Quick knit weaving loom
When we first announced to our kids that we would be making handmade gifts for each other for Christmas this year, the reactions were less than enthusiastic. Would Santa approve of the toys coming out of our workshop?
But as the shock wore off and the ideas started flowing, our kids soon discovered an ancient truth: "'Tis more blessed to give than to receive."
For the next few weeks our kids lost themselves to a world of toymaking. They sourced materials from scrap lumber piles and forest floors. It’s really quite remarkable how creative kids can be under the influence of their own imaginations. Mom and Dad got in on the act as well—after all, it was our idea in the first place!
As a result, our family has never been more excited about a Christmas morning unwrapping than this year, both the givers and receivers.
Here are a few of our favorites:
Quick-Knit Weaving Loom (ages 6-12)
This simple loom is perfect for making small knits, such as washcloths or scarves. It can be easily made out of any scrap wood and nails you have in your shop.
What you will need:
- 1x4 or larger piece of wood at least 12-inches long (pine works great)
- Drill with 1/8-inch and ¾-inch bits
- 1-½-inch nails (thicker joist hanger nails work great)
Cut a piece of wood 2-¼ inches by 12 inches.
Marking loom before cutting
Mark the wood to cut a 10-inch by ¾-inch wide slot down the center of the wood.
Drill a ¾-inch hole 1-inch in from each end.
Using a jigsaw, cut out the center section between the two holes.
Loom frame with hole cut
Sand the wood frame smooth. Optionally, lacquer or paint the frame as desired.
Mark the frame with 30 holes spaced ¾-inches apart: 14 along one side, 14 along the other, and 2 on the ends.
Using an appropriately-sized drill bit for the nails (such as 1/8-inch), drill a ½-inch deep hole for each mark (use a drill press if available). This step will ensure the nails go in as straight as possible.
Pre-drill holes for nails
Lightly set-hammer in each nail, being careful not to drive the nails too far and split the wood.
Hammer nails into holes
Turn the loom upside down. Using a scrap block of wood, lightly hammer the frame to force the nails to insert to the same height.
Hammer loom upside down.
Your Quick Knit Loom is ready for weaving! Wrap with a skein of your favorite yarn.
Tip: Search for YouTube videos on “loom knit scarf” for a tutorial on getting started.
Colorful Blocks (ages 1-5)
What child can resist colorful blocks? This simple DIY project will turn your scrap lumber into hours of creative play.
What you will need:
- 2x4 lumber at least 30 inches long
- Plywood or other backing 9x9 inches
- 4 pieces of scrap wood at least 1-inch wide (for edges)
- Miter saw
- Liquid water color paint or other liquid dyes (food coloring can work)
If available, use a table saw to shave ½-inch off the 2x4 lumber, making it exactly 1-½-inch by 3-inches.
Mark the lumber every 1-9/16-inch. The extra 1/16-inch will account for the width of the saw blade when cutting on center to produce 1-½-inch blocks.
Mark lumber before cutting
Cut the blocks. There should be 18 in total, with some scrap left over.
Sand each block smooth. This is the most time-consuming part. Conscript little hands to help!
Now paint the blocks with liquid water colors or other brightly-colored dyes and allow to dry.
Optionally, Coat the blocks with clear lacquer to preserve the paint job. Water-based dyes will bleed if they get wet.
To create a holding tray for the blocks, cut a piece of plywood or other backing to 9 by 9-inches square.
Cut tray backing
Cut four pieces of scrap wood at least 1-inch wide and slightly longer than 9-inches to make a 45-degree join. For example, if your piece is ¾-inch thick, then cut 10 ½-inches long with two 45-degree angles on each end.
Glue each end and pin-nail to the backing to hold in place.
Your blocks are finished and ready to wrap or stack (and topple)!
Rory Groves is a technology consultant and family farmer who lives in southern Minnesota, with his wife, Becca, where they farm, raise livestock, host workshops, and homeschool their five children. He is author of the book Durable Trades: Family-Centered Economies That Have Stood the Test of Time (Front Porch Republic). Connect with Rory at The Grovestead, and read all of his MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.
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