Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Review: Artipoppe Two Birds Silvester

Brand: Artipoppe
Type: Two Birds Silvester
Blend: 100% Egyptian Cotton
Size: 5

I have to admit that I still can't quite believe my luck, that I am now reviewing my second beautiful Artipoppe wrap.  I was so, so lucky to buy my Two Birds Akka whilst away from home back in June, and despite attempting to buy another Artipoppe ever since, my internet connection is so slow that I had come to the conclusion that I wouldn't have another (which was fine, as I am so lucky to have Akka!). However, when Anna released the Silvester wraps in a surprise release, I was so lucky to be in the right place at the right time, and managed to click fast enough to get one! As you may have gathered by now, pink is one of my favourite colours, and I feel it suits both Joey and I, so Silvester is the perfect Two Birds for us! 
I was delighted with the colour of Silvester as soon as I opened the bag, being just as beautiful and striking as it appears in pictures. Having learnt that Artipoppe wraps fluff-up a lot when washed, I immediately put it through a wash and steam iron before trying it out.
This wrap is divine! It has such a luxurious feel to it, and the colour is so classy. The pattern and thickness give such a beautiful cush to this wrap and it drapes and moulds amazingly without having to break it in at all. It is slightly thinner than Akka, and this means that I now have an Artipoppe I can wear in this heat wave we have been experiencing here in the UK! However, it is definitely one of the cushiest wraps I have tried, and despite being fairly textured, it still glides beautifully, meaning it is so easy to wrap with.
From my experience of wraps (which is fairly varied, but certainly not complete), I am yet to find anything to equal these Artipoppe wraps. There is a lot of 'hype' and enthusiasm surrounding Artipoppe, and I have to confirm that these wraps totally warrant the number of people raving about them! 

Akka and Silvester comparison
Akka and Silvester comparison
Two Birds Silvester
Oscha Roses Danna
Pavo Penumbra Syzygy
Didymos FHI v1
Didymos FHI v2
Oscha Roses Juliet (silk)
Two Birds Akka

Thursday, 25 July 2013

Review: Firespiral wraps

Brand: Firespiral

Type: Amber Twilight Starmap 
Size: 3
Blend: 100% cotton

Type: Milky Twilight Seafoam 
Size: 5
Blend: 50% linen, 50% cotton

Firespiral is a relatively new company, created by two lovely ladies here in the UK, who are both experienced babywearers.  Apart from the testor wraps, this preorder was the first opportunity to own one of their wraps, meaning this must have been an exciting day for Firespiral, seeing the first wraps arrive in their new homes! 
I preordered these beautiful wraps back in April, and I was so thrilled when they arrived this morning. I'm also waiting for a third wrap, which will follow soon. As you may recall, I was lucky enough to test a Firespiral wrap back at the start of May, so I already knew I was going to be pleased with my wraps when they arrived, but I didn't know they were going to be quite so soft and cushy straight from the bag! I always wondered if the testor wrap was so soft because it had already been used and broken-in, but it appears that the softness is a feature of Firespiral wraps right from the start!
The Amber Twilight Starmap combines beautiful deep blue and golden colours, giving the two sides quite a striking contrast. It is such an interesting and intricate design, and the intricacy is not lost when wrapped.  This beautiful wrap is so soft and supportive, even in a Kangaroo carry with a size 3 with my large 19 month old! It wraps easily, and is very comfortable on my shoulders due to its amazing cush!
The Milky Twilight Seafoam contains linen, so I was even more surprised to find it was also amazingly soft on arrival. It is so cushy, with just the right amount of stretch, and the pattern has been very cleverly designed as it looks so great when wrapped! It wraps like a dream, and glides into place beautifully, making it easy to tighten, meaning it is very supportive. 
I really cannot recommend these wraps enough! They should become more easily available over time as there should be another preorder for these designs in the future. They would be great for a beginner, as they arrive soft and ready-to-use, and are really easy to wrap with, and yet the designs are totally unique and beautiful, and the wrapping qualities are fantastic, meaning they should also appeal to more experienced wrappers. They have clearly been designed by experienced babywearers, and I really love the fact that the unique designs still look great whilst wrapped, as I sometimes find that a more detailed design can get lost when wrapped. I am very excited to see what Firespiral has in store for us next!!

