I always leave a slingmeet happy. Often tired, talked out, but always buzzing from helping people to begin carrying, or to learn something new. And I quite often come away with just as many, if not more, wraps than I went in with.
The last meet I went to, I came home with something really special. A lovely local mama with an incredible stash and a very generous disposition let me holiday one of her most ‘highly sought after’ wraps. Pavo Klee is a bit of a legend in babywearing geek circles, and I was honestly happy just to have a little stroke and attempt a quick carry. D wasn’t much in the mood to be wrapped that day, so Sam suggested I take Klee home and enjoy him a little longer. I did not take much persuading.
Pavo released Klee to celebrate their first anniversary, and he has attained near-mythical status since. Originally retailing at $500 for a size 6, its scarcity and unusual qualities mean these wraps now often change for hands for more than twice that. The wrap was designed and woven by Bethanne Knudson of Oriole Mill, one of the last American textile houses operating in North Carolina. Bethanne is an artist, designer and an artisanal weaver, and her understanding of the complexities of jacquard weaving really show in the extraordinary properties of this wrap. It seems, to me, that the wrap is mostly strongly a nod to Klee’s painting ‘Ancient Harmony’. A precise tessellation of harmonious coloured tiles, the ethos of that artwork is echoed and repeated in the many unique coloured patches of this fabric.
All the best wraps have a presence that cannot be conveyed though a camera lens or a computer screen. When you see them in real life, the colours of the fibres pop and sing. They cast out light and bewitch your eyes. Klee is perhaps the most enchanting of all. Online, I had thought he looked checked, and perhaps oddly disjointed. The colours sometimes appear strangely placed, and the texture of the weave was hard to appreciate.
But in hand Klee makes perfect sense. The wrap is composed of many layers of closely woven threads, in complimentary and contrasting colourways. Each tiny tile is in fact several colours layered, and as the wrap moves different shades peek through. Where the light hits, what appeared to be mustard become gold, or burnt orange or chartreuse green. The cotton has a real sheen to it which makes it shimmer and dazzle, even in low light. It reminds me of the complexity of an iridescent feather, the extraordinary rainbows of a hummingbird’s throat.
Klee deftly illustrates why jacquard woven fabrics make for the best baby carriers. You can see and feel the complexity of the weave, and literally look through into the three dimensions of the material. There is space and air between the many layers of stunningly coloured cotton threads. Klee helps you appreciate the theory of warp and weft, whilst leaving you thinking ‘how?’. How could something like this have been made? It is so unique, so complicated and so perfect it barely seems possible.
Klee is quite unlike any other woven wrap I have tried. He is heavy; really, crazily heavy. He tips the scales at just over 450gsm. This size 6 wrap is also very long, around 490cm when measured from tail to tail along the seam with a soft tape in hand. It’s also wider than your average woven, measuring around 80cm. The fabric has a very generous stretch too, meaning it seems even wider than this when you wrap. So this big, wide, ultra- thick wrap weighs over a kilo and a half. And boy can you feel that weight as it rests on your shoulders. It is not necessarily unpleasant though, it is more like a constant reassuring arm around you, and certainly kept us warm on a cold and sunny spring day.
Klee is a weaver’s wrap, rather than a babywearer’s one. He is stubbornly grippy, and tricky to tighten. You need to think hard before you wrap, because passes will stick where they land and there is very little you can do to tighten up once the fabric has locked in place. The weight of the the tails took me back. I admit my day-to-day wraps are FiSpis – I am used to soft, silky, easy-to-knot finishes. I found Klee heavy in hand, and especially so when trying to tie a square knot behind my back with 1 metre tails. Given this, double hammock took a couple of tries to get anywhere near a decent wrap job. Not that a bit of slack mattered. The strength of the weave meant as long as I got the original rebozo pass tight, the reinforcing hammock really didn’t need to do a lot other than look pretty. I even managed to wrestle the tails into a saltwater finish, which looked beautiful and proved very comfortable too.
Robin’s hip carry proved to be the best way to get comfortable with this wrap. Partly pre-tightened, it allowed me to do most of the adjusting before putting D in, and the supportiveness meant she was weightless in a single layer whilst the bulky shoulder leant a lot of cush where it was needed. It also showed off both sides of the wrap; the bold, blocky ‘right’ side and the subtler, prettier ‘wrong’ side too.
Klee is so beautiful I have spent quite a bit of time folding and unfolding him, petting him and taking his picture. He is so beautiful and complicated and lovely. He is a meta-wrap, somehow more than the sum of his parts. Every time I put him on he appears completely different. There’s just so much of him, and so much variety in the colourways and how they group and contrast against each other.
In the real, pragmatic world, the only way I could get much babywearing use out of Klee would be as a shortie or maybe a ring sling. He’s just too thick to wind around my tiny little girl’s legs, and she wriggles too much to achieve precise and perfect wrapping in a split second. But I feel so lucky to have had him to stay. There are few wraps out there as highly prized, highly sought after and widely admired as this one. If you get the chance to meet him one day, do! He will take your breath away.