Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Straw Weaving - a tutorial.

This project was so much fun, so easy, and so satisfying that I wanted to put a tutorial together for it.

This is an introduction to weaving that is perfect for children. It introduces the basic process in a way that is much more accessible to a young child than moving a string over and under other strings. While my six-year-old really enjoyed this and has made several, my three year old showed little interest in making one (but a lot of interest in picking which yarns went on the one I made for her). I can see other three-year-olds having a lot of interest in doing this and it would be easy enough for them to do on their own once you got enough lines of yarn on the straw so that they wouldn't have to hold the straws together.

To do this you'll need:
-five drinking straws, cut in half (I cut mine a bit longer, almost 3/4 of the straw to make it easier to handle)

Cut five pieces of yarn. These need to be the same length, but that length is variable. If you want to do a simple bookmark, cut the yarn into 18 inch pieces. If you want to make a dog collar or belt, cut the yarn 12 inches longer than the length of the item you want to make.

Thread each piece of yarn through one of the straws. My husband taught the girls to put the yarn in the straw about an inch and then suck on the other end to draw it through. My girls got proficient at that really fast. Every time I tried, I ended up with a mouthful of yarn and two hysterically giggling girls. When you have the yarn through the straw, fold the yarn over the end of the straw by about an inch and tape it.

Even up the tops of the straws, straighten out the yarn and tie a knot at the end. Cut a length of yarn, about 3 feet to begin with. Hold the straws in one hand as shown below with the end of the length of yarn under your thumb.

Now begin to weave the yarn in and out of each of the straws all the way to the end, around the end straw and weave back to where you the other side. Keep weaving until you get close to the end of this first length of yarn. After you have about an inch on your straws you won't need to hold the straws together anymore as the yarn will do that for you.

Once you have a few inches on the straws, move the bottom inch off the straws. Always leave at least an inch of weaving on the straws - if it all comes off, it is very difficult to get it back in working order.

When you get to the end of one length of yarn, cut another, tie it on to the end of the first length, and keep weaving.

This is a project that you can put down and come back to - as long as you put it out of the reach of 2 year old hands.

When you have it as long as you want it, slide all of the weaving off of the straws and down to the knot on the far end.

Take the tape off of the straws and pull the straws off of the yarn. Tie a knot at that end (this knot will include the end of your last weaving yarn. Now slide the weaving around until it is as even as you want it to be.

We put long ends on Hannah's bookmarks because she wanted to put beads on the long yarn ends hanging down.

You can easily vary the width (more or less straws) and the length of this for different projects, and different textured yarns can make it more fun. This is the one I made for Ainsley.

If your kids like doing this and their interest in weaving is peaked, definitely go get the book that this idea came out of - You Can Weave by Kathleen Monaghan - and get them going on one of the many other weaving projects that are included there.

Another weaving technique.

Monday we tackled straw weaving. It was a lot of fun for Hannah and me, but not interesting to Ainsley at all. Hannah and I made bookmarks for ourselves and I made one for Ainsley.

I'll put up a tutorial soon.

The books I'm using for ideas with the kids are You CanWeave by Kathleen Monaghan and Hermon Joyner and Kids Weaving by Sarah Swett. Both books are fantastic and surprisingly different - normally two books on a technique tend to recycle the same ideas.

Yesterday the girls put the cut ends of the straws to good use.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

The loom of life never stops.

A few weeks ago, I was minding my own business when I was hit with a random memory of an art class in grade school (4th or 5th grade) when weaving was introduced and given it's three days allotment. I was totally entranced and worked hard to make several different wall hangings that ranged from the class assignment of different rows of color to an intricate 'sunset over the ocean' scene complete with seagulls. Of course the next week I got scolded for not showing as much interest in sketching a bowl of fake fruit - which was the next assignment - and instead asking the teacher to teach me a new weaving technique that I'd heard about.

It was a random memory with no tie to the present that I could put my finger on. Within three days I was hit with no less than six weaving-related events.

1) In a random web search that had nothing to do with handiwork of any kind, a how-to-weave link popped up.
2) When pulling out a specific craft book in our library, a weaving book next to it fell out and onto my pile of books, so I grabbed it and another weaving book next to it.
3) When I got the one magazine I'm subscribed to, it had an amazing little article on garden looms. Seriously - garden looms??? SO cool.
4)My daughter, who was having a bad day, asked to look in the Rainy Day Box and chose a potholder weaving kit that I'd picked up on an amazing clearance deal almost a year before. She's shown no interest in it the other times she's seen it. After she finished it, she asked to do some weaving that was 'not so confusing' (the 39 different colors were visual overload).
5) One of my favorite bloggers shared a weaving technique.
6) In a yarn sale advertisement, weaving was featured. No knitting, no crocheting, but weaving. So random.

