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Saturday, March 29, 2008

Arts and Crafts: A "Native American" Loom

This winter, we focused on colonial America and the Wampanoag indians. I can't say all the readings and maps were a huge hit, but we did create a home made "native american" loom which Tom used to make a mini-blanket -- and THAT was a surprisingly successful idea. As you may know, kids with autism aren't known for their fine motor skills, and Tom's drawing and handwriting attest to that. But in this case, interest overcame potential frustrations!

We used a process described below (you'll find it on EdHelper) - and Tommy stuck with the project for several days until it was complete. Later, we visited a local arts center, and he was fascinated by a full-scale loom that "lives" there. To follow up, I've made a date to visit the weaver's studio!

In this picture, Tom is starting to create his loom with the help of speech therapist Kathleen Florance.

Cutting slits to make the loom


The final product: a blanket for "Kitten"
Partial Instructions From

2) Cut a 5" by 8" piece of cardboard for each student. Mark short lines a half inch apart
along the 5" wide section on the top and bottom. Draw a line one half inch in from
the top and bottom. Cut slits at the marks. (see photo) The loom can be made
slightly larger for older students, or if the student wishes to make a pouch. The
finished fabric will be about 1" shorter and 1" narrower than the size of the loom.

3) Thread the warp. Take a piece of yarn and put it into a slit at one corner, leaving a
3"-4" piece of yarn on the back of the cardboard, you can tape it into place if needed.
Bring the yarn down the front of the cardboard piece and into the slit at the bottom.
Then bring it back up in the slit next to it. Now bring the yarn back to the next slit on
the top edge of the loom, put it into the slit. Bring it back to the front using the slit
next to it, and so on. The warp yarn should be pulled snug as it is being threaded,
but not so snug that it bends the cardboard.

4) Cut some cardboard rectangles 2 inches by 1 inch wide to make shuttles for the
yarn. Wrap a 3 ft to 6 ft piece of yarn around the shuttle. Then begin weaving by
gently pulling up on every other thread and passing the yarn beneath it. Then head
back again, making sure to go under every warp thread that has a thread over it. At
the end of each row, tug on the yarn gently only, or the warp yarns will get pulled out
of place. Also after each row is complete, push the yarn up snug against the
previous rows.

5) When changing colors of yarn, simply weave the end of the yarn into the design, and
then start a new color.

6) When getting to the bottom inch of the weaving, the yarn can no longer be wound on
the shuttles, and will simply need to be woven with fingers. Continue to push the
yarn up snugly against the previous rows.

7) Remove the weaving from the cardboard. There will be loops at either end. A dowel
or stick can be threaded through the loops to make a hanging, or the threads can be
gently redistributed to fill in the loops. This is part of the reason why they need to be
pushed snugly against each other during the weaving.


Anonymous said...

I love it!

tommys mom also said...

Anonymous said...

As the kids say, "totally cool!"

We have just begun the home school life with our son Connor who is 12 and has Asperger's. It is wonderful to read how you have found Tommy's strengths and talents. We took Connor out of a miserable Rhode Island public school placement to do the same. We actually did the Whaling Museum today and we are just about finished with Moby Dick. Connor loved the cobblestone streets.

Your blog is an inspiration to me. Thanks for sharing.