Friday, November 27, 2015

Beco Toddler Carrier review and.... GIVEAWAY!

You may remember my previous reviews of Beco: their baby carrier (Gemini) and baby-toddler carrier (Soleil) are great carriers that each live in my demo stash and see a lot of love at baby wearing meets.

However, the Soleil tops out at 45lbs/20kgs, and for a lot of people who are still regularly wearing their toddler/small child, that's getting a bit close. It seems like more and more people are using carriers with their kinder and preschool kids, especially if they're city-dwellers or have a walking commute - and even if that's not you, perhaps a pram just isn't convenient when MOST of the time your little one wants to use their little legs ;)

Enter the Beco Toddler. The minimum age and weight is 18months, 20lbs/9kgs. You want your child to meet BOTH of those requirements, not one OR the other. This is a toddler carrier with a big body and it's not suitable for a child if their legs can't swing freely outside the carrier. (I measure the body panel at 43 cms wide). The body is 48 cms deep and the waistband another 14 cms deep. The maximum weight is 60lbs/27kgs. My 3.5 yo is about 15kgs, so realistically, I'm guessing this is a carrier that could have a place in our lives till 5yo. Obviously this will vary from family to family, but that's our situation. 

I'm an Australian size 10 and about 5'6 tall (165ish cms). I am always a little wary of toddler/child size carriers as their wider body panels can get boxy and uncomfortable. I feel like my shoulders need to be 10 cms wider!
Like the Gemini and Soleil, Beco's Toddler allows crossed straps for a snug, tailored fit. I took it for a test run with straps straight and had everything cinched to the minimum length - I then realised I hadn't used the adjusters at the top of the body panel and could actually get an even better fit by cinching there - oops! The learning curve is real!

Toddler features all the same things that make Soleil a GOOD and simple carrier.
Safety buckles that really do take two hands, flat, crossable straps that don't suffocate me, an ergonomic seat that keeps my child's weight up and close to my centre of gravity, and flexible adjustment - the moveable chest strap and perfect fit adjusters at the top of the body panel are really icing on the cake to ensure an excellent fit.
Shoulder straps will run between 19" - 41" (48cm - 144cm) (you can take another 4" or 10cms out by tightening the perfect fit adjusters) and the waist strap will adjust to fit from 26" - 59" (66cm - 150cm).

Happily, Beco are such nice people that they're allowing me to give away a brand new Arrows Toddler - head over to my Facebook page to enter ;)

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Wrapahula wovens review

Wrapahula! The very name is sweet and whimsical - and that's just what I got when I opened this cushy, bouncy package from the UK.  You can see their full range of wovens on their website,  and I can tell you all about the Enigma Under the Sea (cute name for this colorway, right?!)

This lovely plush herringbone is like a heavyweight Lisca - lots of move and give in the weave, and a nice firm stretch that is amazing with bigger kids.

After an initial wash, this felt quite stiff and grippy, but some running through sling rings had the weave loosening and showing some cush. I tend to just use wraps, but I admit this was a couch cushion for a couple days and took some twisting!
Weighing in at a beefy 356gsm (and 67cms wide) this is dense but very mouldable and breathes nicely (thanks herringbone weave!). I found it compacted down with a feeling of settling? Like sitting on a mattress and feeling it take your weight. Not a fluffy wrap, but supportive and rock-solid. 

The nature of herringbone makes it easy to work a multi-pass carry; the fabric doesn't really have texture until weight settles into it and pulls it taut. So this was an easy double hammock wrap with a snug chest pass and easily spread second pass. 

 FCC is not my favourite carry! I often find it inconvenient to tighten and adjust so top rails stay taut. The density of Under the Sea softened the blow and was an easy shoulder flip to lock the top rails in place.

 FWCC with a poppins finish is a supportive carry with a nice twist on the regular FWCC. Again, having a thicker wrap means I can be less picky with my tightening and still be very comfortable (sh! it feels like cheating!) Carrying a 15kg child is a totally different ballgame to a baby; I tried this with a couple demo dolls (4 and 6 kg) and they were basically weightless. If you are planning to use with a small baby you may want to invest a little more work in your breaking-in game, as you really want those fibres to mould and conform to baby's body.
 My conclusion? Lovely wraps. Good price point. A maker who's been in the carrier game for some time and who understands what makes a carrier comfortable. Win. Win. Win.

Monday, November 16, 2015

PoppyBaby Somogyi woven review

Who is PoppyBaby? A small Hungarian company drawing on traditional art motifs to create wovens with their own unique style and graphic sensibility. As yet, they're in the early stages - but their first wraps show plenty of promise! 

The Somogyi  I've had here is a lush, marshmallowy wrap despite being a lightweight 215 gsm and all-cotton. The weave is quite dense and fine, so not as much texture lifted in the pattern as I was expecting - whew! This made second passes easy - they slipped nicely and slipknots weren't difficult. 

