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Building Togetherness through a Giant Weaving Project

By Emma Nelson, Early Childhood Education Enrichment Specialist
September 7, 2021
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Navigating a global pandemic this last year and a half has been incredibly difficult and isolating for everyone, including children. There is a crisis of division in this country and many people feel isolated, unseen and alone. Art and the process of art-making can be therapeutic and healing. As part of our Early Childhood Education programming, I wanted to create a project that would bring people together to create a sense of connection and togetherness in a time when we are still not able to gather as much as we’d like.

Contributing Fabric, Sharing Stories

We invited YWCA Minneapolis parents, families, employees, members, the whole community really, to contribute old clothes and leftover fabric —material with stories to tell — giving our students an opportunity to tell their own stories, while finding joy in connecting and working with others.

Some of the collected materials from the community.

The History and Cultural Aspects of Weaving

The students learned about the history of weaving, how weaving has evolved over time, and what it looks like in different cultures around the world. Students also learned about the invention of string, fiber art and weaving through a community lens and fine art lens. We studied famous fiber artists such as Gabriel Dowe, Sarah Zapata and many more!

Students started the project by building their own individual small weaving looms and began their weaving journey using yarn, and strips of brightly colored patterned fabric.

Weaving Together Beautiful Works of Art

Then, we moved from small individual to large-scale community weaving. I built 14 five-foot looms in my garage. Using large strips of fabric and yarn, just like with our small looms the students worked together as a class to weave together beautiful works of art!

“Over under, over under” became a rhythmic song sung at each weaving session, allowing all students to stay engaged, even when they were waiting for their turn on the loom. What does our weaving project look like? The most popular suggestions from students were: a spider web, blanket and a dress! Over the course of this project, students practiced a new art form, gained new skills, learned more about one another and came together to accomplish something amazing!

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