Mamamokum Handwoven Spring Bling

The Mamamokum Handwoven tester, Spring Bling, is a wrap with a cotton warp and a mercerised Egyptian cotton, 16/2, broken/pointed twill weft.  I don’t know if there’s a technical name for the twill–Sadie calls it broken twill but it looks like a fancier point to me.  It is 4.2 meters (soft tape in hand) and 74 centimeters wide (flat on my ironing board) with a GSM of 277.  What is interesting is that Sadie named each wrap slightly different–they all have “Bling” in their names.  Cinder’s Bling was Sadie’s Spring 2014 Competition of Weavers entry.

Spring Bling came to visit me while I was pregnant and I got to wear it with my toddler.  I remember when I first got it, I thought it was thinner than I was used to.  Now that I’ve been wearing a squish (though she transitioned into a wiggly baby just recently), I found that it was thicker than I was used to.  On both occasions, it performed the carries that I was currently doing magnificently.  With my toddler who was just a smidgen over two years old and weighed around 29lbs, we did DH torso with the tails tied under the bum or we did ruck.  We went on walks around town and didn’t do ruck for very long, maybe 30 minutes to an hour (she was an active toddler even then) but it served us very well.  From the pictures, it looks like I preferred ruck with it, which makes sense because it was so wide.  It’s soft and has enough give that I wouldn’t ruck with it for a hike, but for every day errands with a toddler, it was perfect.

Fast forward six months and I have a four month old, 14lb baby to wrap!  It’s moldable, so while it is wider than I am used to, that extra seat/fabric isn’t bulky at all around her legs and it’s welcome cushion on the shoulders.  The mercerised ec weft gives it a nice slide that allows me to get the passes into place even around my tiny, fragile baby.  The baby and I live in slipknots 75% of the time and it’s a dream in a slipknot carry. I do take the extra time to lock the knot tight when I’m done with the big adjustments–it’s perhaps more grippy than glidey but it’s not a grippy wrap.  I do wear my baby for up to two hours, depending on how long it takes to get her to fall asleep or how long our walk around town was (we still do that, except now I don’t wear my toddler cause baby be there), and Spring Bling was definitely supportive for those endeavors while being airy and breathable to use in this crazy heat.

Action shot
Action shot and toes!

In hand, Spring Bling has a nice, substantial weight to it while not being heavy or blanket-like.  It has a smooth, dense feel but there’s a slight texture to it.  When I wrapped, there was a little bit of grip to it.  The weft can be a little delicate; I was nervous about doing a back carry with it with a chip in my nail (though I’m always nervous about chips and usually keep my nails short just for my precious wraps).  I fixed less than five pulls when it got to me after six months of travels, though, and none of them were substantial.  I’ve tried a lot of twill–from twills that feel like plainweaves to twill that had a lot of texture or feels blanket-like.  This felt like a lighter twill; not plainweave but not far from it.  On my shoulders, it felt flat, not diggy, and cushy–I don’t normally see flat and cushy on the shoulders together, but I think the width had something to do with this.

The weaving is great; this was Sadie’s second warp and when I ironed it, I could hunt out about a handful of skips here and there.  There are several weft changes on either side, including one band with sparkle thread.  This makes it asymmetrical but I found I loved it with my slipknots–it made it easy for me to judge where I wanted to start the slipknot and made the whole thing look more interesting.  Sadie mentioned other testers some day, as she says her weaving has improved even more since Spring Bling.  Her attention to detail is incredible.  Her hems are still perfect.  Her tags are beautiful and have weathered six months of testing and travels with only a stray fiber or two out of place on the tag in the tail.  Sadie wove the fabric for the tag and hand-stamped it.  Many weavers start out with plainweave but Sadie starts with a fancy twill–and her twills have only gotten *fancier*.  The craftsmanship for the whole piece is a beautiful example of care for the details and finishing.

