All About… Onbuhimo Carriers (old style vs new style)

All about our Onbuhimo style baby carriers, also called an Onbu.

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Our Onbu carriers in general

The Wallypop onbu is a comfortable and quick option that particularly excels at back carrying. It’s also suitable, of course, for wearing a baby on the front, but it can’t be beat for its ability to get a baby on your back quickly and with little fuss.

An onbu is a square of fabric with a padded waistband, two shoulder straps, and two rings at the waist instead of a waist band. The shoulder straps are threaded through the rings and then tied.

The Wallypop Onbu features a separate, padded waistband made from two layers of canvas, a sturdy body made from two layers of canvas plus one or two decorative fabrics, padded canvas shoulder straps, and two medium-sized rings at the waist.

We sew our carriers carefully and thoughtfully. I do not use a “panel” design (where the front of the carrier is made of several panels and looks like a quilt block) because each seam is a potential weak spot in the carrier. Fewer seams = more safety. We reinforce all of our seams – topstitching around the perimeter of the carrier to give those seams extra support, and we sew down the straps in several places, ensuring that they will never pull loose.

And of course our Onbuhimos have passed ASTM certification to the high safety standards set by the federal government.

Why would I use an Onbu?

The onbu is not the world’s most popular carrier, that’s true. And it’s not for everyone. If you mostly carry a baby or toddler on your back, however, it’s definitely an option I’d recommend considering. Like I said, it can be worn on the front, but if you’re primarily a front carrier, there are better options, in my opinion. But if you’re looking for something fast and comfortable for back carries, it’s hard to beat an onbu.

Old Style vs New Style

We were already working on a few minor design changes when the ASTM regulation became final and mandatory earlier this year (2014). That new requirement forced us to choose one way to make Onbus from now on. The pictures below outline the main changes from the “old style” to the “new style” of Mei Tai.

Old Style Onbu New Onbu

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All About… Mei Tais Old Style vs New Style

I haven’t done an All About post in a loooong time. 🙂  All about our Mei Tai Baby Carriers.

Sleepy BabyDSC_0819Nonstop Fun (Iowa State Fair)

A bit about our MT Carriers in General

MT carriers are a great all-around carrier. Two shoulder straps distribute baby’s weight evenly, which is a blessing for the wearer’s back. The two-knot design is quick and easy to put on, with no fancy adjustments needed. And the carrier is simple enough to still be quite versatile – there are several ways to tie the carrier on depending on what you’re going for. I love the MT for the high back carry, and how easy and fast it is to throw a baby on my back.

A bit about safety

Are MT carriers safe? Of course, the answer is yes. I wouldn’t sell you something that I thought was unsafe.

Wallypop Mei Tais are made with two layers of canvas throughout. That canvas is then covered with a pretty decorative fabric on the front and sometimes also the back of the body. The straps are two layers of canvas for non-wrinkly, non-diggy performance.

We sew our carriers carefully and thoughtfully. I do not use a “panel” design (where the front of the carrier is made of several panels and looks like a quilt block) because each seam is a potential weak spot in the carrier. Fewer seams = more safety. We reinforce all of our seams – topstitching around the perimeter of the carrier to give those seams extra support, and we sew down the straps in several places, ensuring that they will never pull loose.

And of course our Mei Tais have passed ASTM certification to the high safety standards set by the federal government.

As with any baby carrier, check the seams before use. Fabric can wear out pretty quickly, particularly in the washing machine, so taking a few seconds to make sure everything’s holding up well should be part of your babywearing routine.

Star Trek MTWrap/Mei Tai HybridNew Asian Carrier

Now about Wallypop MT carriers

In our Basic Mei Tai, the straps are unpadded. In our experience, most wearers are quite comfortable with unpadded straps, once they try them. (There’s a strong bias towards thinking you NEED padding, but many are pleasantly surprised to find that unpadded straps are also quite comfortable.) The unpadded straps are also markedly less bulky! For those who do prefer padded straps, we offer our Luxury Mei Tai, which has padded straps, as well as a pocket to hold a few items, a hood to help corral a sleeping baby head, and a toy ring to hold a small toy for baby.

We sew our waist straps on straight, and the shoulder straps at an angle coming out of the top corner of the body.

