Cwtch Review – And a Giveaway!


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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.

skeptical baby.

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.

Baby Bear approves.
Baby Bear approves.

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.

cwtchMy 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.


Things My Toddler Does That Would Be A Felony if He Were an Adult


  • Removing his pants on the playground
  • Hitting the baby on the head with a wooden hammer
  • Riding the dog
  • Pointing his penis at people while making laser noises
  • Intentionally peeing on friends
  • Pulling hair
  • Pulling down a woman’s shirt and yelling “I WANT BOOB!”
  • Pooping in the yard
  • Malicious destruction of real property
  • Hitting strange children with sticks
  • Saying “I kill you” to friends, parents
  • Hitting the dog with a light saber
  • Peeing on the floor in Target
  • Eating an entire box of cookies while walking through Publix
  • Removing his pants in Target
  • Removing his pants on school grounds
  • Removing his pants in church
  • Removing his pants
  • Ignoring all “do not enter signs” and “keep out” barriers in museums
  • Touching the paintings at art museums
  • Attempting to pee in art at art museums
  • Sneaking under the ropes at TSA checkpoints
  • Taking his pants off at TSA checkpoints
  • Hitting his brother with sticks, metal objects
  • Throwing rocks at children
  • Removing his pants at a state park
  • Ignoring all social mores about spraying fully clothed bystanders with hoses
  • Attempting to climb on fire trucks
  • Exposing himself to small children, yelling, “I HAVE PENIS!”

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Cari Slings: Double Helix Review

sunncuteNewsflash: I like baby wraps. I also like science, and I like clever, clean aesthetics. All this would make you think that when I bumped into Cari Slings at MommyCon, I ran off into the sunset clutching Double Helix.


I did fall in love with Double Helix. But not because it’s science-y, though my house is full of fossils and my four-year-old can explain Linnean classification (ask him). I didn’t love Double Helix because of the design either, though it’s clean and modern and sleek – Ikea but without the negative connotation. Nope. I just-shy-of-abducted Double Helix because I petted it, and it’s one of the softest and smooshiest wraps of all time.

No, seriously. I grope a lot of wraps. I touched Double Helix. Then I petted it. Slowly. With feeling. Gently, and then firmly. And I asked, “Is this brand-new?!” Because virgins shouldn’t feel that floppy, people. For real.

So I got one to take home, which meant I had to pay to check another bag, damn you US Air, but oh it was worth it. Because I threw that Double Helix in the wash, let it tumble dry, took it out and oh yeah, baby. Someone turned on the Barry White and I slipped that wrap over my shoulders, and –

Okay, at some point the sexual metaphors get creepy. Anyway, Double Helix’s smooshy hand-feel and lovely drape didn’t disappoint. It’s almost fluffy, with a memory-foam cush to the shoulders. The design lends it great diagonal stretch, which gives a tight, moldable carry – and help redeem the suckiest of wrap jobs.

And it’s soft. Like, super-soft, and what’s more, it’s even softer on the off side. Since the off side sits against the baby, I like it to feel better than the right side. I know, I’m stupidly particular. But Double Helix manages it. That means Sunny gets cuddled in unicorn fluff and happiness. Win.

dhpfauxI found Double Helix easy to tighten and easy to wear; I kept Sunny up for more than two hours without a problem. Moreover: Sunny asked for it. This is the first wrap he ever said “wrap” for. That ought to count for something, as should him picking it over everything I set it against. So I can officially call Double Helix baby-endorsed and approved.

I also used it to awkwardly kangaroo the becoming-enormous Baby Bear, who insists on front wraps only, please. A lesser wrap would have killed my back, sagged, dug, or otherwise failed to the herculean task. Did Double Helix magically create the Most Comfortable Carry of All Time from a sloppy-ass kangaroo of a wailing almost-three-year-old? No. But it did feel a hell of a lot better than most anything else would have.

