Weaving a Mini Blanket

In The Legend of the Poinsettia by Tomie dePaola, a little girl named Lucida lives in a small village in Mexico. Her family is asked to weave a new blanket for the Baby Jesus figure that is carried in the Christmas procession. Her mother sets to work, but when she becomes gravely ill, Lucida tries to finish the blanket for her.

This week, the wee ones were busy making mini blankets that will be used with our Advent Week 4 project. However, these woven blankets would also be great in a gnome or doll house as blankets or rugs if you add tassles! The children used heavy yarns. I made mine with very thin weaving thread. I think both turned out great!

NOTE: Looms can be made out of heavy cardboard. It just so happens we had scraps of hardboard left over from another project which Tim cut up for us. Below I give directions on how to make a loom from hardboard. In the photos, however, Tim is cutting out several at one time, and the scraps were bigger than described in the directions, but in the end he cut them down to the sizes indicated below.

To make the looms out of heavy cardboard:
Cut the cardboard 5 1/2" x 4". On either short end, make marks every 1/4". On each mark cut down 1/4" creating slats.

To make looms out of hard board:
Cut hardboard 6 1/2" x 4".

On either short end, draw a line across the board 1/2" from the edge. On each end, along the line, make marks every 1/4".

Using a 1/8" drill bit, drill a hole on each mark on the line.

Using a table saw, on one short end cut through the holes so you leave 2/3 of the hole on the loom. Do the same to the other side.

To weave:
Add the warp by wrapping the front of your loom by going up and down around the slats or holes. When the hole thing has been wrapped, on the backside tie off the two ends securely.

Using different colored yarns or strings, weave over/under, until the whole loom is filled.

HINT: If you start colors in the middle of the loom, and overlap new colors, all loose ends will be in the center back. By overlapping new thread 3 or 4 warps, they will be secure and will not require tying off.

When the whole loom is full, simply pop the warp threads off the loom. Clip loose ends left.

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Join Our Advent Celebration!

This Sunday is the first Sunday of Advent. This is a very special time for our family as we prepare for Christmas. I have put together Advent Activities to do with the wee ones and happily will be sharing our activities with you. In case you would like to join us with all or part of our activities, I'm giving a quick overview here, so you can collect books and materials in advance. I don't have all the details hammered out, but in general, there will be a book each week, an applique block, a kid craft, a recipe and possibly an extended craft. I've also included a rudimentary supply list to get you started. Whether you join us for all the activities or just some, we hope your family has a joyous and meaningful Advent!

WEEK 1 - Gift Giving From the Heart
The book: The Littlest Angel
The craft: Wool roving angels (natural wool roving)
The recipe: Angel wings
The applique: An angel

WEEK 2 - Symbols of Christmas  
The book: The Legend of the Poinsettia
The craft: Weaving a small blanket (scrap yarns for a 3" x 5" blanket)
The recipe: Sopapillas
The applique: A poinsettia

WEEK 3 - Celebrating With Family
The book: Christmas in the Big Woods
The craft: A Gingerbread House
The recipe: Pancake men
The applique: a log cabin

WEEK 4 - Birth of Jesus

The book: Room for A Little One
The craft: Nativity with Mary, Joseph and Baby Jesus (using 2 large people bodies and 1 boy peg with assorted fabric scraps)
The recipe: Coffee cake birthday cake for Baby Jesus
The applique: not sure yet!

Lot's more detail and lot's more fun as we help the wee ones prepare to celebrate the birth of Jesus.

Loom for One More

In another life I must have been a man, because I hate to stop and ask for directions... (I'm never lost, I always know where I am... in my car!) and I insist on trying to figure things out for myself before I turn to instructions. So, the other day, when I put our new loom together, I decided to dig right in. Sure, next week there will be a stack of weaving books on my nightstand, but for right now, I just want to touch and feel and experiment. Later, I'll learn technique and truly appreciate the advice of experienced weavers. But right now... it's all about sensations.

We bought a simple table top loom... very suitable for children. I can't use any technical terms yet, because I don't know them, but suffice to say, Michelle and I successfully strung the loom (see what I mean... I have no idea of what the correct terminology is) and set to weaving. I am sure we are doing many things wrong... like, do you start the weaving right at the bottom, or do you leave space? And what is the best way to stop and start new fibers? There will be time to answer all those questions. For the time being, this is about process, not product.

The kids weren't very interested in the loom construction. The girls were off playing with their spoon dolls, and Bug was somewhere saving the world. So, I sat down and started weaving. I brought down a stash of weaving yarn I had received by mistake many, many years ago (I have a blog written about THAT already) but after making several passes back and forth, and squinting to check my work, Michelle disappeared. She returned with a large ball of extra chunky yarn. "Here", she said, "try this."

WOW! With a few more passes I felt like I was on my way. Okay... so I'm often about immediate gratification and this chunky yarn gave me a feeling of accomplishment. Thank you, Michelle! About this time, Fairy and Pixie came into the room with their entourage of spoon dolls. Fairy watched me make a couple passes, them promptly climbed on my lap and wanted to give it a go! She immediately fell in love with weaving! Her fingers worked the threads adeptly... maybe more so than mine... and she only needed to be shown something once before she incorporated it into her technique! So, for the next hour we wove, gammy and granddaughter, guiding each other's hands and equally delighting in the beauty of the creation that was unfolding before us. 

I can guarantee you that you will be hearing much about weaving over the next couple of months. We will show you how to make a couple of quick, inexpensive looms that will get you and your children started weaving. And, as we learn, we will share our triumphs and our tribulations. I'm excited! 

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