Sjala is Sweden’s only machine woven wrap maker and they’re mostly known for fantastic elastic merino wool wraps that can be worn much longer than normal jersey wraps. They started producing All Of These Lines (AOTL) for spring 2016 in the form of pure eco linen. Latte is the first of the winter collection.
AOTL is a simple blend of an 50% eco linen warp combined with a 50% lambswool weft. It pleases me that these are both sustainable yarns and excites me to encounter a wrap that uses a linen warp. I have previously shied from high linen content as I think of it as being unyielding and diggy. Certainly when Latte arrived it was crunchier than my breakfast cereal but I had every confidence this would change. The lambswool on first touch was smooth and quite flat, the linen has pleasing occasional slubs. The colours are as the name suggests; a warm beige in the linen and a warm milky coffee in the lambswool.
The design is very striking; a series of criss crossing, parallel and 90 degree lines that spread over the whole wrap using different widths of lines and repeats. It suggests a dynamic pattern once wrapped. The wrap I received was a size 7 which is usually just outside my comfort zone and measuring 550cm long and about 70cm wide it is a hefty piece of cloth as it weight about 300g m/sq. I was very relieved to see it is machine washable (wool setting – 30 degrees on a low spin) so I wasn’t going to need to manhandle this amount of wrap in the bath.
What struck me most when I received Latte was the smell. The sense of smell is very much tied to memories and the fragrance of particular things can spin us back to earlier periods of our lives. When I took Latte out of its tote I was intoxicated by the lambswool and immediately thought of my dad who loved nothing more than a crew neck lambswool jumper from Marks and Spencer. I love this smell as I noticed it whenever he enfolded me in a cuddle. He was the best cuddler. Suffice to say, Latte and I had gotten off to a good start.
Working with Latte
After washing and ironing Latte I decided to hold off from wrapping with it until I had spent some time breaking it in. I’m usually desperate to try the first up but I wanted to savour the process of readying Latte for carrying. So I spent a couple of days sleeping on it, using it as a sofa blanket, braiding and knotting it. All of this really helped the lambswool to begin to fluff up and the linen to start to yield.
The first up was picking Smallest up from the childminder’s for the usual evening walk home. I won’t lie, it was quite a job working with Latte to begin with but as soon as she was up in a double hammock I was pleased. Latte offers -incredible- support from the get go and the pattern/blend means it locks into place. The second pass had needed some careful handling, pulling away and up to tighten as the fibres wanted to hook together and get friendly.
The wrap has good diagonal movement but, counteracted by the linen, not the typical recoil of wool which makes for a firmer wrapping experience. I struggle with really bouncy wool wraps as I find they need frequent retightening. The chest pass of a double hammock is not elastic and bandage like rather there is a firm structure and it will be interesting to see how this changes once Latte is completely broken in. At the moment I’m wrapping over a wool coat so I don’t expect my chest passes to be super tight. Tightening wool against wool is never going to result in one but the pass is perfectly satisfactory and as the wrap holds so well everywhere else it doesn’t matter.
In the first carry Smallest was super happy on my back and she honestly felt weightless. I haven’t experienced that since the Hackney Herringbone scrap prototype yet Latte doesn’t have the heft and width of the Hackney. It’s strange, I would never go for a size 7 usually as I easily feel overwhelmed by wraps – I’m 155cm tall so Latte is roughly 3.5 times my height. To then be able to say I look forward to wrapping with Latte is really something. I love the support and the unique qualities of this wrap.
At the weekend I asked my eldest if she would like to come to Winter Wovenland with me and that I would carry her. She asked if this would just be the two of us and when I confirmed it would her face lit up like with the wildest grin. I love the honesty of children. So we looked forward to time together and I wrapped her when we got to Victoria train station. We had an hour to kill before we were due at the event and she was already tired as the excitement had got the better of her so I tied a double hammock (to many stares). She weighs <approximately> 18kg and is a leggy child; it doesn’t take long for my back to start to feel her weight but Latte did a sterling job.
The next day we went on a long walk and I carried Smallest for half the journey in Latte. I find the way it wraps to be such a pleasure as it doesn’t ever slip from my shoulders regardless of whether Smallest can’t make up her mind for arms in or out. Slipping is my biggest bugbear when it comes to wraps and I shift anything that slips pretty quickly. In part that is my lazy wrapping; not paying enough attention to tightening which is why I have a love for tussah silk as it’s the Velcro of the babywearing world. Latte is the winter version of the WQ of my favourite tussah. It also does a mean double hammock with a candy cane chestbelt.
Sometimes it’s a challenge to get out of the door to get the girls to school and the childminder on time. It’s days like that I would always reach for a shorty to wang Smallest up in a ruck. I was determined to treat Latte like it was my only wrap for at least a week to help break it in. Each time I wrapped with it I noticed passes getting easier to work with, tightening becoming more effortless, the texture changing and it becoming more mouldable. So when this morning became one of <those> mornings I reached for Latte but rucked it with a goddess finish. In part I was curious to see how it was as a single layer carry for anyone that scored a shorty in the release or any future 50/50 linen/lambswool releases. I can tell you that it’s stellar in a single layer; supportive, easy and a toddler prison.
In short, I love, love, love Latte. It’s a wrap that sings to everything I want from a wrap – a dynamic design, an interesting and innovative blend and weave, good grip, stellar support, the cosiness and cush of wool and wrapping qualities that get better with every use. I can’t recommend this wrap highly enough, it’s such a pleasure to use and it’s made me adore long wraps.
You can find Sjala’s website here, their Facebook page here where releases are announced and join their chatter group here to see the wraps in action. They also have a lovely Instagram feed.
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