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How to Cane

How to Cane Activity

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If a desk chair were to break, we might head to the local department store in search of a replacement. However, in Colonial times, people fixed everything themselves. After all, reparing a chair was a lot easier than making a new one! In fact, any fifth-grader with weaving, knitting, or knotting experience can wrap up a mirror or photo frame the same way Colonists caned chairs. One tricky corner wrap is the key to caning like an American pioneer.

What You Need:

  • Square wooden picture frame about 6"-9" square
  • 4 skeins of rug-weight yarn (use different colors for a pattern)

What You Do:

  1. Prepare the picture frame. Before the child gets started, remove staples and hanging hardware with a pair of needle nose pliers. Learn and practice the corner wrap a few times yourself. Work with the frame in your lap, not flat on a table.
  2. Tie the yarn to the frame loosely. Stretch the yarn to the opposite side of the frame and follow the diagrams for making one corner "bout". Point out to your child that the over-and-under technique is like weaving on a loom. The yarn moves over and under the frame.
  3. After demonstrating the first bout, stretch the yarn to the opposite side. Show your child how to turn the frame so the wrapping corner stays at upper right (or left if you are left-handed.) Pull yarn just tight enough to keep it from sagging and hold it against the frame with a fingertip to keep it place. Then turn the frame so the working corner is on top again.
  4. Invite your child to take over with the bout for the second corner and so on. Mention that you practiced and offer to help if needed. Four bouts (one in each corner) is a full "course" that should bring the yarn back to the starting corner. If not, help your child unravel the corners and try again.
  5. After laying one course correctly, begin the next with the yarn snug against the previous course. Once the hands "get it," your child will simply repeat the wrap, changing colors to make stripes -- the frame practically fills itself.
  6. Once 1/4 of the frame edge is filled, children can stop any time (or go on to fill the whole frame.) Attach a mirror by tucking each corner beneath a wide section of yarn. Postcards and photos can be placed the same way.

Frame Caning Tips: - Decide which side is the back. When you need to change colors or move to another ball of yarn, tie the ends together on the back side. - The yarn around the frame tends to spread out more than the yarn within the frame. Push the loops around the frame gently toward the corner every so often to keep the courses (and your color stripes) straight.

Updated on Aug 23, 2013
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