Wishing for a last hurrah
It’s the autumn days of babywearing for me, at least on a regular basis, and with Smallest aged three and a half, I know we have had a very extended season. I had mostly given up hope of ever really having a handwoven just for me and so have enjoyed those that passed through. The ones I’ve owned have given equal pleasure but weren’t quite….it.
Late in the game I discovered Karelia Crafted, run by experienced Finnish weaver Iina Laatikainen. I really rated Iina’s beautiful weaving and wicked skills with dyeing which I first tried thanks to a friend and her Fall Faeries wrap. Serendipity would have it that Iina had a slot available despite being a very busy woman. Maybe she sensed this was my only chance. The warp would be recycled jeans and would I like it?
It’s never too late
I can be quite cautious but with Iina, having seen her work up close and got a sense of who she was, I decided to be impulsive and said, yes please. I asked what recycled jeans meant and Iina explained that old jeans were cleaned, buttons, zips and rivets removed, and essentially shredded up in a big machine to create a yarn that is 95% cotton and 5% the other bits such as the polyester thread etc. I said yes, I’d love to gamble on recycled jeans because I love the concept of a consciously made warp.
So we chatted, and she understood my needs, who I am carrying, and what wrapping qualities are my jam. At that point, though she consulted me on everything, I had mentally given her carte blanche because I felt intrinsic trust in her skills and instincts. For someone that likes to be “in control” of my choices, whatever that really means, I wanted to rescind them all to see what Iina would do.
We discussed weft and I wanted to keep to the sustainable theme. I LOVE wools and silks, very much, but I wanted this to be totally new to me so I took her advice with lace weight banana yarn for its silky but wool like qualities. It also delivers a texture that echoes bouclé which is special, though not for those who fear anything that might be mistaken for the start of a pull.
This is a weft that delivers texture, texture, texture, to run your fingers over; highlighted in an undulating and delicate frost orchid pattern. Spongey, sturdy, soft and ultimately pliable. The slightly thinner warp meant it ate skeins of banana yarn and the outcome is a wrap that is thin in hand but with a weighty drape.
We discussed colours and I sent her two images, a bag and a dress, that come from the Gamine Autumn/Dark Autumn palettes and said “do your wildest”, and she did. Iina experimented, played and tested…and she nailed the colours. This is a wrap that burns with warmth, accented by fragments of cool handspun linen at each tail.
During the time she was dyeing the yarn I got a look at Wild as a Fairytale that Iina had made as a competition piece and which came for a visit recently. Wild has these wonderful macrame tassels that are a delight in the way they move together. I was really pleased to have asked Iina to finish this wrap in the same way for me.
So here it is. I like word play and wanted a name that reflected the fiery, warm, colours but was also a nod to this final phase of babywearing. I know that it is autumn but as we move towards winter we leave a burning trail of memories.
One last hurrah, to go out with a bang.
What follows next is not quite a review as I don’t think it is fulsome enough to do the wrap justice but I hope I give you a flavour of why I rate it so highly.
Autumn Leaves a Trail of Burning Embers
- Warp: recycled jeans (95% cotton and 5% other)
- Weft: laceweight banana silk with handspun linen tail accents
- 4.2m plus macrame fringe
- Frost orchid pattern (6 shaft fancy twill)
Wrapping and wearing
The day after the wrap arrived and I had “oooohed’ and “aaaahed” over it, I put Smallest up in it for the morning run. I had worried that, because the warp ate so much weft, it might wrap short or be chunky.
For sure it wraps a wee bit thicker than Fall Faeries but I still easily got a neatly knotted DH TAS, my go to carry, out of this 4.2m length. My base is a 5.5-6 so with carrying a pre schooler I think this is very good going. Some handwovens have felt like they wear me, a little too unwieldy for my liking but this is perfect. Enough presence, with quite a weight in hand, but without dig or chunk.
It is extremely easy to handle and tighten though I lift the second passes away because I know the boucle banana yarn will give grip. I got a fantastic chest pass out of it straight off, with no annoying saggy areas which is often my failure with wrapping. It didn’t need adjusting, once in place, it stayed that way until I took Smallest down.
Beyond first wear
To wear it is spongy, soft, and settles onto my shoulders to give really very good support for my darling lump of a child. I wouldn’t hesitate to use this with my eldest either, who is 6. It moulds and cups around her body, and she tells me she is comfortable. When a wrap isn’t, she faffs about but instead, on that first morning, she was more interested in playing with her sister from up high. I could feel from the cotton and banana that it was going to get cuddly soft.
Many wears later and Autumn Leaves has given consistently pleasurable and trusty carries be they double or single layers. If I have done a knotless ruck then the crossed chest for a Tibetan finish hasn’t gripped me so tightly like a straight jacket as some wraps can. The banana yarn has a yield, a give, that moulds and coils around us.
I have particularly enjoyed using it for a very flamboyant Shepherd’s carry because the length means I have tails for days that swish about with the weight of the macrame tassels. For me, handwovens, in particular, suit this carry because Smallest seems to settle into the fibres better and the properties of a handwoven piece of cloth moulds and cups her like no machine woven.
When I am not wearing it I fold it in half and drape it over my shoulders as a shawl. I play with the wrap, running it through my fingers, feeling the texture and I still marvel that its weighty drape translates to something that is just…right. Just right. Just us.
Thank you Iina.
If you would like to find out more about Karelia Crafted you can visit Iina’s Facebook page here and also find her regular progress photos on her Instagram. Her website is here. There’s an excellent geekery and chatter group where you can see her work being worn by babywearers and enjoyed by their children.
Finally, if you are considering weavers for a custom handwoven then yes, I would highly recommend getting in touch with her.