Client: Smitten (Vena Cava)

Client: Smitten With Wovens

Carrier: Vena Cava

Photographer: Rachel Kathryn

Date: April 2015

 

Client: Soul Slings – Prism Joy

Client: Soul Slings

Carriers: Soul Prism Joy

Photographer: Nichole Kain Photography

Date: September 18, 2015

Client: Smitten (Tala & QAR)

Client: Smitten With Wovens

Carriers: Tala Seren & Queen Anne’s Revenge

Photographer: Nichole Kain Photography

Date: October 6, 2015

 

 

Soul Prism – A Soul Slings Handwoven

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Double Hammock Freshwater Finish

Some of you may have read a bit about Soul Slings from the ring sling review I wrote awhile back. I am clearly a fan of this brand, so I could barely contain my excitement when they released their own line of budget friendly woven wraps – the Soul Prism line. I have had the Prism Joy colorway in a Size 5 (4.3 meters) hanging out with me for a few months now, and with their recent release – I am happy to finally share my thoughts about the newest entry onto the budget handwoven wrap circuit.

 

 

I will admit that when I first opened the package – I was a little intimidated. I have heard things described as feeling like “burlap”, and this felt very much like that. Not in the way that it was really really scratchy – but that it felt very dry and almost “hairy” if you can imagine what I am talking about. I tossed it in the wash, and ran a steam iron over it. It softened up after the first wash. Now, after a half dozen washes and much wear – It reminds me of some of the South American handwoven wrap lines that are very well known and loved by many people. I started bringing it around to babywearing meetings with me to get others’ to try it on and help me break it in a little bit – it was very popular here. New wrappers and fellow educators were all chomping at the bit to find out where they could get one of these wraps.

 

First time I wore this wrap, was with my toddler in a Ruck tied Tibetan. It

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Ruck Tied Tibetan

had been a 100 degrees outside, and this wrap seemed like the most logical choice because the airy weave makes it so breathable. We had a long excursion – hitting a busy restaurant at lunch time. Dragon baby hung out there while we made it through the busy line and finagled our way into an open table with hands full of food. When it was time to get down, she didn’t even want to. For such a thin feeling wrap, I was surprised at how well it stood up to 30 lbs of bouncing threenager in a single pass carry.

 

 

I wore it in a Double Hammock with a Freshwater finish next, and it was awesome in this carry. It has A LOT of grip, which makes it a little tough to get that second pass in place. The fabric just holds onto itself… awesome once you are tied off – but a bit of a challenge when working on your multi-pass carries. It does not have much bounce to it either – so once you get this thing in place, it is going to stay there. Though it feels thin in hand, it was plenty of support for a toddler, and was cushy on the shoulders under all that weight.

 

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Lots of grip in this Prism Woven

This wrap has taken a bit of work to break in – I am not going to lie. The one I have has been used lots by other preschooler wearing mamas, and now it has this amazing soft floppy texture to it. The weave is very airy and light – perfect for those wrapping in hot climates (something that a company based in India surely knows a thing or two about). Though the feel in hand is thin the weave is deceiving – it weighs in at 250 g/m2 – so it is actually a medium weight wrap. That has a lot to do with why it can stand up to a toddler so nicely. I prefer it in a multi-pass carry (which goes for just about everything at this point) but I have worn it in single pass carries too with no discomfort. The weight of this wrap and the horizontal stripes make it such an awesome wrap for a beginner wearer, as long as they were open to the idea of breaking in a wrap. If you are looking for something that is going to be smooshy soft after 1 wash – this is not what you are looking for. It is 100% cotton twill, and easy to care for.

 

These wraps are handwoven in India, by artisan handweavers that have

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Consulting on a Soul Slings Woven Wrap photo shoot

been creating these kinds of woven pieces for generations. All of the weavers are part of government run cooperative societies, ensuring that their work is fair-trade certified and that ideal work situations are maintained. The owner Chinmayie is actively involved in the process herself, visiting the weavers often to ensure that her vision is properly executed. They are woven in small batches, meaning only a few at a time are released for sale. Soul Slings is very clear that they want to make sure the quality is always to their standards – so they aren’t keen on rushing the process. They are only selling Size 6 (4.6 meters) and Size 3 (3.1 meters), an interesting move – but a well thought out one in my opinion. At around $107 US for a Size 6 (before shipping), they are surely going to be selling out at their stockings.