If Double Helix reminds me of anything, it’s Tekhni’s smooshy repreve blends, but without the extra warmth of the repreve. It’s cool as a thicker all-cotton blend can be. I wouldn’t hike in it during the middle of the summer, but at that point, I’m down to mystic or a mei tai, anyway.

sunsunIt’s soft enough for squishes. It can take your toddler. Plus, if your husband is colorblind like mine, you can torment him for hours by asking if it’s blue or green. I wasn’t a big fan of Cari Sling’s earlier designs, but Double Helix means I’ll have to take a second look, even if that means wearing tiger stripes.

It gets better. Cari Slings is not only American, they’re also based in North Carolina (the Raleigh area, to be specific), and carry on the long tradition of textile production in the South. All their products are made in the US, with one of the mills local to them. I have a serious soft spot for the Southern textile belt, the towns and people it supports, and the labor battles they’ve fought in the past. So any business that builds up that hard-hit sector of America deserves a shout-out.

And these aren’t inaccessible, expensive wraps (which I own and love, so don’t go hatin’). Double Helix retails at $140 for a size 3 (prices go up in $10 increments per size). Totally within the affordable category. If you needed one wrap from birth to preschool, Double Helix could do it, with cush, and some stretch, and mostly soft enough you might want to steal it for cuddling on your own. No euphemism intended.

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Grad Stars Review: For Unicorns and Those Who Love Them

pfauI make a lot of jokes about wraps made of sustainable unicorn (after all, we all like to think that No Unicorns Were Harmed in the Making of This Carrier). But this is the first time I’ve ever seen a wrap made for the unicorns themselves. Seriously, if the United States of Unicornia had a flag, the flag would be this wrap, and that flag would be awesome, because Vaquero Wovens‘s Grad Stars rocks my horn off.

Grad Stars is so awesome, in fact, that my co-VBE has bogarted it for all of International Babywearing Week and keeps telling me to push this review back. She’s named it “That Lisa Frank Wrap” because she hates the design – blasphemy! call down the unicorn fury! – but loves the way it feels, even with her two-year-old chunker. It’s super hot property here at BWI Wherever I Live, in fact, and everyone wants to play with it. Calm your horns, though, uni-people. Everyone else thinks it’s gorg.

We struggled, though, with how to describe its particular brand of awesome. And Grad Stars is awesome. It has a touch of bounce, a touch of slip. It’s not smooshy on the shoulders like memory foam, but it’s not solid or ropey. It’s mildly cushy. It’s not too thick, not too thin. It gives a fairly moldable carry without a bunch of diagonal stretch or bounce.

And it’s weirdly, magically impossible to overtighten. We tried. But even when we pulled and wrapped and wrestled … we never could get Grad Stars tight enough to dig or hurt. The unicorns must have dumped some extra pixie dust on it or something. Because I swear, we tried.

unAt first wrap, it didn’t do much for us – in the sense that no quality stood out immediately. It’s pretty. It’s a wrap. But then we tested it: with fat toddlers (perfect wraps jobs that didn’t dig). With squishes (not super duper soft, but should get there with some use). With bowling ball babes (he fell asleep; I retightened; he slept for two hours). Its width made it shine for big kids.

Plus the owner has the good taste to run a local business in PA and support the babywearing groups there (win). And she also weaves her wraps in the US. We always knew the unicorns were American, right?

The verdict: If you love the pattern, this wrap’s for you. And if you need some all-around magical unicorn in your life, stalk for some Stars. I wasn’t in love with the off side, because yellow makes me look jaundiced, so I wouldn’t wear it in carries that require flips. Other mamas had no issue with the color, though, so as the unicorns say, degustibus non est disputandum.*

*Didn’t know unicorns speak Latin, did you? Also, the owner of Vaquero Wovens is not a unicorn, though her wraps are awesome and you should try one.

