I live next door to the most delightful family under heaven. (They may blush when they read this, but they’ve given me new interest in a life that had become pretty darn stale.) There are five children in this family, all under the age of nine years. Each is uniquely delightful and has characteristics that link up with my various uniquenesses; I don’t have a favorite among them.

One of these youngsters loves to challenge my creativity. He has a gift for envisioning what he wants to create-through-me (when he’s older he won’t need my help anymore). He also has a gift for helping me see how I can do it. He’s 5 1/2 years old.

Fall 2018—when he was barely five years old he asked me to make an Olaf costume for his stuffed Mickey Mouse. I was boggled. “Yeah, how?” But he gestured it all out in a way that I could see it, and voila! Mickey Olaf.

Five days ago he asked me to make a robot for him.

Boring, I thought. (I’m not a girly-girl, but also not a machine-o-phile.) He started to talk about it and I said, “Maybe you could draw it.” So he ran back home, got paper and pencil (I didn’t make it easy for him), and drew this, all the while talking about it—weaving his magic spell over me.

The robot schematic

We discussed the details and various possibilities. He wanted it all gray—no colored pieces (except for the buttons). He wanted a floppy head and floppy arms and legs. He wanted claw hands. He also wanted a tin can neck, which he added to the drawing after the fact, so the separation between head and body doesn’t show accurately.

His younger brother, who had turned four the day before, wanted me to make a machine for him. He was unable to communicate his specifications in words, gestures, or drawing, so I couldn’t catch his vision. He agreed that I could make it like his brother’s robot drawing.

We had several consultations—what color robot eyes (light or dark blue)? What color and shape eyes for the machine?

Eye color OK-ed

Could I add ears? (Robot no, machine yes.) What color for the buttons across the robot’s chest and how should they be arranged? (I was told later each color button was the favorite color of the four oldest children; youngest is too young to have a favorite yet.) Which piece did he want across the stomach area? (There were several choices available.)

I had to make the Robot according to specs, but I took a few liberties with the Machine. First to go were the 6″ x 6″ plain woven squares for the body. (I’d forgotten what a drag it is to plain weave a 6 x 6 square.) Using the 4″ x 6″ rectangle, I added a simple pattern weave. I also made a modification on the hands and gave his face a little smile. And I like the “ears” on the sides of the head.

All finished

Looms used — Wunderwag Industries: 1″ x 1″, 1″ x 4″, 2″ x 2″, 2″ x 4″, 4″ x 4″, 6″ x 6″. Homemade looms: 1″ x 2″, 1″ x 5″. Weavette (no longer available): 4″ x 6″.

With permission from their parents I post this photo, though the children are hardly recognizable. (The eight-year-old is doing the obligatory older brother pose—some sort of “Awesome. Yes. Victory!” kind of stance.)

8 1/2-year-old in the back; 4-year-old, left; 5 1/2-year-old designer on the right.

Though neither put in a request, I offered to make something for the 8-year-old boy and 6-year-old girl.

The 8-year-old first requested a potato. It seemed reasonable and doable, but while I worked on the many gray, gray pieces, the process of making brown yarn squares look like a potato grew more and more elusive. I could possibly do this and that, but… Could he change his request instead?

I explained the difficulties of forming a potato shape (within a reasonable time frame) and he understood. The robot and machine were particularly suited to pin loom weaving with their square shapes. After a couple of seconds he suggested I Google a particular character from a video game. It’s white and pixelated, he said. I was kind of amazed at his quickness and ability to understand these concepts. Sometimes I forget I’m talking to children, though they’re very childlike. (Maybe I’m a big kid myself.)

UPDATE: It turns out we won’t be making that project after all. His father came over and explained that the video game espouses values they don’t want to instill in their children (the 8-year-old had played the game elsewhere). I agreed we should make a different project.

Our six-year-old wanted a pink flower. This one might be the easiest of all. Here it is underway. I’m thinking that rather than make a front and a back flower, because of all the overlapping pieces it might look better appliqued onto an 8″ x 8″ square, backed with another 8″ x 8″ and made into a pillow or tote bag. We shall see. That means making two more 8″ x 8″ squares or maybe I’ll try making those pieces on the rigid heddle loom. I’ll weave a yellow patterned 4″ square and use the English paper piecing method to turn it into a circle for the center.

Flower underway—made with 2″ x 4″ and 4″ x 4″ looms

I’ve never been much of a project-maker when it comes to pin loom weaving. Just goes to show, new adventures always await.

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