Choosing Two

Not Just Rosie’s Dad and I recently announced our second pregnancy, a bit of news that came as a surprise to many, as I have been very vocal in the past about only ever wanting one child. I even wrote a blog about it, One and Done, so I accepted all the ‘I told you so’ comments with as much grace as I could muster.

But I know there will be some who will be curious, and also others who might be in the same boat as me now, or me then. So I wanted to write about it and explain.

Back when I wrote One and Done, I was still recovering from Post Natal Depression. I had had a traumatic premature birth, I had been ill myself afterwards, and my daughter had had reflux so severe that having a peg feed installed was on the cards. I was not coping well, despite seeking help from numerous sources and talking about how I was feeling. The thought of ever, ever, willingly putting myself through such hell again felt like sheer madness.

And of course because it was so fresh, because it was so raw, and because I was trying to move on, I simply shoved all of that guilt and pain and sadness into a box and locked it shut. I wasn’t going to have any more kids, so I didn’t need to drag any of that nasty out and re examine it. It could stay there.

Except it couldn’t stay there.

I sat with my sisters at family gatherings and we laughed and joked and made jokes about our parents, and I felt a twinge.

I watched my husband’s five cousins play together in their garden, laughing and falling over each other and playing and I felt a twinge.

I saw my friends bellies swell, helped welcome their beautiful new additions and I felt a twinge.

I looked at Rosie, growing up more and more every second and I thought about the way her little baby head used to feel nestled into my chest when she was tiny, and again I felt a twinge.

And when I couldn’t ignore it anymore, I sat myself down and I started the painful process of opening up that box. I spoke to Not Just Rosie’s Dad, I spoke to friends, I spoke to family. I had a birth debrief with the Supervisor of Midwives at the hospital where I gave birth, and I walked out feeling, amazingly, absolved of the guilt that I had carried for so long. I researched stats on prematurity, PND, and reflux in subsequent babies. I researched Hypnobirthing and Doulas. I researched everything.

And finally, a light began to dawn and I began to see that it might be possible, after all. That I might not drown. And that actually, it might be a good thing. For me, for Rosie, for all of us.

And so, eventually, after much careful thought, research and deliberation, we went for it. I’m now sixteen weeks pregnant and don’t get me wrong, I’m still terrified, but I feel more prepared and more ready than ever. I know it will be hard, but I can do it. We can do it.

There’s still absolutely no shame in wanting only one child, but I’m glad that we have been able to have the chance at another. And I’m glad that I have been able to work through the issues that were stopping me before.

Saltwater Rose Studio Patina – Handwoven Review

Patina is the first Saltwater Rose Studio wrap I’ve had the pleasure of trying, and having seen pictures of it on the loom I was very much looking forward to having a play and getting a look at those colours up close.

Patina has an Egyptian cotton warp, with a copper merino-silk weft. The interplay of the colours Kathleen has chosen are just gorgeous, and the name suits incredibly well. Patina is the name given to the changes in an object, usually antique or aged, as the object ages and the materials oxidize, calcify or encrust. I found this particularly fitting as the twill blend weave structure, combined with the colours, reminds me of the walls of ancient caves on my favourite beach in Cornwall – the striations match the weave structure almost exactly.

In terms of craftsmanship, Patina is excellence. The hemming is perfection, and the selvedges are well done. The weave is flawless throughout. Patina features very classy labelling and a beautiful quote from John Yemma about what patina means.

Ok, so we know it’s gorgeous. But how does it feel? How does it wrap?
Rest assured, it wraps as good as it looks. I used Patina with a chunky 28 month old in a variety of back and front carries – strangleproof ruck, ruck tied tibetan, double hammock with sweetheart and lexi twist finish, and front cross carry.

I found Patina to be pefectly supportive and strong even in a single layer carry – I had no issues with digging on my picky shoulders, regardless of how sloppily I wrapped. Patina has good diagonal stretch and good recoil which means that it moulds well, making wrapping easy and enjoyable. it has good amounts of grip and glide – I am not fighting to make the passes but also they do not slip. 

