Sunday, July 19, 2015

Shiny Star Woven Wraps' Infinity Andromeda


Shiny Star Designs is using TENCEL! I personally happen to think this is kind of cool - and you can read more about the comparison between cotton production and tencel manufacture if you are so inclined, but here is the basic rundown: Tencel (the trademarked name for lyocell) is manufactured from eucalyptus pulp in a closed-loop process where 99.7% of the solvent is recycled and pushed back into the system to continue manufacture, rather than contaminating and creating waste water. Eucalyptus is hardy and doesn't require high-grade land, so is easily farmed sustainably. Oeko Tex (an international standard developed in 1992) certifies Tencel as containing no harmful substances, and it's actually "cleaner" to produce than bamboo. So now that we've talked about what's IN this wrap, let's translate that to wrapping qualities! 

What, don't you take all your wraps to the park?
Fresh from the bag it would be easy to mistake this for a silk or bamboo blend; tencel has that deceptive softness to it, but you don't get the odor of silk or the slipperiness of bamboo. 

It's more like a conditioned linen. ACTUALLY, it's a lot like a Didymos double-face, and they are the BOMB. The whimsical scrolls and steampunk hints of clockwork, metalwork and cogs are awesome, and I can already think of a few author friends to whom this will appeal! Thank goodness tencel dries quickly, because little miss was all over me asking "What about that pretty blue wrap, Mommy? What about THAT one?" 
Reinforced ruck with knotless finish. 
Well, THAT one stands up nicely to toddler/child weight (15 kgs/34 lbs in our case). Although it dried a little stiff, a quick bash through our bannisters and a little ring-running soon sorted that out, and we had a sturdy wrap with a sleek texture and minimal grip.

At a generous 77 cms wide, you're not going to run out of wrap when making a seat, and at 306gsm, this feels heavy in hand but wraps mouldably and true to size. 


I LOVE the density of the ecru fill, and if you're a bit picky, you will like that the hems face both ways, so regardless of which side is out you can have a matching hem. Clearly in my FWCC with a twist (below) I didn't plan this far ahead. 

 So what's the verdict? This is a lush wrap with plenty of body and fantastic support. It's not as cushy as hemp, but it fluffs out more than an all-cotton while having a really sleek surface. It's a little like linen on steroids, and the environmental friendliness is a nice bonus.

I love the design, which is pretty without being femme; my husband liked the design and OH the color is divine. It's dense on the shoulders and quickly became supple enough to happily use with a baby. Best of all... they're currently on sale and you can nab one for a bargain HERE.




Sunday, July 12, 2015

Buying a wrap/ring sling/ssc/buckle carrier... on a BUDGET ;)

So I am a fan of babywearing on the cheap; I have a beach towel and khanga that live in the car for torso carries, several half-tablecloths and selendangs that are awesome rebozo shorties,
or you can bust out your sewing machine and sew a few straight lines to make an honest-to-goodness ring sling. All of these are suitable options from newborn to small-child size, and you can honestly have a successful and practical baby-carrying career for very little cash.

If you want to get into the "German-style" woven school of wrapping, you're going to need a longer wrap; either DIY or purpose-woven. Yes, you can DIY, and if you have access to Walmart or Spotlight with a 40% off coupon and the ability to sew in a straight line, this is accessible under the $50 mark. If you're in the USA, check out osnaberg; here in Australia we find the "mexican woven" a good solution, or bottomweight linen.

Not sure if your fabric is sturdy enough or has a good diagonal "give"?
I HIGHLY recommend checking out the DIY threads over at TheBabywearer or joining one of the Facebook groups to access advice and info about fabric weight. Jan Andrea, of Sleeping Baby Productions, has put together a GREAT resource including links to simple and safe patterns.

Too hard or too time-consuming? Here are some of the brands that you can buy on the cheap (under $100). Please note that I have not been paid to include any links or mentions. :)
Want to find one of these to buy RIGHT NOW? Head over to google with your country and the carrier name/brand.