I am so very excited for this next chapter in the Soul Sling family of carriers. With a Mei Tai that just passed testing and an SSC slated to go next – I expect that this coming year is going to be a very promising one for this family owned business. With a mission to make babywearing affordable and available to every caregiver – I cannot help but root for them every step of the way.

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Double Hammock Demo Doll Selfie

 

Queen Anne’s Revenge – Unexpected Elegance in a Pirate Wrap

Ruck in Progress in Queen Anne's Revenge
Ruck in Progress in Queen Anne’s Revenge

 

When I first saw the mock-up for the Queen Anne’s Revenge woven wrap – skeptical does not begin to describe my feelings. Skulls are admittedly not my thing though I know lots of people are really into it. I just wondered if there would be a market for such a thing, and if it would end up over the top cartoony. Then one day it arrived on my doorstep, the newest release by Smitten With Wovens. I took it out of the box, and was stunned at how well it turned out.

 

Close up of the print in the Scuttle colorway
Close up of the print in the Scuttle colorway

Like every other Smitten I have ever felt, it came out of the package pretty crunchy. I tossed it into the washer and dried it on low heat, and out came a fairly soft and pliable medium-weight woven wrap. It is 100% cotton, and weighs in at about 260 g/m2, pretty typical as Smitten’s go. What made this wrap really special, was how amazing the print turned out! The Scuttle colorway they sent me is an Ecru warp with a Clay weft. The color difference is so understated, that from far away you cannot even tell that there is something on the wrap. It presents as a true natty, making it totally appropriate for any occasion, formal or otherwise. The subtlety of this colorway made something as silly as a Skull and Crossbones set against a Victorianesque lace motif – actually reach a level of refined elegance that was totally unexpected. I found that I could easily integrate it into my outfits, and whenever I brought it around other wrappers for show and tell, there was not a single person who didn’t like it.

 

Tying off the Pirate Carry (RRRR)
Tying off the Pirate Carry (RRRR)

Looks aside, it also wraps very well. I was able to try it out in many different carries, as I wore it to a photo shoot. We tried out Double Hammock Tied at Shoulder, Double Hammock Rebozo, a Ruck, and of course – a Reinforced Rear Rebozo Ruck (RRRR!) The wrap passes slid really easily, making all our Double Hammocks and fancy finishes no problem to accomplish, and it had just the right amount of grip to stay in place one it was on. It was not a particularly stretchy wrap, it had what it needed to get those really nice “mold to your body” passes, but not so much that after you have been wearing your 30lb 3 year old for a while the carry is sagging and your back is aching. It was definitely supportive enough for a toddler, and 28” wide – giving you plenty of width for a leggy wearee. Still, it was pliable and soft enough to be used with an infant as well. It is medium thick, but the knot seemed huge for some reason. I personally love a giant woven knot, but if that’s not your thing… you may not be into it.

 

If you have owned a Vena Cava or a Tala… this feels different. It is drier, and a little more textured. It reminds me of a broken in Yaro La Vita, or maybe a budget Ankalia in hand. It is nice to see some different textures coming out of the mill that Smitten has been working with. It makes me really excited to see what else they can come up with.

 

Double Hammock Tied at Shoulder
Double Hammock Tied at Shoulder

Like all their other releases, Queen Anne’s Revenge is easy on the pocketbook. A size 5 (4.2 meters) retails for $130 USD, with a portion of all the proceeds going back to one of the Bay Area La Leche League chapters. I mean, not like we need another excuse to buy baby carriers, but I always feel happy supporting brands that live their values through their business practices – and Rachel and Matt, the husband and wife team behind Smitten With Wovens, always do just that. Their products are Made in the USA, woven and finished in American textile mills. They come in recycled material packaging, with a used book that has been rescued from a landfill. I cannot say enough amazing things about these guys, and am always happy to try anything they send my way.