Patina holds a double hammockq with a single knot tied under bum well; (and even a *very* sloppy knot tied on tails as seen in the picture above) and I was not worried that it may slip. The double faced texture helps in this regard. Patina was comfortable equally for long and short carries, the merino and silk working to add strength and cush.

All in all, Patina is a work of art and a credit to Kathleen’s attention to detail. It’s a beautiful wrap, with beautiful wrap qualities and I’m delighted to have had the chance to test it.

Liora Rae Flow Review

Liora Rae is a new British woven wrap company and Flow is their first offering, which I was lucky enough to be able to test.

Flow is a very pretty swirly design; and Natasha of Liora Rae says ‘The Flow collection is inspired by holidays with my girls – watching the rolling waves of the sea together, their faces mesmerised by the constant waves continuing to form. The design takes me back to those trips where memories were made as a family. Many testers have said they also see clouds or spirals. The name Flow seemed fitting because of this ambiguity and individual interpretation of the design.’

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This tester features lovely shades of teal and blue and is very reminiscent of stylised clouds to me. It’s woven in such a way that the swirls have different textures, and this helps enormously with grip.

Flow is a medium weight wrap in hand, with good texture and a very small amount of stretch. It definitely has a hard wearing feel to it; this is a wrap I wouldn’t be afraid to give some use to. It doesn’t strike me as a wrap that will pull easily either.

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To wear, Flow is very grippy and holds well. I attempted a Double Hammock with a Saltwater finish and found that I didn’t have enough length, to finish in front, so I tied a single knot under bum instead. As I was tying on tippy tails and it was behind my back, I wasn’t able to get much tension and so I set off to Asda with some trepidation, fully expecting my poor attempt at a knot to slip. But  it didn’t! It held very well, with no slippage despite quite a bit of slack in the passes (my fault, first try at this carry and far from perfect.) I was quite impressed, and this to me was a good testament to the wrap qualities of Flow.

I do think it would benefit from some use and breaking in to help make this wrap softer, , as it isn’t the softest wrap I’ve ever used. But, given time and wear, I think it will get there.

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I really liked Flow, its’s simple and wrapped well, no fancy blends, no fuss, just a good solid wrap.

As an aside, I was very impressed with the quality of the tote and the booklet from such a new company. Natasha has clearly done her research, and the attention to detail and presentation shown here is promising and gives a very good impression.

 

In Defence of my Daughter

Rosie has turned two, and we’ve hit the legendary tantrum stage. The stage where she needs at least twenty minutes to calm down, and there’s nothing I can do in the meantime except wait.

For the most part, I am ok with this. I understand why this happens. She has very little control over her life, she is understanding that she is separate to me, she is testing out her boundaries and she has very little control of her feelings and emotions. That’s fine. That’s normal.

What is not fine or normal is the response from members of the general public.

We were on a bus recently and Rosie was having a meltdown. Screaming, scratching, hitting, pulling my hair. I calmly removed her hands and continued to name her feelings, reassure her and offer her a cuddle. All was par for the course until an older man on the seat in front of us changed it.

He stood up, turned round, leant down towards my daughter and shouted, ‘What’s all that bloody noise?!’

And I didn’t say anything.

I didn’t stand up for her. I didn’t defend her. I didn’t explain why she was upset. I did nothing other than stare at this man with a look of shock on my face.

I felt truly awful. Was I a bad parent? Should I have shouted at her? Should I have smacked her, even? Should I have got off the bus miles from home so as not to inconvenience other passengers?

After I’d got off the bus, I realised that no, I was absolutely doing the right thing with her. What I had done wrong was not defending her. That realisation brought me almost to tears. How could I be a positive role model and empower my daughter when I have allowed a random man to shout at her on public transport?

