Oak Wren Cowl Neck Poncho – Review

Several weeks ago now the talented Juliette of Oak Wren Studio sent me a very beautiful cowl neck poncho to review. Unbelievably, we’ve had a spell of glorious sunshine and a full on heat wave almost ever since and I simply haven’t had much call to wear it!

However, now that things are cooling down a little, I’ve been able to use it a bit more and I have to tell you I’m loving it.

I’ve never considered myself part of the target market for a poncho, as I’m usually more at home in a hoodie. But honestly it’s become invaluable. I can throw it on over anything, the loose form hides me on days I don’t want to show myself, but the colour and drape of the fabric feel incredibly glamorous. It is definitely an item of clothing that makes me feel good.

It’s cosy, and comforting, but timelessly stylish with it. Such a great item of clothing and now I’m wondering how I lived without one.

Rosie also likes to pop it on and twirl round the room “like a princess mummy.”

This cowl neck poncho is made from Honeycomb Loom Midnight fabric – another of Juliette’s projects. It really is perfect for this garment. The poncho came to me in loom state, and although it felt absolutely fine, it did feel softer after a wash and iron.

I checked this poncho all over, and as expected, the workmanship is exquisite. Juliette is a master of the sewing machine and no doubt. There is not a single stitch out of place, and every hem is perfectly parallel to the others. It’s perfect.

I did really struggle to photograph this fabric, I’ll be honest. It’s a very deep, rich blue – Midnight is the perfect name – but it has depth to it. It’s a classic and elegant colour, with a subtle sheen in certain lights.

In summary, I was not a poncho person but oh my days I am sold. What makes this discovery even sweeter is the knowledge that Juliette can convert well loved woven wraps into beautiful ponchos, capes, and cloaks – meaning wraps can be repurposed long after the wrapping has ended.

And guess who has a whole bunch of wraps, and rapidly growing children? This girl.

I love this poncho so much it’s staying. You need one too. Look them up on FB or check out the website here: http://www.oakwren.com

Let me know what you go for!

Advertisements

Dearest Husband (a rant)

Now, don’t get me wrong, I do love Not Just Rosie’s Dad. He’s the only man for me, tru luv, beloved husband etc. 

However. 

There are some things I wish to the Gods I could never again hear him say, because frankly they make me rage and when I’m trying to be all Zen it’s very much Not Good. (PS I’m sure he has a similar list but he doesn’t blog so you’re stuck with my side.) (PPS. There may or may not be some heavy sarcasm to follow.) (PPPS This may or may not be brought to you with the aid of Cursed Female Hormone.)

Dearest husband. Please stop saying the following: 

1.”It’s your turn!” When someone has shit themselves/woken in the night/lost their serenity in Asda. 
Mate. No. It’s my fucking turn all week while you’re away working. You aren’t here Monday to Friday. ALL WEEKEND IS YOUR TURN. 
2. “Which kid do you want to put to bed?” 

Neither. See above about how I do it all week and now it’s your turn. I don’t want to put any kids to bed; I want to sit here and eat Doritos and watch The Goldbergs. 

3. “I’ve washed the pots for you!” 
I’m sorry – What? Do you not eat? Did we at some point sign a document to say that pots belonged solely to me and only I had the responsibility of washing them? No? Then you haven’t washed them for me. You’ve just washed them. 

4. “What do you want me to do next?” (When we are cleaning up) 

USE THE EYEBALLS IN YOUR HEAD AND CLEAN UP THE MESS THAT IS CLEARLY HIGHLY VISIBLE. 

5. “Why is Patrick crying?” 

Oh, hang on, let me just use my baby cry translator. Oh wait! I actually don’t have one. I use make an educated guess and use trial and error, something that any full grown and competent adult (and yes, that includes you) is capable of doing. We are equal parents; I am not the default. 

Being the wonderful wife that I am, I’ve included a handy list of things to say instead: 

1. I appreciate that you do this all week, so I’ll do it all weekend, oh wonderful wife. 

2. Here are some flowers for you to admire and chocolate to eat while I put the kids to bed. When I return I will massage your feet and we’ll watch whatever you want. 

3. I’ve washed the pots and cleaned the kitchen and taken the bins out and I don’t need my head patting because I’m a capable human male and this is Very Basic Stuff. 

4. Go out my love, have a pamper session and be sure to call into the pub for a drink at some point. I know exactly what to do here, what to clean up, because I can see it with my actual eyeballs. 

5. Don’t worry sweet wife, I will work diligently to find out why Patrick is crying and I will soothe him appropriately. Your input is not required. Relax.

…………

I mean, surely that’s not too much to ask? …is it? 

Luluna Sisi Lazure Review 

Luluna is a Polish company headed by friends who have joined together to make beautiful wraps. Sisi Lazure is a recent offering by them and the first Luluna I have tried.

