Last weekend I had the privilege of helping to run a workshop with Tina Hoffman at at The Wrap Show. Together, we explored the language the babywearing community commonly uses to describe wrapping qualities, defining terms and discussing what they really mean.
Handling a variety of wraps which exemplified the different qualities was something the workshop attendees found very helpful. I’d love to offer that to everyone reading this post, but sadly, we can’t feel wraps through the internet…! So instead, here’s my best take on terms commonly used to describe wrapping qualities. I hope it’s helpful. If you have questions, or comments, please do let me know – the discussion during the workshop was so interesting and engaging. As a community, I feel it benefits both seasoned and new babywearers to think about the language we use to help us understand the wraps we use.
Tina also shared some really interesting insights into wrap fibres and fibre care, and how this can also impact on wrapping qualities – but I won’t attempt to summarise that here, as her expertise far outstrips mine!
Opposite of thin
Mainly used to describe the in-hand feel of a wrap. Feels substantial and heavyweight when holding it. Will produce a large knot. Often (but not always) has a high gsm.
Wrap(s) which exemplify this: Didymos November’s Mist, Natibaby Indigo Indivisibility Cloak
Opposite of thick
Mainly used to describe the in-hand feel of a wrap. Feels lightweight, sometimes even delicate when holding it. Will produce a small knot. Often (but not always) has a low gsm.
Wrap(s) which exemplify this: Didymos Cashmere Silk Ellipsen, Oscha Paradise Erraid, Didymos Kupfer Graphit Prima
Opposite of dense
Loose, open weave which allows air to move easily through it. When held up to a light source, the openness of an airy weave is particularly obvious. Often (but not always) a thinner wrap, lightweight in hand.
Other words often used: breathable, cool
Wrap(s) which exemplify this: Didymos Ada Ocean, Didymos Acqua Waves
Opposite of airy
A close, tight weave. Dense wraps tend to feel warmer when wearing.
Wrap(s) which exemplify this: Didymos Carmin Fische, Natibaby Indigo Indivisibility Cloak
Opposite of textured
This typically describes the in-hand feel and look of a wrap. When you run your hand along a smooth wrap, you don’t notice much variation in texture. Smooth wraps even sometimes feel silky in hand. A smooth wrap is often smooth due to its weave, but can also be smooth because of the fibres used. Certain types of silk are very smooth, as is bamboo and tencel.
Wrap(s) which exemplify this: Tinge Garden Ivy, Didymos Natural Silk Nino (mulberry), Didymos Natural Silk Millefiori, Didymos Agave
Opposite of smooth
This typically describes the in-hand feel and look of a wrap. When you run your hand along a textured wrap, it will feel bumpy. This is often because the weave has large variations in its thickness, as part of the pattern, but can also be because of the type of fibres used. A wrap which has not yet been broken in is also more likely to feel textured (and this may change as the wrap is broken in).
Wrap(s) which exemplify this: Bebe Sachi Khadi, Didymos November’s Mist, Woven Wings Spearmint Tea Lace, Firespiral Barnacle Aqua Seafoam
Opposite of glide
This is a quality experienced when wrapping, best described as resistance when tightening. It is particularly noticeable when the wrap is moving across itself (e.g. in the second pass of a Double Hammock). Grippy wraps can be harder to knot. High texture wraps are often grippy.
Other words often used: velcro-like
Wrap(s) which exemplify this: Didymos November’s Mist, Bebe Sachi Khadi
Opposite of grip
This is a quality experienced when wrapping, best described as low resistance/friction when tightening. As with grip, it is particularly noticeable when the wrap is moving across itself. Smooth, low-texture wraps often have good glide.
Other words often used: smooth, slippery
Wrap(s) which exemplify this: Didymos Natural Silk Nino (mulberry), Didymos Agave, Didymos Natural Silk Millefiori
(Slippery: so much glide that passes do not hold easily in place, and very firm knots are required to prevent the wrap from moving and slackening. Often a slippery wrap will not hold a slipknot well [or even at all].)
Opposite of solid
Stretch is the elasticity of a wrap – how it stretches out as you are pulling to tighten it. This quality can often be noticed from the in-hand feel of a wrap, but is most experienced whilst wrapping.
Other words often used: elasticity
Wrap(s) which exemplify this: Didymos Liscas
Opposite of solid
Bounce is related to stretch. They key difference is that when stretched, a bouncy wrap will ‘recover’ or spring back (to varying degrees). This is often most noticed once you have completed your wrap job and tied off. A bouncy wrap will move with you, and allow your child to move up and down a little with your movement (even if you have tightened very well). It can feel a little like the wrap is hugging you, or like shock absorbers.
Other words often used: movement, springiness, stretch, elasticity
Wrap(s) which exemplify this: Didymos Flamingo Lisca, Didymos Light Blue Wool Prima
Opposite of bounce and stretch
A solid wrap does not have much bounce/stretch. When wearing, it feels firm and often sturdy. A tight wrap job will hold your child very closely to you, almost making it feel as though they are glued to you when you move.
Wrap(s) which exemplify this: Didymos Carmin Fische, Didymos Agave
A mouldable wrap holds closely to your own and your baby’s bodies, following the shapes and curves. It is supple, malleable and has a fluid drape. Broken in wraps are more like to be mouldable (and a wrap which is not initially mouldable may become so after breaking in).
Wrap(s) which exemplify this: Didymos original Ada, Woven Wings Blue Sapphire Geo, Didymos Natural Silk Nino, Didymos Lisca Minos
Cush is a particularly difficult term to define – it’s used widely, often with slightly different meanings depending on who is using it. It’s worth bearing this in mind when you see it used. Cush is commonly used to describe the feeling of a wrap on your shoulders – a cushy wrap will feel a little cushioned, or spongey. It will be comfortable, and will not feel flat/hard. It will not dig into your shoulders.
Wrap(s) which exemplify this: Didymos Flamingo Lisca