While mindlessly scrolling through Instagram a few years ago, my thumb came to a halt as I spotted a photo of a beautiful yarn wall hanging. It was a soft cream color with stripes, triangles, and fringes weaved throughout in olive green, rust, gray, and oceanic blue. About the size of a standard sheet of paper, it hung on a wooden rod suspended by strings. It looked artisanal and homemade in a way that would tempt someone to pay a steep price.
The most impressive part, though, was that my friend Alex had posted the picture with the caption, “Spent a lot of this weekend weaving this little baby.”
I immediately texted him, “You made that?!” He confirmed and let me in on his secret: He created this awe-inspiring textile using a kids' toy he purchased online. The Melissa & Doug Wooden Multi-Craft Weaving Loom is a kit designed for children over the age of six to promote hand-eye coordination and fine motor skills—incidentally, it was also used by my twenty-something friend to avoid spending $65 on an upcharged version at a fancy home decor shop. At $27, plus the cost of yarn in the shade of your choice (the kit comes with some complementary rainbow yarn), the toy seems like the way to go. Plus, you can’t put a price on the accomplishment of finishing a project.
After I’d been admiring Alex’s weaving work for quite some time, I thought I’d try my hand at the craft and show you, step by step, how to use a children’s toy to make a macramé wall hanging of your own.
Create your weaving area by positioning the dowels and crossbars in your desired size. I chose to make my project tall and thin.
Tie the thin white string that comes in the kit to the top of the left-side dowel, then thread up and down through the notches until you get to the right-side dowel. Tie the string to the top of the right-side dowel.
Tie your yarn to the needle and start to work it over and under the string across the loom. Alternate over and under in the other direction. To tighten, press the rows down and together with your finger.
Once you have a few rows, knot and cut the yarn. Then, start to make a layer of fringe at the bottom. Wrap yarn around your arm, fingertip to elbow, 30 times. Cut the ring of yarn in half to make 15 pieces of even length.
Take two pieces of yarn at a time and make a knot by laying the two yarn pieces over two white foundation strings and pulling both sides through the center hole. Tighten and pull down to complete the knot. Repeat across the piece.
If you so choose, switch colors of yarn and begin more rows of weaving. You can switch colors back and forth to create whatever pattern suits your style.
If you want fringe in the middle of your piece, cut shorter strings and repeat the same knot you made at the bottom.
Once you’re done weaving (i.e. you’re close to the top of the setup), carefully remove the bottom loops from the notches first. Tie them together with an overhand knot to ensure the textile won’t fall apart. Repeat the same thing with the top.
Thread a dowel or nice stick through the loops at the top. Use a piece of yarn to tie to the dowel in a loop for hanging. And you’ve got yourself a piece of art!