Studio: Fibers – The Perfect Advanced Weaving Project – Woven Pouches and Cord Weaving with Cassie Stephens

Video Transcript

Once your students have learned how to weave on a cardboard loom, the next step would be to teach them how to weave on a loom. This time instead of weaving only on the front, weaving all the way around the cardboard loom. When they’re weaving all the way around a cardboard loom, they’re essentially creating a pocket. That pocket, once it’s taken off the loom, can become a woven patch. This project is a time-consuming one. It’s also one that you would want to do with students who have had a lot of exposure to weaving before. This is a project that I do with my fourth grade students. They’ve started weaving since first grade, with paper weaving, then circle loom weaving in second grade. Third grade would be the tree weaving or cardboard, and this would be their right-of-passage weaving, and like I said, since it takes a while, what I have found to work for me is I allow my students to take their looms and weavings home with them. My requirement is that they know to bring this back to art class every time they have art.

This has worked for me and my situation with good success. If that’s something you want to try with your students, then you need to really instill in them that they have to take good care of this loom and to bring it back every art class. If it’s not something doable in your room, then try having your students weave with a thicker yarn. That will speed up the weaving process. If your students are going to be working on these patch weavings, here are the supplies they’re going to need. Going to need to purchase some of these cardboard looms. You could make cardboard looms, but I prefer, since my students are taking these home, to buy a pack of these because this cardboard is a lot sturdier than normal cardboard. These kind of looms come in a variety of widths. You can get one double this width and then triple. I prefer to use these smaller ones because weaving does take a while and that will cut down on the amount of time that students are weaving.

Also, when you purchase these, they come in a pack of about 12 for about six dollars, so you can get a good amount of looms for not much money. These looms, since they are well-made, they can be reused for a couple of years in a row. Now when you’re purchasing these looms, I have noticed that they all have a different kind of teeth at the top and the bottom. These, I like to call the Spongebob teeth looms, just because of the gap of those. You can buy looms where there is no gap and there are small cuts already in the loom. The reason I don’t prefer those is because I’ve noticed that those with the pre-cut notches oftentimes aren’t cut all the way through and because it’s such a tight squeeze between those notches, it will sometimes cut the warp string. I prefer to go for a Spongebob loom. The only problem with this loom is the notches are spread very far apart. This will make it so that when the students are weaving, it won’t take them as long, but it also creates a very loosely woven pouch, which I have found tends to have a little bit of holes in it. For that reason, when I give my students a brand-new loom, I just ask them to cut each one of those Spongebob teeth with a line going right up the middle, stopping at the top of that curve.

To do that, like I said, the cardboard it thick, they need to choke the scissors so that it’s right there so they can get as much leverage as possible in order to cut all the way through to that loom. My students, there’s a little bit of moaning and groaning, but since the loom is not big, it doesn’t take them very long to make those cuts. Usually, because they’re so excited about learning how to do pouch weaving, they’re willing to go ahead and cut this loom and get it done, so that they are ready to start weaving. Once their looms have been cut and they have made notches right through all those little Spongebob teeth, they’re ready to start warping the loom. When we warped the cardboard loom, we only warped on one side of the loom, but since we’re going to be weaving all the way around the loom, then this loom needs to be warped all the way around. Again, I like to use this kind of cotton twill yarn that’s on the cone, because it’s a lot stronger than warping with regular yarn.

When a student is warping their loom, they need to start, just like with cardboard weaving, in one of the corners. It doesn’t matter which one, they just need to wedge the yarn in between one of those cuts they just made, turn it over, making sure this tail or wasted yarn is not very long, and tape. When they tape, they need to make sure to tape at the bottom of that curved line right there. To warp this loom, instead of just warping it on one side, like was done with the cardboard loom, you’re going to need to have the students warp on both sides of the loom. To start, they’ll need to start in one corner, wedging that warped string into one of those pre-cut notches, flipping it over, and adding a little piece of tape to the back. Making sure that that tape does not cover any of those little parts they’re going to be warping through.

Now I’m just going to take the string and pull it down, and instead of moving it over to the next notch, I’m wrapping it all the way around the loom. Essentially, I’m making a big oval with my hand. I’m going in the cut, in the cut, and in the dip, in the dip. My students, when they do this, I have them, when they’re finished warping their loom, I have them bring their loom and that skein of yarn to me. The reason being I want to double-check and make sure they haven’t missed any. For example, if a student misses one, that’s going to mess up their weaving, so before I let them cut the string, I always have them bring it to me, let me double-check or ask a friend to check for them, and make sure they have not missed any of those cut notches or the dip notch that they need to be warping their string through. Once they’ve finished completely warping their loom and I’ve double-checked it and made sure they haven’t skipped any, then they are ready to go ahead and take this end of the string down and start the process of weaving.

