Sunday, 30 June 2013

Tutorial: Robin's Hip Carry

Carry: Robin's Hip Carry
Wrap Used: Natibaby Calypte Plum, size 6
Level of Difficulty: Easy-Moderate

This is one of my favourite carries, as it is a multi-layer hip carry which shows off both sides of the wrap beautifully.  I've used a size 6 wrap here, but it can be done using sizes 4-7, and you simply adjust where you tie it, and it will also vary depending on your size and the size of your child.

1. Start with your child sitting on the hip that you would normally carry them in, and your wrap over the opposite shoulder.  You should start with the middle-marker on your shoulder. I've used a double-sided wrap here, and have started with the 'wrong' side facing up.

2. Swap the hand holding your child, and reach behind you to take hold of the wrap.

3. Bring the wrap around your side and around your child's back.

4. Form a nice, deep seat for your child, by bringing the fabric up between you and your child, and making sure it supports your child from knee-to-knee.

5. Gather up the fabric in your hand, so that your child's weight is completely supported in the seat you have made for them. Make sure the fabric is tightened, particularly on the top rail.

6. Hold the gathered fabric in the hand closest to your child, and use the other hand to pull the wrap tight over your shoulder.

7. Bring the wrap over your shoulder. You want to keep the tension throughout, so that your child remains held securely, and cross the tail coming from over your shoulder UNDER the tail which is gathered in your other hand.

8. Keeping the tension, take the tail which has come from over your shoulder, and flip it back over your shoulder again. The 'right' side should now be facing upwards on your shoulder.

9. Keeping the tension in the tail held next to your child, reach round and take hold of the tail you have just passed back over your shoulder.  Tighten it all along the width of the wrap.

10. Bring both tails tightly round, and under your child's bottom.

11. If you are using a size 4, you will probably have to tie off here.  I prefer to  use a longer wrap, as it allows you to spread the passes and add extra support.

12. If you're using a longer wrap (probably size 5+), cross the tails under your child's botton and take them back under your child's legs, as you would with a basic Front Wrap Cross Carry (FWCC).

13. You can then take the tails around your to back, and you may need to tie off behind you, or if your wrap is long enough, you may prefer to bring it around again and tie in front.

14. You will have two layers of wrap over your shoulder. Adjust the botton layer to make it lay comfortably....

15....and then adjust the top layer, so that the weight is supported comfortably on your shoulder and is not digging into your neck.

16. Spread the cross passes over your child's bottom and back....

17...on both sides.

18. I like to tuck my child's shoulders in, although he sometimes prefers to have an arm or two out. With a much younger baby, you are more likely to want the wrap to come right up to the back of their neck, in order to offer them more support.

19. You're finished!

Let me know if you have any questions!

Who have you worn this weekend?

We've had a busy weekend, and have had lots of chances to babywear.  This doesn't always happen these days, as Joey is getting better at walking longer distances, and always has a lot of energy to use, so its been quite nice to wear him a few times in the last few days.

Next weekend is going to be very exciting, as we're off to the European Babywearing Conference 2013, in Bristol, which is luckily just down the road from us.  I'm volunteering on the Saturday and will then be free to enjoy the conference on the Sunday - I can't wait!  I'm hoping I'll have lots of pictures to share with you after next weekend!

Here are some of the slings my husband and I have used this weekend......what have you been using? 

Artipoppe Two Birds Akka

Hubby using our Okinami Monkey Mei Tai wrap conversion.

 Uppymama Jennifer

This is my favourite picture from the weekend :)

Saturday, 29 June 2013

Race for Life 2013

In three weeks time Joey and I will be doing the 'Race for Life', which is an event organised here in the UK to raise money for Cancer Research.  It is a 5km course, and I will be doing it with Joey wrapped on my back.  My Aunty fought a brave battle with breast cancer a few years ago, and fortunately she beat it.  Some of the new drugs that she was given were recently developed by Cancer Research, so their life-saving work has already had a direct impact on my family.  If anyone would like to sponsor us, my sponsorship page is here:
I promise to share some pictures of us babywearing whilst doing the Race for Life, here on my blog in a few weeks time!

