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16/10/2014

Crafty Ideas Family Giveaway Kitty Review

In which we enter the world of small elastic bands

16/10/2014

(Disclosure: this is a review post, in among the tale of a little girl’s optimism, the real reason why everyone should learn a round turn and two half hitches, and the preservation of my embroidery thread. All thoughts and words are undeniably my own; no one else would chatter for so long and on so many tangents. And if you make it to the bottom there’s even a giveaway!)

Over the summer a new word entered my eldest daughter’s lexicon. A word that I suspect strikes fear into the hearts of school caretakers everywhere, and anyone else engulfed in a tidal wave of colourful elastic.

Yes, Kitty discovered the existence of loom bands. And from there it was only a short step to wanting to make one. Well they do come in all sorts of exciting varieties of pink and purple.

But her interest seemed to come and go, right up to the point that we found ourselves sat in children’s church visiting a friend one Sunday morning and the Sunday school leader pulled out a packet of bands. All the little girls set to and a fair few Mummys as well, twisting and weaving the bands over their fingers until there were half a dozen new bracelets accessorising Sunday dresses. Kitty pulled out a small handful of bands and brought them over to us;

“Mummy! Can you make me a loom band?”

And despite numerous sneaky looks at the little girls constructing at speed all around me I had to say no. For the first time in her life Kitty had found something crafty that neither of her parents knew how to do. Clearly it was time to learn, and happily Hobbycraft were more than willing to be elastic enablers and sent us the Cra-Z-Loom kit to try out.

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

A kit that fortunately comes with instructions as well as a bright magenta loom (instant hit), the hook (also pink) a baggie full of 600 rainbow bands and 25 s-clips.

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

In my defence I’m not sure why I thought I should know how to make loom bands; when I was in my teens the big thing was friendship bracelets. I ruled at friendship bracelets, mainly due to the winning combination of being a sailor – two half hitches; piece of cake – and having a mother with a well stocked embroidery box who would allow a little light pilfering on the condition that I didn’t leave it in a giant snarled mess. I could make cords and stripes and zig zags, chevrons, fish (very popular at Scripture Union camp!) and even the occasional word.

I’ve got fond memories of hours spent with thread pinned to my school skirt with a safety pin and I’ll admit I was a little curious to see what I’d make of the latest incarnation, and whether I’d ever get over the fact that they look exactly like brace elastics (if you don’t know what I’m talking about then I’m officially jealous of your good fortune and excellent straight teeth!). Kitty on the other hand was just a smidgen more than curious when she heard she was finally getting her hands on a loom band!

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

So how did we get on?

The basic premise seems to be that you lay out your bracelet by looping bands over the pegs, then hook the bands in order and finally pull the bracelet off the loom and finish it up by joining it with an s-clip.

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

We started with the simplest of the three bracelet instructions in the pack and after I’d had a quick play with half a dozen bands to work out what we needed to do I handed it off to Kitty. She easily got the hang of the zig zag pattern we were trying to make and ‘warped’ the whole loom quite happily.

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

When it came to the weaving she could see what she needed to do but found it more of a challenge; she did about half the band and I did the other half, but she’s only just four, and I’m sure that as she grows her manual dexterity will catch up and I won’t get a look in. With a few more years experience wielding a crochet hook under my belt I found it easy to hook the bands up and over and the whole thing came together quickly to someone’s evident delight!

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

And after that certain someone went to bed it’s just possible that I may have got it back out for a little play of my own – for research and testing purposes of course you understand!

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

Once you’ve worked out what you’re trying to do the raised braid and the waterfall bands come together as quickly as the simple band and the results are just as well received by small daughters. I found the pictures the most useful guide to what we were doing for all three; the words seemed to unnecessarily complicate matters.

And half a dozen bracelets in I can see why loom bands are so addictive; they’re quick, easy to make, and Kitty and I had a great time playing together and choosing colours (I’d never be able to teach her friendship bracelets at this age) and happily my embroidery box remains untrammelled.

The kit itself feels sturdy enough to withstand a few years weaving and I liked that the instructions covered a few different band patterns.

If there is a downside It’s the storage conundrum. The bands and links come in little plastic bags of the sort that once opened are going to erupt everywhere. We started out putting the bands in the bowl to my kitchen scales which was great – right up until the point that I needed to weigh something – and then we moved on to one of Elma’s weaning bowls. After that seemed to erupt a rainbow of elastic every time anyone so much as looked at it I’ve poured them all into a screw top jam jar; no one can do loom bands without Mummy to open the jar and my hoover is much happier without a regular diet of elastic through it’s innerds. And while jam jars aren’t a practical inclusion to a kit, a resealable bag or a little clip box would be an improvement, particularly in a kit that’s priced at £15.

Which brings us to the sticky question of the price. It is a great starter kit there’s no question about that, but is it £15 worth of great kit? I’m honestly not sure about that; it’s more than I would pay on a whim or to pick up something new for a rainy afternoon.

Having said that, if they could sort out a storage solution it’s got everything you need to keep you busy for hours thus fulfilling my sister and my childhood rule when choosing Christmas presents for each other; something to do and with all the bits you need. Devon in the winter can be very stormy and also very shut!

And as I’m certain I’m not the only one who looked at small elastic bands with bafflement I have a little treat for someone. Hobbycraft have given me another Cra-Z-Loom kit to giveaway – to enter all you have to do is fill out the form below.
a Rafflecopter giveaway