All right. Once students are ready to weave, if you want to take a look at this weaving, you can see that it is woven all the way around until it gets to a certain point, and then students will switch to just weaving on one side of the loom and that’s how the flap is created. When you’re weaving, you’re actually starting at the bottom of the weaving, weaving all the way around until you get to a good stopping point. Then you’re ready to just create the flap. To get started, I find it very helpful to provide my students with these longer needles and I like to use regular yarn, not anything too fuzzy or funky, just because these strings are so close together, it’s difficult for them to see what they’re doing if they have really fuzzy or bulky yarn. They’ll need to go ahead and anchor the string to the needle and they do not have to anchor the end of the string. The reason being, is because as they’re weaving, they’re going to in the end flip their weaving inside-out, so all of those strings and knots and that little tail that I’m about to create will be on the inside.

To start weaving, it’s that same process, over and under. When they get to the end of a row, they pull. They pull until there’s a tiny little tail, use their fingers or a [kom 00:08:08] to press it down and turn it over. When they flip it around to the other side, and notice that I’m weaving around the loom, I’m creating that pocket. When I flip it over to the other side, that’s when I really need to stop and see what did this last string do, because I need to make sure to do the opposite. The last string went under, so my goal is to go over. Push it down with your fingers. It’s important to tell the kids they really need to pack their weaving down. It needs to be packed down eventually so tightly that the warp strings are no longer visible. They should only be able to see the strings that they’re weaving with.

For this kind of weaving, it’s important that your students understand that they’re going to be creating a pattern of color, but that their weaving needs to be of horizontal stripes. They could do horizontal stripes of a group of colors. They could do horizontal stripes that are thick and then thin. That is how you want to introduce weaving to them when you’re first getting started. For more advanced students, you can share with them different techniques of adding patterns into your weaving, but this is not something you’d want to share with students if they’re just getting started. This is for more advanced students who want to tackle something even more difficult in their weaving.

As the students are getting near the end of their strand of yarn, they just need to double-knot tie a new strand of yarn to the old strand of yarn and then reattach it to the needle. I’ll share with you how to do that as soon as I’m done with this row. I think it’s important for the students to stop weaving when their yarn is about as long as their hand, because that gives them enough length of yarn to go ahead and tie a new strand to. Don’t let them keep weaving and have just a short little tail. It’ll be frustrating for them to tie a new strand of yarn onto that. They could either cut or just untie this string and then add their second one, putting the two strands of yarn side by side. Wrap it around your finger. Put the tails in the hole and pull.

I tell my students that they need to make sure that their weaving is no smaller than four inches in height. That’s the minimum and the maximum is seven inches. The reason is this: anything smaller than four inches is just going to look like a wad of yarn, but if it’s about four inches or taller, it actually looks like a substantial weaving. It can’t get any taller than seven inches because you still need to have space on the loom to create the flap and you also need space at the top in order to tie those off to create the top of that weaving. I’ve went ahead and woven a little bit more on this loom. I have about four inches and if you want the weaving process to go a little bit faster, have your students weave with a thicker yarn. It’s okay that I’ve got my knots showing, because when I take this off the loom, it’s going to be flipped inside-out.

When your students have woven to the desired height of their weaving, then they’re ready to start creating the flap. It doesn’t matter what side they weave the flap on, but they need to make sure they pick a side and they stick with it. I’m going to go with this side, go ahead and add my new strand of yarn to this one. Hold this nice and tight. Now I’m ready to start working on the flap. When they’re ready to create their flap, they’re only going to be weaving on one side of their loom, and they’ll just be weaving back and forth, just like they did on the cardboard loom when they made their person or their wall-hanging. If I’m going to be weaving back and forth on this side, what I need to do is look right here and do the opposite of what this string did. This string went over, so I know to go under. Remember, when the students are pulling this across, if they pull too tightly it could cause draw-in, so make sure that when they pull it across, they pull at that arch, or like a rainbow. Just like this. Pulling it in an arch and then packing it down with your fingers. If there’s a bubble, they can just pull it in a little bit farther. My knot, I’m not worried about it, since that’s going to end up being on the inside.

One thing you can share with your students when they’re working on their flap is using a popsicle stick to prop up some of the warp strings. This will make their weaving of the flap go a lot faster. All they need is a popsicle stick. It can be a small one or a large one, or if popsicle sticks aren’t an option, just a cut piece of cardboard shaped like a long, thin rectangle. They just need to weave that rectangle or popsicle stick through, just like as if it were the needle they were weaving with. Once that’s through they can lift it up and what that popsicle stick does is it props up every other string and then that gives a little tunnel for their needle to go through. That way, their needle doesn’t have to go over and under each time, but this only works when going in one direction. If I were to do that again, going back this way, it’s going to take out what I just did. It unravels it.

