I love the ethos behind the Oonlamoon wrap company. Prae and her family are based in Australia, but their wraps are high quality, eco-friendly wraps made by communities in rural Thailand. The cotton for the weft is grown by small farmers, then handspun locally, before being dyed where needed. The dyes are natural, made from from local plants, using traditional methods that have been modified to be environmentally friendly. In northern Thailand, one of the women has begun a small weaving business in her home, employing other local women, and one of their products is the Oonlamoon cotton wrap. This small venture allows the women to remain in their local communities and be able to work during the times that they aren’t busy with rice harvesting. It’s truly a locally sourced and locally beneficial venture that also supports the environment, and is greatly to be celebrated!
Prae, one half of the Oonlamoon team, asked me to review the Svethmegh all-cotton wrap. Oonlamoon means “warm and gentle” in the Thai language – and this wrap certainly was!
It arrived wrapped in a small sheet, and for those of us well used to very bold, very bright coloured wraps, Svethmegh is much calmer, more subtle, more unusual. The weft is natural, undyed handspun cotton, with the nubs and slubs you would expect from such an organic process, with the warp being a lovely meld of blue, black and brown cotton machine-spun fibres. They have been dyed with natural products from the indigo plant and the fruit of the ebony tree and are much more uniform in appearance. At first glance, I wasn’t sure about the simplicity of the wrap, but the more time I spent examining it, feeling it, using it, the more I enjoyed its understated style and natural beauty. It’s not an in-your-face wrap, but one that rewards contemplation and appreciation, and boy, does it feel lovely to stroke!
There is a middle marker of three narrow blue lines, marking it out as a size 5 wrap (4.2m long). It is very, very wide indeed, near 80cm wide!! The density is 285 g/m2.
Hemming is neat and tidy, and the selvedges are straight and smartly done. The labels are small and unobtrusive, with the care label being tucked handily underneath another at the tail. The ends are gently tapered in a standard fashion, with a simple criss cross in and out weave.
The main body of the wrap is woven in a more complex fashion; there seems to be two weft threads looping under each warp thread with one coming over the top of the alternate thread. There is a lot of variation in the thickness of the weft, as you’d expect from handspun cotton, which all adds to the feel of comfortable homeliness. Even the “thin” threads are at least twice as thick than the machine-spun threads.
How is it to wrap with?
It was just a little firm, brand new, and needed to be washed before first use. A cool wash and line dry really made a difference to the texture. The thicker threads of handspun weft fluffed up immensely, as did the thinner threads, to a lesser extent, which gave the wrap a greater softness and squashiness, a sort of fluffy fatness. It broke in quickly, to become floofy soft and cuddly with the kind of gentle texture you want to wrap yourself up in. It’s not thick, much more of a medium feel. It doesn’t feel thinly, snugly dense in the way that an Oscha or a Kokoro feel dense, due to the thickness of the handspun weft, and it almost feels like a loose weave, but so thick are the fluffy threads that it has none of the thread shifting of such loose weaves. It is unusual indeed! It wraps like a much thicker, super cushy wrap – slightly short and very wide indeed.
I found it quite hard work to start with, before it had broken in, struggling to make the fabric mould snugly around our bodies when wrapping, and finding it quite hard to knot. As it is super wide, this also added to some of the difficulty, as there was just so much fabric, even with my preschooler.
However this became easier and easier with use. Once it was floppy, it was a totally different wrap, and the width was fantastic for bigger children, as it really provided a great deal of support. Being soft and squashy, with smaller children the extra fabric was nice and cushiony – but it does feel like a wide wrap, however you use it. It is an excellent wrap for toddlers for this reason, wide, soft and very strong. My nearly 4yrold felt weightless on my front, and on my back in this Svethmegh, which is fabulous. It was so cushy on my shoulders with no digging at all, you can see how nicely it spreads itself thickly . The width means that I took some trouble to gather the fabric on my shoulder to avoid downwards fall, and this effort of folding made it feel like marshmallow – you can see this below.
It’s still newborn worthy, due to its plumpness and gentleness. I have been surprised how squashy the passes are, the wrap feels thicker than it actually is, so with careful attention to leg passes, this would also be lovely for a newborn to snuggle down in, with his face visible, of course.
It has a lot of grip, but once soft and broken in, making the passes feels easier, and it doesn’t slip or move once it is on. It has just a little bit some bounce, but the grip holds it all together. It wraps like a 4, rather than a 5, so I had to do a FWCC tied at the side, and rucks tied in front, rather than many multipass carries. We did a kangaroo carry one cool late evening in Cornwall when my little girl couldn’t sleep and she snuggled down with a sigh, and nodded off peacefully as if sinking into a solid cloud – it worked so well we did the same carry a few times. The knot remains very large and quite hard to do. I tried a couple of slipknots, which felt huge but held well, and didn’t slip, while still allowing a good amount of adjustment.
After several weeks with me, Svethmegh is soft and floppy, and feels like a well loved blanket. It is warm to wear, so not one for baking summer days, but perfectly pleasant on a late summer stroll in some fields. I’ve been folding it in half and using it as a shawl as the cool starts to draw in, as I love the way it feels around my shoulders. It’s very comforting, both for me and for my girl..
I’ve thoroughly enjoyed using it, and the more I use it the more I appreciate its texture and craftmanship and cuddliness. It’s good to know its origins as well; environmentally friendly, sustainable, and supportive of a small community far on the other side of the world!