Guest Review! Firespiral Slings Obsidian CMYK Charters Moss

The lovely Christina has been testing out the soon to be released Obsidian CMYK Charters Moss from Firespiral Slings. This is what she thought!..

For the last couple of weeks I’ve been enjoying use of Firespiral’s yet to be released Obsidian CMYK Charters Moss. It’s been great to host it, I’ve been keen to try more viscose blends given how good all the others have been and CMYK doesn’t disappoint. It’s 87% cotton 3% linen and 10% viscose which is the same blend as elysian cirrus seafoam. The gsm is the same too at around 240. It feels quite different to elysian though, somehow having a bit more texture and grip to it that I’m guessing comes from the different pattern. The charters moss design depicts the northern lights and has become a favourite of mine, I love the design of the opposing rails, one side spelling twinkle twinkle little star in Anglo Saxon runes, the other a pretty repeating pattern. Both look lovely when well placed wrapping!

The wrap has the soft and floppy feel to it that firespiral are known for and is quite thin in hand. What really makes it stand out though are the colours. Obsidian isn’t usually favourite warp but alongside the CMYK it really works well and has a definite sparkle to it, particularly in the sunshine and very apt for the northern lights theme. I’ve used this wrap a lot while it’s been here and have to say it’s incredibly versatile, I’ve mostly used it to tandem wrap my baby twins, they’re about 10lb each and I’ve found it supports well with both on the front or a front/back tandem. For both on the front I usually like something thicker with more cush to prevent digging in my neck, but CMYK wraps so easily that I can do a much better job which also prevents any digging. For a front back tandem i like something thinner and mouldable to help me get a decent position for a small baby on my back, again this wrap does a great job. Wrapping a single baby was just as easy and pretty weightless, especially after two!

Then, when out at a busy event, the twins fell asleep in their pram (what?!) and my almost 3year old toddler wanted to ‘go in the wrapper’. So up he went in a double hammock, and was carried for an hour with no discomfort on my part and he almost fell asleep so must have enjoyed it too! All in all this wrap is a great option for a wide variety of wrappers. It’s soft and thin enough for young babies and novice wrappers, while being supportive and strong enough for toddlers or even pre-schoolers, though I’d go for a longer size and multilayer carry for them. The colours will match most things if you like to co-ordinate (wish I did this more!) and like most firespiral wraps it’s easy care. It feels like it will stand up to plenty of use and although alchemy weave and quite new I didn’t find it that pull prone. Great job once again Tamsin and Jen!

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Guest review! Ethos Freakin Pink Cascade

The lovely Miranda is our guest reviewer and has reviewed Ethos Freakin Pink Cascade, an interesting ‘breathe blend’ that was released last summer…

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Ethos Freakin Pink Cascade breathe blend with microvents is a unique wrapping experience. Slingofest clocks it in at only 215 GSM. I measured and weighed it myself at 231 GSM. It is a cotton weft and polyester warp from my understanding. I didn’t look up the stats before I had it in hand and I’d have put it at the 240-250 gsm mark based on how it feels in hand. It is densely woven but the microvents really do keep it from being a hotbox. The holes make way more difference than I thought they would. The wrap has just a small amount of diagonal stretch but not enough to make it sag- just enough to work with. It handled my 36 lb toddler with ease in a triple layered BWCC. It isn’t the epitome of a squish wrap but it’s not challenging at all with my 2 month old. It’s super sturdy and would make an excellent beater. It’s easy care too. It’s neither grippy nor slippery and gets a bit of texture from the large pattern but not from the fibers themselves. It is just a pretty good all-arounder. I typically prefer wraps with a looser weave and more cush but this wrap doesn’t disappoint or excell on any points. It’s just a solid all around wrap but gets bonus points for breathing as described. It would be a great choice for a beginner for ease of use as well as being budget friendly. I’m particularly surprised that I think it would make a really good shorty. I could easily shepherd’s my toddler in it in a 3. It would also make a nice RS. So, while it’s not to my typical taste in weave & I so don’t do pink, this wrap has a lot of merit. It would be a excellent choice for a lending library wrap too.

