Stick weaving is a fun addition to the Handwork toolbox and is a productive alternative to the endless finger knitting of the lower elementary classroom! A Montessori friend told me she uses this activity for new students at the beginning of the year as it gives them something to focus on whilst she cycles up her lessons.
Once the sticks are made this is a very fast way to weave. For younger children, you may choose to have the sticks already made, though I have found children as young as six very capable of making their own, with support.
I like to introduce all new crafts by examining the history and tools with the children and, as much as possible making our own tools. There is a full lesson on making the tools for stick weaving in my book: The Work of Wool - A Montessori Handwork Album but you can buy them online if you prefer.
Here is my stick weaving lesson, as always:
Italic text: What I say
Regular text: What I do
Stick Weaving Lesson
Age of child: Any
Materials: Five weaving sticks, two different colours of yarn.
I have noticed you have been working with your weaving looms and I wondered if you would be interested in another sort of weaving that does not require a loom? It is called stick weaving. This gives us a clue to what we use instead of a loom – yes sticks! Sticks are such fantastic tools! (If you are going to make your own tools, now is the time, if not, take some time to examine and discuss the tools you have with the children.)
When we weave on a loom, the first thing we need to do it set up our warp threads. We do this with stick weaving too. The warp threads are going to be doubled over so I‘m going to cut them twice as long as I want my finished weaving to be, and then add a bit more for tying off.
I’m thinking of making a headband, so I’ll measure a piece of yarn that goes twice around my head and the add another 20cm (8 inches) to allow me to tie it.
Model measuring and cutting your first thread.
I have five weaving sticks, so I will need a warp thread for each one. I need to cut four more threads of equal length to my first one.
Model cutting one more thread, then invite the children to cut the next three.
Each thread needs to go through its own weaving stick and line up so that the ends are of equal length.
Demonstrate threading a weaving stick. Invite the children to thread the others.
We need to line up our weaving sticks and threads, and to keep them tidy. We’ll tie a loose knot in the end of the threads.
We have our warp threads set up, so now we need our weft thread.
To start my weft off, I need to tie it to one of the sticks. I don’t want to tie it too tightly as I’ll need to be able to slide it down later.
Select a ball of yarn and tie the end one of the outside sticks, about a third of the way from the top.
I need to hold all of the sticks in a row in one hand, so that I can use the other hand to do the weaving. This might feel a little tricky at first, but it will become easier once I have woven a few rows.
Pick up the sticks and line them up in your hand.
We know that the weft needs to go under and over the warp, so we will weave it under and over the sticks.
Begin to weave the thread under and over the sticks. When you get to the end of the row, return in the opposite direction, making sure to maintain the opposite under/over pattern to the previous row.
Use a gentle tension so that the sticks hold together, but you will be able to slide the rows down the sticks.
Continue weaving, pausing to notice when you run out of room and have to slide the rows down the sticks.
When the sticks are full of weaving, discuss with the children what need to happen next.
This is the point where we get to slide our weft onto our warp – ready?
Gently work the rows off the bases of the sticks and on to the warp threads until you have about half of the rows left on the sticks.
Now I have more room to continue weaving! I can just keep filling up the sticks and then sliding my work down onto the warp threads. I’ll know I have finished when my weft threads reach the knot at the bottom of the warp threads, or I feel that my weaving is long enough.
Assist the children to set up their weaving sticks and begin weaving.
When you are ready to remove your weaving from the sticks simply cut the threads away from the sticks and knot them in pairs or threes to hold the rows in place.
Tie the ends together for a headband, or make your weaving into a guitar strap, wrist band, belt or anything else that takes your fancy.
Please let me know how you get on in the comments section below or share your pictures on the Montessori Handwork Facebook page. Happy weaving!