When I first saw Spring Bling on the loom, I was impressed.  It was so classically feminine.  Additional warps have revealed that classically feminine, classy and sophisticated are part of Sadie’s signature.  There are gorgeous girlie wraps out there that match my baby and toddler, and their cuteness, so well.  Mamamokum does feminine beauty that matches me (or at least, what I would strive to be if I had time!).  And it’s not just the colorways, though it does provide the foundation for her signature.  The mercerised ec and sparkle yarn promises us a soft, floppy, and moldable wrap while adding an aspect to the warp akin to how shimmery eye shadow enhances the eyes.  Her twill drafts add density to increase support and add dimension to her overall craft that makes you wonder what other surprises she could have in store for us.  She is experimenting with soft and strong fibers like pima cotton and lyocell (tencel).  All in all, I stalk her Facebook page (Mamamokum Handwoven) and group (Mamamokum Chatter) like a hawk hunting prey!

Obiligatory S fold
Obiligatory S fold. Don’t forget to click on the pictures to bring up full screen! Same with the tiles at the top, it will bring up a slideshow.
Let’s be straight up–I love Sadie.  She’s a founding co-admin of Loom to Wrap and before that, she was an admin of Oscha Slings.  She’s devoted a lot of time to the community through these and other endeavors.  I have spent the last year and a half talking to her almost daily.  She has an amazing attention to detail, a beautiful way with words, and is thoughtful and intelligent.  She often brings up big-picture consequences.  She put a lot of time and thought into her business–learning how to weave, researching, and starting her business.  She speaks of weaving and her company with pure joy; it’s obvious she loves what she’s doing.  I greatly enjoy following her to see what else she has in store!
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Review: Golden Thread Mistress Isteri

Isteri came to visit in March.  It is an all EC (Egyptian cotton) warp, woven in plainweave. This particular Isteri is the chocolate ec cottolin version. I measured it STIH, post wash, as 4m long, 72.5cm wide and I calculated 294 GSM.

Marcia didn’t ask me to review, she just sent it cause she knows I’m a fan and this was her personal wrap. I didn’t take pictures of the tags and other geekery so this review won’t be as detailed as normal.  But I used it hard, every day and several times a day, as the arrival of my second baby has increased my wearing significantly. When it first got here, I didn’t remember the details about it.  When I looked it over, I guessed it was cottolin–it had the slightly nubby look of cottolin but it wasn’t nearly as nubby as I often see from cottolin. When I say “nubby”, I mean a little bit of thickening in the yarn, a little bit of fibers escaping from the plainweave, not in a hairy way, but just in the nature of linen.  This almost looked and felt like all cotton, except that I could see enough of a nubby characteristic, regularly but infrequently, that I assumed it was cottolin.  The grad is so smooth from color to color; I’m so impressed with Marcia’s gradations.  Her middle markers are the characteristic “Right About Here” that we can expect from Golden Thread Mistress.  The hems are perfect, though her care tag had some threads escaping from the stitches and needed a touch up.

294 GSM with all EC feels a little bit more like 270ish GSM in an all cotton Maurice Brassard wrap.  It wasn’t thin but it also wasn’t heavy or dense.  It was right smack in my sweet spot, immediately moldable with a dense and somewhat smooth/silky/cool feel to the fabric.  It was versatile, meaning I felt it would successfully work in any carry, from ruck to multiple passes, carries with slipknots or double knot. It worked easily in a slipknot or a double knot, was easy to adjust and lay flat on the shoulders, had a nice stretch and give that allowed me to tighten the top rail significantly more than the rest of the wrap, as my baby was still quite floppy at the time.  When I made a seat, it went between us and her little legs easily without feeling thick or unwieldy. It felt amazing with my baby in terms of support.  Please click on the photo gallery and come to your own conclusions, though!  That’s what the pictures are for.

Jewelry Aside:  The necklace I was wearing was my Sundown Bead Designs chain, Lullaby Links Infinity Charm, circle clasp, wedding ring, and Sundown Bead Designs D20 charm.

