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Once my stash was almost totally wool wraps. True story: while I was heavily pregnant with Baby Bear, in the middle of the summer, I fell head-over-heels for woolies. They’re bouncy. They’re cushy – wool has the highest cush-to-thickness ratio of any wrap fabric. I worked my way through the Famous Wool Didys of Yore: chocolate ellipsen, green wool fish (thick), moos, natty wool indio (both versions), both alpaca fish and natural wool nino, which for the record beats them all. I’ve used other brand woolies, including Didy and Nati and Lenny Lamb and Diva. But other than a knock-off El Jorongo, I’ve never tried 100% wool wrap.
That’s because no one makes 100% wool wraps – until now. Many experienced wearers have speculated that an all-wool wrap wouldn’t work; the bounce would turn to sag, and the wool-prickle would turn mamas off. So I had no idea what to expect when Laura from Cwtch sent me one of her brand-new, 100% wool wraps.
Cwtch – pronounced “koosh”* for the vowel-lovers among us – comes from the Welsh word for “cuddle” or “safe place.”
It’s a brand-new company based in (you guessed it) Wales, which has a long history of both weaving and wool industries. Cwtch builds on that legacy by spinning and dyeing in Yorkshire (close to the border), and weaving at Melin Teifi in Carmarthenshire. The company supports local industry, builds on traditional practices (the welsh shawl is the traditional carrier of the British Isles), and lucky for us, keeps costs low. That’s the hippie trifecta, people.
How low do they go? A 100% wool wrap comes in at under $100 shipped, putting this company firmly in the budget range, and accessible to wearers of all kinds. Winning, people. Winning.
But cheap’s no good if the wrap sucks. So I tempered my excitement until the package came – three days after mailing. Oh snap, European Union, who takes three weeks to get me something from Germany. I opened the package to find a size 3, prickly-as-all-heck, beautiful wrap with the weirdest tapers I’ve ever seen.
Ellevill tapers are long – on one end. Wrappers expect a basic parallelogram. Cwtch tapers into arrowhead-shapes. So while Laura sent a size 3, I effectively had a size 2: tying in the tapers destroys all tension in the rails. Don’t worry, though – the new wraps will have the standard parallelogram we all know and love.
A size 2 means rebozos, rucks, and pirate carries (RRRR: rear reinforced rebozo rucksack). So instead of getting something I could use in multiple layers, I had a ruck wrap made of wool, in The Place That Registered a High Temp of 85 Degrees the Week Before Halloween. Yes, it’s thin – I’d compare it to the second version of natty wool indio or zinnobar – but it’s still wool. Scratchy, scratchy wool.
But in the name of science or whatever, I used it anyway. And I was gradually very, very surprised.
At first: eh. Medium grip and slip, typical wool bounce, some cush. Very prickly. I used it a lot as a rebozo, because Sunny is an inveterate seat popper, and re-doing a ruck every fifteen minutes gets annoying.
So I rebozo’d and slip-knotted. One good thing about rebozos: they break a wrap in fast. After about a week of rebozo carries and some rucks with candy-cane chestbelts … Cwtch began to feel different. It felt less prickly-wool and more cuddly-wool. It always felt like wool, mind you, but now, in a good way. At first I felt guilty asking Sunny to nap in it. Now I liked to pet it.
And then I wrapped Baby Bear – to sleep.
The problem with wrapping Baby Bear to sleep: he turns into a limp bowling ball the approximate density of a black hole. You can’t screw up a carry, because once he’s out, he’s out and you’re stuck with whatever shit wrap job you managed. This cwtch is a functional size 2, so I used a ruck tied at shoulder. I spread the shoulders as carefully as I could and tried to avoid pressure points. Baby Bear hit the event horizon and collapsed into dark matter. And … cwtch held up.
This is a thin wrap, y’all. I’d put the density at under 200, probably somewhere at 180-190 g^m. We don’t consider that toddler-worthy anymore. But 25 pounds of Baby Bear felt great in a single-layer carry. It was getting to the limit of comfort in a single-layer carry, but cwtch worked. Minimal digging, no pressure points, plenty of cush for the density and no sag. Most impressive, as Darth Vader would say.
And wool? Well, I wore it in the cold up in Philadelphia (cuddly and comfy to keep me warm), and in the heat down here in the semi-tropics (cooler and breathed well). This is a wool wrap that works the heat well. I wouldn’t want to swathe myself in multiple layers of it in 90 degree weather. But as a rebozo or ruck, I didn’t find cwtch uncomfortable.
My verdict? I want a cwtch for (what passes for) the winter. I think it’ll break into lovely softness, and I enjoy the bounce and stretch. It’s time for me to get some wooly love back in my stash. And at 100 bucks, who can blame me?
If you’re in the market for a first woolie, cwtch is a great choice. Break it in for your newbie beforehand, but it will make a lovely winter newborn wrap. I’m going to get a longer wrap for multi-layer carries with bigger babies. And wool isn’t as high maintenance as you think. No, you can’t throw it in the washer. But handwashing isn’t hard, AND this isn’t a neutral, so barf away.
You know you want one. And you’re lucky – Cwtch and Manic Pixie Dream Mama are doing a giveaway with this (getting broken in) size 3! Entering’s easy! See Manic Pixie Dream Mama on Facebook for details.
- “Koosh” is the more Gaelic pronunciation; Welsh say “kootch.” This is obviously totally not okay for an American audience prone to vagina jokes. Seriously, if my BWI buddies make one more joke about the prickly cwtch or giving away the cwtch or petting the cwtch, I am going to secretly feed their toddlers red dye. So we are making an agreement, here and now, to call this company “Koosh” stateside. Got it, people? You know who you are.