Wrapping among the Birch Trees…

If you dip your toe into the world of woven wraps, you’ll quickly discover a dizzying array of options: machinewoven, handwoven, all-cotton, bamboo blends, linen blends, seaweed blends – and brands. Many, many brands. One brand of which I am particularly fond is Firespiral, who produce wraps inspired by science, nature, and landscapes local to the company’s home of Lancashire. One thing I love about Firespiral is their evident consciousness of environmental ethics and the need to avoid waste, and a particular example of this is their use of a collection of long-forgotten display cones of Peruvian linen that had ended up in a weaver’s mill in Yorkshire. To use this linen to make baby wraps, they had to group multiple shades of the same colour together, and then ask their weavers to run the different shades into one another, creating a series of similar, but also excitingly unique, wraps. Their first such output was Whinlatter Midnight Birch Trees, which utilised red, brown, and cream shades from the old display cones. Their most recent release, Kokiri Mercury Birch Trees, saw a weft partly composed of the light blue and sandy-toned cones of linen.

I wasn’t wrapping when Whinlatter was released, but I’d come across the story about the linen and seen people’s excitement discussing the variation across wraps. So when the new release was announced, it didn’t take much for me to give into the good story, and the lovely idea of a completely unique wrap. The final push was when Firespiral posted a couple of, well, more variable ‘variations’ on their website: Dark Forest (with a darker blue thread to the weft) and Misty Forest (with a noticeably duck-egg blue shade). I ordered the Misty Forest variation, but for the purposes of this review that one thread is the only difference between it and its fellow Kokiri Birches: blend composition, weight, and wrapping qualities are all the same.

So, some vital stats: Kokiri is woven on an all-cotton warp, with four different weft threads, two cotton, two linen, making for an overall composition of 70% cotton and 30% linen. It weighs in at 325 GSM (which makes it a fairly heavy weight wrap). It is Firespiral’s ‘Alchemy’ weave, which is a fairly loose weave structure. I bought a size 5, which is my base-1 and not a size I’d normally go for, because there were limited sizes available in the Misty variation.

Here are my first thoughts on Kokiri, shared last week on the Firespiral Community and Marketplace Facebook group:

After its wash, dry, and iron yesterday, our new birches were ready for wrapping! I am already so excited for how this wrap will feel once it is fully broken-in: it holds the promise of such amazing strong softness.

Firstly, a word about appearances… over the last few months Firespiral has transformed my ideas about my own colour palettes. Before starting wrapping I would probably not have looked twice at these colours. But FiSpi wraps in particular have made me so aware of the depth and beauty that even ‘subdued’ colours can have in a woven wrap. My Kokiri is the Misty Forest variation, with a slightly more ‘duck egg blue’ as one of its linen weft threads, which adds a coolness to the wrap in some lights, whilst the spring green cotton and natty linen weft threads just make it shine gold in some lights. It is just enchanting to look at! I’m also a big fan of the new variation on the Birch Trees design, with the ferns / bracken around the base of the trees.

Next, texture. I’ve been struck in photos by how ‘3D’ Firecrest appears, with its raised weft sections contrasting with the flatter warp. Kokiri has this quality too to some extent, and I find it so pleasing both to look at and to feel. When wearing Kokiri for a front carry I couldn’t resist stroking my hands across the trees, and really appreciating the tactility of the pattern, especially with the varying thickness of the multiple weft threads.

Finally and most importantly, WQs! Limited sizes were available for the Misty variation, so I went for a 5, which is my base-1, and so far have tried out semi-PWCC and ruck TIF with long tails, and FWCC tied at back on tippy tails. I’ve mentioned previously that the listed 325 GSM is deceptive: even with fairly minimal breaking-in this does not feel like a heavy wrap. It makes for a fantastic slip-knot in semi-PWCC, and its strength gave me renewed appreciation for FWCC, a carry I’ve been getting less fond of lately as my ‘wee’ 91st-percentile lass gets increasingly heavier. I’m still very much in the learning stage as a wrapper, but I felt it was easier to do very precise strand-by-strand tightening with this wrap than with any other I’ve tried. This wrap has, for me, the Goldilocks amount of diagonal stretch: not so much that it sags with a weighty baby, but enough to give it that comfortable ‘bandagey’ feel. Like I said at the start, I cannot wait for this wrap to get more broken in and even more wonderful to wrap with.

I’ve had another week of wrapping with (and braiding, and sitting on…) Kokiri now, and it just keeps getting better. The Scottish Historian (aka my husband) is also a firm fan, and the Little Weaver has enjoyed some fabulous naps in it so far. I’m so glad to have this lovely, unique stretch of fabric to help us make dinner and have adventures!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s