I put my toddler up in a ruck for a tandem when I got it, but it was perhaps the second time I tried a tandem with them and I did it horribly.  The tension was all wrong and it totally dug in my shoulders.  That said, from my experience with similar wraps, I think I could have gotten a perfect ruck with her.  Honestly, I could see this particular wrap, with its length a perfect 4m for us, taking us from squish to toddler all on its own.

I’ve tried a few other GTMs.  Painted Sunset, an older all EC wrap came to visit and it was what gave me the GTM bug.  Heck, it was what opened my eyes to something more luxurious than Maurice Brassard (MB) cotton, which is fantastic on its own and a staple in the babywearing handwoven community.  I often liken Egyptian cotton to MB cotton that has been broken in… but it’s like that right after the first wash.

I tried Citrus Brights, which lived here shortly.  It was wide, with beautiful bright colors, though not the typical gradation that Marcia does now.  It was an MB warp and a cottolin weft, densely woven (around 290ish GSM).  It worked wonderfully with my first child, who was around a year old, 25lbs and napped on my back twice a day for a couple hours a day.  (Thank goodness that’s behind us).  But it isn’t EC nor my colors, so it moved on.

The other GTM I’ve tried was the gorgeous Hope and Peace, a more recent gradation and a colorway after my house heart.  It was the superwash wool weft, 4m and 288 GSM, stretchy but supportive in a ruck.  Not at all diggy, though the wool felt prickly on my bare skin when I wore a tank top when I used it.  It is one of the few wool wraps I’ve tried, since I live in Hawaii, but its softness and stretch (along with a delicious Linuschka Tulpia with silk and cashmere) led me to giving superwash wool a try for one of my semi-customs.  That is Rhockett Weaving Mistfit Rainbow and one of my favorite wraps in my stash and one of the first of my own stash I’ll review once I work through my current backlog.

If I know the weaver, I normally like to share a little bit about her (or him) cause this community is so small and the options are so many. I love supporting weavers as people and artists when I can, rather than just buying based on the end product alone. Marcia, who IS Golden Thread Mistress, is the bees knees. She is a founding co-admin of Loom to Wrap, so I’ve gotten to know her well. She donates her time to the community and has since her first child. She is an active member of the community, often answering (and asking) questions and she is active in her locale as a babywearing educator. She’s also hilarious and fun to talk to. She weaves as a hobby, and has been weaving since 2013. If you are a member of Loom to Wrap, learn more about Marcia and GTM through her Weaver Wednesday interview!

A little birdie told me that we can expect a re-weave of Hope & Peace! Follow her Facebook Page, http://www.facebook.com/GoldenThreadMistress, and join her chatter group, Golden Thread Mistress Fans, for updates!

Reviews

I likey the wraps.
I likey the wraps.

I’ve tried some wraps. It is incredibly fun. Though it is not necessary, it is possible to experiment with wraps and carries in your babywearing journey, and have a blast doing it. The combination of natural fibers, densities, weights, wrapping qualities, colors, and designs are pretty much endless. I’ve spent a lot on postage to try these wraps. I want to stop but I can’t! Not when I’m on my last baby and the timer has started.

I plan on reviewing wraps I’ve tried and silver jewelry I’ve handled. Jewelry is straight forward… I probably just need to take good comparison pictures. But wraps are a completely different sort of beast.

First, I’ve mostly used handwoven wraps for the last year. There are many reasons for this; from the artistry and custom nature of them to the stretch, support, and breathability in combinations that I’ve gotten used to and don’t see in the machine woven wraps I’ve tried.

Second, reviews are tough because use of a wrap doesn’t happen in a vacuum. My kids age and get heavier or taller, they may be more compliant some days than others, I may feel more tired or energetic and my wrapping skills evolve. Wraps that didn’t work for me a year and a half ago may work now. I have preferences that also evolve. The time I have with a wrap differs, too. Through experience, I know better what to ask and how to set expectations when I’m asked to test.