I made it my resolve to never ever allow her to be treated that way again, or to allow anyone else to make me feel that way again.

Rosie being two, it was a mere three days before I had the opportunity to practice this.

We were at our local Tesco, Rosie in the trolley. She was upset at having been woken up, hungry, and just really not feeling it. She had gone into meltdown mode, kicking, screaming, slapping myself and her dad if we got too close. We recognised the problem so immediately went to the food on the go section to remedy it. Rosie and her dad waited by the sandwiches while I queued up to pay for her food. An older lady was stood behind me. She looked at them and rolled her eyes. This was the following exchange:

Her: Good Heavens.

Me: Pardon?

Her: That girl, making all that noise.

Me: Actually, I’ll have you know that’s my daughter. She’s two. She can’t yet control her feelings and emotions.

Her: (looking a bit taken aback) Well, surely he should be doing something about it. Comforting her or telling her to shush.

Me: No. It’s not possible. She’s gone beyond that. All we can do is wait.

Her: (now looking definitely affronted) Well…

Me: No.

And that was that. I was served, I took Rosie the food and she calmed down enough to eat it.

As for me? I felt great. My daughter needed me to defend her struggles, and I did it. I did it calmly and assertively. I didn’t use foul language, and I didn’t raise my voice. I simply stood up for her when she was unable to do so herself.

It was very empowering. And I do so hope that lady thinks twice before judging anyone else or making comments that may really hurt someone or cause them self doubt. I hope she now has a little more awareness that a situation may be more nuanced than she can see at first glance.

She very likely won’t, and she’ll have very likely complained about me to her friends at Bingo, but still, I can hope.

And I absolutely will continue to defend my daughter. For she is only two, and she does not yet have control over her feelings and emotions. At two, I don’t expect her to have that control.

I do however expect adults to. And I will continue to calmly correct that behaviour when those adults feel a need to shout, criticise, or complain at either me or her.

After all, she is only two.

Holding on

You’re sleeping. Your little pink rosebud mouth is pursed, your beautiful cornflower blue eyes closed and dreaming, soft baby curls on your pillow. Your busy little toddler body is finally at rest, sprawled out in your cot with your softie still clutched between your fingers. You are my best girl.

It doesn’t seem like so long ago that you were a tiny baby, so new and so fragile and sleeping on my chest. You had the same rosebud mouth, and the same baby blue eyes. And I’d kiss your little bald head and dream about your future, and all the fun we’d have together.

I left my job and the life I had known to have you, and to stay home with you while you grew. I told everyone I did it for you, so that you’d have the benefit of me being there everyday. But really, selfishly, I did it for me.

You see, you would be the only one. I never wanted anymore babies, I only wanted you. And I wanted to savour every moment of your littleness, to make memories with you and be there for all your triumphs and all your failures. I wanted to be the one to hear your first words, see your first steps, give you your first and last kiss everyday.

And I do, and it’s wonderful and I love it.

But oh, it is so bittersweet. All your firsts are my lasts. My last pregnancy. My last newborn. My last teething, my last weaning, my last middle of the night feeds. My last babywearing.

And although I don’t want any more babies, it does make me terribly sad that I’ll never get the chance to do any of this again. And that you won’t have the experience of having siblings. I sometimes wonder if we’re doing the right thing by you, not giving you a brother or a sister. But then I know myself and my own limitations too well, and I know I would struggle. Besides, my heart is still too full of you for anyone else.

In the meantime, you’re growing up faster than I could have possibly imagined. Just yesterday you were asleep on my chest, an extension of me. Now you’re two whole years old, you have your own opinions and your own ideas and you’re becoming fiercely independent.

There is one constant though, one thing I cling to. Once you slept on my chest, as a newborn in a stretchy, and now you sleep on my back in a wrap. We’re two separate people, you and I, but we still find solace in being bound together by beautiful fabrics.

