I have been getting to know Helen at Cherry Berry Baby over the last few months, since we first met at the European Babywearing Conference in July 2013. I was already familiar with her work from several carriers owned by friends of mine in Sheffield, and had been impressed with the style and quality, so much so that I came home from the conference with one of her new Cherry-Pop Half Buckle carriers (it has become a very “pop”ular part of my sling library) and a floating rings rainbow ring sling (which is also in demand!)
So when I saw her again at the Natural Mamas Big Camp I jumped at her offer to test out her new Cherry-Bu, a variation of the traditional Japanese onbuhimo carrier.
When I unpacked it from the parcel and released it from the Cherry Berry Baby canvas bag, my eyes popped out on stalks. This is one colourful carrier! Helen has ice-dyed some Colimacon et Cie fabric to make this carrier and it is beautiful and very eye-catching!
An Onbuhimo is like a mei tai. but instead of tie-able waist straps, there are rings attached to the bottom corners of the panel, one on each side. The long shoulder straps are fed through the rings and pulled upwards and tied off, creating a deep pouch and an excellent spread-squat seated position. They can be a little tricky to use for the inexperienced, as the straps are not secure until they have been safely tied off into the chest straps, so care is needed.
A Ruck-bu is a variant of this, a reverse onbu, with two rings attached to the shoulder straps, and long wrap straps coming out of the sides of the bottom of the panel. These wrap straps are fed upwards from under the knees of the baby into the rings on the padded shoulder straps. The two rings allow a ring sling finish, so the straps can be pulled down and are instantly secure. Like the onbu, the design allows for an excellent deep seat to be made and babies can be carried higher on the back than in standard buckled-waisted carriers.
Helen has added perfect fit adjusters (PFA’s) to the top of the shoulder straps, so the length of the padded part can be shortened if needed, and the rings rest on a padded tongue, to ensure no digging into the wearers’ body.
It is very well sewn, as you would expect, with straight seams and smooth padding, and excellent hems. No loose stray threads anywhere.
I have thoroughly enjoyed using the Ruck-Bu. It was easy to put on (see this video by Helen herself) and quick to get secure. I am on the small size (10 up top) and I found that even with the PFA’s the padded part was a little too long, so there was too much fabric under my armpits. However, I loved how easy and quick it was to get the straps secure, and pulling downwards is much more straightforwards than pulling upwards (as you do with the onbu). I generally tend to prefer the spreadability of wrap straps (as you get with the blue onbu above) and this will not be an option with a reverse onbu, as the rings need to be securely attached to a very solid strap, however I still found these padded straps comfortable on my shoulders. The straps are long, however this allows the wearer to spread the straps behind their child in two passes over the legs at the back and then tie off at the front with a chest belt, which can be spread both for comfort (covering the rings) and for dramatic effect. This tie-dying is so pretty!
I took the carrier along to a gathering of other babywearing professionals and it was well received, with the slimmer people preferring a shorter strap option. We all liked how high we could carry, and the ease of creating a seat, as well as the convenient ring sling finish. Everyone was looking forwards to the tweaked product being ready for sale!
It was also worn at the Sheffield Slings flashmob for International Babywearing Week…
I was sorry the last time I took my little girl for a walk in it – with matching lollipop! Helen has agreed to make one of these lovely Cherry-Bu’s for the Surgery, which is great news for the people of Sheffield!