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