I should point out that I’m not being paid or persuaded or bribed to write this post by anyone. I’ve just found my Ultimate Sling Ever and want to tell everyone about it, as well as leave a record for the minxes to understand why their mother treasured a piece of fabric.
After 8 years of slinging my minxes, with a mixture of success, I honestly thought my buying days were over: we had the Wompat for ‘buckle’ days, the Connecta up for sale, and the unused Didymos Indio Cypress and Natibaby Pao Graphite just waiting for the right moment to sell. Plenty of carriers when your children are 4, 6 and 8 years old! So I thought. And then the sling company my Imaginary Online Friend had been building for years with her real-life friend started to look like it was about to be ready to trade soon. Well, you’ve got to show a bit of support to your friends, so I volunteered to help with a wee spot of proof-reading. I looked at their 2 designs with a passing interest. And oh my word, they bowled me over! Absolutely blew me away! Beautiful, original and with lovely, lovely stories* (see bottom of post) behind them. The idea behind Love Geek reduced me to immediate, hormonal tears. However, I sensibly wished them luck in their new business and concentrated on raising cash to fund a house-move instead of spending it. Then suddenly they decided to weave the 2 designs in coincidentally my favourite colour-combination. Ever. Oh no! I could feel the iron-strong Trout resolve bending… I crumbled and bought Love Geek in a size 6 from Shire Slings, one hour before Mother’s Day, and on the 6th anniversary of my mother’s death. My last sling, the one I will keep forever, and that I hope my own grandchildren will be carried in some day, whether I’m still around to see it or not.
Read the story behind Shire Sling’s Love Geek and Russian Doll designs at the bottom of this post, but here’s what Love Geek means to me. The design shows DNA, mitochondria and oxytocin molecules: the chemicals that make us all up, that we inherit from our mother (and her mother; and her mother, etc), and that we feel when we’re in love. The shapes spell out mother-love in the language of geekery. If my obsession with precise numbers hasn’t hinted at me being a geek, my assorted academic qualifications nail it. My relationship with my mum was troubled to say the least, yet I miss her badly. I criticised her parenting of me, but I’d give anything to be able to ask her advice on mothering just one more time. She was diagnosed with lung cancer when my first daughter was 8 weeks old; she died when my second daughter was just short of 6 weeks old. The last time we spoke was on my birthday: her own anniversary of becoming a mother. I struggled with being a natural, instinctive mother – still do! – and am battling my own way through a ton of mothering fails. The only time I’ve felt in my bones that I’m being a good mum is when I’m carrying my daughters in a wrap: kissing away hurts, stroking away fevers, chatting to them on my chest, or letting them sleep on my back. The idea of having a sling that managed to encapsulate all of these ideas whirling around in my head was just too seductive – of course I had to own it!
So, the Love Geek sling arrived and I unwrapped my not-as-expensive-as-I-feared present to
me us! “Brown paper packages tied up with string” – oh yes, this layered confection was worth waiting for! The shimmer was incredible, the colours vivid, and Mini approved: she spontaneously kissed “MyLovelyGreenSling” when she saw it. I had to have a quick play with her (this sling is most emphatically a ‘her’!) before giving her a quick bath, tumble and steam iron. The shimmer faded after this wash, leaving a delicate sheen.
I imagine that most people buying this or any wrap will use it with babies and toddlers. My youngest minx, though, is 4; the one needing most Mummy Cuddles is a very accident-prone 6 yo, so I need my woven wraps to be tough. My ideal would be almost canvassy in durability, but soft enough to go next to the minxes’ sensitive skin. My Love Geek is certainly all of that! I hear from other owners that it breaks-in to a soft texture that loses none of its grip. I’ve always been rubbish at breaking in slings and do it just by plain old wearing and using them. I’ll let you know how I get on with that, but right now I’m valuing its new, fresh stiffness – it’s cushy on my shoulders even with a 4.5 stone burden, and it doesn’t slip or slide despite skipping through the spring flowers (The witnesses have been bribed; they won’t tell. The video is under strict security. The flowers won’t talk. It was a moment of euphoric mummy madness, I tell you!)
Mini has declared it her “Favourite Sling Ever. Really. Ever”, but hasn’t got the vocabulary to say exactly why. “Comfy” and “green!” were the only sensible words I could catch. Midi, however, thoughtfully explained that it felt better on her legs than other slings: it didn’t dig in and it didn’t sag. It made her back feel “strong”. It felt nice against her skin: softness with inner strength. She loves the colours, too.
As well as its grip and sturdiness – the often over-used ‘work-horse’ is perfectly apt here, though – I found its width perfect for wrapping my big girls securely. I wore Mini or Midi interchangeably for an hour-long walk which I’ve not been able to do with other wraps. I do find wrapping kids older than 3 years old a bit difficult because they’re so large compared to my stumpy arms, so usually have to get The Boss to help by hand me ends behind my back. Despite 3 years of helping me, I usually still find myself growling in exasperation: “No! No! Tighten the top rail! The top one! The other one! Can’t you see? It’s just a simple reinforced ruck! Och, follow it with your hands… No, now you’re loosening it!”. But a feature of Shire Slings is that the rails are differentiated. Even The Boss could see. So when I said: “Flip the end over so we can see the green side too, tighten the top rail, then put the bottom rail in my left hand, please”, he complied instantly. No more shouting. So he’s now a big fan, too.
The story of how Shire Slings came to be and how they chose the designs is really interesting, but you’ll need to check out their Facebook page for that. Do, do, do: they’re also running a brilliant competition with Natural Mamas to win a Russian Dolls wrap at the moment. Say hi from me while you’re there.
* Stories behind the wraps, quoted directly from the Shire Slings website,
Love Geek Woven Wrap
Apple and petrol
DNA, oxytocin and the mitochondria cell. Brought together in this stunning woven wrap design that spells out mother love.
- 50% combed cotton
- 50% cotton
- 241 gsm
The Love Geek story.
DNA contains the hereditary material used to encode the genetic instructions used in the development and function of all known living things. Oxytocin is the love hormone. We feel its effects when we fall in love with our partner and our babies. Mitochondria cells contain one piece of DNA that is inherited only down the female line. Every person alive today has inherited their mitochondrial DNA from one single great-great-great-. …..great-grandmother, nearly 200,000 years ago.
Scientists have discovered the mitochondrion cell from the growing baby in mother’s heart and other organs, and it has recently been found embedded in the mother’s brain. It is believed they may be acting as stem cells sent from the baby to repair the mother’s body. There is also some evidence that mitochondria are transferred from mother to infant during nursing. Some scientists believe there is an exchange of mitochondria between twins in utero and there is a possibility that younger siblings have their older siblings’ mitochondria.
Russian Dolls story, also from the Shire Slings website:
Apple and petrol
The Russian Dolls woven wrap is inspired by Spring, new life, mother love and family connections.
The two doll families depicted here represent our families; the stars and flowers our children.
- 50% combed cotton
- 50% cotton
- 241 gsm
The Russian Doll story.
Matroyoshka or Russian nesting dolls were first made in 1890. Traditionally they are carved from a single piece of wood, just like families from the same grandmother. They usually contain no less than 5 dolls. The first Doll is female with the inner dolls being either sex. The final baby doll is a solid wooden shape.