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trade it

You’re too poor to churn wraps. Or you don’t want to waste the time purchasing, or you want to share the love with friends, or you know you’ll never ever ever get your grubby paws on the highly-sought-after, legacy-only, unicorn-mane-and-elf-toehair wrap. So you turn to temp trades.

Temporary trades can be an awesome way to try carriers and make friends in the babywearing community. They usually go really well. Mamas accumulate feedback without churning, and try carriers without shelling out mucho moola.


Lately, there have been a lot of issues with trades going, well, not quite as planned. Just as FSOT has its own etiquette, so does temporary trading. Here’s some helpful hints to make sure your trade ends happily for everyone.

Act like you’re selling. Go over your carrier for flaws, stains, marks, or demon possession. Warn your tradee about them, both so you don’t blame her for them, and so she doesn’t freak out when she finds them.

Discuss all allergies, sensitivities, pets, smoking, and ill vapors. I have a German Shepherd, and I warn everyone about it: any person or item entering my house is immediately  coated in a fine layer of long black and white hairs. These are nearly impossible to remove. If you or your baby is sensitive to fragrance or scent, allergic to cats, or opposed to anything that’s lived in a house with a Wiccan, let your tradee know up front.

Agree on terms. Make sure everyone knows how long the trade will last, if it might become permanent, etc.

Decide if tradees should wash, and if so, how. This isn’t an issue, usually, for cotton; it can get sticky with wool or a blend prone to thread-shifting.

Make sure everyone understands shipping etiquette. Basics go like this: always ship priority with tracking. Your carrier is double-bagged in Tyvek (which is better than plastic bags because they don’t rip) or ziplock, and then often mailed in a box, though some mamas get away with just the double-layered Tyvek. Use legal names for addresses.

Discuss insurance. The United States Postal Service will only reimburse you for the amount you can prove you paid. So don’t bother insuring for market value if you bought at retail, and you’ll need proof of your purchase to get  money back. Agree on an amount to insure for, and if the wrap is lost, how you’ll handle that.

Consider PayPal backed trades. In a PayPal backed trade, mamas pay each other for the cost of the carriers, and then refund each other. This assures no one runs off with your carrier. Remember: this is the internet, not your neighborhood. It’s easy to scam people. 

Take care of your borrowed carrier. Don’t toss it on the floor of your car, or give your toddler a popsicle in it, or wear it berry-picking. If you do stain/pull/disfigure the wrap, decide beforehand how that’ll be handled. Will the damager pay the difference in market value? Will the trade become permanent then?

Mail back on time. No, seriously. Don’t mess around. Mail at the agreed-upon time, in the agreed-upon manner. Give the person you’re mailing to a tracking number, and if that person is different than the owner, be sure the owner gets the tracking number as well.

Leave the appropriate feedback. Agree where feedback will be left beforehand, adhering to the rules of that feedback group. High-end trades would go into the High-End feedback group; Everyday Babywearing trades would go into Babywearing on a Budget feedback. The Babywearing Swap only allows feedback from transactions that occurred on its site.

Most of all, be honest. Check everyone’s feedback before the trade happens. Be truthful about any damage the carrier sustains under your care. And if you’re the type that abuses your carriers, don’t temp trade with someone who babies theirs, unless you’re prepared to change your habits and do the same.

Anything to add here? How do you make sure to have a good temp trade situation?

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It’s Like Being 12 Again: Postpartum Motherhood v. Middle School

Hold on, honey. Youll be weeping in the bathroom soon enough.
Hold on, honey. Youll be weeping in the bathroom soon enough.

My hair frizzed in all directions. When I finally mustered the gumption to shave my legs, I left a tell-tale gash more conspicuous than stubble. My boobs kept growing; I couldn’t find a bra and couldn’t decide if I should bother to wear one. My peers spent their time snarking about boys, snarking about each other, and endlessly dissecting the sex they weren’t having. Everyone hated me. Everyone was judging me. I regularly hid in the bathroom.