The Somogyi  I've had here is a lush, marshmallowy wrap despite being a lightweight 215 gsm and all-cotton. The weave is quite dense and fine, so not as much texture lifted in the pattern as I was expecting - whew! 

This made second passes easy - they slipped nicely and slipknots weren't difficult. As you can see, I'm using a DH rebozo for Audrey (now 15 kgs) and this was a supportive and comfortable carry to spend an hour running bout the shops.

I am a big fan of the minty fresh color and the simple geometric design - absolutely unisex.

After a single wash this was soft and malleable - light in the hand, easily bunched, with a nice elastic feel. With a child it required thorough tightening to avoid sinking, but with my smaller babies (demo dolls 4-8 kilos) it was just lovely - light and cushiony, easy to gather, and generally delicious.

PoppyBaby sizes run S (3.6m), M (4.1m) and L (4.6m) (which I think of as a size 4/5/6) and are produced a little long to allow for shrinkage.  I found their estimate (10%) to be spot on, and after a few washes and plenty of wear here, this M is holding true at 4.2m measured soft tape in hand.

You can see here in my bunched passes how nicely this compacts down and how elastic it is - the pattern really lends itself to fantastic give and very snug, secure wrap jobs. 

I can't love a wrap that can't rock a ruck! If it won't work in a 30-second parking lot job, it has no place with us. Luckily, this was a simple up that was secure and a little cushy. Again, with a 15kg (34lbs) wrappee, I needed to tighten the middle a little more than I might to stop that single layer bouncing into a super deep seat, but that's easily remedied.

In conclusion? A lovely, bandagey wrap in a glorious crisp color palette. Great wrapping qualities that have been noted by beginner mums at meets ("It's so SMOOSHY!") and very adaptable to weight and carry. I shape be watching PoppyBaby's future projects with interest!  (Oh, and just because I really like their green ethics, you should check out their OTHER cloth products too - eco-friendly and good for our bodies.)

Monday, November 9, 2015

Daiesu goes handwoven!

A while back I reviewed a jigsaw machine-woven from Malaysian company Daiesu, who are making budget-friendly wraps that are lovely to look at and lovely to use. Now they've ventured into the handwoven world, and Kuelapis has come for a visit, with a bright, cheerful color palette and a chunky, rustic feel. It has tapered ends, hemmed rails and at 70 cms wide isn't overwhelming.

Of course, the first step with any wrap is to throw it in the wash - just a quick warning that it's good to wash the wrap by itself, as this may cause excess dye to run. I possibly forgot this cardinal rule and a couple of things became a bit pinker, so consider yourself warned!

After a wash, this still felt like cardboard, so I twisted it up around the stair bannister and made a habit of beating it out and retwisting when I walked past. After a couple of days of this I felt like I could actually wrap with it ;) (We don't have a dryer, so breaking-in happens by hand and by hammock.)

Kuelapis is a substantial wrap (315gsm) that has body in hand and flattens once tightened. It absolutely gets better with use and is a VERY supportive plain weave. Because it is a plain weave, second and third passes slide over quite easily - just keep a good grasp on your initial pass to ensure it's snug and flat.

This felt lovely on my shoulders - dense but not actually bulky, and firm without digging. It comfortably and easily managed a good grippy DH with Audrey's long legs and 15ish kilos,  and was super snuggly in a FWCC - and easy to spread a pass when I wanted more support under her bottom.
I love the compression bandage feel of many handwoven wraps and this is no exception. I'm not sure if Daiesu are going to continue their handwoven production, but I certainly hope so! They're a very good quality product that I'm sure will sit at an affordable price point.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Oonlamoon Sakura ring sling review

Is the name Oonlamoon ringing any bells?
 I have had a few of their beautiful handmade (and I really DO mean handmade, even the yarn is handspun!) and organically dyed textiles here. (Read more here:
If you want one ring sling to take you from newborn to kiddo, I highly recommend you get your hands on one. 
Like Laimai, Sakura is downy, cushiony cotton that feels fluffy in hand and becomes blanket soft very quickly. With washing and use the weave lifts and becomes airy and cloud like - little babies are weightless and big ones are supported with an elastic cush. 
My Svethmegh oonlamoon wrap has visited many families who wanted a
"big kid" wrap because it's forgiving on the shoulders yet malleable and easily manipulated. Sakura is just the same- fresh from the package, it felt thick and unwieldy, but after a wash, dry, iron and some running through rings, this is a lovely and dependable carrier. 

Oonlamoon slings are sewn with a simple gathered shoulder - very easy to adjust for most body types. If you prefer to thread your ring sling with a twist to cap your shoulder more this will create a very padded and snug shoulder.

You can see here with my newborn weight doll that it's very easy to get a secure and snug carry with a minimum of effort. 
I've mentioned before that all oonlamoon wraps are ethically produced and use organic dyes, but isn't it nice to know that you're supporting a small company that has a conscience? 
Make sure you have your stalker fingers ready - these are highly limited and once the run is sold, it's gone! 

