A few years ago I hosted my in laws for Christmas, including my young niece. She was, at the time, the only child in the house so I needed to find a way to keep her entertained and happy. Naturally I turned to weaving. With the holidays upon us I share this story again in the hopes that if you have a young one visiting you can give them a fun activity and hopefully instill in them a love of weaving. —Christina
This year for Christmas instead of making our normal rounds in Kansas, we decided to take it easy and stay home. After moving at the end of November, the thought of travelling further than an hour or so still makes me feel queasy—and to be perfectly honest I have already adapted to the much warmer New Mexican winter and after four Colorado winters am happy to avoid snow.
We put out word that anyone who desired to spend time with us for Christmas would be more than welcome to come and visit us. As a result, in a few days’ time my house will be filled with relatives and (hopefully) holiday cheer. Among the group visiting will be my wee young niece. She is the lone child in a sea of adults and small dogs, and as such sometimes gets bored. I usually welcome her with stickers, coloring books, and boxes of crayons, but this year I have something extra special planned.
I have some beautiful variegated alpaca blend in my stash that I thought Little Miss (as I call her) would love. Not only is it lovely, but it’s also quite soft and fun to work with. So I’ve warped up my rigid-heddle loom and I’ve selected a number of yarns from my stash that should work nicely with the warp. (And a few that are just plain glitzy fun.)
When Little Miss arrives she will get her usual batch of coloring books, plenty of crayons, and stickers galore. When she tires of those (which sometimes takes all of ten minutes) I will introduce her to the loom, show her how to use it, and tell her she can do whatever she wants. If an adult comes up to her and says, “Oh, wouldn’t you rather use this yarn? Doesn’t the color match better?” I will intervene because when you are young and have a Vision for your art, it’s never (ever) helpful to have an adult come in and say, “Oh wouldn’t you rather make the sky blue instead of purple?” If she needs help then I will guide her, but she will have full control over what colors and textures she puts on the loom.
Part of the beauty of weaving on a rigid-heddle loom is that it is so easy to jump into the land of spontaneity. It is fairly intuitive to use and it’s very set up make the warp easy to manipulate for lace and knotting and whatever else the heart desires, which is all good when your heart is all of seven years old. You need less warp and have less waste, so you can try out fun yarns that you wouldn’t think of putting on a multi-shaft loom. And if, like Little Miss, you are still quite short, you don’t have to worry about your feet not touching any peddles.
When she has woven however many feet she needs for a scarf, we’ll take it off the loom, tie the fringe, and gently wet-finish it. Little Miss will then have a new scarf to wear out and about. I know that this may not work out completely as planned, and I’m fully prepared for pouty frustration. (Goodness knows I still have pouty meltdowns every once in a great while, usually while warping, so I can’t judge too harshly.) I just hope that she has fun and is proud of what she makes—and isn’t that what weaving is really all about?