So the big question is, how do I make reviews useful to you? What you’re looking for in a review will vary. If you’re just starting out and you fall in love with a wrap, you may be looking for validation (this was definitely me). Maybe you’re more experienced and can wade through the terminology and interpret and apply descriptions of wrapping qualities to your own preferences. Maybe you have tried enough of what I’ve tried to apply the proper filter to know which wraps would work for you base off my reviews.

In my reviews, I strive to provide information on the variables of a wrap and how it worked for me. To get the most out of my review, you will need to piece those variables into a whole picture. For example, I want to show you knot shots, how it lays on the shoulder, how much light comes through the wrap, its density in gsm, the tags and hems and other finishing details, how it molds in a chest pass, how it goes through a slipknot, how hard I had to pull to make a secure know, what carries I found most comfortable, the craftsmanship of the piece, etc etc. I think it takes all these details to piece together where a wrap would fall in your own bell curve of preferences. So my reviews will be lengthy. They will be detailed, contain limited flowery prose and the pictures will be as important for geekery as the text.

I hope they are useful or at least fun reading for someone!

Also, my phone camera was all I had until this year… And my photography skills are evolving along with everything else. I’m sorry if I only have horrible pictures and know I’m working on getting better!

A day in the life….

I believe my very first carry was accomplished in November 2012.  It’s been two and a half years.  While I’ve learned a lot about the kind of parent I am and the kind of parent I strive to be, I have also learned about myself, as a woman, as an individual.

There are interests I’ve had to table.  There’s no programming or developing, no gaming, no geeking over gadgets, no cross stitching, no playing with new software and apps.  I know I’ll have time for them some day.

Being part of the babywearing community has led me to other interests and self discovery.  I take a lot of selfies and stills.  They started pretty bad.  They still aren’t great but I’ve made an effort to evolve my photography.  I have a new appreciation for textiles and handmade things.  I like to buy custom-made items and patronize companies of work-at-home moms. And I’ve always had an appreciation for simple metal jewelry, with perhaps a gemstone here and there, but now a whole new world of jewelry possibilities are filling my head.

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Babywearing wise, I was exclusively using wraps (though I tried other carriers and always churned them) until a month ago.  I wear my baby a lot.  If I need to carry my toddler, it’s most comfortable to tandem wear with two wraps with my toddler in a DH (double hammock) but it’s not practical.  I hardly wear her for that long, so I need an easy way to let her up and down without taking my baby down.  I also need my baby to have access to my breasts.  So, sadly, lots of toddler wearing is no longer feasible and she’s become less tolerant and compliant.  She does comply to being worn in an SSC and will climb on my back.

My baby is worn in short or mid length wraps, usually anywhere from five minutes to half an hour when we are at home (depending on how long it takes to put her to sleep).  I wear her the whole time we are out.  She will be ready for back carries in a month or two and I’m curious how our routine will change or if it even will.

Mountain Girl Handwovens So Grand
Not a great picture, but you can see I’m trying way harder.

I do love my handwoven wrap stash.  Each one was custom made for me and they are so special.  The specialness of my stash has perfectly coincided with the arrival of my baby and a huge increase in wearing.  I’m enjoying it immensely.

In my opinion, the most amazing thing about babywearing and parenting is the community. It’s a way to connect with other parents and the friendships I’ve gained has made a lasting impact. Before I had children, I had no idea how much becoming a parent was like joining a club; just knowing you’re also a parent (or becoming one) lends a sense of camaraderie.  We just try to help each other out. It takes experiencing how hard it is and how much it transforms your life to understand how someone who may have never asked for help from strangers before would seek it now and to want to help ease the trial and error process of parenting for someone else by offering to help when asked.

A day in the life (almost a year ago)….

Remember those half posts I mentioned on my Facebook Page, Xynetha Creates? Here’s one I wrote last year, then updated a few months later. I’ll write another one tomorrow about how things have changed for me.

