Droplets Review pt2

     I have not been following Woven Wings since the pre-order, but I have been following them since every subsequent release since that time. As each release lands in its new home, there is a flurry of activity online - spamming, gushing, selling and buying, speculation on upcoming releases - and amid this eruption, questions arise. These questions usually surround particular properties of said wrap (especially its width), what size may suit it best, and the care instructions for the wrap. My goal is to be able to answer most of those questions by the end of my reviews. This is in no way to discourage questions from being asked online - by all means, please continue to query the neighbourly Winglet community - but to allow you to relax and enjoy your new purchase. For my second and final review of the wrap, I will go over its wrapping properties, then refine my evaluation to some properties that concern my personal taste, and finally, go over how to care for Droplets.

     There are certain properties that I look for when evaluating a wrap. To me, these properties exclude personal preferences and look at the wrap as analytically as possible. Now that I have a toddler who is adventurous and independent, I can't wear for hours and hours for days on end so I have to be selective about what carries I do so that I feel comfortable with my judgement. The three carries I chose for Droplets were the Ruck, the Front Wrap Cross Carry (FWCC) and the Poppins Hip Carry. The specific properties that I wanted to pay attention to were: reach or stretch (evaluating the length left over after my knot and comparing it to the same carry in the same size of a different wrap); breathability (looking at its effect or lack thereof on my temperature and the temperature of my wrappee); glide (how easily this wrap behaves when wrapping multilayer carries); and overall support (how well this wrap maintains a carry that I typically find supportive).

     I think that for Woven Wings, Droplets wraps short. I could still easily accomplish a FWCC but in a ruck, the wrap didn't seem to have as much tail left over as I was accustomed. When we were out for a community walk, some fellow babywearers remarked that they were shocked that this tester was a 6 because it didn't seem to have much tail leftover after a simple ruck tied in front. That said, I could still accomplish a knotless tibetan finish so as long as your chest isn't exceptionally large (I am large-chested though so when I say exceptional, I mean you're into the G+ cup sizes), you should be able to accomplish variations. However, I was not able to accomplish a ruck with spread leg passes and a knotless Tibetan finish comfortably so you may be limited. When I measured the wrap with a soft tape after weeks of wear by other hosts, it measured 478 cm (about 188 inches) so it was even measuring within the margin of manufacturer's variation for a 6 or a hair long if you go by the exact measurements given by Didymos. I would say this has more stretch than a bamboo blend but less stretch than other all-cotton geo, silk blend or pre-release merino wings. Oddly, though, I found that Droplets felt wider than the other wings. Having measured it and seeing that at 59cm wide (just over 23in), it is on-par with the other Woven Wings releases, I believe this is due to the thickness of Droplets. So you may not have the length you expect for certain carries, but that doesn't mean that your child won't fit comfortably in their pocket.

     This wrap has 9% merino, which is an inherently breathable fibre, but as I've mentioned, this wrap is quite thick. Were this wrap replicated in 100% cotton, I think that it would definitely be a wrap that would warm you up. The gentle blend of merino added in means that this wrap does have added breathability, meaning that it keeps you cooler when you're getting warm, and can warm you up if you're getting cold. However, I don't think that the small content of merino  and thick design allow it to be as breathable as the early merino geos (which have 27% merino). Essentially, this wrap is great to go for a walk because your change in temperature will be accounted for, but don't expect to return home without noticing that your shirt seems slightly wet in one area or another. Don't worry though - I didn't get any sweat marks from wrapping with this.

    To see how well this wrap would glide, I decided to try the Poppins Hip Carry. The blend of the wrap allows for a nice glide but the density variation allows for opportunities to grip so I would say that this wrap does a fairly good job at locking in a wrap job (better than the merino geos) but has more slip than the silk geos. The weight also adds grip to this wrap while you pull passes against one another. When I did a knotless Tibetan finish on a ruck, I found that I did have to pull it harder than in my cotton geos and part of that is definitely due to the thickness (because that's a lot of wrap to yank though a ruck strap) and not its design. Considering textural grip, weight and thickness in times when you will need it to slide and grip, I'd say you should expect this wrap to definitely lean towards the grippy side but it won't put up a fight.