When you’re having a bad day, when I’m struggling, I know I can put you up in a carrier and we’ll both calm down. I can whisper sweet secrets to you up there, and you can watch the world from over my shoulder in safety and comfort. When you’re tired, and your little legs just won’t go any further, I know I can wrap you and we can both find ease. You can sleep knowing I’m close and I can breathe in your beautiful scent and delight in knowing you still need me.

It’s such a wonderful thing, being able to carry you still. I savour every second of it, because I know that the time left for us to do it is flying. Soon, too soon, you won’t want to be carried anymore and I will miss you and the closeness more than I can say, or even want to imagine.

But I promise, my best girl, I promise, I will carry you for as long as is possible. As long as you need me to, I will always have a wrap on hand and I will always wrap you, because one day I won’t be able to, one day you’ll want to run in front with your friends or ride your bike or your scooter and you won’t need me anymore. You’ll be big enough and confident enough to take the world on without my help.

And then I’ll sell my wraps. I’ll keep one or two here for friends that have babies and are interested in learning how to carry, but I’ll sell the rest so that other families can experience the magic that we did. I’ll be sad to do it but wraps are no good to anybody sat on a shelf, they need to be worn and loved, used as impromptu picnic blankets and hammocks and snuggled on chilly days.

But I’ll never be able to truly let go, I think. How can I, when it has been such a big part of our lives? When we have spent hours and days learning to love each other inside metres of woven fabric?

So when you’re running ahead with your friends, if you look back and happen to recognise the pattern on the scarf I’m wearing, well, that’s just my little way of remembering when you were tiny, and you needed me.

Love you my best girl,

Mum xx

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Paper Street Weaving Co – Seaglass Handwoven Review

Paper Street Weaving Co is a new handwoven company operating out of Canada, with the lovely Deidre at the helm. Paper Street Weaving, Deidre tells me, takes it name  from her favourite book, Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk. She says, ‘A paper street is a road or a street that appears on maps but does not exist in reality. By definition it sounds a bit mysterious. So I went with it.’

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So onto the wrap. Seaglass is a cotton and tencel blend, with a 100% cotton warp and a 100% tencel weft, putting it at about 60% cotton and 40% tencel. Unusually for a handwoven, Seaglass has a diamond weave. It also features accent tails and a discreet, tactile middle marker.

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As it’s name suggests, Seaglass feature a delicate interplay of purple, navy, teal, and sapphire, offset with a subtle light grey tencel weft. This is a gorgeous selection of colour that works wonderfully together, and making Seaglass a very apt name.

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In hand, Seaglass feels blankety, dense, and strokeably soft. The selvedges are perfection, the sewing neat and tidy. It does have a wash care label but unfortunately the ink that has been used has blurred so it’s difficult to see what it says. Deirdre is aware of this and has planned to use a diferent pen in future. But honestly, this is the only fault I can find.

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To wrap with Seaglass is a beauty. It makes my two year old weightless and the passes lock into place with ease. The tencel adds glide and strength and the cotton helps to give it some grip, meaning that Seaglass wraps easily but holds well. The diamond weave gives it some diagonal stretch, although it’s still a fairly dense wrap so movement is a little limited. As Rosie gets bigger, I’m preferring longer wraps and multi layer carries but Seaglass is perfection even in a single layer ruck. There’s no pulling on my picky shoulders.

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Seaglass has traditional handwoven blunt tapers, and this combined with it’s thickness and density made it feel like it wrapped a little short to me. It’s labelled up as 4.2m, so a size five, but wraps more like a four.

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I tried Seaglass in a variety of carries and it held up well in all of them. I didn’t find it prone to pulls, and that combined with the strength of this wrap makes it a good go to workhorse for a toddler!

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I really like Seaglass; for a new weaver Deidre has really done a fantastic job. She’s taken her passion for wovens and the wrap qualities that she loves and created something beautiful and usable. She obviously has an eye for detail and this shows – Seaglass is beautifully designed and beautifully made. I’ll be very interested to see what else comes out of Paper Street Weaving Co.

