Boys Who Weave

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I’m so excited about the progress of “my” Mountview Weavers who have only about eight hours of weaving under their belts. The first project they are working on is a bag. They’ll weave two rectangles on the Schacht School Loom which will be sewn together for the bag. They’ll then sew on a handle made they’ve made with the Incredible Rope Machine. Meeting for an hour once a week just wasn’t enough time for them to progress as rapidly as we needed to meet a mid-December giveaway at a Denver shelter for homeless youth. So, last week the staff agreed to take small groups to the weaving room for some additional weaving time. Wow, what a difference this made. Their technique improved, their production increased dramatically, and, most exciting to me, they innovated. They figured stuff out!, like, learning to make stripes in the warp, weaving horizontal weft stripes, making a plaid, weaving slit tapestry! They helped each other and learned from each other. They engaged. I am excited about their progress, their creativity, and their sense of accomplishment. All this is good, and whether these young men ever weave again isn’t the point. What IS important is that they know that they can learn a skill, and better yet, that they can expand on that skill through their on ingenuity. And this is powerful indeed. Back Story The program I’m involved with is a restorative justice weaving project for 10 teenage boys who are in residential care. Restorative justice programs aim to help people who have harmed their communities in some way to give back to that community. Last year this facility started a knitting project with the girls who have knitted caps and scarves and mittens for homeless shelters as well as made blankets for the VA hospital. The facility found this project successful on many levels and wanted a similar model for the boys. They decided that perhaps the boys would respond to weaving and approached Schacht about equipment, simple looms, such as inkle, our School Loom, rigid heddle loom and Mini Loom. The next step was to find volunteers, and through a local yarn store, Recycled Lamb, and the Rocky Mountain and the Handweavers of Boulder weavers’ guilds, we found wonderful volunteers who have committed to work in pairs one night a month for a year. I enlisted my friend Mary Kay and we met with the facility personnel to get the project organized. We decided that a felted bag would be an easy first project. Weaving would progress quickly, and because the bag would be felted, any weaving inconsistencies would be masked. A bag seemed to be a project that would appeal to the boys. Project Specifics: Equipment: Schacht School Loom, two pick-up sticks, 12” stick shuttle, tapestry needle. Yarn (Warp and Weft): Brown Sheep Worsted weight Lamb’s Pride singles. Size: We warped the full width of the loom and wove from the very bottom to the top only as far as it allowed knots to be tied at the top edge. After removing from the loom, overhand knots were tie and long ends clipped. The bags were pre-washed for some shrinkage before machine washing with hot water and regular detergent.

Schacht Spindle

Schacht Spindle Company, Inc. was founded during the back-to-earth movement of the late 1960's and its accompanying craft resurgence. Their first loom was a simple tapestry loom, a version which they still make today. Over nearly 50 years, Schacht has developed a broad range of high quality hand weaving and hand spinning tools, including their popular Cricket Loom and Ladybug Spinning wheel. Schacht’s mission is to create beautiful and well-designed products that enhance customers’ weaving and spinning experience through innovative problem solving, creative ideas, skilled woodworking and craftsmanship, and friendly, knowledgeable customer service. Schacht’s family owned business is located in Boulder, Colorado.