If you’ve been falling down the rabbit hole of woven wraps on your babywearing journey, you may have noticed there are generally two types of woven wraps, machine woven and handwoven. You may have also noticed that there can often be a significant price difference between machine woven and handwoven wraps, and wondered why. So follow me, and I’ll tell you all about the wonderland of handwovens.
I’m not going to geek out too much here, this is just a bit of an overview to whet your appetite to do some more research if you want to. A handwoven wrap is one that has been woven on a loom manually by the weaver. Check out this video of a wrap being woven by hand. With a machine woven, a machine powers the weaving process, as shown in this video.
At its most basic, the reason why handwoven wraps are generally more expensive than machine woven wraps is because it takes much longer to produce a handwoven wrap. There are other reasons though, including that handwoven wraps are often very popular, so there is far more demand than can be supplied, which pushes prices high in the second hand market.
So why are they so popular? Ask a bunch of people why they like handwoven wraps and you’ll probably get a bunch of different answers. But here are some of the main ones.
Exclusivity: Handwoven wraps are generally made in very low volumes, which means that only a few lucky people get to own them. Some weavers even offer full or semi-custom spots so you can design your very own wrap. This exclusivity contributes to the high price of some handwovens.
Wrapping qualities: While wraps all have different wrapping qualities depending on how they are woven and with what fibres, high quality handwovens have a tendency to have lovely wrapping qualities and serious supportiveness, particularly for bigger babies and toddlers. Some of this has to do with boutique weavers using higher quality thread with higher thread counts to produce denser wraps with loads of cush.
Aesthetics: the nature of hand weaving means that handwovens don’t have complex or picture patterns like many machine wovens do (jacquard weaves). Handwovens are limited to plain, striped or other continuous patterns (like these by Warped and Wonderful) with plain or twill weave. Luckily, these patterns create gorgeous wraps, and with the full breadth of colours available, handwoven wraps can be truly some of the most beautiful you’ve ever seen. With inspiration from sunsets, landscapes and even album covers (yes, album covers. Weaving Waves held a competition in 2014 to make a custom wrap based on someone’s favourite album cover – Bjork’s “Post” was the winner!), there is something to suit everyone’s taste.
If you’re ready to take the plunge, adding a handwoven to your stash can be a little harder than getting your average every day machine woven. Handwovens aren’t generally stocked by your regular online babywearing store, and your best bet may be the second hand market. Some of the Facebook groups to look at include Loom to Wrap (an international group) High End Babywearing FSOT (an international group) and Boutique Babywearers Down Under (an Australian/NZ group).
That said, there are a variety of different weavers, some more prolific than others, some more popular than others, so if you’re willing to start with a more accessible brand you may be able to pick one up this week!
I can’t name all the different brands/weavers out there, I honestly don’t know them all, and there are often newcomers to the market, or people shutting up shop – but here’s a few of the names to look out for as a starting point for your journey down the rabbit hole!
Uppymama – based in Canada, Uppymama is one of the best known and most highly regarded weavers. Wraps are sold via random draw.
Etla Threadworks – another popular weaver selling via random draw, auction and fastest fingers through the Etla Threadworks group on Facebook.
Andalgo – a Hungarian weaver, she often has in stock wraps on her Hyena Cart store, which is rare for handwovens, so if you’re looking to pick something up brand new without worrying about having fastest fingers or being lucky enough to win a draw, this weaver is worth a look.
Heartiness – based in Belarus, Heartiness has custom slots as well as selling via Etsy and also providing some pre-order opportunities.
Warped and Wonderful – this weaver makes wraps and also towels, scarves, blankets and throws and often uses weaving patterns that were first published in the 16th and 17th centuries!
Cloth of Kin – Cloth of Kin takes custom orders for lengths of fabric, which can then be cut and hemmed to your preferred length and used as babywearing wraps. Cloth of Kin tends to be one of the more accessible brands, and sell for reasonable prices. I don’t think this is necessarily a reflection of their quality, I’ve had two Cloth of Kin wraps and the weaving work has been flawless and they have been lovely to wrap with and wear.
And in support of my fellow Aussies, here’s just a few of our talented Australian-based companies.
Weaving Waves – a one woman weaving company, selling in stock wraps and custom spots via random draw.
Blue Wren – a relatively new weaver on the scene, selling mostly via auction.
Oonlamoon – an Aussie-owned business producing wraps woven in Thailand, Oonlamoon is committed to producing wraps from eco-friendly fibres.
As I said, this is by no means a comprehensive list, and if you want to learn more Loom to Wrap is probably one of the best resources for learning about handwoven wraps and finding out about all the different weavers. Keep in mind, the nature of hand weaving means quality and craftsmanship will vary from weaver to weaver, and handwoven wraps may have “flaws” that shouldn’t affect the safety of a wrap, but can have aesthetic impacts. If you find a wrap you love but you’re not familiar with the weaver, it is worth researching to make sure the weaver is producing high quality work before you buy or sign up for custom orders.
So, do you want to try a handwoven?
*Note: In case you were wondering, the well known woven wrap brand Girasol produces handwoven wraps, however they are not generally included in the same discussions as boutique handwovens (that I’ve outlined above), as they are produced in high volumes with comparatively cheaper quality yarn and tend to have more aesthetic weaving flaws – hence they sell for much cheaper prices than boutique handwovens. That’s not to say that Girasols are not good wraps, they are beautiful, very popular and affordable, but I thought it best to explain this to reduce any possible confusion!