So I'm accepting it. The universe is telling me to weave. Armed with my two library books and the links I was smacked in the virtual face with, we (or at least I) will be doing some weaving around here.

First foray was today. Paper weaving. Basic with a satisfying amount of instant gratification. Hannah weaved together pink and blue paper.

And then cut out a butterfly silhouette and glued it on the top.

(This is a simple project. Fold one of your papers in half top-to-bottom and draw a line 1 - 2 inches from the top short side. Cut a line from the fold to the line. Move over at least an inch and cut again. Do this all the way across the fold. Your cuts can be straight or wavy. Cut your other paper into strips across the short side and weave them into the first paper.)

I tried photo-weaving. I printed out a photograph in color and then again in 'grayscale' (wish I could have made it more starkly black and white) and weaved them together.

I tried to get a good picture, but the above was the best I could do. The colors are more vibrant 'in real life'. It turned out really sweet.

Tomorrow is 'straw weaving'. Very excited about this one.

Oh, did I not mention the weaving quote?
During my message from the Universe, I was searching for a quote about the value of sleep for moms - you don't need to ask my why, do you? - and this one popped up. "We sleep, but the loom of life never stops, and the pattern which was weaving when the sun went down is weaving when it comes up in the morning." - Henry Ward Beecher.

New favorite quote. I love it. (My Soul Manna quote on my sidebar has been changed also. Another quote that includes weaving.)

It's oddly satisfying, following a long-lost passion into the future. It's exciting. Will I discover a latent talent, have a lot of fun, discover that at this point I really don't care anymore?

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

"It's too bad we don't have any alcohol in the house."

So began our leprechaun trap adventures this year.

Last year Hannah really got into catching leprechauns. The story started here and finished here. I was hoping that this year both girls would be excited about doing it again because it was so much fun. Hannah showed absolutely zero interest - she had me convinced that this year she wasn't interested - and Ainsley ... well a leprechaun isn't Batman, a pirate, or an X-Men character, so he's not that 'awesome'.

Then yesterday afternoon, out of the blue, Hannah said "It's too bad we don't have any alcohol in the house."

"Why do you say that?" After all, I'm not at all used to my six-year-old sounding like she's jonesing for a drink.

"Well, if tomorrow's St. Patrick's Day then we only have one more night to try to catch a leprechaun. Remember how leprechauns like to get drunk? If we had alcohol, we could catch him easier. All we have is this pretend wine," showing me the fancy soda we got on a killer deal at World Market, "and he can't get drunk on pretend wine."

Then the trap building started. As she put it together she kept asking things like "How far apart are leprechaun's legs again?" (she's making a ladder) and "How drunk do you think he'll have to be to not be able to get out of the jar?" She put a little wooden treasure chest in the glass jar to fool him into jumping in there.

Then she left him a big drink of soda in the smallest cup she could find - the door to the toy room got locked somehow and I haven't found the desire to take the knob off to open it yet, so the itty bitty cups were out of the question - and went to bed.

It definitely wasn't as involved as last year.

This morning - very early (she was very excited) - she found the cup tipped over and most of the soda gone. The leprechaun had gone too. The soda hadn't been powerful enough and he'd kept his wits about him enough to tie his rope to the ladder to lower himself in. When he found out that it was fake gold, he climbed back out, but popped his gold buttons off on the way and left them there.

We're all wearin' green over here today. Have a wonderful St. Pat's day!

ETA: Wanted to add one of our St. Paddy's Day treats to this post so I'd remember to do it next year. So much fun, soooo easy to do with little kids, very easy clean-up, and incredibly cute (and yummy).

Just get regular pretzels, stick pretzels, white chocolate, and green sprinkles. Spread out wax paper. Melt the chocolate. Turn your kids loose to make shamrocks.

Or lollipops.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

I'm being attacked.

And my guardians are asleep on the job.

Luckily, I have a hose.

Foiled again.

Yesterday was a full day.

A little girl was reminded that spring does not equal summer.

And then there was dog walking.


Bracelet making.

Guess Who.


School. Our lesson today was on grasshoppers. Our teacher is strict.

More seed starting.

Chicken responsibilities.

Then to the library for a puppet show and reading.

And park play, where Gray finally decided that slides were fun and not scary.

Craft time with a cousin while the moms collaborated in the kitchen and checked on them occasionally.

The craft turned out cute, though it was a bit too much for even Hannah. They made it through the pot of gold, the shamrock, and a few lines of the rainbow before they ran off to play in another room and we finished the rainbows for them.

Then home again, home again for reading books with Daddy before he left on a business trip.