Ebay - selendangs, khanga/kitenge

Comfy Joey ring sling
Sleeping Baby Productions instock linen ring slings
Wrapamore ring slings
Soul Slings ring slings
Daiesu ring slings

Colimacon et Cie fabric for wrapping & Colimacon et Cie ring slings
Baranka woven wraps & ring slings
Yaro woven wraps & ring slings
Little Frog woven wraps & ring slings
Inda Jani woven wraps
BBSlen shorter woven wraps
Bara Barn short woven wraps
Baby-Doo USA short woven wraps

JPMBB basic stretchy wraps
Chekoh stretchy wraps
Hugabub stretchy wraps
ByKay stretchy wraps
Toto stretchy wraps
Lenny Lamb stretchy wraps
Caboo stretchy cross-wrap
Sleepy stretchy wrap
Boba stretchy wrap

MiniMonkey buckle carrier
Infantino Mei Tai
Bitybean buckle carrier (can also be used in water)
Pognae Baby Carrier buckle carrier


Walkabout mesh ring sling (water use)

This is a work in progress, so please let me know if there's a brand or carrier I should add!

I do not recommend buying constructed carriers such as mei tais or ring slings from eBay or etsy.
Please avoid suspiciously cheap ergos and manducas; they ARE faked and do not comply with safety standards.
 It's worth paying the little bit extra for a carrier/manufacturer who complies with safety regulations and industry standards to ensure your child's safety.


Saturday, July 11, 2015

Nunamoochie Anya handwoven wrap review and...

Is Nunamoochie ringing a bell? I reviewed their beautiful handwoven Retro back in February (when it was balmy and warm) and Anya has come to hang out right in the middle of our cold snap. (A giveaway is coming soon too... Follow closely on Facebook!)
The colors - glorious pink, glowing orange and sunny yellow - are cheerful enough to banish any winter despondency and even charmed a smile from my little red riding hood.

This had a single wash before we took it out for a spin and oh my, it was already soft and tee-shirty. This feels a little lighter and fluffier in hand than Retro but has the same luscious drape and very fine weave that makes Retro a favorite around here (yes, even with a big kid!)


Obviously this will be divine with a little baby, and I admit to trying it out with my little 4kg demo doll just to feel how nicely it tightened and slid strand by strand. It was great in a double hammock. Sleek, pleats nicely and easy to tighten. Not as flat in hand as Retro, more fluffy like a Girasol, but no sag after 45 minutes of running random errands around the shops.

Turns out it has a fair bit of sleepy dust, too. The famous last words "But I'm not tired!" were heard loudly and assertively... and then I took this photo. 


Let's talk price. $149USD for a size 6 is a supremely sweet deal for this fine grained handwoven and I'm pretty sure you won't be disappointed in wrapping qualities. Passes slide easily, strand by strand tightening is a breeze - this is champagne on a pretty beer (for handwoven!) budget. Where can you get one? If you're an Aussie or a NZ'er, Angelrock Baby is your go-to; everyone else should head over HERE...

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

BBslen woven wrap review

Babylonia wraps are pure organic cotton, non-toxic dyes and fair trade labour (India).  Sound good? Nova Naturals sent me a Passionfruit to take out for a spin and venture an opinion on, and after an initial "this is cardboard!" I got a lovely surprise when I pulled it off the clothesline.


Cross-twill is a weave that fluffs up nicely with a bit of wash and wear. It has a little bit of cush while being essentially flat and without the texture of a jacquard pattern. The diagonal give is quite uniform and easy to work with for new wrappers (I had some willing test subjects at a meet!).


These are a really nice, simple budget-friendly option ($69USD for a shortie, $119USD for a size 6, $129USD for a size 8) that break in in the blink of an eye. I washed this twice, sat on it a bit, and had a perfectly moldable wrap that is soft enough for a new baby and generous enough in width (78 cms) to wrap my 3yo.


How did it stand up to 15kgs/34lbs? Really well. I would not love it in a single layer carry, but with a couple passes supporting Audrey, this is a fantastic workhorse of a wrap. The weave is flat enough that it won't snag or pull easily, with just enough bounce to be easy on the shoulders - the perfect summer wrap, and this would be a perfect rebozo/torso carry shortie.
BBslens have a wide range of simple striped wraps and have just brought in a bunch of jacquard designs if you fancy something a bit...fancy! Verdict? Great budget wrap. Great starter, great lender, great cuddle blanket for the toddler, excellent beater and all-rounder. Easy on the eye and easy on the pocket.








Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Babylonia BBTai Review

What's a BBTai? Easy - a Mei Tai made by Babylonia Carriers. When I unfolded it (thanks, Nova Natural Toys, for your lovely packaging!) I was kind of uhhh what? 
Then I got the hang of what was going on. First, the carrier comes in a nice shoulder bag with zip closure. Brownie points right there. Once I got it out and had a full look, the origami became a bit clearer; the fold across the back is able to be flipped up and secured through the shoulder tabs to provide head support for a sleeping baby without covering their face or rendering them 'hidden'. Shoulder straps are pleated, a generous 2m long, 39cms wide, and waist sash is flat and lightly padded (and 185cms) without rows and rows of quilting.

The body panel is quite square and flat, (40cms wide, 40cms tall) without darts or shaping, but there is a reasonably brilliant solution for small babies - a seat insert that velcros in and can be removed once outgrown. The lower limit for this carrier is 8lbs, and I found it could work quite well for my 4kg/9lb 'newborn' demo doll.
When trying this for my 6kg/13.5lb doll, I was in the awkward stage of too tall for insert, but too small for the body panel. This was easily solved by aproning the carrier once and then popping baby in. I wanted to cinch the body width a little and that was easily done with a ribbon.
Graduating to my "heavy baby" (trust me, 9kg/20lbs of aquarium pebbles feels MUCH heavier than an actual child of the same weight!) this was a nice fit. Baby was knee to knee in the unaltered panel and the wide wrap straps are great support. 

With Audrey (15kgs/34lbs) we were right up against the upper weight limit (35lbs) and it was easily supported with spread straps.
 I like using a chest belt or a knotless finish to help spread the weight through my whole torso (after all, that's a fair weight to hang from one's shoulders!) and once everything was spread this was totally comfortable in a front and back carry. We did a 3km walk in complete comfort, no digging, nothing. It was SO comfortable and I will admit to being amazed by how the simple square panel could be so mouldable and easy.


The cross-twill cotton has a nice amount of give and cush and softens up very quickly. Good to note that Babylonia carriers are manufactured using non-toxic dyes by a fair trade project in India. 
Great simple design and unfussy color schemes for uber-practical baby, toddler and child carrying on the go. Highly recommend for an instock, easy to purchase, simple to use and long-lived budget-friendly carrier.
Want to see it in action? Click here :)

Friday, July 3, 2015

Fidella Fly Tai mei tai Review!

Think this brand name looks familiar? You're right! I've reviewed Fidella wraps here, here and here... and now I have my hands on a Flytai - all the qualities of a woven wrap neatly shaped into a very adjustable and flexible mei tai. 
What do we need to know? You can order a Fidella Flytai in any wrap design, which means your carrier is manufactured from 100% organic cotton wrap fabric, with all the qualities I've addressed in previous reviews. The light padding in the shoulders and waist is 100% polyester. There are no plastic toggles or buckles or velcro or ... anything not fabric, which is reassuring. It's nice not to worry about stuff catching or coming off. 
In a nice nod to new wearers (and unco users of mei tais, such as yours truly) the waist straps and shoulder straps have differently finished ends. The shoulder straps are tapered and pointy, the waist straps rounded. Why on earth would this matter? Because when you do a basic front carry and wind up tying your shoulder straps behind your back in about the same location as your WAIST strap, it's nice to be able to differentiate when it comes to taking the carrier OFF. Yes, I am that wonderful parent who very nearly untied a waist strap and had to CATCH my child as they suddenly sank through the bottom of the carrier. So I like this, because it's another layer of foolproof. 

The shoulder straps are a generous 2oocms, which makes this a great carrier for plus-size/curvy adults and fancy finishes. I really like that I can still do my favourite knotless finish and have some pretty tails. The waist strap is similarly generous, and because it's a lightly padded-to-wrap strap you can spread it wide and get it to sit very flat and snug against your body. 

Let's talk about the body panel. Lots of mei tais require rolling to shorten the body panel for younger babies. This is fine, and it's absolutely important to tailor the body of the carrier so that baby is seated comfortably, not overextended at hips or knees, and with head/face visible and kissable, airways clear, etc. However, the flytai has a clear difference - the body panel is cinchable in height and width. 

