Square – Picture Frame Loom (Weekly Unplugged Project)

By , January 11, 2009 9:25 pm

The theme for this week’s Unplugged Project was square, an unpremeditated choice on my part.

While at Walmart the other day I saw $2.00, 8″ x 10″ oak picture frames, and had a random thought.  I wondered if it would be possible to turn a picture frame into a loom.  These are the kind of odd random thoughts that I have from time to time.

I had looked at a few children’s looms like this one at Christmas time and found them to be rather expensive.  Not knowing if my 8 year-old daughter would enjoy it enough to justify the price, I gave them a miss.  But obviously looms have been on my mind.

I bought a $2.00 frame, dug some nails out of the garage, and away we went.  The only catch is that the frame is actually a rectangle, not a square.  Should I have saved this for a future quadrilateral theme instead?  Hmmm…..  But couldn’t this project have been made just as well with a square frame?

After extensive deliberation, The “Unplug Your Kids Weekly Unplugged Project Standards Committee” (ie.  me), declared that it does indeed meet the official Unplug Your Kids Weekly Unplugged Project Standards (our standards are quite loose).  :)

If you want to try this, you’ll need an inexpensive or thrift store wooden frame, some small nails, a hammer and some yarn.  Try to choose a sturdy-looking frame since you’ll be hammering on it.

Take the glass and back off the frame and save them for some other project.

Place a ruler along the short edge of the frame to measure where to put the nails.  Put a dot about half an inch inside of the inner edge of the frame, and then put dots every half inch.  Stop when you get half an inch from the inner edge on the opposite side.  Do this on both short edges.  If you do it properly, you’ll have the same number of dots on each side and the dots will be opposite each other.

Hammer a nail into each dot.  Try your best to make them straight and about the same height (but don’t worry if it isn’t perfect).

Voilà, your loom is made!  That’s it!  Easy, isn’t it?

(NOTE:  I am NOT a weaving expert and didn’t even know my “warp” from my “weft” until I researched the topic, so I hope I am accurate in the following terminology.)

Now for the weaving part.  But first, we need a few weaving accessories:

A shuttle holds the yarn that is passed through the loom (the “weft“).  I made a simple shuttle by cutting a strip of corrugated cardboard and cutting a notch in each end.  Then I wound the yarn around it lengthwise.  I made one for each color that we would use.  Here they are:

Real looms have something to compress the rows as they are woven.  I believe this is called a “reed.”  We used a wide tooth comb for our reed and it worked perfectly!

To make the passage of the yarn through the weft easier, looms usually have some mechanism for raising the strings of the “warp” (the strings that are tied onto the pegs and form the base for the weaving) which the weft must pass over and under.  The space that is created is called a “shed.”

We used a wooden paint stirring stick (the kind you get for free from the hardware store when you buy paint).  Again, a very successful choice.

To attach the warp I tied a piece of yarn to the nail at the top, pulled it as tight as I could, then tied the other end onto the bottom nail.  I did it for each pair of nails:

I tied the end of the red weft yarn to the top left nail and began weaving:

The paint stirrer easily threads over and under the warp. Turn it on its end to raise the warp and create the shed. Pass the shuttle through the shed.

Remove the paint stirrer and repeat, making sure each time to raise the opposite set of warp strings from the time before.  Pull the weaving tight, and every few rows, use the comb to push the weft up to the top to tighten it.

To change colors, as we did, at the end of a row simply cut the yarn leaving about an inch. Tie the new color on to the cut piece of the old yarn. Try to tie it as close to the warp as possible so you can hide it under your weaving and it will be on the back.

Use the same method to add more yarn to your shuttle. When the shuttle is getting low, tie the end from your ball of yarn to the tail on the shuttle and start winding more on. When the knot appears in your weaving, just tuck it through to the back and no one will see it.

We are not quite finished with our project, but I’ll be sure to post a photo when it is completed and removed from the loom.

By the way, this could be done with any size picture frame.  If 8″ x 10″ is too daunting, start with a 5″ x 7.”

If you are unsure if your children will like weaving, then try this approximately $4.00 project before spending $60.00 or more for a “real” child’s loom.

Please send me a photo of your picture frame loom creations and I’ll post it here!

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A FEW USEFUL / INTERESTING LINKS

  • Here is a basic link on how to set the loom up and weave:  How to Weave (it also explains how to get it off, which we haven’t tried yet).
  • A neat link to very simple looms of all shapes made from cardboard! – Weaving Frames.
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29 Responses to “Square – Picture Frame Loom (Weekly Unplugged Project)”

  1. liz says:

    I love it! Easy to make, durable enough to last a long time. I’ve made a lot of cardboard looms in my classroom over the years, but this is so much better! Thanks for the inspiration.

    lizs last blog post..what’s it like at -50 degrees?

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  2. That was really a beautifully done tutorial on how to make a loom!
    We had fun searching our neighborhood for squares.

    Crescent Moons last blog post..Unplugged Challenge: Square

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  3. Meg says:

    That loom is great! I’ve seen one in an art book (even simpler, but maybe harder to manipulate) using a shoebox with slots cut into the cardboard to make the “frame”. I’ve been thinking about doing that with my daughter…the pics in that book show ribbon, paper, just scrappy stuff all weaved in with the string!

    Megs last blog post..Unplugged – Square Art

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  4. Alicia says:

    I love the weaving idea! I’ve been wanting to try weaving scrap fabric with the kids for a neat wallhanging for a while now. We visited a children’s museum in NC that had a giant wallhanging the kids had woven from donated men’s ties and it was gorgeous. Now I’m inspired again to see if we can do something similar on a smaller scale. Thanks for the detailed instructions and all the photos.