Wrapping a toddler is not for the faint of heart. <3
Wrapping a toddler is not for the faint of heart. ❤

I was in no way compensated for this review. They wouldn’t even let me keep the wrap. 😉

 

Tala Seren – A Woven vs. Ring Sling Comparison

Tala Seren Ring Sling with a 3 year old.
Tala Seren Ring Sling with a 3 year old.

For the first time ever, I was sent both a wrap conversion ring sling and a matching wrap from the same woven colorway. I was pretty excited when Smitten With Wovens sent me their Limited Edition Tala Seren to test and review. I have had the pleasure of trying out basically every wrap this Made in America, budget friendly brand has put out – and I am always excited for a new release.

 

 

 

Smitten Tala Seren "inside-out"in a ruck
Smitten Tala Seren “inside-out”in a ruck

When I pulled Seren out of the package, it had that familiar stand-up on its own stiff texture that I have come to expect from these wraps, but all it took was one wash to soften it up to a squish-worthy fluffiness. I always throw a Smitten wrap into the dryer, because that is how it is intended to be used – these are wraps that are meant to be worn. I love that they are so easy to care for. It always takes zero effort to get these wraps broken in.

Seren is a purpley lilac color on an ecru warp, a simple climbing vine ending in sporadic geometric shapes like stars and dots. I am honestly not the biggest fan of purple, but when I wrapped this inside-out – I thought it could be dressed up rather nicely. If you are one of those people who are concerned about whether a certain pattern is too girlish or boyish, I really felt like it came off rather gender neutral.

Rainy Day on my way to work. 2 hands free for my umbrella and bags.
Rainy Day on my way to work. 2 hands free for my umbrella and bags.

I wanted to try the ring sling first – the ultimate in single-pass carry tests. I took it to work with me – to check its toddler hauling capabilities. I always have to traverse 3 flights of steps with a sleepy 30 lb toddler, and all our gear strapped to me. I don’t know why I reached for a ring sling really, I just wanted to challenge it. I was so thrilled with the outcome! This sling was very supportive, and had enough texture to really hold her in place with all the jostling. I was so comfy, I used it for her nap later that afternoon, and for our long wait in line later that evening for burritos. The next day I felt no residual effects on my body, which can sometime result from hours’ worth of toddler wearing in ring slings. I loved it so much that it set off a week worth of ring-slinging around town… something I had long written off as a favored carrier for my big girl wearee. She loved all the front cuddles too.

Double Hammock with a half-knot finish
Double Hammock with a half-knot finish

I had almost forgotten about the wrap at this point, I was loving the ring sling so much. After a week honeymooning, I moved on to testing the Tala Seren woven wrap. They sent me a size 5 (about 4.2 meters), my current favorite length. First time I wore it was in a double hammock with a half-knot finish for our evening walk around the neighborhood. Wrapping with this woven was very easy. It has a bit of grip, so everything stays in place nicely without slipping while you are messing with your cross passes. But it was not so much that you were fighting and fighting to get the wrap tight. The fabric has great diagonal stretch, which is always nice for getting that carry that molds to your body and your baby.  The wrap itself is cushy on the shoulders – so even though it was a bit sloppy, she was comfortable and so was I.

Amusing a toddler in a ruck with a knotless finish
Amusing a toddler in a ruck with a knotless finish

The next week I wore it all around downtown with a toddler on the verge of a meltdown. We ran around city hall, we paced the busy streets for an hour with her in a rucksack with a knotless finish. That grip came in handy – there was no movement at all after tons of active movement.

 

 

 

 

Slinging around in Berkeley in Tala Seren
Slinging around in Berkeley in Tala Seren

The wrap is nice and fluffy, so it feels a little thick in hand – though it weighs in at only 250 g/m2, so it is categorized as a medium weight wrap. If you have liked some of Smitten’s previous releases, this will be a familiar feel.  This weight is always so versatile. It is nice and smooshy soft for a smaller baby, and supportive enough to stand up to your preschool wearee. It is kinda on the wide side, but with proper tightening and a secure carry, I have never had a problem wrapping newborns with these wraps. I had a chance to try out the ring sling with (not one, but 2!)  4 month olds, and it was so snuggly and awesome for that size baby too. This is a great wrap for a learner – so easy to break in, easy to use, easy to get a hold of. The price point is not bad – we are talking about a wrap that is woven and finished in the USA for $130 for a Size 5. For a wrap that can last through your wearing years, this is a great investment for someone looking to take the plunge into woven wraps.