With lazure, dark turquoise, and black, Sisi is striking and features an intricate swirly design. In hand, the wrap feels lightly textured and floppy. The fabric drapes well and it has a subtle shimmer that’s hard to capture on camera. 

Somewhat confusingly there are three different Sisi Lazure wraps, all the same colour and named the same but with different blends. The tester that came here was the 70% combed cotton and 30% bamboo blend. With a GSM of 280, this is a medium weight wrap.

With Patrick, 4 months, I found that Sisi moulded very well to both of us but benefited from a good secure wrap job as the fabric isn’t very forgiving of mistakes.  It’s easy to get complacent when you carry lots, and sometimes sag happens. The good news is that with a good carry Sisi is wonderfully comfortable. The wrap moves well with passes gliding over each other easily. With Patrick I stuck to front carry. I did FWCC, FWCC with a Poppins finish, kangaroo, and a Robin’s hip carry. I preferred a double knot with Sisi to help hold everything in place. 

I also tried Sisi with Rosie, 3 years and 4 months. We opted for double hammock, a ruck tied Tibetan, and an FWCC (at her request). 

She enjoyed the closeness and Sisi was easy to wrap with thanks to its floppiness. It was much better for short bursts than it would be for a long walk; bamboo is more suited for smaller babies and I definitely found that with Sisi.

All in all, it’s a wonderfully soft and floppy wrap that’s lovely for small babies. Especially as the pattern is very forgiving for small baby mess and spills! 

Rowan Bay Chrysler Heather – Review

19490228_10154799639665945_1772995537_o

Heather is the second Chrysler Wrap I’ve tried from Rowan Bay, the first being a more blue colourway (review here). The Heather tester I’ve got is much longer than the other one I had, and I’m grateful for that as it means that I can really enjoy this wrap more and get to know it better.

Ok so, aesthetically Heather is definitely more up my street.

19495793_10154799639450945_1352379715_oIt’s a blend of rich purple and sandy tones, while retaining the same repeated V pattern. The colourway suits the design in my opinion; both are understated and modern feeling.

 

Heather is the same gsm as the first tester, but it has been woven with different yarn and I feel this has made a world of difference. This wrap feels cushy in hand, with a very nice diagonal spring – the recoil is lovely and noticeable. It feels softer than the original and despite having the same gsm of 350, this doesn’t feel quite solid.

To wrap with, Heather is still a dense wrap, but it has more movement and more mouldability. I used it with both two month old Patrick and three year old Rosie, and although I liked it for the baby it most definitely shone for the toddler.

19243875_10154799643255945_1152669092_o

Heather landed during a heatwave, and I was pleasantly surprised to find that it wasn’t a nightmare for hot weather. Patrick and I both stayed actually quite cool, which was nice as wrapping can often be a sweaty affair! We tried a few different carries and Heather was lovely for all, although personally I’d prefer a thinner wrap with a baby this size.

 

 

 

Heather really shone when it came to Rosie. Even in a single layer carry, Heather gave me plenty of cush on the shoulders and really supported Rosie’s weight well (thank you double weave.) This wrap felt like it has more grip than it’s predecessor; there was no sliding or sagging once she was up and she was able to bounce away to her hearts content.

19496371_10154799642095945_2020440001_o

 

 

 

We also tried it in a double hammock and it was a serious toddler prison. My DH skills are out of practice as it’s not often Rosie comes up now, but even so we got a great carry out of it. She really enjoyed herself and I found that the shoulder passes didn’t slide (my usual complaint about DH) and it held well even in a single knot.

19532012_10154799638935945_420064293_oOverall, I was really pleased with this latest iteration of Chrysler. It’s a great toddler wrap, it wrapped very well and it felt great. Well done Rowan Bay, Rosie and I think you’ve nailed it.

Best of British – Top Five

A few days ago I asked on Not Just Rosie’s Mum Facebook page who people would suggest as a round up of the five best British companies. There was a great response, with a few companies standing out as clear favourites. Honestly, I think we’re pretty lucky to have such a varied homegrown market.

Without further ado, here are my top picks:

Best High End 

Lawilde are hands down my favourite high end British company. Their wraps are sophistication, glamour, pure luxury and just oh so British. I particularly enjoy the Lewis design; it’s lived here in three different colour ways and three different blends and it’s nothing short of perfect. Lawilde, in my opinion, are somewhat underrated – I don’t see them at shows very often and I rarely see the same hype that other high end companies seem to have – but for me that’s part of the appeal. They are understated and classy as hell. they don’t churn out wrap after wrap, but what they do release is incredibly high quality.

Honourable mention: Woven Wings, a popular high end company with some really lovely staple designs.

