Baie Slings 'Oak & Holly King'
'Oak & Holly King' from Baie Slings is a 100% combed cotton wrap weighing in at 267 GSM, making it a smidgen over medium weight. It's woven using Baie's Plush Weave, a looser weave, which Baie explains "makes for an airy and cushy, very mouldable wrap". The name 'Oak & Holly King' is currently unofficial, and I'm excited to see what the design will be called when released.
Baie Slings is a British company born of a family of babywearing artists. They create some beautiful patterns out of natural materials while supporting local businesses.
Having been lucky enough to review Baie's Trowen Goldspun, a medium weight hemp blend also woven in Baie's Plush Weave, I was really excited to have the opportunity to review one of their 100% cotton wraps and see how it compared.
'Oak & Holly King' arrived in biodegradable packaging, which was lovely to see. It also came with its own tote bag, printed with Baie's popular Penguin design.
I love a wrap design with meaning, so allow me to indulge briefly in the legend of the Oak & Holly King. These adversaries symbolise the two halves of the year and their ongoing battle is representative of the changing seasons. There are a couple of different versions to the story, but I always liked the one that sees the power-shift between the two kings take place at the Spring & Autumn Equinoxes. According to this telling, the Oak King is at his strongest at midsummer, while the Holly King is at his weakest. The Holly King begins to regain his power and, at the Autumn Equinox, the tables finally turn in the Holly King's favour. At Midwinter, the Holly King's strength peaks so that he 'reigns' over the darker winter months, losing the throne to the Oak King for the summer. In the alternative telling, the critical battles occur at the Winter & Summer Solstices, with the victorious Oak King seizing power from the Holly King on the darkest day of the year (Winter Solstice).
I absolutely love this design. It's so detailed that every time you look you see something new. A huge amount of thought has gone into the development of the design, its beauty, balance and associated meanings. I'm particularly fond of the acorns in the Oak King's crown and the snowflakes billowing around the Holly King, whereas my little boy couldn't stop pointing at the butterflies!
Baie's 'Oak & Holly King' design is reversible, allowing you to choose which King reigns supreme for you. You may want to alternate with the seasons, or simply because of personal preference. Either way, this is a beautiful design - one of the most unique I've seen in a while - with a wonderful story and meaning behind it.
The wrap I tested is green and ecru. The green is made up of two different threads, a forest green and an earthier olive or taupe colour. This gives a wonderful depth and creates a gorgeous natural green that reminds me of sage or lichen and suits the design perfectly. Like the design itself, this colourway doesn't yet have an official name.
The Wrapping Qualities
'Oak & Holly King' was pretty mouldable even in loom state (unwashed & fresh from the loom). However, as with most woven wraps, Baie advise that you should wash theirs before use. This sets the weave and removes dust etc. that may have settled during the weaving process. Being 100% cotton, 'Oak & Holly King' washed easily in the machine at 30 degrees and can be steam ironed.
True to Baie's description of their Plush Weave wraps, 'Oak & Holly King' was super soft and floppy after its first wash and iron. It feels light and airy in hand with absolutely no breaking-in required.
'Oak & Holly King' feels fairly smooth and glides into place easily when wrapping, so I was a little bit concerned that it may lack grip. I was however pleased to find that the knot was solid and didn't slip an inch. The wrap does have a fair bit of stretch, which makes for excellent mouldability and easy wrapping, although I did find that, after an hour or so of walking in damp weather with my 32lb 22-month old, I needed to readjust and tighten my wrap job. It was nevertheless very comfortable on my picky 33-weeks pregnant shoulders throughout our expedition of over two hours.
I love 100% cotton wraps for their versatility & ease of care. Oak & Holly Kings is a lovely example and will serve you from newborn to the end of your wrapping years. I would however recommend getting a size that enables you to do solid multi-layer carries, if you intend to wrap a heavier child for longer periods of time.
Baie Hemp v. Cotton
It's been lovely to be able to compare Baie Slings' medium weight Plush Weave 25% hemp / 75% cotton wraps with their medium weight Plush Weave 100% cotton. We wrappers can sometimes get so excited about fibre blends (& I've been guilty of this!) that we don't give 100% cotton the credit it's due. In this case, the differences between the two are subtle. They are obviously the same weave structure and similar weights. Both have an open, airy feel to them and both wrap easily. Compared to Baie's 25% hemp blend, the 100% cotton is slightly softer, with a tad more cushiness and stretch. The hemp adds a little bit more strength and support over long periods of wear. The 100% cotton has a smoother texture as it doesn't have the irregular slubbiness of the hemp. All in all, both are great, mouldable, easy to use, all-rounders that will serve you well through your changing wrapping seasons.
'Oak & Holly King' is a wrap for all seasons both in terms of its design and its wrapping qualities. It's a beautiful, soft, mouldable, easy-care medium weight cotton wrap which is suitable from newborn, yet can carry a toddler comfortably in multi-layer carries.
You can find Baie's current in-stock wraps on the Baie Slings website. I recommend liking their Facebook page or joining their mailing list to keep abreast of their news and new releases so you don't miss 'Oak & Holly King'!
If you can't wait until 2017 to get your hands on one of these beauties, keep an eye out on The Wrapping Years Facebook page for an exciting giveaway this Winter Solstice week!!