From June 2014 (updated Sept 2014)

I’ve been babywearing since my daughter was about a month old.  I had an Ergo and a Moby on my registry.  Fast foward to now and my child is eighten months old and I’ve owned seventy carriers (don’t own many of them any more!) and tried a few dozen others from friends or as a tester.

My journey has been fun and each month is different than the prior month.  Whether because I am using different carriers, I learned different carries, my child hits a weight limit, sleep milestone, or development milestone that demanded a change, or something new clicks with an old carry. Throughout it all, I’ve used babywearing as a parenting tool.

Until just a few weeks ago, I was wrap napping her.  So, I’ve been wearing her for her naps since she was just out of the newborn phrase and actually napped three times a day (and slept in the bed with me at night). My body couldn’t take two to three hours of dead weight and bouncing on a ball any more, though a lot of my journey was searching for supportive wraps. I would occasionally use a visiting wrap for naps and my body didn’t recover from a couple consecutive non-toddler worthy wraps. We are sleep training her now and have given up the concept of her sleeping in her crib.

I have always worn my baby for walks or errands. We used a stroller before I learned how to babywear and haven’t used one since. A little aside-I do plan to use one to incorporate more exercise into my routine; I don’t think I can walk two miles each way in the summer while babywearing a 30lb toddler…. yet. I want to build myself up to it, though. Back on topic!  We don’t use a cart at the store.  Now that she’s a toddler, I often bring a shorty and pre-tie a “poppable” hip carry while I chase her around the playground or to be ready to contain her when I let her walk around.  I do rucks when I need to travel fast and/or don’t plan on letting her walk.

If she’s tired and not playing nicely, I put her up.  If it’s a little before her bedtime and I want to mellow her out and do some housework, I put her up.  I often get a rebozo or “poppable” hip carry ready in the car so I can be hands-free from the parking garage to our unit; she often doesn’t want to walk on the way up, even though she walked to the car.

I’ve used soft structured carriers (SSC) and we’ve owned a few.  These are what my husband uses, exclusively.  It’s also nice to give the personal trainer something to use–he often wears her while he trains us.  I used ring slings throughout my journey but have recently sold all but a newborn one since I don’t like them with my toddler.  I also had a wcmt for the longest time but couldn’t justify the cost of keeping one around when I never use them.  They have become to be too much structure for me and not enough structure for my husband, so they sit unused.

I have wraps of every size, though my favorite is a long size 3.  I can also do a lot with a size 4.  Since I’m not wearing for hours on end any more, long wraps aren’t as important for me.  I do have second child on the way, though, and therefore have a few in my stash.  Very infrequently before bed, when I want to do housework and mellow out my toddler, I will use a long wrap in a double hammock carry.

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Photo by Simply Baby Photography

A beginning…

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I love the elegance of the jewelry made popular in the babywearing community by Lullaby Links (and Mayim Bialik).  Simple shapes, clean forms, jingling and easy to grasp for little fingers.  Pairs gorgeously with carriers (wraps especially) and gives you more eye candy to take in when you look at babywearing selfies.  A couple months ago, a friend of mine explained that such jewelry was fairly prevalent as educational projects in jewelry making classes and that the tools to get started, while somewhat costly, aren’t impossible.

I need a creative outlet.  I’ve been enjoying the geekery of wraps, and then eventually handwoven wraps, and sharing in the design of them with weavers (sometimes the whole concept, sometimes with an inspiration picture, sometimes with my weft choice).  But I’ve come to the point where I love my stash so much that it’s hard to let go of old ones to make room for new ones.  I also really, really enjoy testing and hope to do it my whole babywearing journey but 1) need to catch up on my reviews and 2) need to slow new testers down so it feels less like a job (that I pay for in postage).

Jewelry seems reasonable with barriers to entry I could overcome.  Silversmithing has terminology and techniques to learn and explore. It seems to be a beautiful blend of art and science, which is my favorite kind of craft (much like, say, programming).  I bought a couple of books for the Kindle and bought a handful of Craftsy lessons.

I’ll be back to review those resources once I’ve devoured them.