Today I finally mastered a good double hammock carry.
I’ll just read that back and smile for a bit.
It happened because I had a babywearing consultation via FaceTime with Ali Dover, the owner of the wrap company by the same name, writer, babywearing consultant and ultra talented photographer. It came about because Ali had launched a Kickstarter campaign to enable her to release the Dream/Spirit wraps, I’ve always been AD curious but watching the babywearing community rally round to support the regeneration of the company was inspiring and I wanted to ‘invest’ too. I mulled it over and at that point in time couldn’t justify a new wrap (!) but noticed she was offering consultations as part of the project.
Like many babywearers, particularly those who started with stretchies and soft structured carriers and who finally came round to wrapping I have never had any teaching on how to wrap. Instead I turned to YouTube, Wrap You in Love and Wrapping Rachel in particular, for some of the thousands of ‘how to’ videos that exist for the multitude of different carries. They’re brilliant videos but of course you cannot ask a question and receive an answer. Queries are theoretical, in your head, as you grasp a drooping rail and become ever more puce in the face whilst your baby slides slowly southwards.
Ali and I arranged to meet via FaceTime when I knew I could take some time off work and pick up Smallest from the childminder. Of course it happened on a day following a night that had been spent mostly awake whilst comforting a raging Smallest who is currently teething. We weren’t feeling our best and I was quietly dreading that the session would be a dead loss.
It wasn’t. Ali is utterly personable and shared an endless well of knowledge; Smallest took to her immediately, waving and chattering at her. I had made some mental notes about where I needed some advice. I’m not a beginner, but I am missing a lot of crucial knowledge. We started with her observing me wrap a double hammock, which is both a basic back carry, but also one that can be a little daunting; when it goes wrong it sucks. I think I got the vague hang of it about five months ago but still lacked confidence about why Smallest’s legs would end up unequal/still stuck in the wrap or why I had baggy bits around the chest pass.
I started wrapping and Ali stopped me at every step to explain better ways of doing it. By the time I had finished I straightened up and could feel the rightness of the carry. Suddenly a double hammock was absolutely awesome. I could have run round the house whooping with Smallest jiggling on my back (probably high on biscuit bribes) but we still had business to do.
So I gently unwrapped her and moved on to my current nemesis, a Shepherds or a Half Jordan’s Back Carry – basically any carry with wriggle-proof passes that only tie at the chest. I tend to find Smallest drifts southwards quickly and I end up slightly hunched over that no retightening seems to fix. Again we went through it and she helpfully nit-picked areas that could be bettered. This extended into a really helpful discussion about alternative carries that took place on my sofa as Smallest, who had got crotchety by this point, chilled out with a feed. Some of the many pointers included:
- Having your baby up high is great for a ruck but will make a good double hammock almost impossible. Start off slightly lower.
- Tension tension tension. Especially holding the tension of the top rail close and consistently before you think of making the second pass of a double hammock. It helps to get a good chest pass.
- Keep the top rail tension before it goes over the shoulder and get the bottom rail nice and tight, then reinforce the seat from knee to knee.
- Spend more time working out the slack from the chest pass.
- When sandwiching the shoulders really pull the bottom rail out and tight before folding it with the top rail, it makes such a difference to the seat support as well as making the shoulders neat and comfy.
- Spend more time jiggling at the end to get more slack out of the wrap.
- Stand straighter when wrapping as it helps to achieve a tighter and more even wrap job. Sometimes standing against a wall or doorframe helps with this.
- Ali really recommended getting the hang of a back wrap cross carry for its three supportive passes. That’s my homework.
When we finished the consultation I immediately wanted to try out the techniques Ali had talked me through. It was such a beautiful day too so I grabbed the Linuschka Bolero Beaujolais 6 and tried to remember how to double hammock to perfection. And I did it, just like that, a little readjusting some of the tightening but by the time I finished it was spot on. I carried her for two hours, no slipping, bagging, digging or seat popping.
Smallest and I walked in the late afternoon sun; both of us happy. I wanted to run up to anyone and their dog to say ‘hey, look! I have shoulder pleats! The straps aren’t slipping! Observe Smallest’s knees happily bending equally free, unimpeded by stray fabric! Behold the middle marker that isn’t in my armpit!” It was rock solid. It was great. I kept my mouth shut since no one else would have cared a jot.
I know others will which is why I’m writing this blog post because if you are considering a consultation just do it. It’ll be the best babywearing hour you’ve ever spent.