Have you ever worked alongside someone you thought was a regular person like you? Amazed by their knowledge yet never knowing they had an underlying skill, dare I say, secret power? I have had such an opportunity with Rachael Bender of Sincerely Rae Fiber Arts. Rachael is an Advanced Babywearing Educator, Mother, and a kind woman. All the while she was helping new parents fit their babies in carriers and teaching her favorite Poppins Hip Carry, she was practicing and honing her fiber artistry. Her creations range from scarves to cowls, shawls to babywearing wraps. Her materials are the finest cotton, Tencel, and Merino wools and her talent, no, secret power, is weaving the softest fabrics.
Webslinger is a Spider-Man inspired wrap designed by Rae after her son’s favorite comic book hero. We like to believe he has good taste, the wrap appeals to our geeky side so you know cosplays were had while it was visiting. Starting at each rail is the rich black with thin stripes of silver reminding me of the tendrils of webs shot from the web crawler’s spinnerets. The wrap then transitions into a luminous red followed and alternating with vibrant royal blue. The colors continue the length of the wrap before transitioning to black with silver streaking at the opposite rail. The colors pop off of the wrap surface against the black weft. Red and blue are slightly embossed from the surface giving the wrap a tactile experience alongside the incredible softness.
The blend is an even composition of Egyptian cotton and Tencel. The balance provides both grip from the natural properties of the Egyptian cotton while the slinky smooth Tencel lends glide to the wrap. Not all cottons are the same. If you have read my other reviews you know I am just a little bit of a fiber afficianado. Egyptian cotton is one of the premium extra long staple cottons. I won’t go as far to describe the difference in the S1 primary layer and S2 secondary layers, no that would be too geek, even for me. Naturally a pale brown color, Egyptian cotton bears it’s name from the particular cultivar of extra long staple cotton (ELS) grown in Egypt. True ELS Egyptian cotton is considered one of the finest in the world, the strands nearing an inch and a half in length. This means the fibers twist evenly layering upon each other in the twists of the yarn giving a smooth glide with fewer convolutions equating to less grip than regular cottons.
I frequently hear the question why are hand wovens so expensive? The answer lies in materials, design, and artistry. As with any artisan craft, the time of the weaver is extremely valuable. It may take a month to design and choose the correct materials. Once materials are procured warping the loom may take up to sixteen to twenty hours depending on the elaborate nature of the design. Weaving is done on a hand operated loom which takes time. If it is an uncomplicated weave it can take six hours to complete 3.6 meters of fabric, longer for a more complicated diamond, heart, or pebble weave. The amount of time to weave significant length for a small release of 10 meters may take the course of a week. Once the wrap is woven, taken from the loom, it is not yet ready for sale. Finishing the hems at the tails is next, stitching in middle markers, and finally wet finishing of the wrap. The finishing process may take an additional few days in the process of nearing a finished product. Adding materials cost, time in design, labor in weaving, and labor in finishing, setting the cost of the wrap at $120 or higher per meter makes easy sense to pay the weaver in time and materials.
What we like about Webslinger
Incredible softness combined with superb glide are how I would sum up Webslinger in a single comment. The wrap is soft and floppy, newborn ready. The blend is an even composition of Egyptian cotton and Tencel. The balance provides both grip from the natural properties of the Egyptian cotton while the slinky smooth Tencel lends glide to the wrap. This translates to passes that slide easily over the other yet cling in place from the natural grip of cotton. Webslinger is lightweight in hand wearing the same. The combination of Tencel and Egyptian cotton allow high breathability and very low heat retention. We wore Webslinger in June and July, two of the hottest months in Arizona. Both baby and I were cool and comfortable with excellent air flow even in the intense 115ºF heat.
“Keep on trudging ahead. And if you should happen to fall at some point along the way, Pete– Get up. Dust yourself off. Don’t look back… And try even harder the next go ’round.” Peter Parker Spider-Man Unlimited Vol 3 #6: The Agony of Defeat
A comic book inspired wrap almost requires a babywearing cosplay. A quick closet cosplay as Peter Parker made wearing more fun, the colors perfectly matched to the Web Crawler’s comic fame. Webslinger is a pliant wrap making completion of a Poppins Hip Carry with passes spread simple and a great way to show off the wrapping qualities. The grip allowed the switchback to hold well while the precision tightening could be completed. Perfecting the pre-tied Poppins was one of the tasks on our list and Webslinger provided an opportunity for this tutorial.
Single layer back carries were cool and comfortable, able to maintain support for a bouncy toddler. Although newborn blanket soft, I noticed no sagging or need to adjust the carry once up. Long walks in a single layer carry are really a test of the support and softness of the shoulder. Joining the Pokémon fray we went on a 1.7 mile walk through our neighborhood on the hunt for a Charizard. Getting caught up in the game was easy and no notice of the toddler weight or bouncing. The ruck didn’t budge in all the bouncing, full seat and secure for the duration of the walk. The “Spier-Man” wrap has become an absolute favorite. Bedtime, late night terrors, and sleeplessness the “Spier-Man” wrap was requested each time and without doubt comfort was immediate.
We wear single layer and multi-layer carries in front, hip, and back positions for testing. Webslinger is wonderfully supple, easily made smooth passes without work. The chest pass was smooth, easily tightened without extra effort. Torso passes were all smooth spreading easily across baby’s back. Shoulder flips in a kangaroo carry remained on the shoulder giving the luxury of spreading the cross passes in back well without awkwardness. The carry held very well without sagging, pressure on the shoulders, or need to retighten. The wrap was soft enough for toddler snuggles on rough days when nothing seemed to work right for her. The softness of the wrap prompted me to wear back carries with knotless finishes at the chest belt like Secure High Back Carry and Short Double Hammock. In other wraps these carries place pressure on sensitive breast tissue at the chest pass. The softness and pliability of Webslinger produced a slim, bunched chest pass that was cushy against the chest. The knotless finishes added no additional pressure against the breast making them comfortable for long wear.
The Short Double Hammock is a comfortable long wear back carry that is supportive of toddler weight. It allows the wearer to complete the full Double Hammock with a knotless finish at the chest pass. An alternative to the Double Hammock, Double Rings, the Short Double Hammock adds no pressure to the chest allowing the same long wear carry to be completed in a Base-3. Webslinger flowed easily across the chest, gliding into the cross pass over baby’s back.
As with any handwoven, Webslinger produced some epic knots with the added glide were easy to tie. Tencel is known for being a slinky, slippery fiber and depending on the content can make certain carries more difficult than the usual skill level. While the 50% Tencel is a relatively higher percentage of fiber, the natural grip from the decadent Egyptian cotton provided balance to the Tencel. Caring for the wrap required a small amount of extra attention. It is recommended by the weaver that Webslinger be hand washed and dried lying flat. I did not find any disposition toward pulls adding to the easy care, and allowing Webslinger to be an everyday use wrap. I am excited to see the variety of weaves produced by Sincerely Rae Fiber Arts in the future and absolutely encourage more additions to her geeky chapter.
Babywearing, cloth diapering, breastfeeding twin Momma sharing my insights.