Our straps are pretty long, and will be perfect for most wearers. We do recommend chatting with us before purchasing your carrier if you have any concerns about fit – I can always make longer straps for you! I can also shorten straps of instock carriers if you’re really small.

The body of our MT carriers is roomy, without being too overwhelming. It can seem like a lot of carrier when you’re toting around a 6 lb newborn, but we recommend rolling the carrier at the waist to shorten the body when wearing a small baby – that’ll solve the roominess problem.

Old Style vs New Style

We were already working on a few minor design changes when the ASTM regulation became final and mandatory earlier this year (2014). That new requirement essentially forced us to choose one way to make our Mei Tais from now on – it’s expensive to get a carrier through the testing process, so we needed to have only one model of mei tai. The pictures below outline the main changes from the “old style” to the “new style” of Mei Tai. (Now, if you’re wondering if I can still make you a Mei Tai in our “old style,” the answer is yes – but it’ll cost you approx $500. I’ll throw in the actual carrier for free; that’s the cost of testing the carrier to the new ASTM standard.) (please note, the “new style” MTs are the ones that have passed the lab testing. The “old style” is still safe based on 10 years of zero-incident selling, but has not been lab tested, and does not have the required safety labels. We’re just selling through what we have left in stock and then only “new style” will be available.)

OLD stylemt-q-301

We love our Mei Tais and hope you do, too! 🙂

At the Farmer's MarketOur Family

All About: Reusable Cycle Pads

Since I just restocked Cycle Pads last week, here’s a fascinating, fact-filled look at one of our best-selling products that bring some comfort to “that time of the month.”

The basic Cycle Pads (regular size and liner size) have two layers of flannel – one layer next to you, and one layer hidden inside. Why flannel? It’s soft, it’s absorbent, and it wears well. We also make hemp pads, and some bamboo pads from time to time (though not as a general rule – I have issues with bamboo), as both fabrics are soft and absorbent as well.

I’ve made them special order with microfleece or suedecloth on the top, but have decided not to inventory them this way for one main reason – I personally don’t like them. I think they feel too fuzzy. Like I’ve stuffed a bearskin rug in my pants.  And the microfleece just adds bulk without much benefit. I don’t find them to be more “dry” feeling than flannel, which I think is a function of the viscosity of the liquid they’re being asked to handle. Microfleece works great in diapers, where it’s asked to transfer a very thin liquid. That’s not directly transferrable to Cycle Pads. *ahem* alright.

In between those layers of flannel, you’ll find cotton sherpa, enough to be absorbent but not so much that it’s bulky. The underneath side of most of our pads is cotton PUL to make them waterproof and leak proof. We do offer liner pads without this layer of PUL for those who prefer not to have any man-made fibers in their pads, and we can make the Regular size without PUL as a custom order.

Why cotton PUL? (vs the polyester PUL that you find on most – but not all – pocket diapers, AIOs, and covers) Because cotton PUL is grippy. Polyester is pretty slippery. Cotton is grippy. That grippy cotton is what keeps the pad in place – along with the convenient, easy-to-use, non-scratch snap.

People sometimes ask if this PUL makes them hot or sweaty. The answer is no. Particularly when comparing them to plastic and paper pads. Seriously. I hadn’t worn disposable pads for 10 years or more when I found myself having to use them when Teddy was in the NICU and washing reusable pads just wasn’t a practical option. I had managed to forget how itchy and hot and sweaty and just all-around uncomfortable they are! Wow! If you’ve never worn cloth pads, you owe it to yourself – and to your girly bits – to try just one.

For some reason, the most confusing thing about Cycle Pads seems to be the sizing. Regular pads are, well, “regular.” They’re for “regular” days. You could call them Maxi Pads if that’s more comfortable terminology. Liner pads are just like pantiliners – they’re for lighter days. Or for, you know, when you’re pregnant and you have the sneezes.

We just inventory Regular and Liner sizes, but extra long and extra absorbent pads are available via special order if you need them.

Wondering how to use cloth pads? We have an excellent discussion right here.

So there you have it. Everything you wanted to know but were afraid to ask about Cycle Pads.

All About… Taking care of wool covers

Yes, much has been written on the proper care of wool covers. It’s not hard… just special.