You can cinch the back panel as short as 24 cms and it will extend to a lofty 44 cms (I pushed it to both extremes), and the seat width will cinch in from 31cms right down to 11cms. 
Here's the lowdown: I think these things are brilliant BUT you do need to be careful with how you position the gathered fabric. If you put your little baby in and THEN cinch around them it's easy to accidentally create a pocket of fabric that lets baby slump away from you and become chin to chest. 
SO, before you place your small baby in the carrier, get the CARRIER ready for the BABY.
The following photographs show a 6kg demo doll being carried by my obliging husband ;)
Body panel is flat and smooth; baby's head is positioned to be free of the carrier and clearly visible. 
You can see the ties for gathering either side of the body panel; I want to gather until the panel is short enough that the waistband sits directly below baby's bottom.
The ruched area is right at the base of the carrier, close to the waistband. This will sit below baby's bottom and ensure that the fabric over baby's spine remains flat and supportive.
I've folded the waistband up between baby's legs to see how narrow I need the base to become so that it's knee-to-knee and not overextending baby's hips or knees. 
Once altered to baby's size, place the carrier on, tying the waist firmly. You want the top of the waistband to sit where baby's bottom is going to go, so again, think of your baby's height, or pick them up and feel where their crotch sits measured against your torso. Since Michael is tall, the waistband is on his natural waist, about a centimetre above his bellybutton. 
Holding baby tummy-to-tummy, 'organise' their position so their spine is gently rounded and their legs are astride the carrier, knees level with hips or slightly higher. Then flip the body panel up and over baby's body. With the alterations already made to cinch this carrier smaller, there is excess fabric at the bottom and sides, as you'll see below. 
Baby 's nicely positioned with head clearly visible and kissable, spine supported, tight and close to the wearer's centre of gravity. Pulling the straps taut helps to smooth the body of the carrier and leaves the excess fabric in the body underneath the child.
Fabric lies flat and snug over baby. The horizontal cinch ensures baby's lower leg is free to move and that there is no pressure on baby's knees.
The excess fabric from cinching vertically is at the bottom of the carrier, and we're about to tailor and tighten that pocket with our wrap straps...
Michael brings the wrap straps over each leg, crosses under the bottom and wraps around to the back again (you can tie in front if preferred).
Spreading the wrap straps of course prevents baby from falling out sideways... and makes this a very snug and secure carry.

As you can see, I found it simplest to lay the carrier flat, position baby on top , then cinch the height and width to appropriate measurements.
It's important to tailor the body panel, THEN place baby in and tweak the carrier to check you're still meeting TICKS - that baby is Tight, In view, Close enough to kiss, Keeping chin off chest, and Supported. With baby nicely positioned in the flat part of the body panel, use the wrap straps to hold them securely above the loose, gathered excess. 
Fidella recommends this carrier be used from 3 months of age and minimum 3.5kg, and that it remains suitable up to 15kgs. Having tried it with a variety of dolls and a 15kg 3yo,this is my verdict: 
The adjustability is fantastic but it's important to understand how it changes the structure of the carrier (creating a pocket) and to adjust straps to ensure a snug, close fit. I found it easy enough to move gathered fabric to the base and the outside edges of the carrier so that the fabric supporting baby's body was smooth and unwrinkled (we don't want pressure points, thanks!). Of course the seat at it's maximum 31 cm width was not knee to knee for my 3 year-old, but it was very easily made wider by spreading the wrap straps - ah, the beauty of wide straps! 

The height of the carrier was easily shortened to fit my 4, 6 and 9kg demo dolls, and I think would remain very comfortable and practical up to 2-3yrs of age (you can see that Audrey was comfortably ensconced in the body panel). Verdict: Great affordable carrier that will get you from 3mo to 3yo. The tailoring is well thought out, but please make sure you're familiar with the priorities of safe carrying and understand how to check your young baby's posture to ensure they are safe in the carrier. Enjoy!

Sensimo Slings

A couple weeks ago we headed up to the Dandenongs to take photos. Michael, Audrey, me, a demo doll and a laundry basket of wraps. Mel Muller met us and worked SO hard to get some beautiful photos, and we got to play with a whole bunch of glorious, glowing wraps in iridescent tones. 


Tone Emozio is a 100% cotton with a crazily gorgeous color grad which is thick and plush. Weighing in at around 270 gsm, this shone in a reinforced ruck with knotless finish as I toted Audrey's 15kg/34lbs around some scenic walks and y'know, gazed lovingly at one another. 


