Based in Scotland, Oscha Slings is a popular babywearing company often thought of as a large name in the babywearing community. A family owned business, Oscha sources most materials locally to the UK and Ireland with all the weaving completed at their locations. All of the work on an Oscha carrier is done in house. The weaving is completed on their own jacquard looms, the sewing and finishing on the wraps, ring slings, and their latest half-buckle Mei Tai, and the dyeing, is all completed in the UK. Using a variety of fibers to create unique blends alongside considerable beauty is what Oscha has come to be known for in the babywearing world.
Although a Scottish based company many of their designs are drawn from Japanese culture. Kasumi Orabel is a prototype wrap from Oscha featuring the swirls of the sea in the design of Japanese wood block prints similar to the famous Kanagawa-oki nami-ura original print by Katsushika Hokusai. The wrap features a turquoise blue background with pale blue wave swirls and contrasting rails of solid block light blue on one end and on the other end, Seigaiha, a pattern of overlapping circles symbolic of waves and the ebb and flow of life. The pattern is the same on the reverse side with a full reversal of the colors such that the dominant color is the lighter blue and the swirl of the waves, Seigaiha, and solid color block are turquoise blue. The wrap is a prototype blend of superwash merino wool and Egyptian cotton to be in limited release in the Oscha Boutique collection.
Kasumi Orabel is unbelievably supple for such a high wool content. The characteristic prickle common to wool is there but nicely balanced against the higher cotton content. The use of Egyptian cotton, an extra long staple cotton (ETS) known for extraordinary smoothness adds a silken feel to the surface of the wrap. The use of Merino wool adds shine and softness to the wrap and is a sheep’s wool known for having a minimal amount of the prickly tendrils along the shaft of the fiber and is one of the diaphanous wool fibers. a bright white coloring is characteristic of Merino wool. When combined with the porous texture of non-lanolized wool, makes it an ideal fiber for dyeing.
What we like about Kasumi Orabel
Kasumi Orabel arrived in loom state, vibrant in color at 131gsm prior to washing. Wool usually requires special attention to laundry as excessive agitation coupled with improper wash temperatures can cause the wool fibers to stick together seen as felting in the cloth. This can compromise the integrity of a wrap, rendering it unable to be used for babywearing. Super wash Merino is a different style of wool with a finer texture, much smoother than traditional Shetland wools and less likely to stick together under agitation. This means Kasumi Orabel is machine washable on delicate cycle in cool water with a wool detergent. A slight amount of bleeding of the blue colors was noted during wash but no fading or loss of vibrance in color was noted in the wrap post wash. minor shrinking, less than 1% of total length and width was noted and the post wash wrap measured 241gsm. The bloom on the wrap was considerable, nearly an extra inch when folded in the exact same method as loom state.
We love wool and have even worn a similar blend during the hot Arizona summer. I find that while wool is heat insulating, the super wools have high breathability and when blended with the ETS cottons makes a rather comfortable wear in warm but not hot temperatures. Kasumi Orabel arrived for us just as the weather began to bring our winter monsoons. Cooler temperatures overnight and in the morning that warmed back up to the low 70F range by mid day. Wearing this wrap and layered clothing kept us all warm without overheating. The wrap was solid, holding toddler weight without difficulty but also adding just enough stretch without sagging. This is a high grip wrap and in a new, post loom state wash, wrapped very sticky. The color combination gave the right amount of contrast making the ladies a fan of the blue hues.
We found support in shoulderless carries and did not have the feeling that we were sagging or sliding without the shoulders to hold the weight. The Double Hammock Torso carry is one of our favorites but is not suited to every wrap. Holding tension was not extra work, passes gripped to each other allowing completion of the carry easy. My baby was able to ride high on my back, maintaining her mom’s eye view without sliding down or loosing tension. The contrasting blues yielded fantastic finishes allowing a simple shoulder flip or twist to show off both sides and the pattern in the wrap. Following wash the wool fibers seemed to relax more and none of the itchy characteristics were felt.
Kasumi Orabel did not feel thick, actually quite lightweight, the 241 measured gsm was a shock as I usually equate values over 220 as medium weight or heavy. The wrap was supple and soft, easily falling into a pile on itself with soft peaks. Both Egyptian cotton and Merino wool are naturally elastic fibers giving Orabel a nice stretch. This made the torso passes exceptionally easy to tighten and keep smooth. The grip was significant, there was no need to hold strong tension on a pass, a small amount would do just to keep a tail in place or out of the way. There was a small amount of work needed to smooth out a pass that I attribute more to the new, unworn wrap than the wrapping qualities or blend. Kasumi Orabel is traveling to soften and allow more babywearers to experience this prototype. Once she returns we will wear again and update more information on the wrapping qualities for a comparison.
The support in Orabel was undeniable. Car transfers with my sleeping babies was an easy feat, their combined weight of 56 pounds feeling more like 40 pounds in the right carry. Both girls secure in their individual carries, I was hands free to operate the doors and elevator without worrying about waking them. We enjoyed hip carries, front, and back carries as well as tandem carries. Single layer carries like the Rebozo Hip, Rucksack, and Front Wrap Cross with a twist were comfortable. No added pressure on the shoulders, with a choice of a soft and cushy spread shoulder or a plush sandwiched shoulder. Multilayered back carries like Back Wrap Cross Carry produced a comfortable half knot at the chest and the soft wool blend did not add pressure on the sternum.
The fancy finish was the way to go and our tester afforded the extra length to try out a few new things. Our particular new favorite was the Ruck with Date Night Finish. The twists provided a beautiful contrast and emphasized the colors very well. With a comfortable wear our only concern was keeping the tails clean in the rainy weather. I will admit to getting the tails a bit dirty and sighing over the need to handwash the wool. Instead I followed the wash instructions on the label and popped it into the machine. An hour of nerves later the wrap emerged fluffy but in no way felted. It dried quickly and softened with a warm, no steam iron.
I would say overall we were pleased with the wrapping qualities of this prototype blend. The width was generous, allowing a deep seat and full back coverage. Our favorite go to carries were comfortable and supportive, the chest pass in the Double Hammock spread wide, allowing for the distribution of toddler weight across the chest. Half knots and pressure points in Back Wrap Cross Carry and Christina’s Ruckless were soft. Spreading the cross passes required a little extra work and attention to detail to keep smooth against the extra grip. The heat retention was moderate, our combined body heat insulated in the wrap but did not build up past body temperature. In hand the weave is tight giving the illusion of not having much stretch or room for bloom. There was actually a fair amount of stretch to the wrap and the swelling of the two fibers in the wash produced a soft and fluffy wrap. I am looking forward to wearing this one again once it has made it’s rounds in the tester group and softened from wear.
Babywearing, cloth diapering, breastfeeding twin Momma sharing my insights.