Review : Firespiral Slings Charters Moss Double Weft Prototype

I have recently had the pleasure of hosting one of the new double weft wraps from Firespiral Slings. Featuring the relatively new Charters Moss design this wrap has been woven with a ‘double weft’ – it is almost like two wraps combined as it has two sets of weft threads. The double weft /warp idea is quite the ‘in thing’ lately – the Hygge wraps from Ali Dover have been hugely popular – but it’s not actually a new one and can be found in use by a few companies without many people having realised.

The thing I love the most about double weft wraps is the contrast between the two sides. You can see it clearly with this wrap – the gorgeous, bright, teal tinted blue on one side and the gleaming, crisp white on the other. The weft ensures that both sides stand out and you totally get a ‘two looks in one’ wrap. However what you don’t get, thankfully, is a double thickness wrap. This 100% cotton wrap is a medium thickness, slightly heavier than regular Fispi cotton wraps but in no way thick. It’s also superbly supple and soft. I was pleasantly surprised at the lovely drape of the fabric and softness in hand. Definitely newborn suitable (which is handy when you have a 3 week old around!).

The obvious test would be with my nearly three year old. At around 16kg carrying him is no mean feat, and in multilayers (this wrap is base-1) this wrap felt great. It has a lovely texture to it which makes it grippy but not overly so – passes are still easy to pull round and tighten. The medium weight means this wrap has a lovely amount of cush and support in it without the weight of a thicker wrap. I found it very comfortable on the shoulders.

While this particular design is not my favourite from Firespiral, no one can deny the beauty of the colours in this wrap. When you add in the great wrapping qualities I would most certainly say this is a wrap that would suit most people, whether you prefer thicker or thinner wraps, whatever age child you are carrying. I’m sad to see this move on, and look forward to seeing more double weave creations from Firespiral in the future.

 

Practice makes perfect – the constant learning curve of wrapping

I have been using woven wraps, alongside other slings, for four years. In those four years what’s the biggest thing I’ve learnt? Wrapping is not easy, and I am never going to be perfect at it.

With so many wraps, blends, fibres and sizes available, and your children ever-growing and changing, wrapping simply cannot be constant. Wrapping a baby is entirely different than wrapping a pre-schooler, for a variety of reasons. A small baby needs full head support and a different seat position than an arms-out-wants-to-see-the-world toddler. A pre-schooler is going to put strain on different areas of your body than a baby would, so your carries and wraps adjust accordingly. But that’s the beauty of wrapping really isn’t it, you have a beautiful piece of fabric and you can use it in so many ways to suit your current needs (mine are currently wrapping up my baby bump to ease the weight!)

My first woven was an all-cotton Lenny Lamb. I bought it new so it needed some breaking in and my only child at the time was about 8 months old. So I started my woven education with Front Wrap Cross Carry and a slightly crispy size 6. First issue, learning the carry. Thank goodness for YouTube! I watched a few versions repeatedly and tried many times with an increasingly grumpy baby until I managed to create something secure and comfortable. I also learned an essential lesson here – you have roughly two chances to try any carry before your cuddly bundle of joy becomes a wriggly grump monster and it is not worth carrying on. Put the wrap down and come back to it later.
Second issue, crispy wrap. A new wrap feels totally and entirely different to a well-used one. Breaking in a wrap takes time – braiding, ironing, generally using it until it softens up. This means that using a new wrap feels different too, it needs tightening and adjusting in a different way. It all takes getting used to. Also be warned, some brands take a lot longer to soften up than others. Buying preloved often helps with this, though for some the breaking in process is an important labour of love! You’ll soon work out what it is you love in a wrap, what blends, weights and lengths work for you, and it’s certainly easier to commit to wrapping practice if you are using something you love.

Fast forward, my baby becomes a toddler, my stash shifts and increases to include a variety of types and sizes, I learn different carries. Then of course, the scary part comes… learning to back wrap. Far from cradling your little bundle close to wrap, back carrying involves learning to toss your child up between your shoulder blades in some type of circus move and then simultaneously balance them there and work out how to use your long piece of fabric to secure them safely. Plus you have to tighten it right. Plus you have to be comfortable. It is very daunting and requires practice, no one can back wrap without practice. Whether you go for the hip scoot, santa toss, superman toss or any other move, you’ll get it wrong. A lot. There is zero shame in taking time to learn. My top tips are practice next to a bed or sofa, and in front of a mirror. It’s much easier to figure out if you can see what you’re doing and aren’t terrified that dropping your child will cause significant damage. In all honesty I have never dropped my children while wrapping, I think there’s a good motherly instinct that doesn’t let you, but it’s always nice to feel safer! My other most important tip? Do not attempt any sort of carry in public that you are not totally confident with. People do and will watch, react and make you uncomfortably sweaty.