Pictures of Amber Twilight Starmap:

Pictures of Milky Twilight Seafoam:

Sunday, 21 July 2013

Race for Life 2013

Joey and I completed the 5km Race for Life course this morning, raising money for Cancer Research UK. It was such a lot of fun, and there is always such a great atmosphere at these events. The course was around a huge park and along country lanes, and despite the heat wave we're having here in the UK, it stayed fairly cool for us this morning, which was such a relief! Joey went around the course in my Didymos Flamenco Hemp Indio, and was so comfortable that he fell asleep for a lot of it!
All participants are given a sign to wear on their backs, where they can write who they're dedicating their run/jog/walk to. Its always quite emotional reading some of these signs, especially those of the youngsters doing the race, as there are many dedicated to parents they have lost at such a young age, and one today on the back of a young girl read 'for those who have survived cancer, like me'. I dedicated my race to my aunty Tina, who bravely battled breast cancer a few years ago, and thankfully beat it, thanks to new drugs developed by Cancer Research UK.

We were the only babywearers at the Race for Life I went to today, but I've seen pictures from other places in the country where groups of babywearers have done the race together! I had many lovely comments though, and so many people were intrigued by Joey riding on my back so easily. It was a really lovely morning, for a very worthy cause.

Saturday, 20 July 2013

Sleepy cuddles :)

I thought I'd share this picture from yesterday, when my son fell asleep in our Uppymama and had his arm cuddled around me. This is why I love babywearing! I know I'll look back on pictures like this in years to come and treasure the precious memories.
I've got a few more wraps I'm hoping to review in the next week, plus I was lucky buying a new Pavo wrap today, so will review that as soon as it arrives.  I'm also planning a few more tutorials in the next couple of weeks. Let me know if there is anything else you would like to see on my blog - thanks!

Friday, 19 July 2013

Review: Oscha Roses Danna

Brand: Oscha
Type: Roses Danna
Blend: 50% cotton, 50% combed cotton
Size: 3
The Oscha roses I have been dreaming of! I really love pink, and I feel it suits Joey and I, so when I saw Roses Danna, I knew these would be the roses for us! I was lucky and managed to get an invoice through Oscha's random draw system, and I was not disappointed when they arrived a couple of days ago. The colour is really beautiful - not hot pink, but not a washed-out pink either. Its a beautiful candy-floss pink on a pale lilac background, and being 50% combed cotton, Danna was beautifully soft straight out of the bag. I gave it a quick wash and steam iron, which fluffed it up even more, and it is now beautifully soft and cushy, making it comfortable even in a single layer carry. The roses pattern is quite textured, and I'm finding these cotton roses slightly more grippy compared to my linen (Aphrodite) and silk (Juliet) roses, but they are still really lovely to wrap with. The textured pattern of the roses is what appears to provide a lot of the cush, and I think Oscha's roses are one of my all-time favourite wrap designs. I really love this wrap, and it seems that quite a lot of people were lucky in getting one through the random draw, so I'm guessing it may have been one of Oscha's slightly bigger releases (although this is only a guess!), meaning that hopefully anyone who wasn't lucky should be able to get hold of one fairly easily as they become available for sale. A beautiful wrap, and comfortable even in a shorter size with a toddler = perfection!

Saturday, 13 July 2013

Review: Kokadi Avantgarde Blue Zebra

Brand: Kokadi
Type: Avantgarde Blue Zebra
Blend: 100% cotton
Size: 5

I have to admit that when I first saw this wrap on the Kokadi Facebook site it didn't particularly catch my attention, especially as I've found Kokadi 100% cotton less supportive recently as my son has got bigger.  However, when I visited the European Babywearing Conference last weekend I was randomly allocated a Kokadi Zebra to wear in the fashion show.  Even though I have to wrap Joey very quickly in it, I was pleasantly surprised at how supportive it was, how easily it wrapped, and how great it looked with jeans! It feels a touch thicker than my Kokadi Fantasia, but at 205gr/msq it still isn't a particularly thick wrap, and yet is supportive and cushy, even in a one-shouldered carry.  When I saw that Kokadi were selling a size 5 Zebra on their stall for a special deal of £40 I couldn't resist bringing it home as a wonderful souvenir of the weekend, especially as one of Joey's favourites words is 'zebra'.
The colours of Zebra are beautiful and, as I've said, is a perfect jeans wrap. The two sides are different, with the colours being paler on the 'wrong' side, which appears to be a feature of Kokadi's 'Avantgarde' range. The wrap glides easily into place, and holds its position pretty well. It is very sturdy for a thinner wrap, and is soft and mouldable straight out of the bag. This would be a perfect wrap to learn and practice with as a beginner as it wraps so easily, and yet offers enough comfort and support for a more experienced wrapper aswell.
Showing both sides of the wrap
The fashion show

Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Dyeing Oscha Vanilla Roses

I've been eagerly awaiting my Oscha preorder since February, as it contained several new dye projects which I was keen to get on with.  It arrived last week, and my first project was my size 5 Vanilla Roses (80% cotton, 20% silk).
I have to admit that this project did not go to plan. I thought I had ruined my wrap on several occasions, but thankfully managed to save it.  For those who are considering dyeing their Vanilla roses (this is the cotton/silk roses, rather than the tri-blend which is also available), be aware that the cotton ends up stained by the acid dye, and it doesn't always stain in the same colour as the acid dye!  I have not had this happen before with acid dyeing. I've occasionally had the cotton take-on a slight hint of the acid dye colour, but not actually change colour completely!  
Please be aware that this is definitely NOT a set of instructions for you to follow, as it went a bit wrong! However, I thought it would be fun to share what I did, and thankfully it does have a happy ending.

Firstly, my plan was to acid dye using olive green acid dye with a hint of turquoise, with the hope that the silk would end up a lovely subtle olive colour.  Unfortunately, I didn't know that using olive green acid dye would result in the cotton being stained a deep sand colour, so I ended up with something which I dubbed 'Sepia roses'.  These were not terrible if that was the effect I had been going for, and I did let them dry and try them on, but the colour didn't suit us at all, so I decided to try something else.
'Sepia Roses'

Next, I tried acid dyeing them using a mixture of deep blue and deep teal, hoping it would stain the cotton a slightly nicer colour and deepen the colour of the silk.  Unfortunately this didn't particularly have any effect, except to turn the whole thing a sludgey sand/green colour!  I also found that it was taking a lot of rinsing to get all of the acid dye out of the wrap, so by this time the wrap had been washed, acid dyed twice, and then washed a total of four times in an attempt to remove the excess dye!
In the wash with the Dylon
I wasn't sure what to do at this point, but decided I didn't really have anything to lose!  I wanted to attempt to achieve a turquoise colour, even if it meant losing some of the contrast, so I turned to Dylon, which would dye the cotton rather than the silk.  When dyeing over a colour you have to work out colour-mixing rules.  As the cotton seemed to be mainly a yellowy colour, with a hint of green, I knew that I needed to add something fairly blue to it, to achieve a turquoise colour. I chose Dylon 'Bahama Blue', as it is a bright, fresh colour, and I hoped it would be a strong enough colour to over-ride the dull, sludgey colour of the wrap, without taking away all of the contrast. 
It was a nerve-wracking couple of hours whilst waiting to see the result, and I was so delighted when I pulled out a beautiful deep teal/emerald coloured wrap, where the contrast was still clearly visible!  I had to do another wash to take out the excess dye, and the contrast has paled slightly as its dried, but I have to admit I am thrilled, and very relieved, with the results! Its a definitely a colour that I enjoy wearing, and I feel it suits us quite well!
Still wet, straight out of the wash
So in total the wrap has been washed 7 times, plus acid dyed twice, and dyed with Dylon once! No wonder if has shrunk in length from 4.45m on arrival, to 4.16m at the end of the process!  However, a couple of the washes I did were very hot, in an attempt to remove the copious amount of excess dye.  Thankfully the width of the wrap has only shrunk by half a cm, from 68cm wide, to 67.5cm wide.
Dry picture

I had a bit of fun doing this project, although it was nerve-wracking and disappointing on a couple of occasions.  I also have a size 4 Vanilla roses, and I have to admit that I think I will be keeping them natural at the moment (I will review the natural Vanilla roses soon).  I have heard that the tri-blend Vanilla roses appear to dye a lot better, with the cotton/linen not staining in the same way as the cotton/silk Vanilla roses.
I now have the job of breaking in my dyed roses, as after such a long process, the poor roses have taken some beating, and need a bit of tender loving care to soften them up again.  I have to add, however, that despite everything I have put the fabric through, it has remained in pristine condition. Oscha silk is obviously very hardy!