This is seventh grade. This is also new motherhood. The baby books don’t tell that having a child is basically like starting middle school, only with a squalling human appendage and better musical tastes (Sorry, Tiffany. Band of Horses rocks).

Your body changes in new and disturbing ways. The internet tells me that during puberty, your hips and thighs grow rounder; your breasts grow – sometimes one more quickly than the other; and you begin to sweat more profusely. This also describes a post-baby body. The only difference:  I didn’t leak milk all over my Catholic school uniform.

Everyone’s talking about sex, and no one’s having any. In 7th grade, we were too scared to make out. Postpartum, my husband and I hesitate to wash our underwear in the same load.  But that didn’t stop my girlfriends and I from talking. How will it work? Will it fit? Will he be grossed out when he sees me naked? Do my girl parts look weird now? Is everyone else having sex but me?

You have to have a clique. You can’t lone-wolf it through junior high. Neither can you manage mommyhood alone: You have to pick a clan. You’ve got the jocks (the moms who miss McKynzy’s first steps for Pilates), the cheerleaders (lots of monograms and seersucker, bottle-not-breast), the hippies (replace an adolescent obsession over “animal rights” with a sanctimommy case of “lactivism”), the Jesus freaks (people who swear by scheduled feedings and To Train Up a Child), the geeks (baby TARDIS tees), and the party girls (look for Facebook statuses like “Mommy needs a drink!” and  “It’s wine o’clock!”).  Yep, they’re all horrible, broad stereotypes. And they’re your new best friends.

She hates everything.
She hates everything.

Hormones make you crazy. The only person with the crazy highs and abyssmal lows of a middle school girl? A postpartum mommy. One minute, everything’s perfect. The next, you’re sobbing in the bathroom because you remembered that Sarah McLachlan SPCA commerical (not saw. Remembered.). A guy’s innocent question can throw you into a sulk for days, only “Why aren’t you going to the dance?” has become “When are you due?” Eternal emnity, dude. Eternal.

There’s crazy girl drama. Explaining mommy drama makes an otherwise reasonable adult sound like a teenybopper, except now kids, not boys, are the center of competition. Brittany said Alyssa’s kid’s the spawn of Satan, because he bit Stephanie’s son on the playground, but Stephanie didn’t care and she hates Alyssa anyway, except that time Alyssa’s daughter fed her son red dye 40 and he didn’t sleep for three days. Brittany was pissed about that.  That chick you made a “sisters” necklace with (probably from Origami Owl)? You’ll hate her in a year.

You get hit up for bullshit fundraisers. In middle school, everyone hounded you to buy overpriced wrapping paper, or doughnuts, or poinsettas, because they just had to win that pizza party prize. Now every other mama’s hawking Mary Kay or 31 Gifts or DoTerra or those creepy in-home vibrator party things. You will be bombarded with the tiered marketing schemes stay-at-home-mamas embrace to make some cash on the side. Do not succumb. Even if you really, really want that Pampered Chef pizza stone.

You become an inveterate mall rat. 12 year olds stalk Claire’s Boutique and Hot Topic for whatever neon crap corporate America’s peddling this week (fedoras? Hello Kitty thongs? Feather earrings?). Postpartum mamas move a few stores down – to eye the new Gymboree line. Both groups cruise the mall to meet friends, ogle the unaffordable, snarf soft pretzels, and generally beat the boredom inherent in both middle school and new mommyhood (you can only watch the baby roll over so many times before insanity sets in). The groups pass each other when middle schoolers tramp into the Gap to try on size 0000 jeans, and the mommies hazily drift back to cruise the Baby Gap clearance rack.

All of you are wrong all the time.

