Monday, September 22, 2008


We're in the fourth week of school, but just getting started now on handicrafts.

I planned to do weaving with Crayons (the girl, not the Crayolas), but we hadn't had much luck with the typical flat cardboard or foam-tray looms, or even with the simple wooden frame that she was given last Christmas (a "fashion loom" kit). I think younger kids often find it tedious to fill up a whole frame with over-under-over-under, even if they have a needle or something to help it go a bit faster. Or they end up with something horribly warped. Also, the wooden frame loom came with a thick, soft, slippery yarn which seemed to be hard for her to use.

Then I noticed the weaving page in a book called Pioneer Crafts, by Barbara Greenwood; it goes with the Canadian book A Pioneer Story, which is sold in the U.S. as A Pioneer Sampler.

It suggested making a foam-tray loom but also using what the book calls a cardboard heddle, and what I've also seen called a warp separator; just a piece of cardboard, an inch wide and slightly wider than the loom, with one end cut in a point. After threading the loom, you weave the heddle in and out (rather than the yarn), stand it up on its edge, and then pull a bobbin full of yarn through the shed (the open space) that is created when you stand it up. Then the heddle goes back the other way, out and in through the strands; stands up to make the shed, and the bobbin goes back through. The heddle is also used (flat) to gently push the rows against the previous work.

I didn't bother making a foam-tray loom since we do have the wooden frame, and I was right--it worked fine. (I remember the teeth on foam-tray looms tending to break anyway, so I was happy not to have to do that.)

For some reason, this is MUCH easier for a second-grader than weaving a long strand of yarn in and out across the rows. By using a bobbin (I had a plastic knit/crochet bobbin, but you can make cardboard ones), you can also pull more yarn through at a time and do more rows without having to get Mom to add more yarn.

We also chose some cotton yarn (Bernat Handicrafter) in variegated colours, which weaves well and looks pretty with the different coloured stripes.

I'm pleased with this discovery, since it's turned the most basic loom into something a bit more sophisticated, still simple (or even simpler) to do, but that feels more like a real handicraft than just a kindergarten activity. Of course it has its limitations--the design of the loom means that you can't make anything longer than the frame itself--but I think that's about the same measure as a 7-year-old's attention span.


Jacqueline said...

This sounds very interesting. I kept wishing I could see what you were talking about though. I think I know, but I'm just very visual. :) BTW, I'd love for you to join the Canadian Carnival again. Been missing your input. ;)

Mama Squirrel said...

Well, if you can't get hold of Pioneer Crafts...imagine a magic thing that holds every other warp thread up in the air, making a little tent shape big enough to slide a bobbin full of yarn through. Actually a ruler would do the same thing, although with a cardboard strip you can make a pointy end to poke it through a little more easily. You poke it through FLAT, then turn it on its side and the warp threads all lift up in the air.

Does that help?

Tiff said...

weaving, what an awesome idea. I might have to use this in my home-school. thanks for the idea!