While I work most of the summer, my wife, Monica, is a teacher (and has summers off, jealous!). She has had some wonderful adventures with our 5yr and 8yr old kids. A highlight was their trip to the Lowell National Historical Park, outside of Boston, in Lowell Massachusetts. Would you guess that visiting historic mills could captivate young kids and adults alike? Guess no longer – it can!
A day at the mills may include a trolly ride, and a canal ride on a barge. Also plan on seeing a room full of antique looms actually working (“they’re really loud daddy!”), and trying your hand at weaving. Perhaps most importantly, the portrayal of history is so accessible! Monica has been viewing New England towns with a new perspective, and our kids have been referring to “mill girls” in all kinds of contexts, relating their experience back to fashion choices, work and play situations, and a surprising number of other things that they see around us daily. It really made an impression on them!
Another cool outcome? After trying their hand at weaving on the park’s looms, each of our kids has placed a loom on their gift list!
The looms in Lowell for hands-on-try-out were similar to the Schacht 15" Table Loom 4-Shaft
or Leclerc Dorothy 15 3/4" Table Loom 4-shaft
, which are fully-functional 4-shaft table looms, and very cool. The sky is the limit with these looms and any 2-shaft pattern
or 4-shaft pattern
or weaving kit
that calls for 4 or fewer shafts (including rigid heddle) should work wonderfully (so long as it’s not too wide and you have the correct reed :-). As wonderful as these looms are, we don’t usually recommend them to children, unless they have an equally-or-more-interested-adult attached. Warping them and selecting a pattern can require some stick-to-it-iveness, and they are pricier than similarly sized rigid heddle looms
Can you still get kids weaving? Oh my yes. My daughter came in to work the other day, and I turned around to find that she had taken over on our demo-model Harrisville 7.5" Easy Weaver
which is priced very reasonably and comes pre-warped! We also love the Ashford SampleIt, 8" Rigid Heddle Loom
for simple, affordable, capable, portable, rigid-heddle-weaving-fun. The nice thing about these smaller looms is that they can be used not only on a table, but also in you lap in the car or at the beach or wherever your adventures take you.
To find a National Park in a down town, to find that it captivated kids and adults, and to find that it has so powerfully changed our perceptions of New England, has been a wonderful discovery. If you are close to, or passing through Lowell, MA, plan on taking some time to take it in! Now if I could just figure out how to have the whole summer off…
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