Category Archives: Style in Baby Carrying

Oscha Handwoven – Exploring the Craft

Cally Booker, handweaver, shares what weaving means to her and talks about her new experience of weaving cloth for baby slings.

Image of Leaves Iridescence, handwoven baby wrap by Cally Booker

Leaves Iridescence, handwoven baby wrap by Cally Booker

Last year we began to work with Cally Booker, a very experienced handweaver who brings incredible skill, knowledge and creativity to her craft. Each season Cally has woven a new pattern for us, developing colourways that match the energy of the season. Each time Cally weaves only enough fabric for about 3 Boutique slings.

Cally lives in the east coast of Scotland and also teaches classes in hand weaving from her studio. We have been enjoying working together to develop fabric suitable for baby wraps. There is something special about carrying your child in unique, lovingly woven fabric. From the initial stages of the design and throughout the process of weaving the warp and weft together, Cally will put her heart and soul into the cloth,

‘During the process of warping and weaving, every individual thread passes through my fingers. It still seems extraordinary to me that I can take yarn between my fingers and turn it into cloth’.

warping-up

This image shows the warping up process of the yarn onto the loom before the weaving of the cloth begins. This warp is the Folklorico colourway.

Where did you train?

I studied handwoven textile design at Bradford College from 2005-2007.

How many years have you been weaving?

I first started weaving quite by accident 11 years ago. I fell in love with the craft and went straight back to school to study while still working full time in a challenging job. It was a rather crazy time.

Where do you begin to look for inspiration?

Inspiration can come from anywhere. It might be a word, an image, a concept, a yarn that starts the ideas flowing, but once I am in the grip of an idea I can become quite obsessed with it until I have seen the work to completion.

Does your design develop as you begin to weave, do you produce many samples before coming up with a final design?

Sampling is my middle name. Although I sketch out my ideas on paper and then design weaving drafts on my computer, it is only when I am at the loom that they really come to life for me. The process of sampling often yields surprises and takes the work in a different direction from my carefully worked out plan!

Is there anything particularly challenging about weaving fabric for baby slings?

For me the biggest challenge is the constraint imposed by my loom. I have to use my wide countermarche loom to achieve the dimensions needed, but it has only 8 shafts. I have to work hard on the design to get the most out of those 8 shafts.

How long does it take to weave a metre of your fabric?

It takes about 2 hours to weave a meter, but the really slow part is making a 20 metre warp of 1500 ends and getting it onto the loom in the first place! This process is extremely variable and the threading (bringing the warp ends through the heddles) often takes a full day to complete. However, it is also my favorite part, so I am not complaining.

Maypole handwoven wrap in progress on the loom.

Maypole handwoven wrap in progress on the loom.

 What do you feel you personally bring to the world of handwoven wraps?

I think that what most people notice first in my work is my slightly unconventional colour sense. It’s a sense that works well for fabric which moves and curves like a wrap does, so I guess that is what I am bringing.

The most recent handwoven wraps crafted for us by Cally is ‘Leaves Iridescence’ shown below. Cally has given us some insight into the weave structure and the process.

Detail image of the weave structure in Leaves Iridescence.

Detail image of the weave structure in Leaves Iridescence.

‘The secret behind the interactions of colour and pattern in this fabric is a technique called ‘echo weave’. In this structure two layers of warp are threaded together, one ‘echoing’ the other. These two warps are bound together with a single weft, and the three yarns blend together in different proportions as the pattern progresses: the results are often surprising, even to the weaver!’
‘The two warp layers mean that this is a dense cloth, so a relatively fine yarn is needed to keep it from becoming too heavy. I use an organic 16/2 cotton, which is lovely to work with.
The basic structure underlying this weave is a twill, which gives the fabric its beautiful drape, but I’m drawn to large scale patterns so I use networked threadings to make each design as bold as my loom will allow. For me as a handweaver, much of the pleasure – and the challenge! – comes from getting as much ‘pattern power’ as I can from simple 8-shaft loom.’

The first Oscha Handwoven by Cally was ‘Maypole Spring’, which was released in Spring 2014. Taking inspiration from the winding and shaping of ribbons, the colours reflect the light and liveliness of spring.

Image of Finished handwoven Maypole Spring Baby Wrap

Finished handwoven Maypole Spring Baby Wrap

‘Folklorico’ was Callys second Oscha hand woven and was Inspired by the Mexican Baile ‘Folklorico’, the pattern is a simple scallop-shape which progresses across the width of the cloth to give it a sense of movement. The vivid colours and shaping thus reflect the lively dancers skirts.

Finished Folklorico Jalisco handwoven baby wrap.

Finished Folklorico Jalisco handwoven baby wrap.