You don’t need to wash wool with every wearing – hang it up to dry after each use, and wash once it starts to smell bad. Does your cover smell bad (once dry) after just one use? It might be less than 100% wool, or maybe your kid just has some seriously stinky pee. Consider just a quick rinse rather than a full wash.

You need a good wool soap and probably some lanolin.  Good wool soap = Naturally Luxe Wool Ones Wash. Of course. Did you have to ask? In reality, though I love the NL wool wash, there are lots of other good wool washes out there. Choose something with a high lanolin content (which is why I like the NL wash), and avoid Woolite (no lanolin). For lanolin, you can use purchased lanolin (solid or liquid), or you can use the lanolin that’s sold as a nipple cream. You might even have gotten some samples during your pregnancy.

 

Washing

You may wash your wool by hand or in the machine on the Hand Wash cycle. (gasp) Yes, you can use your machine. Probably. If you are very familiar with your machine’s hand wash setting, and you know that it agitates only a very little and only infrequently, and that it spins gently and washes in warm with a cool rinse, you’re good. If you use your machine to wash, add the wool wash, water, and covers in whatever order you use for your other laundry, start the machine, and walk away.

If you wash by hand, fill the sink with warm water, add your wool soap (follow manufacturer instructions for amount, or be like me and just add a squirt that seems sufficient, lol), swish a bit, then add your wool. Get it completely wet, swish a bit, let it sit for a few minutes, swish again, drain. Rinse if your wool soap says to, otherwise, you don’t have to.

 

Poop and Stains

If you have poop on your covers, or other stains that need extra attention, take care of that by hand. Scrub gently (some people use an old toothbrush, but I’d take care if you’re scrubbing a hand-knit item) with some wool wash over the spot(s) until you get the poop out, or the stain taken care of.

Some people report a strange yellowish staining on lighter colored covers. In my reading and from what other mommies tell me, it’s probably from over-lanolizing and urine, and I am not sure there’s much you can do to remove the stain once it forms. I’ve experienced this myself on an Aristocrats soaker I purchased used – and it never did come out. It didn’t affect the cover’s use, it just looked bad.

 

Drying

Once your wool’s nice and clean, let it dry. If you washed it in the washer, it’s probably nice and wrung out, but might be misshapen. Gently re-shape your covers before drying them. If you washed by hand, you’ll need to squeeze some of that water out of your covers. I prefer to drain the sink and let my covers hang out in the sink for a little while to get some of the water out without any effort on my part. Then pick them up one by one, squeeze gently, and wrap in a towel. Stand on the towel to really squeeze out the extra water. Repeat with each cover.

If you’ve got wool covers that won’t stretch out of shape, hanging them to dry works just fine. You can hang them on a line, obviously, or drape them over the furniture. You can also lay them flat to dry, if you happen to have a sweater drying rack. I sometimes lay my wool covers on top of the dryer if I have other laundry to dry that day. My favorite is laying wool covers on the radiators to dry, and I’m not sure why I like it so much. Something about walking through the house and seeing diaper covers drying on my radiators just makes my heart warm. Most people have forced air heat these days, though, and so, sadly, are lacking beautiful 100 year old radiators on which to dry their wool. Take a moment to feel sad about that…. OK, let’s move on.

You MIGHT be able to machine dry your wool covers, too. (gasp.) I’ve had no problems using the Low or Air Only settings on my dryer with wraps – I have never tried it with hand knits.

 

Lanolizing

Every so often, you might need to lanolize your covers. I rarely lanolize since switching to the Naturally Luxe Wool Ones Wash. How do you know you need to lanolize? When your wool just doesn’t seem to be performing like it should. Lanolin helps make the covers waterproof, so if they’re seeping, you probably need to lanolize.

Fill your sink with warmish water. Get your covers completely wet. Remove them from the sink. If you’re using solid lanolin, melt it in a small amount of hot water, then add it to the water in the sink. If you’re using liquid lanolin, just squirt some in the sink. Swish it around a bit, then put your covers back in and swish them around. Let soak for a few hours. Drain and follow drying instructions above.

 

Sticky Covers or Sticky Patches

Sometimes, you’ll notice that your wool is sticky or has sticky patches, or even whitish sticky patches. That’s either too much lanolin, or lanolin that got solid again before really soaking into your covers. Use slightly warmer water to soak in next time, and if you think you used too much lanolin altogether, use less next time. In the meantime, it’ll wear off and is not a terribly big deal.