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To The Loom & Back – Rocking Pink Review

To The Loom & Back is a handweaver based in Wakefield. Using two floor looms (amusingly named Frank and Gertrude) Sian of TTL&B creates beautiful handwoven wraps that she aptly describes as ‘textile art.’

I was fortunate enough to be able to test out Rocking Pink, a 4.2m long piece of hemp and Egyptian cotton gorgeousness. RP came in a tote bag, with the TTL&B logo tastefully displayed in the corner. The wrap itself is quite overwhelmingly vibrant pink initially, but closer inspection reveals shades of teal and purple woven in also. RP is a 4 shafts crackle weave, and Sian went for this as this particular draft was something she’d not done before and was keen to try out.

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Rocking Pink was originally going to be named ‘Boys Rock Pink Too’ as Sian’s second son always insisted on being wrapped in pink. While I do like that, Rocking Pink is a little less wordy and easier to type!

Crackle weave is so named because of it’s resemblance to crackle effects on pottery, and that’s definitely reminiscent in RP. Every part of the wrap is different to it’s neighbour, and it’s fairly easy to lose yourself in the pretty pattern. RP features quite thick threads, with no long floats that may be prone to pulls. It still has plenty of movement however, and in hand there is quite of lot of give diagonally. I can also see the outline of my hand if I hold RP up to the light, so it’s definitely not as dense as it first appears.

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Crackle weaves can have a lot of variety when it comes to aesthetics, but they all tend to have similar wrap qualities, offering lots of grip and making for a solid wrap job. RP  certainly follows suit here, offering a remarkably solid wrap job for my almost two year old. At 74cm in width, and blunt tapers, it can certainly feel like an effort to wrap sometimes – there is a lot of wrap here! But it absolutely repays in spades. The weave, the width, and the hemp all combine to make a wrap that I could probably wrap my husband in and it still be supportive. This is a beast perfectly capable of carrying even the biggest kids comfortably. Once those passes are in place, the fabric grips onto itself and they just do not move. We tested this out when in a ruck tied Tibetan by bouncing her up and down – she thought it was madly funny and we didn’t even come close to losing the seat or loosening the passes.

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We tried Rocking Pink in a RUB, RTT, FWCC, and a torso carry. RP handles single layer carries beautifully, making it quicker to wrap and secure my sometimes unhappy toddler. It’s beautiful but hard wearing; this is a wrap I’d feel comfortable using almost anywhere as I’m not concerned about it getting damaged or stained. It feels to me like a workhorse, something that will keep on giving and giving no matter how big they get.

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As mentioned above, RP is a wide wrap with blunt ends. It also features traditional hand woven selvedges, although the ends are hemmed. The labeling is good quality and contains necessary wash care and fibre content info, although the middle marker looks like it could have done with a little more care. Similarly, the hemming on the ends is a little rough. I have spoken to Sian who assures me she is aware of these issues and since weaving RP she has changed the middle markers and the hemming style to make them neater.

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However, these two things are literally the only flaws I could find with RP. The weaving is impeccable and that’s really the most important thing. In actual fact, I liked Rocking Pink that much that it ended up becoming part of my personal stash!

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For more info on To The Loom & Back, you can find their Facebook page here.

Baie Herringbone Emily – Review

The most recent in Baie’s new Herringbone line is Emily, a mix of ecru and yellow which combine to give Emily to effect of a soft, creamy, butter colour.

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And it feels buttery too! HB Emily is a medium weight, smooshy, cuddly wrap – absolutely perfect as a blanket. The herringbone pattern feels very nice in hand and is lovely and soft. Rosie also liked it for this reason, I caught her pulling it across herself for a cuddle when she was ready for a nap.

To wrap with, Emily is a delight. The herringbone pattern means that Emily has lovely amounts of grip and glide; passes are easy to make and lock in place once there. There’s very little slipping or sagging. It’s perfectly mouldable and feels comfortable even on my picky shoulders.