Switch to now. I have a 4 year old, a 2 year old and third trimester baby bump. Both my boys love being wrapped, they love the closeness, they love the superman toss, they love being able to see the world with confidence. Don’t get me wrong, they won’t go up whenever I fancy. The ball is certainly in their court! Yet it still goes wrong sometimes. Carries inexplicably mess up or are digging somewhere unexpected. Wrapping is still a challenge for me – it’s not the heart thumping, sweat dripping process it once was, but it isn’t a breeze! Even recently the baby bump has forced me to reassess things again as certain carries just don’t work right now.

Ultimately, I have learnt many skills and techniques in my wrapping years – there are some carries I love, some I hate and some I just haven’t practiced much. The real lesson I’ve learnt though? To chill out and enjoy it, and know that while I’m never going to be a perfect wrapper, I will have a beautiful relationship with my children ❤

Review – Isara toddler carrier

I will easily admit that at heart I am a wrapper. Full buckle carriers have never had the same pull for me, though I’ve never put my finger on quite why. However I was an avid Connecta user when my boys were younger – it is a super easy carrier to use and my husband particularly liked it. I have tried other full buckle carriers such as the Tula and Rose and Rebellion too, but never found anything that I can say was perfectly comfortable and could tempt me away from my woven wraps.

With my ever-weighty toddler I am always on the lookout for ways to carry him that are comfortable for us both. When I saw that Isara were on the hunt for brand ambassadors I jumped at the chance to try something new. I had never experienced or heard much about Isara before, but their carriers looked well-structured and versatile so I was keen to give it a go. Isara are based in Romania and their carriers are made in Europe. Most of their carriers are made with organic, GOTS certified fabric and all comply with USA and European safety standards. I love the fact that you can get toy versions of the carriers too!

Isara sent me a toddler sized full buckle carrier in the ‘Joy’ colourway. It arrived in a simple but effective box (see me opening it on my YouTube channel!) and was easy to use from the word go. It has a structured waist band and fully padded straps, with a sturdy but flexible canvas panel. The straps are not fixed so you have free choice of whether to cross them or not, a fact I really like as I always prefer crossed straps in front carries for the support. The chest clip is sturdily attached but can also be removed if required, as well as adjusted height-wise. The hood is detachable and connected to the main body with poppers. However the main feature of this carrier that makes it stand out is its adjustability. The height of the main panel can be adjusted to suit by pulling the straps at the top of the panel, making it fabulous for my toddler that wants his arms out and my four year old who wants them in to snuggle. Even better is the width adjustment. The waistband has two long Velcro panels inside which allow you to cinch in the panel width to an amazing degree very easily. This means I can make the carrier the perfect size for both of my children without any fuss, and I even carried my friend’s petite one year old in it with ease. I would honestly say that this makes the toddlers Isara carrier suitable from 12 months if not before, and means I can still carry my 4 year old with ease.

Other pros of this carrier for me included the support and padding. Personally I have found that the not-so-padded carriers (e.g. Connecta) do not give enough support once the baby turns into a toddler, but the heavily padded ones (e.g. Tula) are the other extreme and make me feel like the Michelin man (lol). The Isara seems to fit me much better, and gives the perfect shoulder padding and waist support for me. This seems to be a common opinion amongst my friends who have also tried it. I also like the support and leg padding that it has for my passenger, as the canvas is nicely strong and the leg padding stops any digging.

So what do I not like? Not much to be honest. As I’ve said before, it’s still not the same as wrapping, but no buckle carrier could be. I would say my main issue is that, while this is a fabulous carrier for older babies and toddlers, I would prefer something softer for newborns and small babies – it is made of canvas after all. That is pretty much the only thing I can fault though, I genuinely really like this carrier and would (have in fact) recommend it to anyone looking for a full buckle. It has a great balance of support and comfort, and the adjustability is just wow. I will not be surprised if these carriers spread like wildfire!