A fervent conviction of your own rightness is matched only by your crippling sense of insecurity. No one’s more right than a tween who knows Justin Bieber is so much hotter than whoever is the anti-Justin Bieber, and no one’s more wrong than a fellow mommy who chooses disposables instead of cloth (or co-sleeping instead of cry-it-out, or bottle instead of breast). At the same time, both middle schoolers and mommies spend their days wracked with self doubt. Yes, a 12 year old’s thinking no boy will ever like her, and a new mama’s worrying only years of therapy will undo her crappy parenting. But it’s still crippling, existential, and miserable self-doubt she’ll laugh at in five years. Mostly.

Parents just don’t understand. In seventh grade, your mom was wrong about everything: your music, your friends, your hair, your curfew, and especially that black miniskirt you desperately wanted. She will never be as utterly and completely wrong again –  until you pop out a baby of your own. Then, suddenly, your loving mother morphs into that same overbearing, idiotic monster you fought in junior high. Every single thing she suggests is wrong, from baby names to baby food to sleeping arrangements to do not even attempt to talk about circumcision. 

And the worst part? Boys totally don’t get it (mostly). 12 year old boys are too busy thinking about boobs to worry over the latest girl drama. 32 year old daddies are too busy thinking about boobs to worry over the latest mommy drama (Okay, not true: Dads worry about much more important things, like paying for college and parenting and mommies and whether they’ll ever, ever have sex again. Men are equal partners in parenting. Seriously. But they still worry about boobs a lot). Expect that your man won’t keep your mommy friends straight. Your Gymboree purchases will confuse him. Your weeping fits will confound him. He’ll find you inexplicable and wonderful and terrifying.

And he’ll still want to bang you. Just like middle school.

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DidyTai: You Need One.

dttopIf you only want one baby carrier, buy a mei tai. Yes, woven wraps will always have my heart, because I’m a fabric geek, and I love textiles, and I had a blanky as a little kid and I think those things are somehow related. But mei tais are quicker. They’re less intimidating. They share easily between different-sized caregivers, and can still provide the tight carries and easy nursing you can get from a wrap.

But still. I love wovens. I’ve used mei tais; I like mei tais; but I’m a woven wrapper at heart. So this beautiful blue ginkgo Didytai Birdie’s Room sent me sat for a while. In fact, my babywearing BFF tried it first. She sent me pics of her husband using it. “THIS IS SO AWESOME!!!!!” she said (I’m paraphrasing here. She’s not into the all-caps thing). Uh-huh, I said. You just love blue gingkos, lady.

I waited a while longer, and then figured I might as well get it over with. So when Sunny needed to go up, I broke out the Didytai. Tied the waist, pinned the top straps, put him in, tightened – dare I say it! – spread cross passes, and tied.

OMG. I was wearing a wrap. Except not.

dtsleepyThis is not your mama’s old school mei tai. This is a wrapper’s mei tai. Okay, yes, it’s made by Didymos, so that should be obvious. But this gave me a tight, snuggled carry I expect from a woven. Unlike many mei tais, I didn’t have to bounce and fuss to get Sunny deep into the carrier. I think it’s the curved bottom: it gives babe a naturally deeper seat to settle into.

The bottom also adjust for smaller babies. Sunny, at 20 lbs and 10 months, needed a wee bit of cinching. It would adjust down easily for a newborn, or up for a big toddler (more on that later).

So hemp gingko went to Target. And, of course, Sunny needed to nurse, because he’s a boob monster. I got wrap snuggles – and when he needed to nurse, I just loosened the knot and lowered him. Mei tais are really one of the easiest carriers for a newbie to nurse in, and this Didytai wasn’t an exception. The wrap straps held Sunny more closely and securely (spread passes!) while he was down low as well.

But what really made me fall in love with this carrier: the angle of the top straps. I like to back carry; I don’t love ruck straps (though the DIdytai gave me enough length to tie tibetan). The way the top straps attach to the carrier means I can, instead, cross the straps on my chest, spread the passes, and still not choke myself. This move concentrates all the baby’s weight in the center of my chest. Giant kids feel lightweight.