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I tried Emily in a variety of carries with my almost two year old, and found it perfectly lovely in both single layer and multi layer carries. I had no problems getting a nice tight knot and found that Emily has a nice amount of stretch down the length of the wrap, making getting all the slack out nice and easy.

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I absolutely loved the colour. Emily is a rich, classy yellow and just really says ‘elegance’ to me. Which is quite fitting actually, as Juliette of Baie tells me that all the Herringbone wraps are named after roses to suit their classical beauty.

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The only potential downside I can see to Emily is that it can be very difficult to differentiate between the sides when wrapping. I ended up getting a little confused when trying to do an FWCC and one of my cross passes ended up twisted. To be fair it didn’t actually affect the final wrap job, but it is something to be aware of.

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All of Baie’s hemming and labeling is done in house, and is perfection as ever. The labeling is discreet and contains pertinent info such as release date and model number.

Overall, I really like Emily. It’s classy and beautiful, and boasts some very lovely wrap qualities. I can see the herringbone range becoming a staple in people’s stashes – the LBD of the wrap world, if you will.

Opitai Cosmia – Review

Opitai Baby is a small business based in Durham that up until now have focused on converting woven wraps into custom carriers. They have recently branched out into making their own range of woven wraps, the first of which is Cosmia. Fay of Opitai tells me that after working in the babywearing industry for five years she’s keen to realise her lifelong ambition of designing textiles, and being able to incorporate her passion for babywearing just adds to the joy. She’s also delighted to be using weavers based in the North of England – she’s very proud of the industrial heritage of the North.

So, Cosmia is comprised of peacock blue and ecru cotton, using a mix of Egyptian Cotton and Combed Cotton. The design itself is derived from a macro photograph of a butterfly wing, and was developed using traditional design techniques; drawing, rotating, and painting. The overall effect is something that looks a little bit cosmic, a little bit ‘spacey’ – it’s easy to see why Cosmia ended up with it’s name. With it’s peacock and jade colouring and busy design, Cosmia is the kind of wrap that works well with jeans for a bright, fresh look.

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Now, onto the wrap qualities! Our first ‘up’ in Cosmia was a very quick ruck with a toddler over the top of two waterproof coats – usually a recipe for wrap disaster. Cosmia was a delightful surprise and held very well. My toddler was supported and there was absolutely no sliding or slippage.

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Cosmia is on the wider side, and the plain weave tester is quite densely woven. It does feel fairly stiff in hand and would definitely benefit from some breaking in, but obviously as a new tester it’s not there yet. It’s a 300gsm wrap, and there’s definitely some weight to it.

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We also tried Cosmia in a Charlie’s Cross Carry and a Front Cross Carry. I have to say that although it held very well once in place, I found it could be quite difficult to tighten and make cross passes. Grip definitely surpasses glide on this one, although this could well be to do with the fact that it requires some breaking in.

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I’m happy to say that even in a single layer carry, the wrap was very supportive for my now big girl. She was in a particularly happy and giggly mood, so we had lots of bouncing and kisses! Despite my Charlie’s not being the best, and despite much bouncing and fun, it never budged. I’ve got to say Cosmia does make for one solid wrap job!

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It’s worth noting that Opitai have woven Cosmia testers in a variety of blends and weave styles, including a cotton and silk wrap.

I’d also like to add that Cosmia came very beautifully packaged, wrapped in tissue and with a fancy teabag and even a notebook, featuring a front cover quote from Why Babywearing Matters, the upcoming book by Rosie Knowles of Sheffield Sling Surgery. Call me sentimental but I think that is a lovely touch!

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I feel like this would be a beater wrap; the kind of wrap that will withstand muddy dog walks and being flung on a park bench while you chase a toddler. I can’t see this wrap being one that pulls easily, the weave is simply too dense.

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