Maker: Pretty Paisley
Design: TOWL v2 (The One Who Lived, version2)
Fiber: 100% cotton (hand loomed)
Size: 3.6 meters (Size 4)
To the average person, a glimpse at TOWL may remind you of your grandma’s old drapes. But to someone well saturated within the Wizarding World, you are quite aware that this wrap was inspired from about as close to the beginning as one can get, from the very start of it all. In the very first of the Harry Potter films, when Dumbledore, McGonagall, and Hagrid bring newly orphaned Harry to Number 4 Privet Drive, he is wrapped in an old, plaid blanket. This blanket is battered, plain, and just about as far from famous as you can get, much like Harry himself will be in the boring Muggle world that he is about to become a part of. This blanket is in fact so unassuming that I am willing to bet that the vast majority of people couldn’t tell what color it even is or what it generally looks like. Until now, that is.
Enter: The One Who Lived, aka TOWL.
TOWL v1 was originally a handwoven wrap and it was sought in such high demands that, after multiple runs, a new idea began to form and thus TOWL v2 was born. TOWL v2 is the very first machine woven wrap that Pretty Paisley has created. It is hand loomed (unlike most machine woven wraps) so it has many qualities similar to handwovens, such as more texture, more give, and more bounce, yet with slightly less stretch. This particular wrap has very little lateral stretch but about 3 solid inches of diagonal stretch, which allows for more give and bounce while wearing (no duct tape/corset/I can barely breathe feeling). Also, the colors of the testers are slightly different than v1 but the final run will be much more similar to the original rust red of the handwoven version.
**Above photo courtesy of Christina Watkins
In hand TOWL v2 feels quite literally like a brand new blanket. Not the fluffy, super cushy, soft feel that a handwoven has straight out of the bag kind of blanket, but the kind that you know will get much softer after a few washes or, in this case, a few good carries. This is pretty typical of machine woven varieties; very few have that ‘broken in’ feel from first wash, though this one is much softer than many that I’ve held in hand after only a single wash. Unlike hemp or linen, though, this all cotton wrap will not take much breaking in at all. The material overall falls squarely into the thicker wrap category. With that being said, I really feel that the hemmed edges are what need the most breaking in (which is still very little overall!), so that the knots tie a little smaller and require a little less tugging.
Now, let’s talk knots. The knot on TOWL v2 is huuuuuge!!!! No matter how I tied it, there was no making it smaller. Again, I think that with a lot of love and wearing, the material will soften up more and the hemmed edge won’t be so taut, making a tie off easier. I’d love to test this theory out after it’s gone through a good handful of caregivers, to see how soft those hems get! 😉 There is some effort required getting the knot tied off initially but once tied it’s not going anywhere. It doesn’t slip even a little with jumping, bending over, going up & down stairs, or on really long walks with lots of hills.
I would definitely label this wrap as a ‘toddler prison’. There is a lot of both texture and grip; I didn’t struggle pulling the passes across in multi-layer carries but I did have to roll my shoulder a few good times to make sure that all my slack was out (texture). Once in place though, there was no slipping at all (grip) and my toddler never slid down my back. I think that the passes will glide much more easily the more the wrap is worn and broken in. I prefer wraps with some grip and no slip, so I enjoyed the squishy sensation that I got from multi-layer passes. And, because I tend to prefer thicker wraps with my toddler, I loved the cush on my shoulders; it felt like a soft, memory foam pillow that stayed perfectly in place!
Remember how I’ve mentioned before that it can be hard to impress me? Well, TOWL v2 in a single layer carry impressed me! I rarely wear my toddler in single layer carries for more than about 15-20 min at a time because almost every wrap begins to dig in and put pressure on my shoulders, neck, and spine. I have missed the option of quick ruck ups but never go for them anymore for this very reason. Yet, due to this being a first run machine woven tester, I knew that I needed to test it in a variety of carries, single layer included. So I set out without much hope of enjoying our walk because I kept expecting it to start digging in and, after my 11 mile summit hike yesterday, I wasn’t looking forward to a sore neck and shoulders when I returned home. SURPRISE! At no point during my walk, which included hills, did I feel digging. The wrap sat on my shoulders much the same as it had with the multi-layer carries: soft, firm (no slipping), and cushy. I couldn’t believe how light my heavy toddler felt and I really liked that she didn’t slip down my back as we walked (which happens these days when we ruck, no matter how well tightened the wrap or knots).
Once home, I walked around the house, up and down the stairs, to see if I’d have a similar effect with just puttering around my house or doing some housework, and I did. No pain, no digging, no ‘heavy weight’ feeling as if I were wearing a bowling ball. Then when I took my daughter down I expected relief from some kind of pressure in my shoulders and upper back yet, there wasn’t any to relieve! I still felt great and after my strenuous day yesterday, I was expecting some kind of soreness or complaint from my muscles yet there wasn’t any! Pleasantly surprised was an understatement.
I wished at one point that I could have tried this as a ring sling, so I decided that making a no sew ring sling would just have to feed that need! The natural grippy quality of the wrap kept it from slipping in the rings so using it as a no sew is a great alternative to anyone wanting to buy a single wrap for multiple uses. However, using a 3.6 meter is definitely too long to use as a no sew RS while out and about! One tail hit the floor and the other hit me at my waist, so I would recommend a 3.2 meter wrap or shorter. Other than the length, there was enough stretch to make it feel comfortable off my shoulder and to give her a nice, deep seat. I also like that she wasn’t pressed against me like glue, with no give at all in the fabric. Nursing was a breeze and my tester definitely had some sleepy dust lingering in it.
Overall, I really think that this wrap has potential. It is definitely practical for everyday wearing and will hold up to the general wear and tear that comes with getting the tails muddy from wrapping in a parking lot then going home and tossing it into the wash. It feels great on the shoulders and was comfortable for my tot on really long walks. It wasn’t too hot out in full sunlight, even in multiple pass carries. This will make a wonderful shorty for those of you that enjoy simple and quick ups or creating your own ring sling on occasion. And while it may look like a plain, unimpressive blanket to many, to those of us who have lived vicariously through the words of J. K. Rowling, it looks a little like home and new beginnings.