Today, we have a slightly different article for you – we will introduce one wonderful hand-woven gem and also ˈMrs. Honuˈ; i.e. the lady whose hands wove the wrap, Erika Štěpánová.

I must admit that I am not a HW wrap expert. We have already reviewed some (for example, Hopity, Cotton Cloud or AYU), but I have not exactly fallen for any of them to be honest. This time, I came across the opportunity to test a piece from Honu – a red-bordeaux-pink beauty Aloha (we hereby want to thank our dear friend Martina and her momentary babywearing retirement for this opportunity 😉 ).

When we were making the arrangement concerning the testing of the wrap, we started to chat with Erika via Messenger and realized that we have quite a lot in common – beginning with both of us being doctors on maternity leave. 😀 Logically, it put a bee in my bonnet – how did a surgeon become a weaver? I had more and more questions and that is how I got the idea about making an interview with ˈMrs. Honuˈ. Erika was actually so kind that she invited us to her home to see the weaving in action. Therefore, one (not so nice) December morning, we went on a trip to Kopřivnice! We want to thank Erika again for inviting us and spending very pleasant time there! 🙂

The first question is obvious – doctor turned wrap weaver, how did that happen? 

When I was pregnant, I was not planning on becoming a babywearer at all… I bought a beautiful stroller and did not think about any wraps or carriers; however, my husband wanted to babywear from the beginning. He is not a healthcare professional and somehow naturally, he only saw the pros and benefits of babywearing. Then, our daughter was born and she was a very irritable baby, she suffered from colics for the first three months of her life – that is why we actually begin carrying her. First, I signed up for a wrapping course and bought my first wrap – cotton Didymos. I became friends with the instructor from that course and it was in fact her who introduced me to the whole babywearing world and let me touch a hand woven wrap for the first time. Subsequently, as I tried more and more different wraps, I realized that the HW ones were the most comfortable for me. The first one I bought  was Solerin – I still own it and love it to the moon and back.

All that time I was tempted to weave my own wraps. So, I began to gather information on where to buy a weaving loom – and finally, about two years ago, my husband brought me a second-hand Glimakra loom from Germany.

Where did you get all the information and skills to begin with the weaving?

I looked up basically everything on the Internet myself – in Facebook groups, on YouTube, etc. There is not much literature in Czech, for example, the book ˈHome weavingˈ, but these are only the basics. I got a lot of information and precious advice in the FB group ˈWeaving not only of wrapsˈof which most of the Czech and Slovak weavers are members. However, I had to figure most of the things out myself, by the ˈtrial and errorˈmethod, from assembling of the loom to the weaving itself.

What was the first wrap you ever weaved?

I still have it and I will never sell it; its name is Chameleon. It is made of mercerised cotton, the Czech Sněhurka. This is not really an ideal material but it is affordable, easy to get in the Czech Republic and moreover, it has the Oeko-Tex certificate for children under 3 years of age. Nowadays, I use different materials, but this wrap is still very close to my heart.

Actually, despite having the loom for about a year and 9 months, I finished the Chameleon about a year ago. The first thing to come out of my loom was a scarf which took me about a half a year to weave.

How do you choose the yarn? Do you dye it yourself? 

I order the yarn from Netherlands – it is of a much higher quality than the Czech Sněhurka or Perlovka. I have already used different materials than only cotton, for example, silk or even alpaca. All the weavers have their favourite suppliers; however, it is usually a sort of their ˈtrade secretˈwhich they would never tell. I dye the yarn myself – cotton by Procion dyes, animal fibres with other special dyes.

Could you decribe, in short, how to weave a wrap, from the technical point of view?

The warp threads are outstretched from one beam to the second one, passing through the heddles in the shafts and then through   the reed in the beater which beats the weft thread. The pattern is created by several factors and adjustments of the loom – by the order of warp threads in heddles, the number of shafts, and  by how the shafts are connected to the pedals. When you step on a pedal, usually a half of the shafts  rise and the second half drops – that is what makes the space between the warp threads to pull the shuttle with the weft thread through. The more shafts, the more complicated the pattern could be. My loom has 8 shafts, but some weavers use looms even with 24 shafts. You can find the patterns in books, but nowadays a lot of information is, of course, on the Internet; I use Pinterest quite often, for example.

How long does it take you to weave one wrap and how much material do you need for it?

The longest part of the process, in my case, is the preparation of the loom and the threads; the weaving itself is ˈeasy peasyˈthen. I weave only from time to time, as my daughter allows me, so the preparation of the yarn, its dyeing, warping the loom – that usually takes me about 2 months. After this is done, the weaving of the wrap takes from 3 to 4 weeks. I weave 20 centimetres of the wrap approximately for an hour; I am a perfectionist and do not hesitate to undo an hour worth of work if I realise I made a mistake somewhere.