Review: Pavo Penumbra Syzygy

Brand: Pavo
Type: Penumbra Syzygy
Blend: 100% cotton
Size: 6
I've been very lucky on several occasions recently to be in the right place at the right time to buy an amazing wrap, one of them being this beautiful wrap from Pavo.  Pavo is a relatively new company in the USA, and I've been keen to try one of their wraps since I heard some rave reviews about them.  I was even luckier that this beautiful wrap didn't get charged any customs fees (although I've had friends who's Pavos have been caught by customs, so I think I just got lucky!), and therefore arrived nice and quickly.
On first arrival, I was immediately struck by the fact that I have never felt a 100% cotton wrap like this one before!  It feels very densely woven, fairly heavyweight (at 280g/msq) and totally toddler-worthy without being terribly thick and beastly, meaning it could also easily be used with a younger child.
I washed it immediately and then steam ironed it, as I wanted to start the breaking-in process straightaway! It softened up quite a bit, and after braiding and pulling through sling rings a few times, Syzygy is already becoming a lot softer and more mouldable, although I'm confident that with a little bit of use, this wrap is only going to get better and better!
Syzygy is already pretty easy to wrap with, as it glides beautifully, but is grippy enough to stay in place.   The colours are deep and vibrant, and the fabric has a slight shimmer when the light catches it.  The fabric has the perfect amount of stretch to it, allowing it to mould perfectly, and wraps into the most rock-solid carry I have ever felt! My son sometimes ends up a little bit lower on my back that I aim for, but he stayed up nice and high with this wrap, as it held him in place so well. 
I am really impressed with this wrap, as not only is it beautiful, but it has the ability to make my heavy 19 month old son feel practically weightless!

Tuesday, 25 June 2013

Review: Doeck Monkey

Brand: Doeck
Type: Monkey (Ubuntu)
Blend: 100% cotton (I think?)
Size: Bought as a 6, wraps more like a 4/5

This beautiful wrap arrived a little while ago, but I have been waiting to write a review, as I didn't want to be influenced by my initial view of this wrap. When I first received it, I was so surprised at how different this wrap is from my other wraps, that I was initially a bit shocked, and even enquired about returning it, which I have never done with a wrap before. During those enquiries I was put in touch with a lovely lady from Doeck, who completely changed my mindset about this wrap.
When it first arrived, I immediately fell in love with the pattern, colour and design, and the unique feel of the fabric, but I was surprised at how narrow it was compared to all my other wraps, and it also has a lot of tiny 'imperfections', which worried me slightly.  The lady from Doeck gave me a lot of information about the background of these wraps, and I really want to share it with you, as whilst I feel these wraps are not necessarily for everyone, I think there are a lot of people who could really love them, if they had a bit more information about them.
I really hope the lovely lady from Doeck doesn't mind me quoting her directly. She explained the weaving techniques so beautifully, and it made me feel as if my Doeck is a particularly special wrap.  When explaining the tiny imperfections in the wrap, which I thought were pulls or broken threads, I was given the following information:

"Doeck Ubuntu is a special wrap. The cloth is made according to traditional Afican artisan design and produced for the local market in a very manual fashion. The quality expectation of this market is not the same as ours. Africans value the cloth for the material, the color and the design. They don't value industrial "quality" cloth and therefore don't see the perks of a handmade product as a quality deviation, rather as a distinguishing attribute. Modern cloth is made using sophisticated weaving maschines that use a virtually endless yarn and tight quality inspection for visual defects. Ubuntu products are made by hand and require the weaver to knot a new bobbin to the yarn if it's empty. These little knots will be invisible in most cases, but sometimes they get stuck while shooting the bobbin and the knot will look
like a small pull, or create a small patch of doubled up yarn. Neither of these small faults weakens the cloth. A wrap will only be weakened by a series of broken chain wires, and these are very unlikely to appear as the weaver can't weave with a broken chain. They are visual defects that come with this
traditional weaving. We spend quite some time isnpecting the cloth for any defect that would weaken it and we've tested our product for durability by using it intensively ourselves for over a year!"

When addressing my concerns about the wrap being narrower that usual, I was given the following information:

"The width of the cloth was determined using a panel of mothers here in Holland. Doeck seeks to make baby wearing accessible and we all felt that making a very wide wrap in this relatively heavy quality weave would make it less accessible, and to be honest, we all felt that this width was perfect for wearing it through our moderate summers and on long hikes. Unfortunately, we can't make a wrap that is perfect for every need, season, knot and age. We focussed on beginner and moderately advanced
knots (i.e. front wrap cross carry, back wrap cross carry, rucksack). Being made of a yarn that is not pre-stretched or chemically stabilized, Doeck will stretch and form over time to make a little "seat" and thus requires less width to stabilize the child. Some people really love a product that forms itself to it's use, some like a more stable weave, but that requires other techniques of production."

So as you can see, the nature of the fabric means that over time the fabric will mould a seat around your child, holding them securely in place, and using less fabric than your typical wrap. After reading all of this, I was keen to give my Doeck wrap a good try, so started by following the care instructions that came with it.  I was instructed that there may still be some excess dye, which became obvious when handling the wrap, so I washed the wrap in 1 cup of vinegar as instructed.  The dye was still coming away, so I then left the wrap to soak in a pan of water with 1 cup of vinegar, and refreshed the water and vinegar every few hours.  I then washed the wrap again in the washing machine, and the water ran clear in the final rinses, and the dye no longer come off when handling, so I'm happy that the excess dye has been removed.

I have used the wrap on several occasions, and have to say that I really love the way the fabric wraps.  It is slightly textured, and wonderfully cushy, so is very comfortable, and wraps easily into place.  The narrower wrap is taking a bit of getting used to, but isn't as difficult as I thought it would be  it really depens on what carry I am attempting to do. From my experience, I would give the following guidance: If wrapping a taller child (like my very tall 18 month old), use carries which involve cross passes, e.g. FWCC, etc. as this means you can still have the fabric up to your child's shoulders by making sure the cross-passes come up quite high.  With a younger or smaller child, I would happily use this wrap in a Kangaroo carry, or ruck.  Also be aware that although it is labelled as a size 6, the ends have quite long tapers (which is great for knotting this slightly thicker wrap), and I found it wrapped more like a size 4/5 (depending on the size of you and your child).  These are not negative things, simply things to be aware of.

This wrap is definitely unique.  It has character and a wonderful backstory, and feels lovely to wrap with.  I really love the African 'feel' of the design, and the colours are really rich and beautiful.  To wrap with it uses slightly different techniques than your traditional machine woven product, but that is simply something that the user learns over time and with practice. 

I am looking forward to using this wrap more in the future.


I've had a question from Randi on the blog about how I set up my wrap for grad dyeing, so I thought I'd add this picture.  This shows that I have hung the wrap on hangers, which are then hung on a folded-up airer. The hangers are separated with clothes pegs, to keep the wrap slightly parted.  As I have a very narrow kitchen, the airer can fit across the kitchen, with one end on each work surface.  I would recommend simply looking at what you have available in your house, and improvise a set-up which would work for you! I hope this helps!

This second picture also shows the set-up, and was taken just after I removed the wrap from the dye, with an empty pan below it to catch the drips.

Sunday, 23 June 2013

Review: Artipoppe Two Birds Akka

Brand: Artipoppe
Type: Two Birds Akka
Blend: 48% Egyptian Cotton, 52% Merino
Size: 5

I have adored the look of Artipoppe's designs since I first saw them, but never thought I would have chance to own one, as my internet speed at home is just too slow to compete with the huge number of Artipoppe fans who desperately try and get one with each release. It just so happened that last weekend I was in a venue with fast internet speed, where I organise a big charity event each year.  As my sister-in-law had given birth earlier than morning (a very eventful day!), I opened my laptop to check for new baby pictures when I noticed that Artipoppe had hinted at a release.  I immediately went to etsy, where Anna from Artipoppe is currently listing all her available wraps, and managed to buy one straightaway.  I couldn't believe my luck!
I have spent the whole of the last week waiting for Two Birds Akka to fly home, and was so excited when it flew in yesterday.  I was immediately struck by the stunning pattern, which looks even more beautiful in person.  The colour of Akka is very difficult to describe, and in some lights it looks grey, but when the light catches it, it glimmers with a subtle purple colour (the original listing named the colour of the merino in Akka as being 'eggplant').  I couldn't resist having a quick wrap with it, but then put it straight in the wash as the instructions state.
Once dry and ironed, it feels dramatically different to when it arrived!  It is now so cushy and soft, and it feels like the texture of the pattern has fluffed up slightly.  It is completely amazing to wrap with - it simply glides into place, and is so soft and cushy around my shoulders and around my son, and yet supports my heavy 18 month old amazingly well. It is labelled as a medium-heavyweight wrap, but doesn't appear to require much breaking in, as it is already so soft and mouldable.  I honestly cannot sing its praises enough!  I can't wait to have more time to play with this wrap, and look forward to trying it over a longer period of time, as it is just so comfortable.  In the meantime, I'm enjoying sitting and admiring the beautiful Two Birds pattern, based on designs by M.C.Escher (which my husband also loves).
I still can't quite believe this beautiful wrap belongs to me!  I plan for it to stay here for a very long time!