 

Double Hammock with a 3 Year Old
Double Hammock with a 3 Year Old

Smitten With Wovens is a husband and wife team. Rachel and Matt are also the owners of the budget retail website 5 Minute Recess. Besides being wonderful people, they are so conscious about the things that many of us care about – and they live their ideals through their business ventures. Smitten wraps are 100% cotton (no synthetics for these guys), shipped using environmentally sound packaging – including a pre-loved book that was rescued from a landfill. What is not to love about this brand? If you have not yet, I encourage you to check out all that they have to offer. ❤

 

Review: Daiesu Jigsaw Woven Wrap

I was very excited when I was contacted by the Malaysian woven wrap company Daiesu. I had been watching this budget brand on social media for some time, and was very curious about them. They sent me a Size 6 (4.6 meter) Jigsaw Mustard to review with my 30 lb 3 year old wrappee. Clearly they had heard about my obsession with yellow wraps.

 

Close-up of the jigsaw pattern
Close-up of the jigsaw pattern

Right out of the canvas bag, this wrap was so soft! Turns out that the manufacturing process involves washing and steaming the fabric before it hits the sewing tables, though they still recommend washing the wrap yourself before using it. It felt pretty thin in hand, but it fluffed up pretty significantly after a trip through the washer machine. Jigsaw is 100% Organic cotton, and medium thick at 260 g/m2. It has a very airy weave, which I can imagine is intentional because of the warm climate in Malaysia where this brand originates. The mustard yarn against an Ecru warp in a small scale repeating pattern – this wrap had all the makings for something I would love.

 

Looking disheveled in Double Hammock with a Freshwater finish
Looking disheveled in Double Hammock with a Freshwater finish

First time I wore it was in a Double Hammock with a freshwater finish. I was headed to a Babywearing International meeting, with my whole teaching stash and a half dozen other bags of mom gear. It is so hard to juggle all those things and a pissed off 3 year old in a busy parking lot, so this is one of those situations that calls for a back carry every time. This wrap was great in a Double Hammock! It has a little bit of stretch in it, so it really molds to the body nicely. Passes slid very well, and it had nice grip to keep them in place after it was tied off. It was so airy, I was not overheating in the California heat – but the medium thickness made for a cushy and supportive carry with my big kid. Even with all the other weight I was dragging around, it remained comfortable for the half hour she was up there.

 

No joke, cleaning the garage with a 3 year old in a ruck.
No joke, cleaning the garage with a 3 year old in a ruck.

The next time I wore it was in a Ruck tied Tibetan. My partner and I had been working on an epic garage cleaning project, and towards the end of the night my daughter really wanted to hang out with us in the garage. Clearly it wasn’t the best place for her to be, but she wanted to be in on it – so I put her up in a ruck and finished what I had to do. She ended up being up there for a whole hour! That little bit of bounce in the fabric made it really comfortable for us both as I was actively moving around the garage. A bit of give, but not so much that it was sagging after some time. By the time I let her down an hour later, the carry was still as tight as when I had first tied it. It was cushy enough to be used in that single pass carry for a lot longer than I would have expected it to be. I was pleasantly surprised.

 

Downtown LA - 100 degrees outside... we're still comfy
Downtown LA – 100 degrees outside… we’re still comfy

I wore her for another long walk in a Double Hammock as we took on the blinding heat of Downtown LA. Again the surprisingly airy jacquard weave held its own. My daughter and I both remained reasonably comfortable for the duration, even in a multi-pass carry. Granted I did have to peel her off of my back once we got back to the car, but that would have been the case with any carrier. I definitely feel that these wovens can stand up to a toddler wearee as far as the support it offers. It is 28.7 inches in width (37cm) which gave me plenty of width to support my big kid. Some new wrappers may be a little intimidated to wrap a squish in a wrap that wide, but the softness of the fabric and the ease of wrapping with this woven will make up for the width. When a company positions itself as being a “budget line”, I really appreciate when their wraps can actually be worn from infancy through toddlerhood making it a wise investment for a family who can really only afford the one carrier. Their Etsy shop has a size 5 for about $84 before shipping from Malaysia. If you are in the states, you can order from one of my favorite budget retailers 5 Minute Recess, and the shipping is free.

