Liora Rae Bloom – Review

 

17195352_10154487083020945_616897190_oBloom is the second wrap I’ve tested for Liora Rae – the first, Flow, can be seen reviewed here – so you can imagine I was excited to see how Bloom would s17200460_10154487080945945_1525753975_otack up in comparison.

Bloom is a purple and duck egg blue riot of florals on a large scale geometric background – it’s a very busy pattern and this gives it great texture. In hand, Bloom does feel textured
but not rough. The fabric feels well broken in and floppy, and there is a heaviness to the wrap thanks to a double weave which gives it a 320gsm – a little higher than I usually prefer but Bloom does not wrap like a dense heavyweight.

In fact, it wraps beautifully.We tried Bloom in a few different carries, including double hammock and ruck variations, and it was just great with every single one. The fabric has lovely movement and molds beautifully, passes are easy to make and I experienced no slippage with this wrap. Even a single knot held well.

17200572_10154487084905945_341634394_oBloom was brilliant in a single layer carry, thanks to it’s sturdy double weave, but  I think it really shone in multi layer carries because that’s where you really get to see those great wrap qualities shine. I think this would be equally good as a shortie or a long wrap and although it wouldn’t be my first choice for a newborn, it’s definitely got the potential to be a fantastic all rounder for older babies right through to pre schoolers.

The busy pattern and close weave of Bloom is another reason that it should be a good wrap for older babies – you won’t be able to see every smudge from sticky fingers or muddy shoes, and it shouldn’t pull every ten seconds either.

Again, as per Flow, the hemming and labelling is perfection, and the wrap came with a tote and booklet.

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Overall, I loved how this wrapped. I found myself reaching for it because I wanted to wrap with it, rather than because I had to. It was genuinely a pleasure to use, and I think Liora Rae have really got something right with Bloom.

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It’s bloomin’ lovely. (Sorry. I’ll see myself out.)

 

Mama Twofish Fiddle Necklace – Review

17036206_10154478438705945_1843686428_oMama Twofish is a UK based small business, headed by the lovely Susie, who make fiddle necklaces. Fiddle necklaces are intended as a sensory aid for babies and toddlers during breastfeeding, baby wearing or even just cuddling. With brightly coloured wooden beads and soft Nylon cord, these necklaces are not made for chewing on or teething but for fiddly  little fingers that might want to seek sensory or tactile input from a caregiver’s hair, clothes or skin. Athough they are not for chewing (as that can damage or mark the beads) the beads themselves are coloured with non toxic dye,which is reassuring to note.

Mama Twofish hav17015045_10154836266255090_1083810049_oe been in the necklace game since 2012, and offer custom necklaces to match wraps, carriers and even clothes, as well as a comprehensive in stock selection in their Etsy store.

I was recently approached by Mama Twofish herself, offering a custom necklace in exchange for an honest review and of course I was only too happy to oblige. Susie began by asking me what wraps or carriers I have, and after I shamefacedly admitted that I have nearly thirty, we tried to narrow it down by theme (also impossible).I eventually settled on matching to my beautiful custom handwoven from Paper Street Weaving  – a wrap I had made for my current womb dweller.

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I sent Susie some pictures of the wrap, as well as the inspiration photo it was based on, and within the space of a couple of hours she had gotten back to me with beautiful clear photos of a necklace she’d made in my colours. She asked for my thoughts and reassured me that she could re do if it wasn’t what I had in mind. I had a particular arrangement in mind, and I felt comfortable in discussing that with her. We shared some ideas back and forth and she sent photos of three different bead layouts based on our conversation, one of which was exactly what I had in mind.

Once we had decided on a finished product, the necklace arrived quickly and beautifully packaged, with the added treat of a fancy teabag. The necklace itself is well made, with a sliding knot that enables you to put it on over your head without having to faff with clasps – this also allows you to wear the necklace as long or as short as you like, but with a built in limiter to prevent any accidental choking. The beads vary in size, and feel smooth to touch. The 17148909_10154478438905945_1719165170_ooverall tactile effect is a pleasing one, and indeed my toddler was quite taken with it when we tried it on. Susie matched the necklace to my wrap perfectly colour wise, and I am very happy with the finished product. The custom process with Susie was a delight; she was attentive and clearly knew what to ask in order to get the best possible results.

Although the turn around time for my necklace was quite quick, she tells me that she usually advises potentially up to two weeks. The price point for her products is, I feel, quite reasonable at £13 to £14.50 for instock products (the lower priced necklaces are slightly smaller with slightly smaller beads) and £16 for a custom order. Postage is extra, but at £1.65 within the UK and £3.95 international it’s again very reasonable.

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All in all I’m very happy with this product; it’s worth what it costs and the custom process was lovely. I can definitely and happily recommend Mama Twofish for all your fiddle necklace needs.

Sycha Slings Space Bears Sunlit Pulsar – Review

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Sycha Slings is another new woven wrap company based in the UK. Set up by Sally Sycha (‘Sling Sally’) in 2016, Sycha Slings aims to enable as many people as possible to experience babywearing for themselves. They have two ranges, the Main Line and the Studio Line. Main Line wraps are produced in Turkey, as this makes them more affordable, and Studio Line wraps are produced here in the UK, making them slightly more expensive. A percentage of the price of any Sycha Slings wrap goes to a named charity; for this wrap it’s Cancer Research UK.

