Weaving: News, tips and hints by Pat Monié
Weaving With Very Young Children
Weaving with very young children can be extremely gratifying. It can also be a disaster. Here are some tips to make your experience with your young child successful and fun for you both.
Size the equipment to the weaver. If you try to get a 3-year-old weaving on a full size floor loom you may spoil the desire to weave forever. Set the child up for success, not failure. A small table top loom, or a small rigid heddle loom is a good choice. To enjoy the experience they need to be able to reach all parts of the loom. Let them feel in control.
Choose a project that can be finished in a short amount of time. Match the length of time it will take to finish the project to the child's attention span and age. With my three-year-old granddaughter we did several 10-15 minute sessions over two days. That was just right for her. She was so excited to wrap her baby doll in that little blanket!
Stick with them every step of the way. If the child is very young, or easily frustrated, it may be a good idea to 'divide the chores' - the adult may want to pass the shuttle through the shed for the child, letting the child 'catch' the shuttle, and finish pulling it through. My barely-three-year-old granddaughter was able to finish pulling the shuttle through the shed and then take the trailing weft and pull it the rest of the way through the shed. She then grabbed that beater with two hands and went to town beating that weft into place. I also manipulated the rigid heddle for her, creating the sheds as needed. I released the braking system for her, but she wound the weaving onto the cloth beam all by herself. She loved hearing the click, click, click of the pawl against the ratchet wheel. I moved quickly so that she would have very little 'down' time. She was a full participant, not a spectator.
Give plenty of praise. Don't be stingy with your compliments. You can't tell them too often how well they are doing, and how much you like their work. Vary your comments: "Wow! What a good weaver you are." "I like the way you beat that weft into place." "You really did a nice job pulling that shuttle through." "Are you sure you've never done this before? You are so good at it." "Look how beautiful your weaving is!" etc.
To ensure that the project will move along quickly choose a fairly thick weft so that progress is easily seen. In my case I used a 10 dent rigid heddle and tore my rag weft strips about a half inch wide. My three-year-old was able to weave about 4-5 inches of cloth in about ten minutes.
Remember to stop each session while they are still having fun, so that they will be excited to return to it the next time. It's a good idea to stop weaving before they get tired of it. Keep the weaving session short. They will then associate weaving with excitement, not fatigue/boredom.
Tell them how special and wonderful they are!
28 December 2012