For some time now I have been hearing very good things about LaWilde – Beautiful Babywearing, another British wrap company, with a reputation for producing luxury, high-end wraps. Those who have one of their beauties seem totally smitten. So I was thrilled to be given the chance to have Jackdaw Elliot fluttering in for a visit.
The wraps are woven and finished in England (even though the owner, Charlotte, lives in Australia at present!) It sounds as though they are a very well-oiled team,, well able to co-ordinate themselves very well across continents and time-zones, selling their stock through Etsy.
Jackdaw Elliot arrived in some of the nicest packaging I’ve ever seen – a structured blue tote bag with its contents wrapped in tissue paper and tied up with a lovely deep black wide ribbon. The wrap inside was stunning – a subtle mix of soft grey and charcoal with a black warp. It was beautifully soft from new, as you might expect from its highly luxurious quad-blend structure; 39% Egyptian cotton, 33% merino, 20% cashmere and 8% mulberry silk. Wow. It is a snug, tight weave, with no looseness in the threads, but it does not feel dense or thick and heavy in hand. This was a size 4 with weight of 245g/ms, so midweight. I didn’t measure it, but it wrapped like a true 4 (I wonder if it would stretch a little more with more use).
I was struck by the intricacy and subtlety of the pattern, the way the light played and danced off the woven texture. When I first looked at it, I was expecting to feel a great depth of grip and hold, from the way it looked. Rises and troughs, crossings and intercrossings, streamlined and wavering across part of the width. It has a very Celtic organic feel to it, and makes me think of moors and heather and sheep tracks and strong men and endurance, and heavy, old gold jewellery from Sutton Hoo, that sort of thing. It is a very engaging pattern. So when I stroked it, it was a surprise to find how smooth it felt (due to the fibre blend) – smooth and glidy and soft. Not at all “rugged”, but luxury, elegance, sophistication. What a lovely juxtaposition!
The hems were pristine, and the labels straight, unobtrusive, and well placed. The tapers were standard.
So, how does it wrap?
I wondered if washing would make a difference to its smoothness and therefore how it wraps... I was nervous to wash such a high quality fabric with all these “delicate” threads (have you ever felted your favourite wool jumper? I have. Not good!) but wash it I did, as directed by the instructions, on a cool wash, leaving it to dry on the airers overnight. It dried very quickly (as you might expect from the fibre composition).
It was still smooth when dry.. which gave it the most delightful glide. I am partial to grip in my wraps – not so much that I get wrist ache and struggle to tighten a knot, but just enough to hold passes as I go. I appreciated the lovely sleekness of this fabric, which almost wrapped itself around me and my girl. Being as mouldable and fluid as it is, I needed to concentrate on tucking the seat of passes in well and tightening the bottom rail to avoid poppage, but it was delicious to be able to make second passes and spread them with great ease. A very fluid wrap, that rewards a little care with technique… There was a little diagonal stretch and just a touch of bounce, more obvious with a lighter child. My small 3 year old needed more careful wrapping than my son, as she did not stretch out the fabric so much, and thus the rails had more of a tendency to loosen a little.
I shared the wrap with a friend of mine who was in a little bit of a hurry, and wrapped speedily. She found the wrap to be very comfortable, light and easy to work with, but her Tibetan passes slipped a little with her light one-year old. I think this wrap enjoys the challenge of heavy children! When I tried a double hammock with a rope pass tied at the side, this felt lovely – the sturdiness and strength of the fabric combined with the spreading of the passes over each other (it feels more grippy running over itself than over my clothes), but I found that tying a knot worked better than the tucking in of the knotless finish that I usually do.
Knots are easy to make, no frustrating tugging trying to get it tight!
It is gorgeously cushy. I was able to carry my heavy six year old for about half an hour, in a sinple ruck tied in front, with the shoulder straps carefully spread over my shoulders. I hadn’t planned to be carrying him – the wrap was for my smaller girl that day, but he got lost in a very big park on a day out; when we were finally all reunited Jackdaw was there for a much needed re-connecting carry. He rarely asks to go up – and I was glad to have Jackdaw with me, and impressed with how it felt – he had no red marks on his legs from the rails, he was comfortable enough not to want to get down! I was aware of his weight but far less so with the wrap than my husband was after about 15 minutes of shoulder carrying later (fist pump!) While he was heavy, my shoulders did not complain of digging rails – just weight. I am not sure there are many wraps around that will make a six-year old weightless in a single layer!! It was a warm day and we were all flushed from the adrenaline, but F and I were pleasantly cool in the wrap (merino is famously breathable, as is silk).
There was not a hint of itching or scratching which can sometimes be an issue with woolies. Merino is never prickly, and the cashmere LaWilde uses is of very high quality , with a diameter of 15 microns (the highest quality is 14-15.5, standard is 16-19 microns). To give you an idea of just how fine this is – one human hair averages around 70 microns. Superb!
LaWilde does indeed deserve their tagline, “Beautiful Babywearing”. Some of the wraps coming off their looms are truly stunning (have you seen the gorgeous Robin Elliot in red in this same blend?) Charlotte tells me that some of the other blends have more grip than this Jackdaw Elliot tester, which would be perfect for me, as I really like this pattern and love the luxury feel of this cloth.
I taught someone to back carry recently (I am a sling and carrier consultant) and she brought a LaWilde cotton wrap with her to use – Latreille Asherah I think. This was a heavyweight, not-yet broken in cotton, but it was easy to see how supportive it would be once it reached floppy nirvana. LaWilde loves experimenting.. and this dedication really shows! Strength and subtlety, sumptuous softness.. breathable beauty. Just lovely!