Christmas looms ever closer
November 10, 2017 1:32 PM   Subscribe

My 5.5 year old wants a loom. Which of these basic models will bring the most enjoyment?

We've window shopped on Amazon and seen this one that is just a simple frame. We've seen ones like this and this which have shuttles and other extra bits. Then there are ones like this that look a little simpler and there are also peg looms.

I don't want my child to be overwhelmed. They're pretty good at the concentration business -- can sit at a jigsaw for up to an hour -- and enjoy making things so I want to buy a loom that they can get stuck into and enjoy with the minimal amount of fluster.

I know nothing about looms. Which one should Santa bring? Any advice would be welcome.
posted by run"monty to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (20 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
I had a potholder loom at about that age and just loved it.

Seems like a nice simple one would be good now. If they're into it, Santa can always bring a fancier loom next year.
posted by ottereroticist at 1:53 PM on November 10, 2017 [1 favorite]

Seconding a potholder loom -- I think I got mine about that time, and it's very easy for tiny hands to warp and then weave. I would strongly caution against anything more complex than something that's basically a tapestry loom (like the Mira loom you linked). Warping can get incredibly complicated and boring; with the potholder loom the little one can do it themselves, or at worst you can do it pretty quickly for them. Properly warping is a headache even when you do have adult fine motor skills and a lot of patience!
posted by kalimac at 1:58 PM on November 10, 2017

Loop loom is another phrase you can use to find that sort of loom. They're commonly available in craft stores. I had one around that age, too. They're simple to use and provide a fast result. The only thing I'd caution about those is to try to find loops made of cotton, so that you can actually use the products as potholders if you want. (Not much point in potholders that melt on contact with hot items!)
posted by asperity at 2:01 PM on November 10, 2017 [1 favorite]

One important thing to know, though, is that while a loom with a shuttle and heddle would have to be set up by a grownup, it's much, much faster to actually operate once set up, because you are lifting up all the threads at once with the heddle, passing the shuttle through, then lifting up the other set of threads all at once and passing the shuttle back. Without those tools, you are hand-weaving the thread in and out and in and out and in and out for every pass through, which makes things much slower.

I had a toy loom at this age that had a shuttle and heddle, and adored it. It required grown-up help to set up, but not to do the actual weaving. In my experience, even a potholder loom requires some grownup help during set up or finishing, so I say go with the cool one.
posted by Ausamor at 2:04 PM on November 10, 2017 [7 favorites]

Ausamor posted faster than I did but said pretty much the same thing. I will add that the loops available for the potholder looms are really poor quality these days, too long, too short or with weak spots. If you know of a better
source let me know because we do like the potholders.
posted by Botanizer at 2:10 PM on November 10, 2017 [2 favorites]

My little 7 year old god daughter loves her loop loom. We also make our own loops from old cut up cotton tshirts.
posted by tipsyBumblebee at 2:24 PM on November 10, 2017 [2 favorites]

I gave my 5 year old a rigid heddle loom (The Schacht Cricket, but I own an Ashford myself and prefer it). She loves it, can warp it herself, and doesn't find the weaving itself frustrating, which it can be without the right tools.

The caveat is that I do know how to weave but there are great YouTube videos showing the process of direct warping a rigid heddle loom. She is now almost 8 and I think the advantage is that she would likely be pretty tired of potholders by now, but she has a lot of options with the rigid heddle. It can continue to grow with her if she wants to learn about pick up sticks, etc. If you have questions about weaving, feel free to memail.
posted by freezer cake at 3:02 PM on November 10, 2017 [2 favorites]

Thirding the idea of going for the cool one. I had one when I was about 7 and I loved it so much. Looms that make you hand weave are super tedious.
posted by elsietheeel at 4:04 PM on November 10, 2017

I had a plastic one with a shuttle at that age. I think I set it up myself, after my mother showed me a few times. She had a large proper loom, and I made some sweet blankets for my dolls while she wove.

To complicate matters: my 7 year old is super into loom knitting, which is an entirely different awesome thing for kids.
posted by Valancy Rachel at 4:07 PM on November 10, 2017

Caveat: the cheapo plastic potholder looms suck — the loops pop off and it’s very frustrating. (I’m talking the 14$ things you can get at, like, Joann’s Fabrics).
posted by kestrel251 at 5:05 PM on November 10, 2017 [1 favorite]

If it's of any help to anyone, Magic Cabin ( metal potholder looms and cotton loops! (Sorry, linking is a mess when I'm on my phone.)
posted by corey flood at 5:48 PM on November 10, 2017

If you know of a better source let me know because we do like the potholders

We have had pretty good luck with the cotton loops here. Not perfect in terms of being 100% consistent in size, but all totally useable, and the potholders that result are nice and thick and pleasant to use. Their metal potholder frames are nice too. The traditional size is better for small hands, but the "pro" size makes potholders of a really nice size.
posted by redfoxtail at 6:22 PM on November 10, 2017 [3 favorites]

I spent years hooked on this now-"vintage" Fisher-Price plastic loom. Pic...

Obviously long gone from shelves now, but extremely sturdy, easy enough to eBay, and very idiot-proof. If I still had I would probably still be making woven hippie cross-body bags that didn't lay quite right with it. I was a bit older than 5, but not much, and don't remember needing adult help; it was very unfussy and straightforward. That it lasted as long as it did is quite the amazing testament to Fisher-Price's quality back then, too; it's a thing I would definitely not worry about buying 2nd hand.
posted by kmennie at 6:37 PM on November 10, 2017 [6 favorites]

(OMG kmennie!!! That's the exact loom I had and have been wanting again for years! Mine fell victim to a heavy suitcase falling over in the trunk of the car and I was so heartbroken. I might have to eBay myself one. Thanks!)
posted by elsietheeel at 6:46 PM on November 10, 2017 [1 favorite]

Thanks redfoxtail. Those look a lot better than the bags of random sock off cuts I was able to find.
posted by Botanizer at 6:51 PM on November 10, 2017

n =3 on that fisher price loom!
posted by Tandem Affinity at 6:57 PM on November 10, 2017

Gave my nieces (then 9 and 7) the Melissa & Doug loom from your first link. 7 needed more help than 9 with yarn changes, etc. but both have had fun. The loom isn’t as large as it looks and definitely feels like “real weaving” though without the complexity of foot pedals and such. Either of the girls could have used it at a younger age. Neither of them will give a second look at it by 11.

The potholder loom is just fun. Inexpensive, easy to learn, and portable for travel. Agree that metal loom and cotton loops are the way.
posted by Kalatraz at 10:30 PM on November 10, 2017

I have one of the Fisher Price looms and my kids never got into it (even though it's awesome!) so message me if you'd like it. I live in upstate NY.
posted by metasarah at 5:50 AM on November 11, 2017

I have the Melissa and Doug lo in my elementary art room. I love it! Great quality, great for all ages!
posted by JacksonandFinch at 6:23 AM on November 11, 2017

I think I might have been the only Scottish kid with a potholder loom (prove me wrong mefites?). Sent over by my aunt when I was 6/7 and I loved it. Our family even had a special potholder spinning dance competition. I'd go for that to start with (and get the bag of pre cut loops) and see where it goes.

I think of this as such an American hobby - would be interested to know anyone else in the UK who had one? I mean, yeah, we had crab boils in the garage and ate waffles, but I remember the potholders as so specifically American!
posted by sedimentary_deer at 9:35 AM on November 11, 2017

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