I have the pleasure of teaching handwork (AKA fiber arts) at Winterberry Charter School in Anchorage, Alaska. Winterberry is a Waldorf methods school. One aspect of our school is that the arts are integrated generously into the curriculum. Grades 1 through 8 have handwork class three times a week.
The eighth-graders have a good understanding of cause and effect and are ready to take on tasks that give them the opportunity to analyze mechanics. In handwork, we do this by starting the year off with tablet weaving.
Understanding the relationship between placement of color, direction of twist, and the specific rotation of individual cards to weave a given pattern successfully is a suitable challenge for an 8th grader. They are very satisfied when they are successful in their work (even if
they don’t want to admit it).
We generally do a sampler of patterns using a continuous warp, and then students can try something a little more challenging. This year, Grant Wattenbarger undertook the basic Ram’s Horn pattern and, in the process, he discovered a new pattern! Perhaps in the world of tablet weaving as a whole, his work should be described as “rediscovered,” but for him, it was brand new. Not only did he make this discovery, he accurately recorded the pattern so it could be successfully woven by others! He called his pattern “Set Hooks.” What a great day it is in handwork class when thoughtfulness and concentration combine to make something new in the world!
In addition to Grant’s pattern discovery, many of the 8th graders did commendable work in creating a wide variety of beautiful tablet woven bands. Here’s to an ancient art bringing an understanding of mechanics and aesthetics to young people!
© 2019 by Sarah Robicheaux
Originally published in: