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.


  1. how wide was this in the end. Curious :)

    1. It measures about 56cm wide at the moment after a wash and steam iron, but Doeck say it should end up being 60-61cm with use. Hope this helps! :)