This has a nice amount of cush and take a bit of careful tightening to get the bulk nicely distributed, but the effort is well worth it - passes stick like velcro and stay put without sagging. 
Yes it rocks a FWCC without the slightest hint of dig, and a week on the weave is starting to loosen up a lot more. Strand by strand tightening still isn't easy, but wow it is SNUG! 



I feel we should all marvel at the sloppiness of this double hammock. Because it WAS marvellously untidy and slapdash... and yet we stomped around happily and even went op-shop trawling (my favourite pastime) before heading home for a nap. Sag is not in Tone Emozio's vocabulary. 


I was starting to think this was a big-kid wrap, but loving and snuggling has broken the beast and made it cuddly and malleable, like a lisca that handles weight really well. You can see how nicely it's pleating and moving. It's never going to be a thin wrap, but there needs to be a lush beauty in every stash, right? 


Yeah... I'll just leave this here, shall I?



Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Natibaby SAVE THE MIDWIVES





I am NOT a Natibaby fan. I've tried a few, and ok, yeah, some GORGEOUS designs, but wrapping-wise they aren't all that and unicorn hair. 

And then this happened. Turns out that I'm actually a fan of Natibaby LINEN. Like, it's great. An amazing, light, summery wrap with great texture (and a particularly awesome message on THIS particular wrap, which you can purchase from Purusha's Picks) that relaxed into floppiness in three washes and a couple weeks of wearing. 





We wore in FWCC and my 15 kg child passed quickly into unconsciousness. She wasn't even heavy. I walked down three flights of stairs to retrieve my forgotten coffee, back up, and she stayed asleep AND my shoulders didn't fall off. Win.


We did a hasty, sloppy, you'll pay for this later DH in the parking lot as it started to drizzle, and although that chest pass is not pretty, IT STAYED PUT. It didn't sag, it didn't dig, it was a sloppy wrap job with 15 kilos of sushi-scoffing child and I won.
I even like the color. It's not bright sunny yellow, it's accent mustard and all kinds of awesome. I actually can't say enough good things about it. If linen doesn't float your boat (I don't know if we can be friends anymore...) go check out the hemp one. It's black, which I find VERY attractive, and I'm pretty sure you could ruck another adult in it. Lastly, SAVE THE MIDWIVES!

TwinGo tandem carrier Review!

What's a twingo? Basically, the simplest way to tandem. Angelrock Baby sent me this one to try out, and I've been trialling it with a few local twin mums with excellent verdicts.



I have this thing about carriers. I think they should be useable WITHOUT reading the manufacturers instructions, because a lot of us are going to skim at best, ignore at worst. So I like carriers that do what I expect, are reasonably basic, and can be fiddled with a little for a good fit, not require a degree in engineering. 


Twingo is... Two separate carriers that fit together to make one. The blue is the base carrier, and you always put that on first. You can wear it solo with baby on your front OR your back. Want to tandem? Ok. 



Put baby 1 in blue, hip scoot, put Orange on, baby 2 in, and clip to blue. You're done. Yes, it's that easy.  Have a spare parent or getting a bit fatigued? 


Add the shoulder straps to orange and make it a stand-alone solo carrier - fantastic when you have two babies small/young enough to still require front carries, or two toddlers who you'd rather carry independently!
Two bodies, two babies, two carriers, or ONE body, two babies, one carrier. 

You DO need to read the fine print; 
Babies should be sitting independently before being back carried in Buckle carriers, and when tandeming, the heavier baby should always be placed on the back in the blue base carrier, lighter baby on your front in the orange add-on carrier. 


Weight restrictions are not less than 10lbs and not more than 40 lbs in EITHER carrier, and the combined weight of both children should not exceed 70lbs/32kg... so make sure you do a little math before carrying a big kid plus a baby.  

 I have to say Audrey kind of loved this  and the carriers themselves were simple enough to use without detailed reference to the instructions. I like the safety elastics on all buckles, and I could actually cinch the shoulder straps enough for a a very comfortable back carry.

Great investment for parents of twins or babies close in age, and surprisingly simple! If you're in Australia like me, get in touch with Angelrock Baby about making tandeming MUCH easier!