Poppins Hip Carry

Front Wrap Cross Carry with Flipped Rails

     Woven Wings are known for being very supportive, despite how thin they might be. Droplets is supportive but definitely not thin so in that sense, it is a major break from what you might expect from Woven Wings. I think the layered and thick quality of the weave does translate into cushion. My personal opinion is that when a carry is done well, it should be providing the majority of the comfort. However, I made sure to do my due diligence by doing a sloppy ruck for a long walk to see just how much this wrap could compensate for over or under-tightened strands. I must say that I love my Dove Geo. I love it for so many reasons but comparing a sloppy Dove ruck and a sloppy Droplets ruck, Droplets was much more comfortable. The all-cotton geos are very supportive but they are thin so if you are being inconsistent in your tightening or sloppy in your carry, it is more limited in its ability to compensate than some of the other Woven Wings blends. Droplets is able to handle those quick ups where you may be less than thrilled at your exhibition of wrapping abilities. This would be great for those quick runs to the store. When a ruck is done well, you honestly feel little on top of your shoulders with Droplets. I put my toddler up in a favourite carry one day - a ruck tied knotless tibetan - and went for a short walk. After 30 minutes, I closed my eyes and felt where the pressure points were on my body. I did feel some weight on my upper armpit but virtually nothing on top of my shoulders. Likewise, I felt no pressure on my shoulders in a FWCC. It easily handles a FWCC without spread passes and a small toddler for hours. (Thanks to a recent vacation and abrupt change in environment, my daughter was still willing to take naps in a wrap at home so I actually had the opportunity to check out what an extended FWCC felt like in Droplets.) That said, you may be tempted to perform a flipped rail reinforcement so that you can admire both sides... as I was. In a single shoulder carry, I found that it continued to be comfortable. I felt like my child's weight was well-distributed between the pass coming over my shoulder, and the passes surrounding her on my hip. 

     Now that we've discussed the basic considerations, let's move on to some things that are of more particular interest to me. Firstly, knot size. I like a compact knot, myself. One thing that stoked my Woven Wings fire was the very compact knots. The Droplets knot is on the larger side of the scale for Woven Wings knots. Sarah Condry posted a knot shot on All Things Woven Wings on October 24 but I took some detailed photos of different Woven Wings knots as well. Sticking with my theme of being a geek, I took the photos using a Robert's Rules of Order book as a tool for scale comparison. Unfortunately, I didn't have every single released Woven Wings blend, but it will still give you an idea. When you look at Sarah's photos as well, you'll see that it is absolutely on the larger side of the knots with Nessie and flax Feathers dominating the larger side of the scale while the Fairies and all-cotton Geos have the smallest of the Woven Wings knots. Click through the gallery below to see the photos and to get a better idea of how this knot might look when worn on you.

     Next, what size I think this wrap is best-suited for. I'm quite biased towards shorties so I would like this wrap best in probably a 3 or a 2 because it can easily support a single-layer carry for 20ish lbs and an active child. My personal objection to a longer wrap is just that the wrap is too thick to easily fit into a shoulder bag (unlike a cotton or a silk geo) and the nature of toddler life and Canadian winters dictate that you need to pack and unpack all the time so I wouldn't want to cart something around that I couldn't just toss into my bag with the rest of my things. If I wanted to showcase the two sides, I could easily do a reinforced Ruck or Kangaroo carry and if I wanted to play with swishy tails, a knotless Ruck. (Party like a Ruckstar.) This thing could do some serious damage as a rebozo if you're okay with a knot that might be larger than the size of your two fists... which I am not. You might enjoy this wrap as a long size if you're using it indoors or have a favourite snuggle carry that requires a long size. 

     Lastly, a major concern for people who are unfamiliar with wool blends is washing. Thanks to an extra long outing with a less than absorbent diaper (don't worry, it was just a number 1 ;-) ), I had the opportunity to wash this wrap. Before discovering the joys of Woven Wings merino several months ago, I had no desire to own a wooly because of hand washing. I didn't have a washer with a wool setting and I'm paranoid about felting so I would need to do it all in the sink/bathtub. I had some no-rinse wool wash from a local store, started filling my bathtub according to its specifications and followed the simple instructions on the bottle. Honestly, washing a wool wrap is less work than giving your child a bath. You should always follow the instructions on your wool wash and the wrap but for me, all I had to do was put the wrap in the tub once it was filled, squeeze it here and there, then let it sit untouched in the water for 15-20 minutes. I drained the tub, gently squeezed excess water from the wrap (so no wringing) and rolled it in a towel. To let it dry, I laid it flat on our spare bed. This was around 15:00. I flipped it before I went to bed and by 09:00 the next morning when I went to check on it, it was totally dry! For those wondering how much it shrinks up... I can't tell you. I seem to have lost the measurement but I asked the next host to measure for me and she had the same measurement as I did when Droplets arrived at my house after weeks of use so it bounces back from any possible post-wash shrinkage very quickly. Washing is the first thing you want to do when this arrives so hopefully you won't shy away because that's very important to preserve the safety and integrity of this sling and so so easy to do.

     When will this wrap be released? Well, let me tell you! ...I don't know. Ah, but perhaps I can tell you how this wrap will be released... no I cannot. Guess we're all in the same boat. To sum up my two reviews: This wrap has an incredibly fascinating and intricate design that feeds a curious mind. It is thicker and heavier than most wings and consequently has plenty of cushion. It doesn't stretch as much as the other wings so it may wrap a little short for you but you can still expect to have plenty of room for toddlers in the width. The thickness also means that it will make a very large knot and the wrap will remain large (compared to other wings) when folded so be prepared for that. I say, go for a shorty because I'm biased and finally, WASH IT!!!