    We did a drawing project for the theme this week and the kids really got creative. It’s nice to be back in the Unplugged swing of things. :)

    Alicias last blog post..Unplugged Project: Square

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  5. warillever says:

    This would be great with my multiage group — my oldest could help build, and the 3 and 4yos would probably be able to weave a bit.

    Our “project” is a serious stretch of the theme (far worse than square versus rectangle), but I really want to get back to working an Unplugged project into our week.

    warillevers last blog post..It’s Not All Fun in the Snow

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  6. paxye says:

    I remember making a loom when I was in school as a kid… thanks so much for reminding me!

    This is our first week doing a themed project but we will definitely be doing more. We made some homemade paper :)

    paxyes last blog post..Making Paper…

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  7. [...] forget to check out Unplug your Kids for more ideas one what others did with the square theme challenge [...]

  8. we posted our stuff!

    I have a theme idea for you Pasta what do you think?

    teaching tinytotss last blog post..Unplug your kids: Squares

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  9. Julie says:

    This is so inspiring! I have some unused frames that I’ll need to try this with…thanks for the inspiration!!

    Julies last blog post..Thank You Notes

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  10. Dayna says:

    This is so clever. I love the way that you see things! I will have to save this idea for a rainy day when LittleA gets older. Thanks for a great post.

    Daynas last blog post..Unplugged Challenge – Square

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  11. Bobbi says:

    Greetings! It is the annual delurk day so I’m popping by my regular reads to say “Hi!” A quick question/thought if you had two paint sticks and weaved them opposite would it work to not have to remove the stick but simply shift from the first to the second?? Cute idea! I love how you could easily expand your size with a bigger frame!

    Bobbis last blog post..Delurk Day….Insert your “Hi” Here!

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  12. JulieKP says:

    This is a fabulous idea! I am on my way to WalMart after I take the kids to school. My five year old will think this is the greatest thing ever. Thanks for the idea.

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    Laura Reply:

    I did the same thang! My kids loved it

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  13. Ooh, I made one a bit like that a while back, using a deep frame that was too knocked about to put up on the walls. My daughter loved it.

    http://uklassinus.blogspot.com/2008/06/whats-english-muffin.html

    UK lass in USs last blog post..Round up

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  14. Dawna says:

    Enjoyed your post! Just discovered your blog from hippie dippie bebe’s site.

    I also do not have a television. We do enjoy the internet together as well as some thought provoking pbs games and of course, starfall. :)

    I love your craft idea! I might just try this for my 4 year old!

    Dawnas last blog post..Moving is exciting and brings

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  15. Naomi says:

    I have been meaning to join in with some of your projects for ages and finally set up a blog and did it! We had loads of fun. I just hope our ‘balance’ project doesn’t stretch the definition too far…

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  16. Naomi says:

    oops just realised I think I linked to next week’s project rather than this week’s – not sure how to remove it, sorry! Please forgive first time attempt to join in!

    [Reply]

  17. Danielle says:

    Thanks for such a great idea. I have used the cheapy plastic looms in the past, but this is so much more authentic and durable. I posted a link to this on my blog today as well. Feel free to check it out: http://juanshappywife.blogspot.com/2009/01/this-week-thursday.html

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  18. Naomi says:

    Yay we did a kinda square thing!

    Unfortunately we do have a TV. When the last one broke I put a kids bookshelf there instead and my 3 year old barely noticed! I liked not having it for a while. But OH likes TV, and I suppose it has its place. Now he’s 6 he probably would notice. But we retain control of the on/off button, which is nice.

    Naomis last blog post..Curvy lines

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  19. Thanks for this wonderful idea. We are going to have so much fun with this each week. I hope I posted right.

    Jazzcreationss last blog post..Fun new activity we are trying

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  20. Trish says:

    Thanks for posting this! I always thought it would be fun to weave!

    Trishs last blog post..Menu Plan Monday

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  21. jackie says:

    I found this post while Googling for “make your own loom”. I have read through numerous “serious” sites for loom-building and weaving, and haven’t been able to understand anything.

    This tutorial is perfect, I understand it, and my poverty-stricken self can afford it!

    I will never have kids, but I applaud everyone living in, and raising their kids in, an unplugged life. You and they are such a joy to share the world with!

    [Reply]

  22. [...] we got out our $2.00 picture frame loom. I warped it with the fabric by winding a single strip up and down around the [...]

  23. [...] I have always wanted to try making paper so I confess, that is why I chose the theme flat for this month’s Unplugged Project (paper was already taken).  We finally did it and it was so fun!  I am also fairly proud of our efforts because we recycled not only a lot of used printer paper and newspaper, but also a picture frame which became our deckle.  It is amazing what you can do with old picture frames! [...]

  24. Tree says:

    We are going to try this with recycled grogery bags for an outdoor rug by the pool!

    [Reply]

  25. Zachary Byce says:

    I was just wondering, what measurement the nails would be, it could be a bit more helpful if you record the dimensions of the nails. Not a concern, just a question/comment.

    Thanks!

    [Reply]

    Mom Unplugged Reply:

    Good question. The nails are fairly small. Not sure of the exact size. I think any size would do really, depending on the size of your frame. Just be sure they have a head on them so the yarn does not slip off when you don’t want it to.

    [Reply]

  26. Keslie Mack says:

    OMG I am so glad I just found you. I am a mom to 3 daughters, 6yr, 4yr and 3yr. This year my oldest started Kindergarten at a Waldorf Charter School this year, so we have had no plug during the week with very limited access on the weekends.

    The biggest problem we have had is figuring out WHAT DO INSTEAD !!! Now I know, thank you, thank you, thank you!!!!

    I plan to do most of your activities, oh how you have made my life easier! And I am going to share your blog with every other parent in her class (and any other parent I run into, ha, ha)

    [Reply]

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