And I know they do, because we tested, both with my 30 lb four-year-old and my BWing BFF’s 50-lb 5 year old.

dtpfauWe had to widen the carrier all the way, use the wrap straps to hold their legs in knee-to-knee crosspasses, and put the sleep hood up to help create a higher back. But it worked. Both kids felt lovely and said the carrier was comfortable (and no, they couldn’t fling themselves out backwards; they tried at our request). My son said, when prodded, that the straps dug in on his legs a bit; hemp gingkos is really thin. This really is a carrier that can work from a small newbie on up to a largish toddler (around 30 lbs comfortably). In a pinch, I’d use it for a larger kid, but I wouldn’t make it my primary preschool carrier.

Some mamas complained that there wasn’t a stiffer canvas inside to the body, which would give the carrier more shape. I loved it: it made the mei tai feel that much more like a wrap.

Basically: buy a Didytai. It wears like a wrap with the ease of a mei tai. [ <---- feel free to steal that quote, Didy. I don't mind. ] I occasionally got some muffin top, but the wrap straps spread to hide it, and it was more uncomfortable than anything.

The only issue with buying a Didytai? Its feel will depend on the wrap used to make it. So while I adored the construction, some versions will be hotter than others, or thicker than others, etc. Liscas will be squisher; jacquards will glide better. This was super cool for the summer, but it’s a limited edition and rather hard to find. Damn you, Didy! Another ISO to track down!

And this thing will only get squisher and softer. The carrier I didn’t want to use is now the one I hate to give away – good news for you!

Want to win this Didytai for your lending library? Like Birdie’s Room and Manic Pixie Dream Mama on Facebook, then follow the instructions. We’ll choose a winner September 30th. Good luck!





Poe Wovens Norwich Review

blaisewrapPoe Wovens is back with its much-lauded Eaton Hill Collection: handwovens from the eponymous Vermont textile mill, which specializes in the reproduction of colonial-era fabric and dyes.  The wraps, then, build on traditional patterns and colors popular during those eras. It’s history and buying local and resurrecting lost arts and supporting artists and resurrecting textile belts,  O beautiful for spacious skies and sweet land of liberty of the people by the people for the people. ‘Murica.

Yes, these wraps are handwovens, but they’re handwoven in a mill.  Individual weavers on individual looms weave the wraps in a group. Sort of a collective, like Cloth of Kin or what Uppy has become, except in a mill. Clear as mud, right? Go with it.

Poe sent me Norwich, their first handwoven effort. It’s a twill weave, on the hefty side at 330 g^m, and … handwoven. What I mean by that is it feels like lots of similar twill handwovens. Thicker, some bounce, some stretch, a bit moldable, though you need to wrestle it into place as it’s got a bit of grip.

pfauposeAs a thick wrap, it’s going to have some degree of cush. But I find Norwich not as forgiving as my other super-thick-magic-carpet wraps (hello, Barbara’s Weave and Wear). The knot’s smaller than a Barb, whose twill weave knots up to a monstrosity bigger than my ten month old’s skull, but that doesn’t matter much, since Norwich is a single-knotter. It didn’t make pressure points, but it didn’t feel like memory foam, either. If you’re into sloppy wrapping a screaming toddler, I’d look elsewhere.

The thickness means it wraps short (as does the lack of tapers), so order one size up. I could barely eke out a double hammock with my 4 year old, and I use a base 5 (this is a 6). He did give this his stamp of approval, though.

This would shine as a ruck wrap for a toddler, though I don’t love super thick wraps for those jobs. It’s soft enough for a squishy, but honestly, I liked it as a long wrap for midweight kids.

reduxBut the color. Yes, it’s subjective. Yes, this will appeal to other people. If I left this out, I wouldn’t be honest, and aesthetics are a huge part of wrapping.  So here goes: my husband and I spent half an hour sussing out exactly how colorblind he truly is by using Norwich’s pattern. I don’t like green and orange together; I don’t like the subtly different blues and greens together. The 18th century was a lot louder than I thought, y’all. I’d much prefer this wrap in the taper’s white or green wefts.

