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Teaching More Than 500 Kids To Weave = The Best Week Ever!

If I could afford to keep doing inspring work for free, I would do it. In a heartbeat.

I’m wrapping up one of the most rewarding and exhausting weeks of my crafty life and I didn’t make a dime. In fact it cost me money. But the money I spent making a new batch of large patchwork rug looms was completely worth it.

Since last Thursday I have spent every day at my daughters’ elementary school working with a small crew of volunteers to teach more than 500 kids in grades K-5 to weave. I’ve been telling the kids that we’re making a giant patchwork rug for the school library, but what I realized after my first session is this project is way bigger than any rug we piece together. The kids, the parents, the teachers and I – we had some awesome moments this week. We worked together, we kept the momentum going and we got a lot done.

 For days I’ve watched little hands stretch loops across looms and kids beam when the final over-under pass was completed. And these pieces are so, so beautiful, folks. The kids picked their own colors and it was a blast to watch them delight in seeing how their squares turned out and watch them walk around the room to check out the handiwork of their classmates.

This morning I watched two kindergarten boys raise the small loom they shared high above their heads like it was a trophy. “Oh, yeah!” they said, smiling like little leaguers when the weaving was done. I snapped photos of the celebration, doing what I could to encourage the showboating. (I will add a photo of the boys if I can track down their parents for their permission.)

In the next session a boy a couple years older in the school’s special education program completed a large square by himself, simultaneously exceeding his expectations of what he could accomplish and conquering his fear of the unknown. His teacher told me afterward that he told her he did not want to come to the workshop, but he ended up doing great. It was a truly beautiful thing to see students who struggle more than their peers completely rock the looms. I hope to weave with that class again sometime soon.

I’ve given so many high fives this week that I’m sure I’ve set a personal record. My hands are aching from continuous weaving and I’m starting to fear that the bags under my eyes are permanent from staying up way too late connecting squares several nights in a row. But the experience has been worth the sleep deprivation.

I laughed, I cried (not in front of the kids), and I had a great time.

Sure, we had some flashes of reality in the form of very minor misbehavior and behind-the-scenes organizational stress, but even that couldn’t steal my joy this week. The best part is that my daughters both participated in and helped prep and run the workshops. I’m so glad that I was able to have this big craft adventure with them. (Abby & Amelia, you girls are THE BEST!!!)

Many thanks to the moms and grandmas who volunteered to cut up a boatload of t-shirts to make loops and the moms who helped me run the workshops and transport my kids and supplies back and forth to school. I didn’t have a bunch of volunteers lined up when I pitched these Earth Day inspired workshops, I just took a leap of faith that they would appear. And they did. Thank you so much!

Tomorrow, I’m going to attempt the grand finale of this project and I think it will be great if we can pull it off. But even if this last part is a bust, I will chalk this week up as a wild success because we taught the whole school to weave in five days and that’s just plain awesome. : )

The next time I do a workshop like this it will be easier because I won’t have to make multiple huge looms on deadline. It will also be a paid gig because unfortunately I can’t buy groceries with joy and inspiration. (Wouldn’t that be great?!)

So if there’s someone out there in this big ol’world who would like to help me fund my dream to teach the world to weave (and do many other crafts, too) get in touch. I think it’s time that I apply for a teaching grant and maybe open a small and local CraftSanity Loom factory because I believe great things could happen if I can get more looms out there into the schools, especially in the most challenged districts.

I’m not sure what will happen next, but I do know that I’ve found a new calling to add to the rotation. I’d love to take my looms to more schools and give more kids a chance to weave together. I’ve declared my intentions. Your move, crafty universe.

P.S. A very special thanks to all the CraftSanity supporters who have put up with my radio silence this last couple weeks. I owe several of you emails and some of you have been patiently waiting for me to restock my loom shop. I will be back to making looms for sale next week, so the wait will be over shortly. Thanks so much for your patience. This extreme weaving experiment is just something I had to do.

Comments

Comment from Brandi
Time: April 26, 2012, 8:11 am

Wow sounds exciting, busy, fun and exhausting all at the same time. What a lovely week!

Comment from Juanita
Time: April 26, 2012, 10:33 am

Jennifer, that is a fantastic thing you did with the kids. I’m sure you were not only an inspiration to the children but to the volunteers that worked with you as well.

Comment from Elizabeth
Time: April 26, 2012, 12:24 pm

You know I love this. And I would gladly love to help you next time. :)

Comment from chppie
Time: April 26, 2012, 12:35 pm

What an encouraging project. I’d love to do something like this at my girls’ school. Thanks for featuring it.

So did you make custom-sized looms for this then?

Comment from Elise
Time: April 26, 2012, 5:49 pm

Jennifer, congrats on your rewarding experience. I’m singing to myself “I’d like to teach the world to weave, in perfect harmonyyyyy…”. I think getting more looms in schools is a brilliant idea. Kids engage when they are engaged, it’s pretty intuitive really. I am wondering about a one for one kind of program where somehow you work it out that for every loom we buy a loom is donated/dedicated to your teaching project? Great post as always :)

Comment from Kim
Time: April 26, 2012, 9:36 pm

Hi Jennifer! I just wanted to say how much Cole’s class enjoyed their weaving. Some of them were kind of blah about it before they began, but ended up loving it. In his class, there are a couple of boys who struggle academically and they partnered up with some really nice kids and had success and were very proud of themselves. We’ll be buying a loom or two soon, as Kara had more fun than Cole did. I’ll have to get a mini tutorial though – I know how to cut the shirts into 2 inch strips, but that’s about it! : ) Oh, and I need new sewing scissors. : ) Thanks again for doing it!

Comment from Julie
Time: April 27, 2012, 8:04 pm

What a great project! You are an inspiration! If only we could survive on crafting. My kids have learned weaving in art class using yarn and cardboard pieces for the loom. They do love it.

Comment from Ronald
Time: April 27, 2013, 6:12 pm

It is not all about joy and self-fulfilling dreams, Ladies. It is also about giving the children an opportunity to learn some elementary skills which they, of course, should enjoy and use in different ways in their lives later. This basic concept for the children enhances their development and promotes their ability to make sounding decisions for themself leading to their own independence and happieness. This craftworks is a great activity and I would always recommend this to all parents regardless of their opinions of what boys should supposingly do or girls should supposingly do. I was grown up without these traditional assumptions. I still do needlework now ( I am almost 47) and my son always wants my products and copy it for his own projects.

Herr Ronald Thompson

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