Firespiral Swell Octarine Seafoam
Firespiral Slings' Swell Octarine Seafoam is a tri-blend of 65% combed cotton, 20% Merino and 15% linen (for those of you who went to Winter Wovenland or read my article about it, Swell was mis-labelled!). It's woven using Firespiral's Alchemy weave, which is slightly looser and makes for lovely soft & mouldable wraps. Swell is in the region of 290 GSM, which puts it squarely in the 'thick' category.
Firespiral is a British company, founded by two babywearing mothers, who design their own jacquard woven wraps in-house. They are inspired by "the universal patterns in nature that stray into both science and myth; the magical way in which we are connected to the world and its rhythms". Firespiral use small, local producers and suppliers wherever possible, and have a strong focus on ecological and ethical production.
I saw my first Firespiral wrap at my local sling library and loved the feel, texture and design. Many Firespiral Alchemy weave wraps have lived here since, all different but sharing common characteristics.
Your Firespiral wrap will arrive with its own attractive tote bag and pin badge.
The Octarine warp is a lovely dusky, mid-blue with lilac undertones and a subtle sheen when it catches the light. If you're familiar with Firespiral's Twilight warp, Octarine is quite a bit lighter but just as versatile & easy to wear. Swell's weft is made up of a combination of ecru and mottled turquoise / teal blue threads giving a beautiful depth of colour and texture. Swell changes subtly in different lights from blues to greyish sea greens but is stunning in all. I can't get enough of that lighter side in particular.
'Seafoam' is one of my favourite Firespiral designs. It's organic and unstructured and captures the natural movement of frothy waves brilliantly. Swell Octarine is my favourite Seafoam colourway so far and suits the design perfectly. In my husband's words "this one looks just like the sea".
The Wrapping Qualities
Swell is the very definition of blankety softness. It feels cushy, mouldable and begs to be snuggled in. It's important to remember that with Firespiral's Alchemy weave 'thick' doesn't mean 'dense'. I've spoken before about how they use various clever techniques to add volume and weight to their wraps, without creating density or inhibiting the movement of the fabric. Swell is a perfect example of this. It feels cushy and bouncy, but is as mouldable and floppy as you might expect from a much thinner wrap. It certainly doesn't feel at all bulky despite its weight, wraps true to size and makes neat knots.
The wrap I tested had already been used for a few months, so I can't say for certain whether it started out exactly like this. However, having owned quite a few of Firespiral's Alchemy weave wraps in cotton and wool or linen blends, I've learned that they rarely need much breaking-in and tend to start off pretty soft and mouldable.
When wrapping with Swell, the passes move into place without fuss. Whereas the cotton Octarine warp feels smooth, the linen and Merino in the weft give sufficient texture and grip for it to stay in place. It's flexibility means that it's easy to wrap with despite the thickness, and it feels very comfortable when wrapped. I was testing a size 6. It's definitely toddler-worthy and was both supportive and very comfortable carrying my 32lb plus toddler for lengthy periods. It can hold its own as a shorty in single layer carries too.
Firespiral recently wrote an article about how wool is temperature regulating, and detail how Swell can be worn in warmer months as well as the cooler half of the year. I'll admit, I was a bit sceptical. I have several 25% and 50% wool blends in my stash which, whilst amongst my favourites, would not be my first choice to use in warmer weather. Well, now that I've actually tried Swell, I can see how its use would definitely extend well into the British spring, and even summer. It feels quite different to my other wool blends, even my Firespiral Alchemy weave ones. The lower wool content and the presence of the linen as well as the cotton does make Swell much more of an all-year-round wrap. While it wouldn't be the one I'd take on holiday to a hot or humid climate, it's certainly not going to need shelving in the UK in May! Of course, it's wonderful to snuggle up in at this time of year too! Although the lighter side does have a woolly feel to it, there is no 'wool itch' whatsoever.
Swell is machine washable on a 30 degrees delicates wash, so you don't have to worry about the hand-wash 'faff' that often accompanies wool-blends. Just pop it in, air dry it flat and iron. Swell was a bit wrinkly after washing on the darker, more cotton side, but this smoothed out with ironing & wear.
Ok, I admit it, I'm a bit in love with Swell! It has all the qualities I currently look for in a wrap; blankety softness with lovely bounce but not too much stretch, and cushiness without bulk. It's supportive & comfortable for toddler-wearing yet mouldable enough for my expected newborn. In fact, it's the type of wrap to make me re-evaluate my 'perma-stash' & start trying to feed my 'PayPal tree'! Swell will serve competently as a shorty for single-layer carries, but is really lovely and snuggly in base size.