Since this is a tester, who knows how Norwich will end up. I recommend the other wefts, which will flatter pale people’s complexions more. I can see this wrap looking good on mamas and babes with darker hair or skin tones. But fellow vampires, steer clear.

I’m excited to see what else comes out of the Eaton Hill collection. I’m a sucker for fabric geekery, and a history nerd to boot, so I hope we get some extensive info along with the wraps – the dye process, the 200-year-old loom pics, the historical patterns. This is a departure for Poe. But it’ll help develop their brand as the America-as-Apple-Pie vision ex-Marine Nancy has in mind. Keep on weaving, y’all.

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Avoid a Swamp Scam in Ten Easy Steps

photo by jepoirrier,
photo by jepoirrier,

It’s called The Swamp for a reason.

Back in the halcyon days of The, before the advent of Facebook babywearing, there weren’t many scammers. This isn’t because of some hippie good vibes – there weren’t many babywearers around to scam. But now, the many swap groups on Facebook, the rise of pricey handwovens, and the scattered feedback systems have all combined for some balls-to-the-walls scamming drama. Every week, someone’s selling a carrier they don’t own, opening another fake profile, deleting negative feedback, and generally making admins go gray way before their time. (Show your admins some love, ladies. They have seen some shit. When they get together, they swap stories like ‘Nam vets.)

It’s a swampy, swampy jungle out there. Buyer seriously beware. Here’s how to make sure you’re not fodder for the next scam story.

  1. Check the f&*(ing feedback. No really, check it. Read it. Some groups don’t require feedback to sell; many sellers don’t ask for feedback links when buyers come PMing. Always ask for feedback. Always read the feedback. Not enough feedback to satisfy you? Ask for more in other places – other feedback groups, or, or even eBay. A girl’s gotta have something somewhere.

2. Ask questions. Length, width, size, negative vibes, pulls, stains, holes, hems, selvages, weaving flaws, demonic possession, and fiber content. Make sure you know what you’re getting; EUC means different things to different people.  Make it clear how the item is to be mailed – i.e., that it’s sent Priority, not sea mail. This has actually happened.

3. Screenshot. The seller shouldn’t delete the listing until the item arrives safely; however, it’s always important to have backup. Especially if you’re buying, take a screencap.

4. invoice it. Add a specific description of what the buyer’s getting. I like “used baby carrier.” If the buyer goes ballistic over the single pull on an indio, Paypal will laugh at her.

5. Pay as “goods or services”, never “sending money to family or friends.” Paying for something as “goods or services” gets you PayPal buyer protection. “Sending money to family and friends” gets you squat. It’s like sending cash via Western Union and hoping the person on the receiving end mails you a baby carrier. Unless you’re sending money to your grandma, it’s goods and services. Sorry, Mom.

6. Insure it. Insurance protects the seller,  not the buyer: if your package never arrives, you have (as of last week) 180 days to file a dispute with PayPal. PayPal almost always gets your money back ASAP. The seller then makes a claim via insurance. But be warned: you need to provide proof of purchase or cost. “But this super-limited-unicorn-and-sunshine-wrap sells for 2 Miiiiiiiillion dollars on the swap” won’t get you 2 million dollars. If you bought it for retail, you’ll get back retail. Don’t waste money insuring for more than you can prove you paid.

7. Only mail to the PayPal-specified address. No “oh but send it to my friend”,” or “I’ll be on vacation” or whatever. It’s a recipe for scamming. This is why my PayPal addresses include my mom, my in-laws, my first cousin, and my brother-in-law’s.

  1. Track it. All US priority shipping comes with tracking. Sellers, don’t lose that receipt. Buyers, ask for a tracking number ASAP. Then you’ll both know if the package gets lost in the mail.