 

"Walking in LA... nobody walks in LA"
“Walking in LA… nobody walks in LA”

Daiesu is a family owned business. They started in April of 2014, so they are still pretty new to the world of wovens. Owner Ilyani and her husband are the drive behind the company, their now 2.5 year old son Daie was the inspiration. Ilyani found value in wearing their son as soon as he came home from the NICU at a month old. She began with a stretchy wrap, as most of us do… but soon found that there were limitations to her comfort in this carrier. She stumbled into the world of Woven Wraps, which led to her current venture. Ilyani knew of other Malaysian woven wrap companies, but really felt that there was a need for another local brand that was affordable and accessible to more caregivers. She was inspired early on by Little Frog, a budget line out of Poland created by a husband and wife team, and also shares how her admiration of the Didymos brand really helped kindle the desire to have her own line of woven beauties. Their first release was very successful, which led to her leaving her job as a Programmer to pursue Daiesu as a full-time work at home mom.

 

Daiesu wraps are woven and finished in India. Ilyani and her family have made many trips out to visit and stay with the families that are weaving their wraps, sometimes staying for weeks to watch their project come to fruition. She is proud to be supporting another family business, which controls every aspect of the production of her wraps – from the weaving to the sewing to the export of the finished product. The 100% Organic cotton is sourced from Northern India, and meets the stringent guidelines for GOTS certification. For her it is important that the wraps are not only beautiful, but safe for our babies to be in.

 

#whentoddlersattack in Daiesu Jigsaw Mustard
#whentoddlersattack in Daiesu Jigsaw Mustard

Ilyani has a dream to make woven wraps more commonplace in Malaysia. Though the Malaysian Babywearers have a huge and very active Internet presence, she says that on a day to day basis you are more likely to see families wearing Soft Structured or Narrow Based Carriers rather than wraps or ring slings. Ilyani feels that Malaysia does not have a history of ancestral babywearing as many of their neighboring countries do, which she thinks contributes to why wraps and ring slings have been slow to catch on there. I have to say though, with over 50K members in the Malaysian Babywearers Facebook Group… there is definitely room for some rapid expansion if she can win them over. 😉

 

Daiesu has a promising future in the industry. Ilyani shared plans for some limited release handwovens utilizing traditional spun yarns, a jacquard inspired by Songket textiles, and many more designs she has been excited to bring to life. I love seeing this little family business grow, and to watch Ilyani spread the woven wrap love far and wide. I am way too excited to see these budget handwovens she hinted at… I wish these guys all the best in their future endeavors.

 

Review: Vena Cava Crema – A Squishy Natty Ring Sling

Many months ago as Rachel (the mind behind Smitten With Wovens) and I were hanging out, she pulled this Vena Cava Crema fabric sample out of a box and asked me what I thought of it. What did I think of it?! What the heck WAS this? It was like someone bred an ace bandage and some cotton balls or something. And it hadn’t even been washed yet! Fast forward to earlier this week when a Vena Cava Crema Ring Sling arrived on my doorstep to review. I could not contain my excitement.

 

Ace bandage + cotton balls = Vena Cava Crema
Ace bandage + cotton balls = Vena Cava Crema

This has been “the year of the natty”, and Crema is such a wonderful addition to it. It has the trademark Cartoon Hearts that Smitten has become known for, but because of the natty colorway – the pattern is very subtle. It is hard to even see it from afar. The thing that makes Crema so very unique, is the stretch and moldability of the fabric. I have often used the word “ace bandage” to describe some of the positive attributes of wraps that have had that stretchiness that really conforms to the shape of the wearee and wearer. This blows them all out of the water. It almost feels like it has some elastic in it – though it is 100% cotton Jacquard. It makes for such a cushy and comfy fit, no matter the size of your baby.

