Shire Slings Hornbeam Wintersky & Elderberry
Hornbeam from Shire Slings is 50% combed cotton and 50% cotton. At 225 GSM it's at the lighter end of the medium weight category.
Shire Slings is a small family business based in West Yorkshire, in the UK. Born of two Babywearing mothers, Shire Slings aims to produce fabulous baby wraps from the finest natural materials, sourcing everything as locally as possible.
I love the deep, rich colours used by Shire Slings, along with their unique and bold designs, and have fancied trying one of their wraps for a while. I was therefore super excited to have the chance to review Hornbeam Wintersky & Elderberry, one of my favourite designs in a colourway to die for!
The Hornbeam design is based on the leaves and bark of the Hornbeam tree, which Shire Slings explain can be made into a tonic to relieve exhaustion. Well, show me a parent who doesn't need that?! The delicate pattern is a mixture of Hornbeam leaves & leaf skeletons on a background suggestive of bark. It's repeating and reversible, so there are no issues with placement, but it's large enough to show the wonderful detail in the design and looks beautiful wrapped.
Hornbeam is available in two colourways, both with the same blend, weight and wrapping qualities. Autumn & Elderberry teams a deep autumnal orange with the rich purple Elderberry weft while Wintersky has a gorgeous vivid blue warp that goes with the Elderberry purple beautifully.
In a nod to their Yorkshire heritage, the Shire Slings logo is a Dog Rose. It makes a particularly pretty middle marker (one of my favourites in fact), whichever side of the War of the Roses your ancestors found themselves on!
I love the yellow 'ribbon' of colour on the bottom rail of Hornbeam and some other Shire Slings wraps. Not only is it one of the clearest and most practical ways of defining a rail I've seen, it adds a lovely colour accent on wrapping.
The Wrapping Qualities
Winter Sky feels light and quite thin in hand. The weave is dense and it felt quite inflexible when I first opened it up, with a slight 'canvas' feel to it. Shire Slings wraps arrive finished and ready to wrap with, without requiring an initial wash to set the weave. However I found that giving Winter Sky a wash and good steam iron really helped it on its way to being broken in. You can even tumble dry Hornbeam on low heat, which would no doubt also help, however my tumble drier only has two settings of 'hot as the sun' and 'melts iron' so I didn't try it.
You will need to put a bit of work into getting Hornbeam fully broken in and floppy, especially if you intend to use it to carry a newborn. It's not a beast, but if you don't have a toddler to wear, be prepared to get braiding, running through rings, and using it as a hammock for a little while! Having said that, I've felt a fully broken-in Hornbeam and it was beautifully soft and floppy - definitely worth that bit of attention in the beginning.
I understand that newer releases from Shire Slings come with a new softer finish, and therefore don't need breaking in in the same way as older releases like Hornbeam. I hope very much to try a newer one soon and see the difference.
At 39 weeks pregnant, our walks are getting a bit shorter as I can't waddle quite as fast as usual! We're still carrying for considerable periods of time though, and good support and comfort in a wrap is more important to us than ever. Hornbeam didn't let us down. Its limited diagonal stretch and tighter weave makes it very sturdy and supportive. I wouldn't say it's a 'cushy' wrap, but there's no 'digginess' at all and it felt very comfortable during walks of over an hour (even if we didn't quite cover our usual distances!).
Hornbeam is without doubt more toddler-worthy than many mixed fibre blend and thicker wraps I've tried. It's not enormously forgiving of a sloppy wrap job, but if you take a couple of minutes to get a decent carry, Hornbeam will hold a heavier wrappee without budging. It coped admirably with my little one leaning to grap leaves, trying to reach aeroplanes and jumping up and down to make Mummy 'giddy-up'!! It's solid and reliable, yet relatively thin & lightweight. It makes a lovely neat knot and rolls up small so can easily be slipped into a bag or glove box ready to be called into action.
Hornbeam is a beautiful, sturdy, supportive, toddler-worthy wrap in a slim package. It does need a bit of breaking in before reaching its full potential but, when there, it's thin and light enough to use with a smaller baby as well as a larger wrappee. Being 100% cotton it's very easy care (machine wash, steam iron & tumble dry), and is thin enough to roll up neatly.
In short, it's an ideal workhorse and will serve you faithfully in return for a bit of attention in the beginning.