Saturday, December 17, 2011
5th graders weave pouches!
Here are pouches made by Caleb, Sydney, and Caroline
The first woven pouches are complete and I couldn't wait for the rest to show them to you. Hopefully most of the others will be finished this week, before everyone leaves for vacation. The kids did great on this project and are VERY proud of their weavings.
Below is a pouch both open and closed to show you what it looks like.
This is the process: we began with a hunk of a cereal box (3"x8") as a loom, and marked off 1/4" intervals on the two 3" lengths. We cut down 1/2" at the marks to make notches, or "teeth".
The loom was warped by stringing the warp string up and back, going around each tab ("flossing the teeth"). Then the loom was folded in 1/2 to create the pouch, and a rubber band was put around it to secure the fold. Most kids opted to fold the looms unevenly, so that there would be a flap when complete. For extra security, a lot of the kids put a piece of tape over the teeth to keep the warp from slipping off before they started weaving.
The weaving is done in a circular fashion until the flap is reached, and then it is a more traditional back and forth weave. The students use forks or combs to 'beat' down the yarn so that the weave is tightly packed, getting as close as possible to the top of the warp.
To make sure the kids all understand the importance of OPPOSITES in weaving, we started the project with a 'HUMAN WEAVING'. I chose five kids to be the warp. Another student was selected to weave the weft, and he weaved rope in and out between the warp kids. Then I gave the weaver a second rope and told him to weave again. In one class, it was PERFECT. The boy weaved the 2nd rope the same as the first one, forgetting about opposites. Too funny. I told the warp to walk away and they did, leaving the rope on the floor! The boy realized his mistake, rounded up the warp kids, and re-weaved the 2nd rope, this time in the opposite position of the first rope. I instructed one of the students in the warp to go sit down, and suddenly she found the other 4 kids following her! They were all tied up together. The result: everyone, and I mean EVERYONE understood how important it was to make each strand OPPOSITE the prior one. This is especially important in a circular weave like this, because there is an even # of warp strands. (There are actually 11 warp strands, but when the loom is folded in 1/2 there becomes 22.) So each time a loop is completed, the weft yarn has to double up on an "under" or "over" in order to keep the weave opposite of the prior loop. If you don't understand my explanation here, just try it out and it will make sense. My kids did not have any problem with this, once I told them to check each time they turned the weaving over, and forget what they had done on the other side. "OH! I GET IT!!!" I can't tell you how many times I heard this :-)
When the weaving complete, the two ends of the warp string are knotted off, the warp strings are pulled off the teeth, and the loom is pulled out and discarded. Above is a whole class of work-in-progress, most nearing completion.
Finally, the students use needles or crochet hooks to work through all the yarn ends and hide them in the weave. NOTE: This is a good project to enforce that "ask three before you ask me" rule. The kids who finish first will be very good teachers to the ones moving a little more slowly.
Many students sew a button on the front and make a rope strap. (Making a rope is MUCH faster than braiding or kumihimo).
Don't know how to make a rope? It's easy:
Cut 2 or 3 strands of yarn, each more than twice as long as the desired rope. Then have two students each take an end and start twisting the yarn, as tight as possible. DON'T LET GO!! When it's nice and tight, fold it in 1/2 grabbing the two ends together and knotting them. Let the rest go, and run your hand down it to smooth it out. Voila! Twisted rope!! We use the loop on the folded end to pass through the weaving and pull the rest of the rope through. The other end needs to be either sewn or knotted through the weaving.
My assistant superintendent observed my class the day we did the human weaving and began the actual weaving. She was thrilled with how the lesson went, and loved that my students knew so much vocabulary - all the "W" words of course: weave, warp, weft (or woorf); and the others: loom, opposite, and beater. I hope who ever replaces me next year will keep the kids weaving annually.