Best All Rounder 

Oscha Slings are a British giant. Based in Scotland, they have by far the largest variety of wraps, carriers, and accessories. Every blend, size, colour, design, price, and wrap quality you can think of – they have it. With plenty of in stock options, there’s always something available. For those who like the thrill of the chase, plenty of their more highly sought after carriers go to fastest finger first. They have designed and developed their own structured carriers, which is a fabulous option for those who want pretties but don’t wrap. They also have a wide range of design aesthetics, and even include a boutique and handwoven range for when you’re feeling super fancy. Oscha are good attenders at exhibitions, meaning that you have a good chance at getting to see them up close and personal before committing cash. They have a bargain basket too usually, and that will always be a winner in my eyes.

Honourable mention: Joy and Joe, another company with a wide range of aesthetics and blends.

Best Handweaver 

To The Loom and Back is my favourite UK handweaver. Sian’s work is nothing short of incredible – her selvedges are perfection, and there’s never a thread out of place. She knows her stuff too, and is always happy to advise or recommend regarding weave structure and blend to get just the right wrap qualities to make the wrap fit your exact specifications. Her use of dye and colour is also exquisite, creating beautiful wraps that are always amazing. I cannot recommend her highly enough.

Honourable mention: Feather and Hay, for their beautiful rainbows.

Best Value For Money 

Wrapahula come top here for me. To clarify, by value for money I don’t mean cheap. They’re reasonably priced, and you get a lot for that price. Excellent customer service, a good community in the chatter group, and genuinely lovely wraps that require very little breaking in – I’ve had to work much harder to break in more exclusive wraps, and I’ve paid much more for wraps that haven’t wrapped half as well. Wrapahula feel particularly accessible to me; they work to maintain stock on the website so that newbies will always have a choice of purchase, and the fact that their wraps need so little breaking in is again a good thing for new people who might be put off by that process. They have recently started to provide size 8 wraps, and also high quality bags with each carrier purchased – we put one to the test and I could carry my three year old in the bag easily.

Disclaimer – I do work with Wrapahula on some admin tasks, but this doesn’t make any of what I said any less true.  I wouldn’t want to be associated with a company that I thought were anything other than genuinely good.

Honourable mention: Firespiral – another super lovely company with fantastic wraps at great value for money.

Best Ethical

This was a hard one to call between Baie Slings and Sycha Slings – but what tipped the balance for me was Baie’s Snow Geese wrap. Designed to aid partially sighted or sight impaired wrappers, Snow Geese has some pretty awesome use of texture in order to help people feel their way round it much easier and therefore use a woven easier. They also have their Appleseed range, which at a lower price point helps make wrapping more accessible. They’ve raised money more than once for various good causes, and just generally a super nice company.

Honourable mention: Sycha Slings, who donate a percentage of each wrap sold to charity.

And there you have it! My top five. Do you agree, or disagree? Who would you choose?

Pre Term to Full Term – Musings

Tomorrow, I’ll be 37 weeks pregnant. I’ll be officially full term, a status that I never thought I’d achieve after my only other pregnancy experience came to an abrupt finish at 34 weeks.

And, I can honestly say that this feels somewhat more emotional than I naively expected. I expected to feel happy, and relieved, but I did not expect to feel a tinge of sadness for the weeks I missed last time.

It feels like madness to think that by this stage I already had a three week old baby, that we’d been at home a week already, halfway through paternity leave and in the first full flush of new parenthood.

This time, this extra time (or so it seems), feels so bizarre and wonderful that I don’t want it to end. Yes, I feel enormous, yes, I can’t sleep, and yes, I have to pee approximately every eight minutes, but it’s glorious. 

I am constantly in awe of what my body has achieved, is still achieving, and I find myself unable to keep my hands or my mind off my growing bump – what do you look like in there baby? Are you a boy or a girl? Will you have Daddy’s blue eyes eventually, or my brown ones? Will you have curls like your sister?

I feel both excited to finally meet you and yet simultaneously hysterical about it – I have no idea how to be a mother to two children, how on earth am I supposed to balance the needs of two very different people?

All I know right now is that I love that you are still in there, still hiccuping and still kicking my ribs, more importantly still growing and still packing on all that vital fat and still finishing off the finer points of your development – all of the things you’ll need to make your early life so much easier and less of a struggle than your sister’s.

Call me crazy but I don’t want to share you just yet. I want to go the full 42, I want to glare at people who don’t let me sit down on the bus, I want to be able to post a status asking people to stop asking me if I’ve had you yet, I want to waddle everywhere instead of walking, I want it and I want it all. The full pregnancy experience. It is such a fleeting time, really, the time in which you are only mine and we are bonded by blood.

And so I appreciate and enjoy every day of whatever remains of this pregnancy. Every extra pregnant day is like a blessing, and the further I get from that 34 week milestone the more relaxed and excited I become. Part of me will probably always miss and mourn for that 6 weeks I lost the first time, but already, even on the eve of 37 weeks, this feels like healing.

 

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.

17199965_10154487086205945_1173126785_o

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.

17200258_10154487085860945_2070076364_o

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.

17193791_10154478438690945_1465219290_o

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.

17193895_10154478438780945_1403243239_o

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.