Thursday, October 15, 2015

West of the fourth handwoven review

Listen up. We need to have a little chat about West of the Fourth Weaving  
This shall henceforth be referred to as 4.6 meters of heaven. Blue sky rainbow dropped out of the sky at an opportune moment and has been a ray of light in a dark time. 

Here are the technicalities: for the last four years, Nancy has been developing a flax blend yarn which is comparable to unicorn fluff. I know this sounds crazy, but it's basically linen for lovers of wool. 

How does this even work? If you're shrugging and going DUDE, flax is just linen, WHATEVS... You're kind of right. However, remember how we always talk about "breaking in"? This is ultimately broken in. The flax fibre is partially broken down in an enzymatic digestion process, making a much finer flax than traditional linen. THEN, this is blended with lyocell (you know tencel? That stuff. The stuff that feels like silk with the same breathable and tensile feel as wool) and spun into a superfine and very strong yarn. (25% flax, 25% lyocell, 50% cotton)

The result? Grippy, but crazily soft and amazingly cushy. This wrap slips through your hands like silk and supports like wool. It ties with a tiny knot and feels like a second skin.

 I actually can't find enough good things to say about it. I have long been a fan of Nancy's work for it's evenness, artistry (single colors are never "just" single, but variegated and complex) and stunning quality. For a long while she has set the bar in handwoven baby wraps, and now with West of the Fourth her attention to detail and expertise are again in the spotlight.

Obviously I'm not wrapping a baby or even a toddler. These are lanky 3yo limbs and to be up much longer than half an hour multi-layer carries are de jour. 

We're talking the bomb no-diggity. Thin enough to wrap simply and without fighting, squishy enough to rest lightly on my shoulders, solid that there was no sagging, retightening, and simply beautiful to look at. After a few washes (we eat in wraps, and wrap in parking lots and do all kinds of awful things...) this has not changed. A tiny stiffness fresh off the line, no pilling, no change in texture or density. Reliable and safe and lovely. 

Follow west of the fourth. I promise you will not be disappointed, and you may well be lucky❤️

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Markomiles - Babywearing jacket review and giveaway!

Markomiles is the passion of New Zealand mother and fashion designer Aleshia - and you should bookmark her website as the place to go for your bespoke custom jacket that will take you all the way through a pregnancy to baby wearing, toddler carrying and child  lugging - and right back to one body in your beautifully fitted jacket.  

Aleshia crafted me a gorgeous charcoal grey jacket in 100% wool, lined with cotton (body) and acetate (sleeves), and the option for wrapscrap-lined hoods (she makes both college and flat sleep hoods to fit your baby/child body panel. They even snap on at two different heights inside the panel to ensure a safe and tailored fit, regardless of your child's age and size. Clever toggles inside the coat (waist and hem) let you tailor for an exceptionally snug fit as your needs change. Are you ready for a crazy amount of photos?! 

Without any cinching :) Audrey is 15kgs/34lbs and nearly fills the wide extension panel.

Baby college hood attached.

You can see I have the hood snapped on on the highest/tallest setting. It can easily be clipped in a little lower to fit a shorter child. Panel is beautifully lined with wrap scrap collar to match hood. 

Chilly? Toggles set at two heights on the body panel allow you to customize the snuggest fit for your small person. 

My own hood zips in and is pretty sleek ;) 

So here you can see the pocket detail and note the waist toggle (you'll see e inside in the next photos) 

With jacket laid flat you can see the waist toggles inside and the back zip. Note that the back remains intact, with a solid shoulder. Really easy to get on when solo and simple to put back together. 
 Acetate-lined sleeves are SO good for allowing smooth ons and offs.

Hem toggles! 

The toggle across the body panel is brilliant. Stops draughts under baby's bottom and gets a great fit under smaller babies especially. 

Just because I appreciate detail... The lining and trim has been so impeccably done and really puts the finishing touch on a sleek design inside and out. 

See those little socks?! 

Audrey desperately wanted her arms out, but I wanted to try out the sleep hood. We compromised. Yes, the length of hood and corner loops to secure it are long enough that you can reach behind and up to secure it yourself! 

Coat in the wild. We zipped up, left our friend's house on foot, and five minutes later... Zzzzz

When we were fooling around making our little video ;) 

I can't recommend Markomiles highly enough. Material is top shelf and has a really... GENUINE feel - I am a fan of natural materials and to have a wool/cotton jacket that breathes well and transitions seamlessly between smart casual single-wearer and highly functional babywearing is fantastic. The fit is excellent and - as we all know ordering a custom/made to measure item can be a bit stressful - Alyshia's communication was absolutely faultless. She could not be any lovelier to work with. I'm delighted to recommend her brand and SO pleased I get to give one away!