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We tested Space Bears in the Sunlit Pulsar colourway. Featuring a playful design of parent and baby bear in space together with gold and purple, Space Bears is a very striking wrap. I found that it looks much nicer and richer in colour in real life than photos can show, and it also features flecks throughout the wrap which give the appearance of stars.

In hand, Space Bears feels soft and dense. The purple side is very smooth, whereas the gold side is a little more textured. The hemming is neat and even, with unobtrusive labelling.

To wrap with Space Bears is beautiful. The passes are made easily, as the fabric glides 16910678_10154444622260945_1432676418_oacross itself, but the more textured gold areas help to lock it into place well. It has a springy diagonal stretch which makes getting a good secure pass nice and easy. Space Bears is a denser and heavier wrap than I usually go for at 290gsm, but was very lovely and supportive with a 30lb toddler, even for 30 week pregnant me.

We tried it in a variety of carries on the front and back, including multilayer and single layer. Space Bears shone best for us in a multi layer, but for an all cotton wrap it held up admirably even in a simple ruck.

 

I did hav16833212_10154444619885945_789147237_oe to tie right on tippy tails for a couple of carries (because I keep forgetting that my base is rapidly expanding) but this wasn’t a problem; it held well and didn’t fall apart.

All in all, we liked Space Bears here. It’s a good strong workhorse with a dense, pull resistant weave and the colours and design mean that dirty marks won’t be glaringly obvious either.

Space Bears Sunlit Pulsar is available to purchase here.

 

 

 

The Honeycomb Loom Sea – Review

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Last year, two of my favourite woven wrap comapanies, Baie Slings and Firespiral Slings, joined forces to collaborate on a new project called The Honeycomb Loom. Their aim was  to create affordable cloth, designed primarily to be perfect for carrying. With The Honeycomb Loom not only have they achieved that, but they’ve also achieved generally excellent fabric for essentially any sewing project you could dream up.

The Honeycomb Loom sells their fabric by the metre, meaning that you can customise your project in any way you want while remaining affordable. Their website has a few different col16442892_10154394689955945_2035580059_oourways of the same weave that you can buy for £12 per metre, with advice on how much to buy depending on what size wrap you hope to achieve. They also sell care labels and middle markers, which for some reason I find adorable.

You may, of course, have your fabric converted by whomever you choose, but The
Honeycomb Loom recommend Sling Betty. Conveniently, the
cloth is kept at the same building that she works from, so if you wanted you can buy your fabric, have it hemmed by her on site, and then sent out to you (thus minimizing postage costs).

 

If you wanted a size six with blunt tapers, you’d need 5m of fabric (they have a helpful piece on their website that explains how many meters you need for what sizes). This comes to £60 (£72 if you’d prefer angled tapers), add on £4.65 for postage and £20 for Sling Betty to hem, and you’ve got yourself a beautiful size six wrap from two of the industry’s finest makers for just £84.65. For £96.65, you’d have a size six with angled tapers. This is genuinely impressive; there are few sling companies where you can get beauty, quality, and also support local British businesses for that price.

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Now, onto the fabric itself! The tester arrived already hemmed by Sling Betty. I have absolutely no faults to pick with the stitching; it’s perfection. Honestly I expect no less, both Baie and Firespiral are known for high quality products so it stands to reason that anyone they work with will have similarly high standards.

With an indigo warp and a turquoise weft, Sea features something very similar to a diamond weave. It has noticeable diagonal stretch, and in hand it feels floppy with a fine, almost waffle-like texture. The colours, combined with the weave, puts me in mind of mermaids and scales. The turquoise definitely dominates, and it really changes the look of the indigo depending on the lighting. In some lights it appears almost like a dark raspberry.

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Wrapping was the real test. I’m 28 weeks pregnant, and my wrappee is a 30lb almost 3 year old. So it’s fair to say that Sea would be put through it’s paces!

 

While we are still carrying on a regular basis, I’ve definitely become more picky the more pregnant I’ve gotten. It’s become more important than ever that wraps are comfortable and hold well, in both single and multi layer carries. Sea fits all of my requirements and then some.

Our first up was in the house, just to give it a whirl. We don’t often wrap in the house as she’s too distracted by toys to want to be up for any length of time. I popped her in a double hammock with a candy cane finish and we were both wowed. The wrap moulded to us both w16466394_10154394689345945_864194960_oithout any fighting, and even for me and my notoriously slack wrap jobs, it was just wonderful. Rosie felt supported and snug, to the point where I asked her if she wanted to come down more than once and she refused. Now, with a double hammock, I often struggle to get all the slack out of the top rail (or I do and then some more magically appears after ten minutes
and the whole thing sags). When I tried this carry in Sea, it was noticeable how the top rail stayed exactly where I’d put it. She didn’t drop an inch.