 

Borrowed squish cuddles in Crema Ring Sling
Borrowed squish cuddles in Crema Ring Sling

I first had the opportunity to try out the Crema Ring Sling with my friends’ tiny 2 month old girl. It was amazing. It wrapped around her like a warm hug, holding her perfectly in place with its smooshiness. It is a medium thick wrap, weighing in at 260 g/m2, so I was a little concerned it would be a lot of fabric for such a little baby – but that did not prove to be the case. Because it was so soft and stretchy, it made for the perfect texture for an infant wrappee. She felt completely weightless. Baby girl was asleep in just a few minutes, so I am sure she was comfortable too.

 

Dragon Baby loved how cozy this sling was
Dragon Baby loved how cozy this sling was

A ring sling with a 30 lb toddler is a whole other story though, let me tell you. This carrier rests comfortably in the “wide” category (27.5 inches across), which gave me more than enough width to get that knee-to-knee coverage with my daughter who is over 3 feet tall. I hadn’t noticed it was so wide when using it with my friends’ infant, so it surprised me when I measured it. The gathered shoulder made for some great weight distribution. The thickness and the texture made it fairly difficult to tighten with Dragon Baby already in the carrier, but once I wrestled her in to it – it was so nice on the shoulders. There was zero digging. I do prefer something a little more dense for such a giant kid though. You kind of need something solid for a single pass carry with a preschooler, and this woven wrap conversion stretches for days. I think Crema would shine as an actual wrap with a big kid though, I can’t wait to try it out in that form.

 

A few days later I tried it out in a back carry while I made my Post Office run. It was even more supportive in this carry! And the Dragon Baby loved the stretch in it, she was bouncing around back there and giggling. I started out with so much less slack in it this time, and it was much easier to adjust – even with my big toddler.

 

Dragon Baby gives this Crema Ring Sling her seal of approval
Dragon Baby gives this Crema Ring Sling her seal of approval

Like their earlier releases, Smitten products are easy on the pocket book. It comes packaged in environmentally conscious packaging, including a used Children’s book that has been thoughtfully rescued from the landfill. This Ring Sling will run you about $100, and some of that money is going to be donated to Save A Child’s Heart – so you can feel good about supporting not just a wonderful company, but a wonderful cause with your purchase. This sling is so easy to maintain, too. You can throw this 100% cotton conversion in the washer (put some socks over the rings for your washer’s sake), and tumble dry on low. Even in loom state, Crema is so fluffy, but you will be shocked when you get it out of the drier that first time and see how much it fluffs up!

 

She's having a blast bouncing around back there.
She’s having a blast bouncing around back there.

I would recommend this sling for anyone who is looking for an affordable, beautiful natty wrap conversion ring sling. The pattern is so subtle, it will match with anything, and you don’t have to fret over it getting dirty – because it is so easy to care for. The softness makes it a great newborn option, but it has the support for a cushy toddler carry too. The tester I have has gone through dozens of hands, and is always met with a WOW. There is nothing else like this on the market, and that in itself makes me so excited for this product. It is truly something unique.

 

Congrats again to Smitten for another awesome release in the budget category. I applaud you guys for bringing all these lovely options into a more accessible price point, and for this innovative new addition to this category of Ring Sling.

 

 

Review: Icarus Aurora – Ankalia does Cotton

The Icarus Aurora is the very first woven that I have tried from this lovely Australian company, Ankalia Textiles. I have been eyeing their stuff for a really long time now, so I was happy to finally get a chance to try one. Ankalia is the vision of Alex and Kellie, two babywearing Moms themselves who wanted to create a company that would make beautiful baby carriers close to their home. The wraps are woven and finished in Australia, and they are proud to contribute to the local economy.

 

Ankalia Textiles Packaging
Ankalia Textiles Packaging

Icarus came packaged very minimally, wrapped in paper with some burlap tied around it. It was in a canvas bag bearing the Hummingbird logo. I really liked the presentation, I even managed to take a photo of it (which I usually forget to do while enthusiastically liberating the wrap from its packaging). Upon first feel – the wrap was very stiff, and very dense. It had that “stand up on its own” texture. I tossed it in the wash to see what the texture would end up like post wash. I tumbled to dry on low heat, and steam ironed the heck out of it. It definitely still felt a little crunchy, though it was becoming more pliable immediately. I loved the pale shades of purple on this geometric design – the design itself was very appealing and I can see it being a lovely statement piece in anyones wardrobe.

