For those of you who don't know, Firespiral is a new up and coming wrap company in the UK. So far they have had very good reviews and we expect big things from them. They are using UK based weavers, and are even having the labels produced by a local company - all things we like to support here in the UK.
So when they asked for people to put their names forward to test I jumped at the chance to throw my name in the hat and was lucky enough to be chosen.
The wrap I have had here with me is a Cotton/Cashmere blend, chocolate and mint colour in a size 6.
I am not sure what percentage cashmere it is, I think it's 20% cashmere.
So let's get on with the review shall we...
The wrap is lovely and soft to touch and feels almost fluid in my hand. It has a lovely amount of stretch and give without feeling flimsy and thin. The weave feels quite loose but when you look closely you can't see through it and the weave appears quite closed. The cashmere doesn't make it feel scratchy or cloying which is a pleasant surprise and I'm genuinely surprised by just how much I like the feel of it.
I have had conversations with Jen and Tamsin, the ladies behind Firespiral about hemming so I know they are still working out the finer details and these tester wraps are not a fair representation of what the final products will be like in terms of the hems, however, in case it matters, the hems on this particular wrap are not very neat. They seem to have been sewn a few times in order to catch the hems in the stitching and there are lots of loose threads that haven't been trimmed down very well and some bits where the hems haven't been caught very neatly. This doesn't really fit with the impression I was under about these being intended to enter the market at the higher end.
* Since writing this review I have indeed had it confirmed that the tester wrap was hemmed by a hobbyist and that the wraps, once in production, will definitely be hemmed by professionals and will be of high quality and consistent :)
I also know that this wrap was already in my possession when the new labels were collected so while the final product wraps will have labels and, presumably, proper middle markers, this wrap does not and has some red decorative stitching in leu of middle markers. This stitching makes it very easy to find the middle of the wrap but is visible on the wrap once wrapped and did look a bit ugly against the brown and green.
The chocolate and green colour of the wrap is ... not for me. In fact I think it's perfectly vile, but these wraps will be released in different colours so this is another minor detail that is specific to this wrap and not the brand. In fact I happen to know that Firespiral are currently working on a wrap with the name Sea Foam which sounds very, very yummy!
The pattern however, which I did not particularly like to start with, has grown on me and I now like it very, very much. It's quite pretty really and looks fantastic when wrapped. My husband also remarked on how much he liked the pattern which is very unusual for him, so that's a big thumbs up!
That fluid feel translates into the best wrap I have ever had the pleasure of wrapping with. This wrap is thin enough not to annoy me which is quite something.
One of the things I like least about wrapping in general is the big fat clumps of bunched up fabric that go under the arms in ruck straps and around the waist when tying off or through a tibetan tie. Wrapping feels clumsy and clumpy to me unless I wrap with something super thin which means I usually have to trade in comfort for support or support for comfort.
This is not the case with this wrap. It's thin but extremely supportive and unbelievably forgiving. I used this wrap with my big, solid and cooperative 4 year old and it was amazingly comfortable and supportive. I then gave it the ultimate test and tried it with the uncooperative 2 year old. Usually this is a big fail since I like thin wraps and thin wraps need to be wrapped well in order to be supportive but in spite of fighting the child the entire way along and not having the time or luxury to tighten or even make sure the wrap wasn't twisted up when passing it around, I managed to get a comfortable and supportive carry that did the job.
Through out the week, through many a fight, we managed to wrap well enough to be able to use this wrap. Massive thumbs up.
It's cushy but not thick. It's bouncy but forgiving.
The wrap also seems to have just the right amount of grip. It is grippy enough not to slip about and make it too difficult to wrap a fighty toddler but it is also smooth enough to tighten without breaking out in a sweat. A nice solid tug will do the job with this wrap, no unattractive yanking and bouncing with the Firespiral wrap, no, no, no!
I was also very pleased to find that the wrap is nice and wide, in fact when measured, it came up at nearly 80cm wide - wonderful!
* Sadly, I have been reliably informed since writing this review that, while the tester wraps were woven on a single width loom, the final product will be woven on a double width loom and is likely to be narrower. How much narrower I am not sure but even if the end product measures 10cm less wide (and that is a lot!) the wraps will be about 70cm wide which is wider than a lot of successful and popular wraps on the market and bodes well.
But I find it wraps short. I was struggling to tie in the tails doing the carries I would usually do with a size 6 so I measured it. The first quick measure of the wrap showed it to measure 4.4 metres which is not long enough to be called a 6 so I measured it again while pulling and stretching out the hems and I got 4.48 metres - NOT a size 6!
* Since writing this review I have been reassured that the sizes of the tester wraps were approximate and that the wraps, once in production, will be consistently cut to size and measure accurately.
The biggest disadvantage to this wrap that I came across is the ease with which it pulls. I had more issues with pulls in the one week with this wrap than I have had in the 3 years I have owned my indo weave wrap.
The good news is that a quick wash managed to fix all but 2 of the pulls and it only took me about 15 minutes to ease the other 2 pulls back into the wrap. It wasn't particularly easy as I found it quite difficult to follow the pattern of the weave as the threads crisscross over each other and disappear to the other side of the wrap.
However, because most of the pulls were sorted out by washing the wrap this was a lot less of an issue than I had originally thought it would be.
I was also very pleased to read the care instructions as the wrap is machine washable, tumble dryer safe and iron friendly. I was very pleased to discover this and washing, drying and ironing proved to be no bother.
The wrap was also just as buttery soft after it's bath and didn't seem to require any re-breaking which is the biggest thumbs up of all - nothing worse than having to wash a favourite wrap after a nappy explosion just to have to break it in all over again.
The pulls though ... They do worry me. I think owners will either have to accept that this is the nature of the wrap and forget about maintaing the resale value or they will have to accept that in order to maintain the resale vale the wrap will be high maintenance and require regular inspection and pull fixing.
* Since writing this review I have found out that while the weave structure of the tester is prone to pulls, this appears to be exacerbated by the use of a mercerised cotton warp and Firespiral have plans to resolve this issue by using a warp which will have a greater hold on the weft.
It's all quite technical and geeky but I'm impressed that they have acknowledged the problem and are working towards minimising this particular issue. I think this says quite a lot about the company all on it's own.
In spite of the colour, measuring a bit short, and the pulls, I absolutely LOVE this wrap and wouldn't hesitate to buy one. It is the best wrap I have ever had the pleasure of wrapping with.
Firespiral is my new favourite brand.