And this turned out to be a theme that would continue with every use of Sea. I tried it in a variety of double hammocks, a Charlie’s carry tied diagonally, a kangaroo carry and a couple of differently finished rucks. With every carry I tried, Sea performed beautifully. It didn’t slip or sag, it held well and was supportive even in a single layer carry. Sea has just perfect amounts of grip and glide to make for a good carry, every time. That diagonal stretch combined with that subtle texture means it’s so easy to make a good snug carry and lock it into place.
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Rosie and I genuinely loved this wrap. It got used lots, and washed beautifully after an unexpectedly muddy outing. I’m honestly super sad to see it go, and I can say with confidence that there’ll be a Honeycomb Loom wrap on my shelves at some point in the future.

Overall, I thin16442797_10154394685485945_504799065_ok this is a really great all rounder of a wrap. Due to the weave I wouldn’t expect pulls, and that combined with all cotton puts this firmly in the workhorse category. It wraps very well and very easily; its no frills and no fuss but lots of awesome. Sea was wonderful with my toddler, and I feel it would be equally suited to smaller babies too. It’s a medium weight wrap so not mega chunky, and it’s not beastly stiff either. At risk of sounding a bit like Goldilocks, this wrap is just right.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Partner Away Parenting

I’ve been wanting to talk about this for a while. Partner Away Parenting is pretty much how it sounds; parenting while your partner is away – be they working away, in prison, or living long distance.

For us it’s working. Not Just Rosie’s Dad is a lorry driver, so often he will go to work on Monday at 4am and return Friday evening. Some nights he makes it home, but it’s usually a case of tea, bath, and bed for him as he needs to be up at the crack of dawn the next day.

We have had this life for a couple of years now, and during that time I’ve noticed lots of things:

  • There is almost no (bordering on zero) support for PAP. For example, were I a single parent, I’d be able to access Gingerbread, an online resource for single parents. However, because I’m married, there is no provision, no support network for me. It’s like we are a subset that doesn’t exist.
  • Healthcare professionals  just don’t get it. When I’ve been struggling, when I’ve gone and asked for help, they listen and then they tell me I’m doing too much, can my husband do more and pick up the slack? Well, considering he’s at the other side of the country, no, he cannot. There is only me. And they do not know what to say to me because my family does not fit into a neat little box of ‘single parent’ or ‘two parent family.’
  • Weekends are hard work. I would not compare myself to a single parent, but others have done and again, all that shows is how much they don’t get it. Yes, my husband is home on a weekend, but that does not mean it is all sunshine and rainbows. He is used to being master of his own domain all week, and then he’s home and he can’t remember where the bloody egg cups live, he doesn’t know the bedtime routine, he doesn’t know what channel My Little Pony is on, and he can’t work out what ‘da cowts’ means. (In case you were curious, it’s a two year old’s way of asking if she can let the cats out.) And naturally, he is frustrated. He does not feel at home in his own home. For me, I am used to my evening solitude, to my own space in bed, to going to sleep when I am ready. It is hard for both of us. Sometimes, it is easier for both of us when he is not here.
  • It has changed our relationship. We’ve never been particularly co-dependent, we’ve always had our own lives, but now more than ever we are both painfully aware that I do not need him. I run this shit five days a week all by myself, another two isn’t going to make a difference. I feel stronger, tougher, more capable. I feel it and he sees it. He sees it and feels threatened. What he doesn’t see is that I may not need him here, but I do want him here. And to me, that is a big difference.
  • Stating the obvious somewhat, but it’s bloody hard work doing this myself. All day and all night I handle this. I manage the house and the bills and the cats and I work my arse off to be the best mother I can be. It’s tough and it’s tiresome, and it feels like there is just never a break. Friends talk about desperately clinging on till half past five when their partner walks in and takes over – I cannot imagine how wonderful that would be. It’s a huge amount of responsibility too – everything rests on my shoulders.
  • It’s lonely. Being a stay at home parent is lonely enough, but at least through the day I can usually find somewhere to go or someone to hang out with.  Evenings are a different matter. Everyone is with their families, doing what normal families do. At our house, there’s just me and Rosie and then Rosie goes to bed and there’s just me, with no one to talk to and no one to cuddle.

 

Now, I know that all of that above sounds like a huge moan, and of course it’s not all bad. I consider myself very lucky to have a wonderful husband that sacrifices his time with our daughter to go and work, so that I can be at home all the time. And of course it’s fantastic that our finances are arranged so that I don’t have to go to work. But that doesn’t change the reality of our situation, the difficulty of seeing my daughter run into my bedroom on a Monday morning shouting for the Daddy she absolutely adores, or how hard it is that she associates Daddy with work (I’ll often catch her saying to herself, ‘Where Daddy? Daddy work.’)

But mostly, I wanted to raise some awareness and I wanted to send out a message to other people in my situation – we may be a somewhat neglected subset of parents, but I see you out there, holding your family together, navigating this strange sea with a partner who is only sometimes there. It’s an odd kind of twilight we’re in, but I see you and I get it. I can’t promise you it will get any better, but I can promise you you’re not alone.

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.