As far as the quantity of the material goes, I cannot tell you exactly – every weaver is specific in this. It depends on the lenght and width of the warp, the number of threads in 1 centimetre both in warp and weft (I usually have 10 threads in 1 cm) – this is very individual. You must also count in the heading (the weft threads in the beginning that align the warp threads, hold them together and close the gaps between threads) and the material for the hems or fringes, the waste material in the beginning and in the end of the warp; it also depends on the manner of the tightening of the weft. And of course, after the first washing the wrap shrinks quite substantially.

Could you make a living out of the weaving? What makes the HW wraps so ˈexpensiveˈ?

One certainly cannot get rich by weaving wraps! 😀 When I sell a wrap, it pays for the material, but if I wanted to get payed for the time I spend making it, one wrap would cost tens of thousands Czech crowns. Of course, there are weavers who do it as their full-time job, but they are certainly in minority. Obviously, it is the fact that weaving is a time-consuming process what ˈmakesˈ the price of the HW wraps.


What is the difference between hand-woven and machine-woven wraps? Are HW wraps better?

For me personally, the magic of HW wraps is in their originality and the fact that every inch of the thread was once held by the weaver’s hands. I cannot really say if they are better than the machine-woven ones. For me, they are more comfortable, but this is very individual.

Do HW wraps have any future, on the current over-saturated babywearing market?

As I said, the main advantage of HW wraps is that every single piece is original. If someone wants a wrap custom-made, they can choose the material, the colour, the pattern; basically anything according to their taste. There are weavers with a waiting list even in the Czech Republic.

Is there something what makes your wraps special, different than others?

To be honest, I cannot say if they are ˈdifferentˈ, because I have not woven that much of them. But I am a perfectionist and do not forgive myself any tiny mistake; anything that goes off my loom has to be perfect in my eyes. But above all, all my wraps are woven with love. 🙂

What is your favourite and your best wrap you have ever woven?

My favourite one, the dearest to my heart, is certainly the first one, Chameleon. I could not even cut it; I will probably hang it on a wall some day or it will just lie in my closet – I could never let it go. The best wrap was the Magic Forest which I weaved for this year’s weaving contest; I was very proud of this one.

Is there a story behind the name ˈHonuˈand the tortoise in the logo of your wraps?

Honu means tortoise in Hawaian language. And tortoise because we used to call our daughter ˈour little tortoiseˈ(sounds much more cute in Czech 😀 ), before she was born. And why Hawaian? Because our daughter’s favourite fairytale is Moana, a Disney story based on old Hawaian culture.

Do you have any wrap or weaving dream you would like to make come true in the future?

My second baby is on the way right now, so my main dream is to stick with weaving and manage to find some time for it while taking care of two kids – and later, while working as a surgeon again. Moreover, I still have so much to learn, there are so many different types of weaving and yarns I have not tried yet.

What would you tell someone who wishes to start weaving wraps but does not have the courage to start yet?

I would tell them that the courage itself is the most important thing to begin with – and also a great amount of patience. Everything else will come along the way itself.

Honu Aloha

Composition: warp 100% hand-dyed cotton, weft 100% cotton

Weight: 362 g/m²

Size: short 6 (450 cm)

Double hammock/candy cane chest belt

This is THE ˈMr. Wrapˈ, a.k.a. the cuddliest sweetheart ever! Of course, you tend to forgive a flaw or two when reviewing something (not only wraps or carriers) about what you know in which kitchen it was cooked (in case of Honu, literally in the kitchen because that is where Erika’s loom stands 😀 ). However, Aloha does not have any flaws to be forgiven, because in my opinion, it is basically perfect.

The considerable weight of 362 g/m2 is nothing to be afraid of – the wrap is very soft and pliable, unlike something one could expect from an all-cotton piece of such weight to be. It is cushy, cuddly and it melts in your hands like mist (OK, thick Scottish ˈWuthering Heightsˈ-like mist – it is not a skinny newborn cloth at all 😉 ); it is a pure joy to tie it! It is so pliable that it is possible to tighten it to milimetre; it caresses your hands and shoulders while tying, slides adequately and holds tight in one knot.

And the wearing! When Aloha came to us for testing (for a pitifully short time 😉 ), I had just finished testing about a gazillion of good, bad and also even awful carriers in a row – Aloha was the first wrap I tied after a long time… You could imagine it brought me right to the wrap heaven in my state of a severe wrap-withdrawal syndrome!

How to explain it… The perception of a wrap being ˈgoodˈ or ˈbadˈ is very individual and one cannot expect any objectivity in this matter. How do I tell, personally? When I do not like the wrap the first time I wear it I do not fancy to tie it even for the second time (but of course I eventually do it when speaking about testers, to have the complete picture – but sometimes I am not happy about it at all). On the other hand, if the wrap is good, I tend to grab and tie it again and again without much thinking, for a walk, for putting Emilka to sleep, for running errands, for dancing – even though I do not particularly love the colour for example..

When I was putting Aloha into its cute polka-dot bag and its own cute little box (yup, details, but the details that count – including the embroidered card with the wrap’s ˈbirth certificateˈ), I was shedding sentimental tears. It is just great! And, also for sale (so go grab it before I make my mind 😉 )!