They have to understand that when they’re using that stick, if they decide to do so, that they can only use that trick going one direction. I like to have them flip it down, use it to pack it down, slide it up, don’t take it out, and then they have to weave what we call the old-fashioned way going back the other way. That’s just an option for them. It’s a nice little option that kind of speeds up the weaving of the flap. Just going back and forth, for me, it means that I can only use the stick when I am going to the left, so I’ll prop that up and go to the left. I tell the students that they need to make sure that their flap is no smaller than three inches. That way, it’s long enough to really cover the pouch and have enough space to put a button on.

When your students have gotten their flap to three inches or a desired height, then they’re ready to take their weaving off the loom. To remove the weaving from the loom, they’re going to need to take the stick out. This strand, for now, can just kind of hang. Go ahead and take it off the needle. It does not matter what side they start on when it comes to removing their weaving from the loom, but they do need to make sure that when they cut those warp strands, they cut them as close to the top as possible. Don’t let them cut it close to the weaving, it will cause the weaving to unravel.

I usually tell them to cut two strands of yarn at a time, starting as close to the top as possible, tying that first set of strings loosely. This is exactly like the cardboard weaving, when you were removing it from that loom. The second one, pull nice and tight. Pull those strands of yarn aside. My students, some of them have left these strands of yarn long, especially when they’re hanging from the flap, and if they’re left long then my students have added beads to the end or once they’re gotten them all tied they can be cut short, but I would prefer that they do that after they’ve tied all of the strands, just to make sure that they’ve got those knots nice and tight. If they only tied a single knot and then they clip that, then it’s going to come unraveled. I like to let them leave them a little bit long until all of the warp strands are tied.

When one side is finished and all the warp strands have been tied, have the students flip the loom over, and because the strings were clipped from the other side, they’re naturally going to fall through the notches in the loom and they’re going to do the exact same thing, by tying two strings together with a double-knot.

On one side of the loom, the students are going to end up with three strands of yarn and if that happens, just have them double-up two of the strands and tie it to the other one. Once all of the strands of warp string have been tied, your students can go ahead and trim those off, but just make sure that they double-check to be certain that they have indeed tied double knots for all of those. Since they’re cut so short now, it would be very difficult to tie knots on those. This extra guy, you can go ahead and tie him to one of those strings, just like that, just to secure him in place. Sliding the weaving off the loom, if the students wove it nice and didn’t pull too tightly as they were weaving, is just as easy as sliding a sock off of a foot. However, when they slide it off, it’s going to naturally flip itself inside-out because the bottom of the weaving is stuck to the loom. They’ll just need to gently pull that from the loom and that taped edge can be pulled off as well. Now they have a woven pouch.

This little strand right here, they can take that and just feed it through to the inside of their weaving and pull it up so that it disappears. If you want to have your students add something like a button on, then they can use a bead and just sew a button right here. To make the buttonhole, all they have to do is separate these strands of yarn just a little bit to pull the button through. Now let’s talk about cord weaving. Cord weaving is something that you can do with students from second grade and up. Cord weavings can be used for things like bracelets. They can be used to add to a pouch either across the top or on the side. For cord weaving, all you need is a round piece of cardboard. To create a loom for cord weaving, you’ll need to have your students draw several lines on their loom. They’re going to make it look like a compass, so they’ll draw one at the top for north, south, east, west, and once they’ve got that, they need to divide each one of those line segments in half, so you have northeast, southeast, and just add those lines until you have eight.

Now we need 16 lines, so in-between each one of those line segments, add another line. Make sure you have your students count. They should have 16 lines on their loom. Once they know for certain they have 16, they’re going to need to go ahead and cut on those lines. I usually have my students write their name on this loom. This loom will ultimately end up in the trash, but while they’re weaving on it they’ll need to keep track of it so having their name on it is a good idea. Once they’ve gotten all 16 lines cut, they need to bring it to you because you need to put a hole in the center of the loom. You don’t want them to do that. I usually do that by forcing the scissors through and moving them back and forth a little bit. Now their loom is ready for creating a cord weaving.

For cord weaving, you need eight strands of yarn and when students are first doing cord weaving it’s really helpful if they only use two different colors. It’ll cut down on the confusing. Once they learn how to do cord weaving, however, they can use many different colors but they always need to have eight strands of yarn. I’m going to have eight strands of yarn, maybe four that are orange and four that are blue, so have them gather up those strands of yarn. It can be colors, if they’re adding it to their pouch, that coordinate with their pouch, that might look nice, or colors that are completely different. The choice is up to them. Once they have those eight strands of yarn, have them take the ends of the yarn and match them up. It doesn’t matter what order they do these in just as long as all eight strands of yarn are matched on one end. If the other end is not the correct length, that’s okay. That’s not going to mess up their cord weaving.