Each season, since spring 2014, we have presented a new creation from Cally, with between 2 and 4 limited edition wraps being available on each occasion, making for a very special, treasured piece. Keep your eyes peeled for the next hand crafted gem on the way.

You can view Cally’s blog and Twitter feed here:

Blog: callybooker.co.uk
Twitter feed: @bonnyclaith

 

To see the full range and more images of Cally’s creations, visit our website here.

Monk’s Belt Jol Review by Manic Pixie Dream Mama

Thanks to Elizabeth for her review of Oscha Monk’s Belt Jol baby wrap. To see the original, visit her blog here.

Monk's Belt Jol Baby Wrap by Oscha Slings image

Monk’s Belt Jol Baby Wrap by Oscha Slings

I remember when Oscha was The Hot New Company. Thebabywearer.com had a thread for swapping Oscha to Oscha only, because no way would someone trade their unicorn fuzz Oscha – and all Oschas were unicorn fuzz Oschas – for a mere regular wrap. Think the handwoven craze was the first run on wraps? Oscha beat them, people, with only mechanized looms, a website with serious carting issues, and some Scottish pluck.

 

Like any craze, the Oscha madness died down. But the wraps remained, and most of them still fetch retail or above. That reason is simple: like true unicorn fuzz, they wrap well, they use quality materials, they have a devoted following, and they offer stellar customer service.

 

They also have good designs. Zoe and Mike design most of the wraps in-house (another recipe for a successful wrap company). Their dragons (shui) are highly sought after in all forms, and their roses have been copied by pretty much everyone but Didy*. While their politically-timed Scottish tartan** obviously isn’t an in-house production, it’s seldom Oscha releases a wrap they didn’t design.

 

Image of Monks Belt Jol baby wrap in action

Monk’s Belt Jol baby wrap in action

Monk’s Belt Jol is a rarity to begin with. And yes, the design does come from the pattern of actual monks’ belts: tiny squares, with a double-warp/weft overlay gradation. Yes, that sounds confusing. Look at the damn pics. The red and blues and teals meld into gorgeous purples. The wrap’s beautiful in pictures and stunning in person, with plenty of shimmer.

 

The pattern promised lots of stretch and bounce – the squares would lend an extra diagonal stretch – and the wrap delivered. Monk’s Belt wraps with enough bounce to get Sunny bopping up on and down on my back, and stretches well while wrapping. The design also creates some grip, so the stretch helps make the wrap job less of a wrestling job.

 

I wore Monk’s Belt pretty regularly for over a week; it came on what we’ll call holiday in honor of its Scottish origin. I liked its medium-thickness (270 gsm) in the Mordor-like cold of the Northeast, but didn’t find it overwhelming in milder temperatures. The bounce made it a decent ruck wrap for a 25 pound baby. I didn’t prefer it as much in a one-layer carry with a Baby Bear (30 lbs) or Dragontrainer (37 lbs), but at that point, you need a designated toddler-weight ruck wrap anyway.

 

It feels solid on the shoulder, with some bounce; this isn’t the wrap for someone who wants memory-foam cush. But the stretch gives you a fairly moldable wrap job. I didn’t find it saggy, but fans of wraps with less give may find the stretch becomes sag after some wear.

 

I think this is a wrap that will shine more as it breaks in. With 100% combed cotton, it promises to resolve into kitten-belly softness, much like other combed cotton Oschas. The weave makes this feel less floofy than motherhood knots or roses, but I’d bet that with time it’ll develop a little more cush.

I liked this wrap best in multilayer carries, though it performed well in a ruck tied under bum. Once I worked the passes into place, it rocked a shepherd’s carry. And I got compliments on the colorway everywhere I went – it was distinctive enough for non-wrappers to notice.

 

Three years ago, this wrap would have sold out in about thirty seconds, then fetched triple retail on the secondary market. I suppose it’s still available from Oscha because the pattern is something of a departure from their usual figurative jacquards. Maybe it’s a pre-Christmas wrap buying freeze. But the intricate coloring should woo some mamas, especially since the colors do resolve themselves into some purples.

Expect this to sell out once the holiday season is over. I’d love to see this weave in some other blends and colors. Oscha still weaves with unicorn fuzz, people. This wrap proves it.

 

**Though you can argue their On Roses is within shouting distance of a copy.

***Yes, some of us Americans noticed the release date timed with the Scottish independence vote.

 

Bonus Bear comments on Monk’s Belt: “You mean the one with the crazy Spiderman colors? Yeah, that’s pretty. Everyone you showed that to has been like [insert high girl voice] I need this for the colors!!!!!!!”

See Manic Pixie Dream Mama on Facebook to win a Monk’s Belt Jol Key Ring!

Image of Monk's Belt Jol Jacquard Woven Key Ring

Monk’s Belt Jol Jacquard Woven Key Ring