 

Ruck with Knotless Finish at City Hall
Ruck with Knotless Finish at City Hall in Icarus Aurora

The first carry I tried it in was a Ruck with a knotless finish. I always use this carry to test the grip on the wrap. It was a hot day, and I had an errand to run in City Hall, so my 30 lb 3 year old had to hang out on my back for a while so I could focus on the task at hand. The wrap stayed in place nicely with the knotless finish, but became a little bit diggy after a while since I had not taken the time to properly tighten my ruck and my kid was bouncing all over. With a smaller baby it might not have mattered, but if using a single pass carry with a large toddler – it is definitely worth it to get a nice secure carry and mind your strand-by-strand tightening.

 

Double Hammock Tied At Shoulder with a tired Toddler
Double Hammock Tied At Shoulder with a tired Toddler

The next time I went to wear the wrap, it was significantly more broken in – even after only about an hour wearing it days before. A 3 year old is pretty good for breaking in wraps though, I got to tell you. I was impressed at how quickly it softened up! It was quite floppy and moldable at this point. I tried it out in a Double Hammock Tied at Shoulder while I schlepped all our stuff down 3 flights of stairs to my boss’s house. Even carrying almost my entire body weight on my person, this woven had all kinds of support in this multi-pass carry! The passes slid nicely, allowing me to easily get a tight carry. When finishing with a slipknot, it had adequate texture to hold the knot in place with no slipping at all. The weave (although very dense), has enough stretch in it to make it conform so well in any of the carries I tried. It is a medium-thick wrap, weighing in at 260 g/m2. This weight and weave makes it such a versatile carrier! It is definitely squish worthy after a tiny bit of breaking in, and it has all the support you would need for a toddler wearee too. The width (26.5 inches) is considered “wide” for a wrap, but I did not feel that it would be overwhelming for a smaller baby because of the ease of wrapping with this woven. It was easy to tie knots and to tighten it – making it a good wrap for a beginner wrapper as well as a seasoned vet.

 

At the end of our walk - Ruck with Sling Ring (Xena) Finish
At the end of our walk – Ruck with Sling Ring (Xena) Finish

I wanted to give it one more go in a single pass carry, so I tried it out again in a Ruck with a Xena (Sling Ring) finish. Dragon Baby and I took a long walk around the neighborhood while I tried to settle her down during that rough part of the afternoon where nap time used to be. This time I was careful to tighten it correctly, and I could feel the difference it made. The carry was comfortable and stayed in place, and we experienced no digging or aching after the experience. This wrap can stand up to a toddler in a ruck, though if given the choice I would much prefer a multi-pass carry with this texture of weave.

 

Icarus Aurora is part of the Elements line, a 100% cotton line of woven wraps that Ankalia created at a price point meant to be accessible for even the newest wrappers. A size 5 will run you about $205.00. If you are located in the states, one of my favorite online retailers is stocking this Elements line, and they don’t charge shipping. Ankalia designed this line to be appealing to new wrappers, weaving with the qualities someone learning to wrap would appreciate. Being that it is cotton, it is really easy to take care of too. No fuss over this wrap, just wear and wash as necessary. Their Fusion Line starts to play around with more interesting yarns (Hemp and Linen and Cashmere – oh my!) and I have to say that after trying out this Element line, I am very interested to try out some of the other offerings from this fresh Australian company. I am really digging their design aesthetic, and their commitment to working with local artists to create designs that are authentic and respectful. Thank you to Ankalia for introducing me to their wonderful line!

Cheesing in the dressing room at my work - showing off the fancy finish
Cheesing in the dressing room at my work – showing off the fancy finish

Review: Kush Textiles – An Artisan Handwoven Wrap With A Purpose

Kush Textiles Duchess in a Ruck with a SlingRing finish
Kush Textiles Duchess in a Ruck with a SlingRing finish

There is nobody who loves a nice budget Handwoven, like I love a nice budget Handwoven. I have largely avoided the custom Handwoven craze, the stockings, the resale value, all of that noise. I certainly can appreciate a beautiful Handwoven when it passes through here, but my heart definitely goes out to those Handwoven wraps that remain accessible to the everyday wrappers out there – especially those that come with an important message behind them. When Kush Textiles asked to send me some of their Handwoven wraps to try out, how could I refuse?

