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.