 

Um… My wool is still seeping

There are several reasons this might happen. (Note: Only number 1 should ever happen with Wallypop Woolies.)

1. You just need more lanolin

2. You’re using hand knits (or, I guess, a machine knit) that’s too loose

3. The wool content in your cover is too low

4. There is not enough absorbency in your diaper

 

Bleeding wool

Sometimes, dark colored covers will bleed dye onto the diapers underneath. It doesn’t happen often, but it does happen. Bizarrely, it seems to happen more with boys than girls. Usually, the dye used on wool really only adheres to wool and silk fibers, and washes right out of cotton, so throw the diaper in the wash like usual and the dye should come out, if not in the first wash, then over time. You can find instructions at various places online for setting the dye in wool covers – generally, these involve a mixture of water and vinegar, the microwave, and the strict instructions to NOT SHOCK YOUR WOOL (by moving it from very hot to very cold).

All About… repairing bumGenius pocket diapers

bumGenius diapers are easily the diaper brand I repair the most. Mostly pocket diapers and all in one diapers, sometimes fitteds. Typically, the original hook and loop tape has worn out and users either want it replaced with better quality hook and loop, or with snaps. In addition, about half the diapers I repair also require new elastic.

Because I happen to be working on three rather large repair orders of bumGenius pockets this week, I thought I’d do a quick post about the ins and outs of repairing these diapers.

First, I have recently decided to stop accepting certain types of pocket diapers for certain types of repairs. I cannot (and am unmotivated to) keep up with what the different versions of bumGenius diapers are. One version features three different seams across the front edge, another version has just one seam across the front.

I will no longer be replacing the landing strip of the three-seam type. I will be happy to convert that version to snaps, but replacing the landing strip with new loop is all kinds of trouble. In order to pay myself fairly for my time and effort, I’d have to charge you nearly what the diaper cost new.

Fit of repaired diapers.
Your repaired diapers probably won’t fit exactly the same as new, but that probably also isn’t as important as it might seem. First off, your kid is not the same size and shape as they were when the diapers were new. But in reality, I have no way to determine exactly how the diapers fit when new. I use different elastic, with a different stretch. If converting to snaps, that is of course going to fit a bit different.

Wear of old diapers.
In my experience with bumGenius diapers, they usually have hidden damage that is not immediately noticeable. This particularly is noticeable after the old tabs have been removed. The stretchy fabric that holds the tabs actually develops small tears where the thread holds the hook and loop tape in place. These tears are hidden under the tab, and largely held stable by the threads and the tape. Once the threads and tape are removed, they become much more noticeable.

There’s not a whole lot I can do about these small tears. In my experience, based on what I hear back from customers, they don’t tend to grow very fast, if at all. I would advise that users take care when opening the snaps to be sure not to tear them any further.

One-size fitting
Surprisingly, this is a question I get fairly frequently. “How will this affect the one-size aspect of the diapers?” It won’t – the “one size” designation comes from the snap-down rise, which is unaffected by the repair or conversion.

Recommended snap placement
If you choose to mark placement of your snaps yourself, you may decide on any snap placement that suits your fancy. I generally recommend two rows about an inch and a half apart, with the snaps in each row spaced either 1 inch or 1.5 inches apart. You’ll need to mark two snaps on the tabs to correspond with the two rows of snaps on the front.

If you choose to have me decide where to put the snaps, I will put in two rows of snaps, 1.5 inches apart, with the snaps in each row 1 inch apart. I will put two snaps on each tab.

Sloppy snap placement
If you choose to mark snaps, I will place snaps where you place marks. Sloppy marks mean sloppy snaps. I strongly recommend using a ruler to keep your lines straight and even and the marks evenly spaced. If you wish to remove the old hook and loop tape yourself to save money, but prefer me to mark the snaps for you to make sure they’re straight, I’m happy to do that.

Function
A diaper repair should not affect the diaper’s function or waterproofness. The only exception is the fact that those holes are NOT going away. The needle holes from where the original hook and loop were sewn on will ALWAYS be there. It stands to reason that this might make them prone to wicking or seepage, but although I think that this is likely, I’ve not heard from a single customer who has experienced this. As I often say, that doesn’t mean nobody has – just nobody’s told me about it.