Fibre Blends: a guide to choosing your wrap

Choosing which wrap to buy can seem confusing at first! Not only do you have to decide on which design and colours that you think would suit you best, you also need to work out what blend and weight of wrap you want! It can almost be enough to put you off buying anything at all…(almost)!

When we talk about blends, we’re referring to the fibres that the wrap is woven from.  As in ‘what blend is your wrap?’ ‘My wrap is 100% cotton’ or ‘ my wrap is 25% linen’.  All Firespiral warps (at time of writing) have a cotton warp, so when we talk about blends we are talking about what fibre the weft is woven from, and in the example of the 25% linen wrap above, where no other fibre is mentioned it can be assumed that the unmentioned 75% is cotton. 

Here we give you the rundown of the blends that Firespiral offer, and their properties.

First, we will look at 100% cotton

Firespiral ‘all cotton’ wraps are great all-rounders, they work well from newborn to the end of wrapping. Our combed cotton is buttery soft and perfect against the delicate skin of a newborn, but it is also strong and easy to wrap well with, meaning it works well for a bigger child, especially in multi-pass carries.

Not all cotton wraps are the same. Weave, yarn thickness, source and pattern affect wrapping quality, so when someone tells you that their cotton wrap was not ‘toddler-worthy’ you need to find out a little more from them –  what make was their wrap, what thickness, weave and type of cotton was it? Also, how is their wrapping? Wrapping ability is a better indicator than blend of how comfortable a wrap job you can get. If a wrap is easy to use, you are likely to manage a better wrap job which will then be more comfortable for you both! If you’d like to read more about our relationship with cotton and why we love it so, read this blog post.

Some facts about our cotton wraps:

  • They are easy-care, every-day wraps that can be machine washed at a high temperature (if needed) and tumble dried.
  • Cotton is soft and gets softer with use (think of your favourite pair of jeans).
  • Cotton is strong, and with the right weave can be very mouldable (a looser weave tends to indicate a more mouldable cloth).
  • A thick, soft / well broken in wrap will be more forgiving of an imprecise, rushed wrap job.
  • The right cotton wrap can take you from birth through to school.
  • We use combed, plied cotton. Combing the cotton lines up all the long individual fibres that make up the thread and gets rid of the smaller ones for a high-quality thread that is naturally softer and more resilient. Plying is the process of taking two or more thinner threads and twisting them together into one strand. It creates a higher tensile strength without extra bulkiness.
Sunfade Cirrus Festival, 100% cotton, up close.

Blends of non-cotton fibres can offer a different wrapping experience, but like cotton, not all wraps which have the same blend will offer the same wrapping experience. Weave, yarn and pattern are all contributing factors.

Wool Blends

Generally – wool adds bounce and cushioning to a wrap but can mean more specialised care is needed, especially with washing. The higher the percentage of wool the more susceptible to felting the wrap is, and care must be taken when washing and drying. Washing instructions must be followed as a non-wool-specific machine wash cycle could ruin a wrap. Nearly all of Firespiral’s wool-blend wraps are machine washable on a wool-specific machine cycle.

  • Thinner wool blend wraps are great from newborn, and the thicker 50% merino wraps are the absolute best for comfortable wrapping of big toddlers and preschoolers.
  • Merino is hypoallergenic and cooling. Cashmere is incredibly soft. We often use yarns that have a blend of both wool and cotton fibres in the thread, which helps to stabilise the wool and make it less susceptible to felting, whilst still having the lovely properties of wool 
  • Thicker wool is great for keeping warm in the colder seasons, and also sheds rain really well,  but (surprisingly) thinner wool is amazing in the heat of summer. It has great temperature regulating properties that really work to help you keep cool. 
The fluffy merino weft of Calluna Callisto Birch trees
Linen Blends

Generally, linen provides a solid wrap job with less bounce.  The long,  linen fibres have less stretch to them, so all the ‘slack’ can be tightened out of a linen wrap quite quickly. 

  •  Linen wraps feel cool to the touch because the hollow fibres absorb moisture and allow it to evaporate, creating a cooling effect.  Its molecular structure allows linen cloth to absorb as much as 1/5 of its weight before giving a feeling of being damp or wet.
  • Linen blend wraps can be prone to creasing from washing and wear, so need to be ironed regularly to prevent perma-creasing. Linen wraps can be quite crunchy feeling when new, but they soften to a buttery softness with use.
  • Linen yarn often has a lovely shimmer to it.
  • Thinner linen blend wraps are great all-purpose wraps and will work from birth to the end of wrapping, thicker linen blend wraps are great for heavier children – creating a solid, un-moving carry, perfect for holding wriggly toddlers.

Linen can be machine washed and tumble dried.

The shiny unrefined linen weft of Starling Glasto Starmap
Hemp Blends

Hemp fibre is one of the strongest and most durable of all natural textile fibres.  Not only is hemp strong, but it also holds its shape so does not crease like linen blends can.  

  • It softens with use, without losing its strength.
  • Hemp is also naturally resistant to mould and ultraviolet light. The hemp that we usually use at Firespiral is a slub hemp, meaning that the yarn varies in thickness across its length. We love the look and texture that this provides to our wraps.
  • Hemp is a very porous fibre, meaning it takes up dye amazingly well producing great quality of colour.  This porous nature allows hemp to “breathe,” so that it is cool in warm weather, conversely,  air which is trapped in the fibres is warmed by the body, making hemp blend wraps naturally warm in cooler weather.
  • Thinner hemp blends are great all-purpose wraps and will work from birth to the end of wrapping.

Hemp can be machine washed and tumble dried.

The shiny, slubby and beautifully saturated colour of Copper Octarine Winter Hill’s hemp weft
Viscose blends

Viscose is the only synthetic fibre that Firespiral use (at time of writing). It is a cellulose fibre like cotton, linen and hemp, which is man-made from tree pulp.

  • Viscose adds incredible softness and stretch to wraps. It is often teamed with linen, as it balances out the solidity and crunchiness of the linen, but on its own, as a weft, it produces a wrap that wraps incredibly easily and is very supportive for its comparative light weight.
  • Viscose is more absorbent than cotton, meaning that it is hot weather friendly, absorbing and evaporating sweat for the wearer. It has beautiful fluidity and drape.

Viscose can be machine washed and tumble dried.

The shiny, slubby viscose weft of Vega Obsidian Birches

Here are some photos of wraps where we have mixed our wefts to stunning effect, a recipe for wraps that make the most of the various properties that each fibre offers.

Grizedale Twilight Birches has a merino, linen and cotton weft – can you work out which is which?
SETI Cascade Starmap has a viscose linen, cotlin (cotton/linen blend) and linen weft.
Cloudburst Cascade Winter Hill has an weft of linen and viscose linen

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