Friday, May 21, 2010

Rag Weaving

This month we received a lifetime supply of big and colorful mat board from Apple Jack Press.  I'm not kidding. This is a serious assortment of mat board in all colors, shapes, and sizes.  Thank you, Apple Jack Press, for supporting the arts in Bennington County!

I'm still in the process of going through the big unwieldy pile and trimming it down into uniform sizes that will fit on the art closet shelves, but decided to take a break from that, and make some cardboard looms.  We're going to finish up the year with some weaving!

My students love weaving.  Of course, there are a million ways of doing things, but here's what I do.  For simplicity sake, I use the paper cutter to cut the mat board (or cardboard) to a uniform size.  I chose 7" X 11", because this worked for the size of the scraps I had after trimming.  I measured and marked the spacing for the notches on the first loom.  I found I could quickly transfer the notch-marks to the other looms if I staggering the edges (so they looked like steps), and placed the marked loom on top as a guide.  With a pencil I ran down the steps.  I found I could mark 20 looms in about 4 minutes.  Of course, you could have the kids measure and mark their looms, but again, for simplicity sake....

Kids began by cutting the notches and writing their names on the back of the looms.  They warped their loom by taping the warp thread to the back of the loom then bringing the warp to the front, down, around the peg, back up and around.  They ended by taping the warp to the back of the loom.  

We made "yarn" from old T-shirts by cutting a continuous spiral around, and around, the body of a shirt.  On some shirts, we found we could give the yarn a little tug to make the yarn curl up--like the loops sold to make pot holders.  Tug, and wind up into a ball as you go.  There you have it.  The rag yarn helped to stretch our limited yarn supply.

I'm a big fan of this video and always use it to introduce the basic do's and don'ts before we begin.


Here is a link to the handouts I use for weaving patterns.

I assess students on their ability to discuss weaving using a weaving-specific vocabulary (warp, weft, shuttle, shed, tabby weave, basket weave, rya, twill, selvage).  Demonstrate three different weaving patterns (either in their own weaving or on our shared Friendly Loom).  They must also demonstrate that they can control the tension of their weaving to create even selvages.

This year we are relating our weaving to weavers in Guatemala.

I find that some students will take longer than others to finish their weaving so it's good to have a secondary activity handy.  Straw weaving and homemade knitting nancy's work well here.


  1. Great weaving info, Barbara- thanks! Also, thx. for visiting my Georgetown blog - and yes, please do use the felt pin project with your kiddos, they will love it! Let me know if you need more info! Josey/Georgetown Elem.

  2. Thanks Josey. I can't wait. I left my questions on your blog and will check back with you later in the week. :)

  3. I'm new to weaving too, so this was very helpful! What do you do with the beginning and end of each piece of yarn? How do you finish it off?

  4. Just found your comment, Amy, sorry for the delay in responding. To start weaving we don't do anything special, just leave a little tail that can be trimmed off later. Everything is locked into place by the weave so no need for tying or knotting. To keep it simple I have kids end their yarn at the end of a row, and same thing, leave a little tail to trim later.
    When the loom is full and you want to end the weaving, you can slip it off the cardboard loom and slip a twig or dowel into the loops to make a wall hanging. Or you can cut the loops and tie pairs together to keep things from unraveling.

    Hope that helps.

    Happy weaving.