregnant or for some other reason don’t want to have a waist band.  I thought about purchasing one when I was pregnant but it seemed like a waste as I would only use it for such a short time.  So what really fascinates me about the fact the DidyKlick can be converted into an Onbuhimo style carrier is that you can use the Klick as a half buckle on front, hip and back in half buckle mode as usual with baby number 1 from 1-2 months through to todderhood, and then continue to carry through-out pregnancy with baby number 2 in Onbuhimo mode before using the Klick as a half buckle all over again with baby number 2 and likewise for any more children… all the way until you no longer need to carry.  The flexibility of this carrier is just amazing!

20171127_161256Plus I really loved the Onbuhimo mode as I could get such a high back carry with my daughter that we could just chat over my shoulder.  And even without a waistband it was so comfortable, and light and easy!  To convert into an Onbuhimo style carrier, you simply remove the waistband from the panel and instead loop the long straps through the waistband pocket.  From there I simply followed this video.   I have to say the setup was a bit of a faff, as was re threading the waistband later so I probably wouldn’t want to be switching between these two modes all the time, but switching only occasionally while pregnant or for the middle of summer when you want a lighter, higher back carrier etc, I could definitely see.

All in all the DidyKlick is an absolutely fabulous carrier.  I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it to anyone looking for one carrier that will last them a long time because not only does it realistically fit from 1-2 months all the way to 3 or 4 years of age, but it also offers such flexibility of use with 4 different carrying positions that it caters beautifully for different developmental stages and phases.  Plus, like all Didymos slings, the Klick is really well made and designed to last so really can grow with your family as your family grows.  Additionally, I can see this carrier working particularly well for anyone with a history of back pain, and for families with very different sized partners – because the exact fit provided by the wrap strap shoulder ties allow for perfect weight distribution and a super comfy perfect fit every time regardless of who wore the carrier last.

-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).