Sjala is Sweden’s first machine woven wrap maker and they’re mostly known for fantastic merino wool elastic wraps that can be worn much longer than normal jersey stretchy wraps. Their first woven wraps came out in spring 2016 and they now have four different designs. Woods is the latest and Woods Evening is a slightly modified version of it.
The Woods design has been released in two previous colour ways, Hush and Bjork. For Evening, the design has been reduced in scale so that the sense of the wood grain is much more apparent. Sjala have a knack of taking abstract and naturalistic concepts and realising them in modern, fresh, ways. I think this is particularly so with All of These Lines and Woods. Think of the best Swedish interior design from the 1950’s onwards and then apply it to babywearing fabric and you pretty much get the slightly edgy and playful Sjala vibe.
Evening is a blend of 88% organic cotton and 12% linen with a gsm of approx 280-300g sq/m. I got the latter weight post wash though this doesn’t really account for the generous rails. A generous size 6, it shrank in length by about 20cm after its machine wash (30 degrees, 800 spin) and it came out with the most fantastic undulations in its texture. Essentially the cotton warp shrank a little more than the cotton/linen weft. Sometimes this sort of shrinkage is random but with Woods it felt very much planned with the crinkling working with the design as the lines of wood now stood a little proud.
A good steam iron and the crinkling mostly worked out, leaving behind a delicious texture that would come in handy when wrapping. Overall Woods is medium weight and fairly densely woven (not pull prone) with average width – approx 65cm.
The colour, gosh it’s lush and it will suit a variety of seasons. It is a summery but true teal that has a lot of depth; I adore teal, it’s one of my favourite colours and I feel optimistic when I wear it. This teal is paired with a crisp white that contrasts nicely. I asked Yvonne and she said the teal was both linen and cotton.
Working with Woods Evening
Over time I have come to learn that I prefer blends in my wraps, something unusual, sometimes outrageously luxurious, and never plain. I have had some wonderful cotton wraps come through but they never really stay long. I’m just….less excited by them. Wrapping for me is about indulgence in fabric; it feeds my fashion soul that craves tactility and colour, therefore I need to have my interest piqued by percentages. Woods is different because whilst it is easycare, that light amount of 12% linen adds some seriously interesting va-va-vroom in terms of wrapping qualities.
I have already described its undulations in texture and these have pay off when wrapping – they add some grip to the pattern. I know every review you read these days describes a perfect balance of glide and grip. My eyes roll to the back of my head when I read it because I’ve ditched so many wraps that are described as perfect in this way but in reality lacked a useful texture. A texture that works with you because, put simply, I don’t have time for pretty but slippy wraps. Woods has texture, but also some elasticity for I can ditch my bra when using Woods as it wraps with bandage like support; I’ve never had chest passes like it. It had a brilliant way of locking into place and hugging you when worn; it did this despite some shonky wrapping during its stay with me.
I like to experiment with carries and was thrilled to have this in my base size but it coincided with a time of extreme tiredness. I just needed a wrap that would do its job and not demand extra effort from me. I’m truly grateful that Woods did just this. So my carries were unspectacular but what mattered is a wrap that was a simple pleasure to use.
It’s become a bit of a tradition for a first carry with any unknown wrap that I ask for my eldest’s help. Her five year old body works perfectly for settling into new fibres and get the breaking in process going. Usually she’s pretty enthusiastic but for some reason the sight of her mother excitedly bouncing about like Tigger, still in her night dress repeating “oh go on, you know you’d LOVE a carry” didn’t appeal to her. We made a deal; a brioche and watching Sarah and Duck (still a favourite) whilst I wrapped her. The wrap was of course a little stiff as it had just been ironed from its first wash but I still managed a decent double hammock and we hung out together, belly laughing at Duck and his antics. The wrap felt supportive – it was more substantial on my shoulders than I had anticipated – and it was already pretty mouldable.
That afternoon we went out and I carried Smallest for what I thought would be a short time but turned out to be a two hour walk. I fluffed it completely to begin with by using an overcomplicated carry that ended up with her seat popping. I’d say that was 50/50 my tightening and the newness of the wrap. It was the only time a seat was popped. After I had changed to a double hammock with a candy cane chest belt it was perfect; the second pass was not a struggle and the texture meant it locked into place. By the time we got home my back was dripping with sweat (she’s 2.5 years so not light) but I didn’t feel hot and flustered.
Over the next week I used Woods for every commute to get a sense of how it was wearing and breaking in. On days that were warmer I busked it with a knotless ruck, partly because I didn’t want a multi layer and partly because commuting means leaving the house is a rushed event so I don’t have time for perfect wrap jobs.
One day it was so warm I wanted as little body contact as possible so I tied a simple ruck. A ruck without a pretty finish isn’t something I do much because I find wraps slip from my shoulders. A simple ruck however didn’t slip, it was rock solid, with a single knot. Second, to ruck with a size 6 (base size for me) means the most epic tails and maybe it’s just the romance of fabric for me but gosh do I love tails. The undulating texture of Woods lends a sense of structure resulting in tails that fall in a slightly sinewy manner. Fab.
I was honestly gutted to be sending Woods off on its tester round because I <whispers> hadn’t really missed using my other wraps much </whispers>. Woods Evening is a good, good, all round wrap that loves summer. I didn’t find it to be particularly airy due to its fine weave but it wasn’t a hot wrap to wear. It shone equally in single or multilayer carries with my toddler so though it would work very nicely as a shorty, for the pure versatility I would personally opt for a longer length…and because I really loved those tails.
Woods Evening will be released in early July 2017 and you can find out further information about it on the Sjala Facebook page. You can also join the All About Sjala Facebook group to see more of Woods making its tester round and to see what other summer releases are being previewed (there’s some diamonds to come).