 

 

Close up of the Diamond Weave Garnet & Gold Tester
Close up of the Diamond Weave Garnet & Gold Tester

In the tradition of some of my favorite Handwoven wrap brands, Kush Textiles is woven by artisan weavers in Guatemala. When I say “artisan weavers”, I mean Mayan women in the town of Cajola. Kush Textiles works with an organization, Para Adelante that focuses on advancing the opportunities of the women in the community of weavers that these woven wraps come from. When you purchase a woven from Kush Textiles, you are not only getting the opportunity to experience the extravagance of a handwoven that has been produced in limited quantities, you are also contributing to the community that this woven wrap came from. Kush Textiles is proud to be a part of building and maintaining the elementary school in the village that these wovens came from, as well as offering scholarships for women in the community to earn a higher education through a college degree or technical program. My interest in artisan handwoven wraps, is mainly driven by my desire to support the industries that have been creating fabric with which to wear our babies for generations now – yet are largely missing out on the market value that many Western weavers have been basking in. It is this awareness that puts brands like Kush Textiles firmly on my radar.

 

I have had the pleasure of testing not one, but two of the woven wraps that Kush Textiles is offering to the masses: The Duchess, and a Diamond Weave Garnet & Gold tester. They both were so different from each other, it is worth it to tell you about them both separately.

 

Ruck with a Knotless Finish in a Kush Textiles tester
Ruck with a Knotless Finish in a Kush Textiles tester

The Diamond Weave was the first to visit me. It stayed for over a month, so I had a long time to get a feel for it. Weighing in at around 318 g/m2, this medium-thick wrap had all kinds of support for a toddler. As you would expect from a handwoven, the weave was very loose, giving it a lot of bounce. Despite the fact that this wrap was blankety thick, it still had a very airy quality to it. The weave was loose enough to let air through, contributing to the kush and the infallible support that the wrap offered. It was heavy in hand though, so despite being airy – it would not be my first choice for a summer-weight woven wrap. The softness and moldability makes it completely acceptable for a squish wrap, despite the thickness.

 

Sloppy Double Hammock in Duchess
Sloppy Double Hammock in Duchess

Duchess was a totally different experience. It did not have the same “bounce” that the Diamond Weave had. It was a rock-solid handwoven, with tons of toddler support, but very little give. Weighing in at 364 g/m2, this handwoven rests comfortably in the “thick” category. In carries like the Double Hammock, I found that it was difficult to get a nice tight carry – as it had little stretch built in to the weave. But when it came to a ruck, this woven wrap killed it with the kush factor. I could wear my 30 lb. toddler with little to no movement over an hours’ time. I found that it was essential to get a nice tight carry with this wrap though, unlike the Diamond Weave which gave you some room for error.

 

Neither of the wovens had a texture I would describe as particularly grippy. It had just the right amount of staying power. The passes would slide with little to no effort, but the thickness would keep them in place once they were there. With both wovens, I was able to utilize some knotless finishes – with zero movement in any direction. Good thing too, because the knot on one of these beauties needs its own hashtag

 

Knotless finish in the Garnet & Gold
Knotless finish in the Garnet & Gold tester

I am beyond thrilled to have gotten to visit with these beautiful handwovens. I know that the $435 price tag on a 3.5 meter woven may seem out of the “budget” range for some people. For me personally, this price is in line with the value that we *should* be placing on artisan weavers and the generations of experience that they are bringing to the table. It is time that we start compensating artisan weavers equally across the board, regardless of the country from which they originate. This may be an unpopular opinion, but it is one I feel strongly about.

 

 

Thank you Kush Textiles for the work that you are doing to bring these weavers into the light, and for dedicating yourselves to the principles of Fair Trade that should be standard anyway. To say I am looking forward to what the future holds for your company, would be an understatement. ❤

Peek-a-boo Ruck shot in Duchess
Peek-a-boo Ruck shot in Duchess