Now on to today.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

To be an artist.

who works with his hands,
is a workman.

who works with his hands and his head,
is a craftsman.

who works with his hands and his head and his heart,
is an artist."

Francis of Assisi

Hannah has decided that she wants to be an artist when she grows up.

Painting, drawing, stitching, crafting, any type of 'art' will work. In talking about it, trying to find out what I could help her with, she mentioned that she wants to do "the art that needs eye goggles". Mkay.

So, this is a call for help.

What the heck is she talking about? Can you think of any art that requires eye goggles? Art that a six-year old can do?

Matt asked her if she was thinking of science experiments that used eye goggles and she said "Well, Father, I haven't ruled out being a scientist when I grow up, but mostly I want to be an artist. So I could do experiments, but it would be more like a hobby."

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Spring is in the air.

Saturday we had cold but windy weather - good for the first bike ride of the spring.

(Don't recognize that dog? Go here for his story.)

On Monday, we got our first en plein air experience of the year, though it was sketching and not painting. Very satisfying for all of us. Hannah, as always, drew from her imagination. Her page was filled with images of her future chihuahua playing on the lawn, chasing birds, and running beside her bike.

(Matt's trying to fix our grill - hence the grill door on the porch beside them.)

On Monday, the kids did not come in the house for more than five or ten minutes at a time until nightfall, the warm weather was that enticing.

Tuesday morning we woke up to a half-inch of snow on the ground and lots of wind. The girls decided that it was a good day for popcorn.

And reading - lots of Calvin, Batman (Ains' new love), and animal fact books.

Max and Ruby dvd, Poisson Rouge website.

And the jumphouse.

And, instead of en plein air painting, it was 'at kitchen table' painting.

Or for Gray (who showed his first interest in actually painting), 'with bare butt' painting.

For those who have sharp eyes, you may be noticing that my girl's outfits aren't changing much from day to day. We've hit that stage where each has found a favorite outfit and rarely changes out of it. This does save on laundry, but it pushes laundry time to during the night while they're asleep, so it's a trade-off.

While the kids painted, I got a few more rows in on my hammock.

Last night we had a family meeting to discuss our next family vacation. Hannah wanted Hawaii, but she'll settle for dinosaur bones, Ainsley wanted lots of hotels, and she's not willing to settle for less, Matt's wanting the Oregon Coast, I'm aching to meet some wonderful friends that I've never met 'in real life', so I was wanting the East Coast during the time that they both meet there. Budget constraints did in Hawaii, lots of hotels, and the East Coast, so Matt's Oregon Coast looks like it's winning out. We're looking into dinosaur bones sites out there and I'm trying to figure out how to stretch our travel to meet some other fantastic, beautiful, lovely, wonderful online friends.

In the meantime, we're settling for using the map as a pirate 'scope (that can, surprisingly, only see other pirates).

Today's sunny but windy, and we've gotten an email from the library saying more of Ains' Batman books are waiting for us, so it looks like a trip to town is in the cards for today.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

You know it's going to be a good day,

when the first thing you hear in the morning is "Are you going to be here all day again, Daddy?" and then squeals of joy when he answers in the affirmative. It doesn't hurt that it's a clear, springtime-feeling day.

So it's been pretend and bike-riding (the first of the season!) and admiring baby goats.

Dancing and piano playing.

Jumping in the jump house (a hand-me-down from my sister who has achieved goddess stature in my children's eyes).

Garden planning and egg collecting.

Crafting and organizing.

Dollhouses and computer games.

Scooby-doo (and the accompanying 'creeps').

Playing chess with the Simpsons (one of Hannah's birthday presents).

I've been able to get goat, chicken, and seed-starting chores done. It feels so good to be able to spend all day outside.

Tonight's family game night. Can't wait.

Friday, March 5, 2010

These posts are emotionally exhausting.

Two birthdays in three days. Yesterday I lived through two years of pictures. Today I relived six years of life with another one of the most amazing humans I know.

She's so proud of being six. It comes with some big accomplishments in her mind - a few more inches in height, two front teeth lost, a cartwheel almost perfected, a chihuahua fund being filled up (she told us that we didn't have to get her a cake if we just wanted to get her a chihuahua instead). It's hard to remember when she was a brand new life and her main goal was to eat as much and as frequently as possible.

It struck me when I was selecting these pictures how much they captured the essence of this child.

She has always had a mothering nature.

and an appreciation that borders on worship for the natural world.

She cannot contain her utter joy in dancing.

She is a mischievous little trouble-maker

with an unapologetic joie de vivre.

She is a protective, loving sibling,

who has an imagination that takes over all of our lives at times.

And she is my friend. What mother could ask for more?

Happy Birthday my precocious little girl. I so love being your mother.