When they have all of those strands of yarn, make sure they double-check and count to be certain that they actually have eight. Now that I’ve got my eight, I’m going to go ahead and tie an overhand knot with all eight strands of yarn, so I’m wrapping it around my finger, putting the tails in the hole, and pull. Once I’ve got my eight strands of yarn all tied together, I’m ready to put them on my circle loom. I’m going to take this and if this is like the head of person who has a while batch of hair, I’m just going to slick their hair back and push this knot through the opening. It should be a nice, snug fit because you want that knot to stay there. You don’t want it to be sliding out from the hole.

This is the back of the loom. This is actually where the cord weaving is going to come out. You never need to look at the back of the loom, only at the front. To set the loom up or to warp it, you’re going to need to put two strands of yarn at the top. I’m going to put two strands of yarn that are the same color very close together, one notch and then another notch right next to it, making a very narrow V. We’re going to say that that’s north. If that’s north, you need to take two other strands of yarn to create south. It doesn’t matter how many spaces are in-between, I’m just taking two strands of yarn that are the same color and it’s going to make a very narrow X. I’ve got north and south and these two colors that are the same are going to make east and west. Again, they are very close together and there are no spaces in-between those notches. Now my loom is ready for weaving.

My weaving is a pattern and that pattern is going to be this. I have a very narrow X. I only touch the vertical X. I never move the horizontal X. I always start with my left hand and I always start with the bottom-left string. Here’s my bottom-left string of my vertical X. I’m going to take this out and I’m going to only put this on the left-hand side. My left is making this go from an X to a fork. That’s all my left hand ever does. It always starts at the bottom and goes to the top. My right hand, all it ever does is it takes this top of the fork and brings it down to the right hand side, making it back into an X. It’s okay that the X is a little bit curved, as long as I now have an X. Then I rotate this clockwise and I start at the bottom again. Left to the top. It always stays on the left side. It never crosses to the other. Left to the top. Right side drops. Turn it like the hands of a clock. I start with my left hand at the bottom. My left hand always goes from the bottom up. My right hand always goes from the top down. Rotate. Left hand always does that same motion. It always goes up. My right hand always brings it back down and turn.

If your students are working on this and they get a little bit confused by the process, I tell them to remember “Left to the top. Right side drops. Turn it like the hands of a clock.” Left to the top. Right side drops. Turn it like the hands of a clock. As they’re working on this, their weaving is going to be falling out from the bottom of the loom. If they do it on a table like I’m doing, this is going to become tangled, so I like to have them do this while they’re standing. If it does become tangled, don’t let them rake their fingers through it because it will make the tangles worse. Have them pull one strand of yarn out at a time and that will help untangle them.

Once your students have woven on this for a while, they’re going to be able to see that that braided cord is coming out from the bottom of their weaving. Like I said, it helps to have two colors to really cut down on the confusion of how they’re working on this loom. If they need to stop, I tell them it’s really a good idea to stop with the left hand up. That way they know when they have this wrapped up, when they get it back the following art class, they’ll see that fork and they know that that means the right hand brings it down. However, if they forget that step, all they have to do is look at the loom. Whatever string is laying across the other ones is the one that they just did and that means that it’s the blue string’s turn next. They will continue working on this weaving until these long strands of yarn can no longer reach this end of the cardboard because now their cord is very long.

When they have finished and the cord is very long and these strands of yarn are very short, all they have to do to take it off the loom is cut it. You don’t have to tie a knot on the ends of this kind of cord weaving because those fibers have been locked into place so tightly due to the weaving. It’s not going to easily come unraveled. Just cutting off those knots and having that cord is how you remove it from the loom. The great thing is that once they have the hang of it, they still have a cardboard loom. All they need are eight strands of yarn. Since they’ll know what to do, they won’t have to use the same colors again. In the past, my students, they have stitched those either on the inside of their pouch, just running the needle all the way through the cord, putting it inside of the weaving and running a couple of stitches around it. Some of them have wanted it to go more across and they’ve stitched it on the outside to show a little bit of a tassel, or my younger students, when they make these, they end up just knotting the end and making them into a bracelet.

This is a project that is great for your students who now have experienced a lot of weaving projects. They’re pros at weaving on those cardboard looms and this gives them something that’s functional for them to use which gives them a great sense of pride to be able to use a loom like this that they’ve made themselves. Working on these cords is a great way to break up the weaving process, since it’s quick, fun, and easy.