You can find Isara on facebook, Instagram and all the normal places, as well as at http://www.isara.ro/en/

Review: Opitai Baby Lovat Ferns

I’ve had the privilege of hosting one of Opitai’s new woven wraps recently, and it’s been a pleasure. Opitai Baby has become well known in the babywearing world for beautiful and professional conversion work, and is now branching into creating their own woven wraps. The ethics alone behind these wraps are just my thing – locally woven, sourced and even modelled by locals, home designed and home sewn! They are using the same high quality materials as the ‘high end’ brands while maintaining an affordable and high quality product. Sounds like perfection. So how does the product stand up in reality?

Lovat ferns is an elegant, natural design that integrates a cream warp with a double coloured green weft. At approximately 260gsm it’s a lovely medium weight wrap that is remarkably soft and cushy (in case you didn’t know by now, medium weight wraps with cush are my idea of heaven!). The leafy design is quite busy but somehow totally easy on the eye, and when wrapping it gives it a gorgeous grip. It has a lovely stretch and bounce to it, it’s very supple, and the brilliant part is that it is cotton so totally machine washable easycare goodness.

With both my toddler and preschooler I used Lovat ferns in a variety of carries, and it was really lovely and easy to use. The grip didn’t hinder making passes at all, and it was just so comfortable on the shoulders even with the 4 year old. I found that the high level of stretch and bounce in the wrap meant I needed to get the carries high and tight, as my heavy boys threatened to create slack and drop the carry, but this was not an issue at all as it was just so easy to get tight! I wouldn’t hesitate to use this with a newborn either, it’s beautifully soft.

I would both fully recommend this wrap and keeping an eye on Opitai woven releases in the future, I most certainly will. Lovat ferns retails at £138 for a size 6 and will be released in the very near future – it’s limited and will be available in wraps, scarfs, ring slings and wrap conversions, so there’s something for everyone! You can find Opitai at http://www.facebook.com/Opitai-Baby-174019322620978/

Review – Little Fellows Jolly Good Rainbow Mizzle

There’s something about a rainbow. Rainbow wraps really seem to grab people, there’s something about the colours that it’s hard not to love. This particular rainbow was of excitement to me because it was one of the first machine woven releases from Little Fellows. While Little Fellows is known for weaving totally gorgeous hand woven wraps, they have recently launched a plain weave machine woven line named ‘Jolly Good’.

Jolly Good, Rainbow Mizzle is 100% cotton and woven on an ecru warp with a rainbow weft gradation (as in the stripes are widthways rather than lengthways, which is quite an unusual look for a rainbow wrap). The ecru warp means the rainbow colours are lightened considerably, and there’s almost a checkered effect on close inspection. It is definitely a subtle beauty.

The most important part, of course, is how it wraps. Logically, as a machine woven, it must be totally different than it’s hand woven siblings, right? Um, wrong. Of course, it is different, but it’s nothing like other machine woven wraps I’ve used either. It obviously can’t quite have that unique and versatile hand woven feel, but it really does have similarities (and without the price tag too). It has a lovely grippy cush to it that really does remind me of a hand woven – it is a medium weight wrap and feels like it would be awesome in all-seasons. I found it ridiculousy easy to wrap with – getting passes round and tight was a total dream (in fact it was so tight at one point i was wondering if i should loosen it. This has never happened to me before!). My heavy two year old was going no where in any wrap job with this wrap, and it was completely comfy on my shoulders for a decent length of time. It was also ridiculously soft out of the bag and bloomed beautifully on it’s initial wash and tumble (yes, I said tumble, good old easycare cotton 😉 ).

I would thoroughly recommend the new Jolly Good range to anyone – soft, perfect grip and cush, easycare. Plus you get to be a part of the ‘Quintessentially English’ Little Fellows family – I love the ethos and personal touch of this company, and Lisa is totally lovely to chat to as well. I sadly didn’t fall in love with the paleness of the colours in Mizzle, but as a lover of bright and bold colour this doesn’t surprise me. I can’t wait to see what other colourways are coming!