  2. Document, document, document. If the package arrives damaged, take pics before opening.

  3. Any issues? Talk to an admin immediately. Don’t wait for two weeks, when it’s clear you got scammed and the scammer’s deletedd her profile. Make sure admins have a heads-up to anything shady.

Yeah, some of this is obsessive and annoying. More annoying? Losing two hundred bucks.

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Rebozo Wraps … And a Giveaway!

rebozob“Traditional carrier” is a problematic term in the babywearing world. We use it to refer, generally, to babywearing methods that predate Didymos and Snugli-type carriers in Europe and the Americas. Excepting the welsh shawl carry, most of these methods are practiced by non-European people of color, usually from the lower economic classes: caregivers who wear as a necessity, not as a researched parenting choice. The terminology becomes sticky; “traditional” can translate to “not white” and “not expensive”. The cultures who developed these carriers may see their widespread use as appropriation rather than admiration, especially when their authority is usurped by so-called babywearing experts from the developed world.

That said: I really, really, really love rebozos.

Babywearing in a rebozo is becoming a lost art in much of Mexico, where women see strollers as the more modern option: rebozos are for poor people. But rebozos will never go away. They’re a scarf, a blanket, a prayer shawl, a baby carrier, a device for pain relief in labor, a burial shroud, and pretty much anything else you can think of.  Some people claim even Our Lady of Guadalupe worn one when she appeared to Juan Diego in the 16th century. Basically: rebozos are multi-use, woven pieces of art. Possibly endorsed by the Virgin Mary.

Babywearers tend to call any short wrap a rebozo (it’s also been co-opted as a term for a backwrapping pass, as well as the traditional  slipknotted carry). True rebozos are handwoven in the home, and sold in local markets. Their designs vary regionally. Mexican women use them in a one-shouldered, slipknotted carry – babies on the front, and toddlers on the back, though the toddlers are often scooted around to nurse. Generally, like this:

There are lots of rebozo companies out there. However, most of their wares are mass-market, poorly-woven, and almost certainly the product of sweatshop labor (or at least wildly underpaid workers). So it’s great to have Rebozo Wraps, a company selling direct-from-the-source rebozos for fair wages.

Rebozo Wraps started when an American woman asked her mother, a missionary in Mexico, to find her some rebozos. The company snowballed from there, and continues to buy all its wraps from the same family in San Cristobal De Los Casas. They’re crafted in traditional  Tsetzal and Tzoltsil designs, and never purchased for bulk discounts – the owners insist on paying the asking price or more.

They retail for only $50. So of course I totally had to get my hands on one.

They sent me a gorgeous blue rebozo, 85% cotton and 15% synthetic, according to the weavers. The length surprised me: I expected a standard 2.7m (Didymos size 2); instead, it measured about 2m (76 inches). Very, very short. When I put up 20 lb Sunny, I had juuuuuust enough fabric to eek out a rebozo carry. The owners recommend using sling rings fora  no-sew ring sling.

Complaints? Well, it feels kind of acrylic, and it holds heat. The blend is super soft, and perfect for squishes (as is the length). I’d have loved to have this when Sunny was teeny, rather than now.

But even if it wasn’t perfect for beast baby, I used the heck out of it as a fashion accessory. It goes perfectly with my Minnetonka-hippie aesthetic; it can cover my shoulders in church; I can cuddle it in over-air-conditioned rooms. I’d love it as a scarf and emergency Sunny carrier (or regular carrier if he was smaller). It works like this:

Like a Didy indio, it pulls easily. I found that out the hard way.

Basically: fair trade practices, pretty, soft, and great for squishes. Plus it’s only fifty bucks. Buy one to use for your teeny, and then keep it as a scarf/blanket/Frieda Karlo-esque awesome accessory.

My wardrobe needed this wrap.

And so does yours, because unfortunately for me, this is a giveaway carrier. See Facebook for details, but you know you want this (and yes, I fixed the pull).

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