Gift Guide: Gifts that weave together tech, science and textile crafts

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The history of textiles and computing are closely intertwined, with the punch cards used for Jacquard looms inspiring the design of Charles Babbage’s Analytical Engine, one of the earliest computers. Two centuries later, the structure of knitted fabrics is being studied by researchers for their potential applications in soft robotics and other technologies.

Aside from their close association with tech, the mental benefits of crafting, whether it involves fiber, textiles or other materials, have been well-documented. Here are some ideas for the textile artists you know (or aspiring ones).

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Make: Tech DIY: Easy Electronics Projects for Parents and Kids

Created by educators Ji Sun Lee and Jaymes Dec, this book teaches electronic basics by combining circuitry, conductive sewing and fabric in projects that include plush animals, wearables and a board game. All materials are easy to find at craft and hardware stores.

Price: $10.99 (Kindle), $13.48 (paperback) on Amazon

Get started with plant dyes

Start using plants to dye fiber, yarn and textiles with kits from The Love of Colours, which have pre-measured ingredients.

Price: Starting from $22.95 on Etsy

Learn how to make plant dyes

Learn more about plant dyes in “The Modern Natural Dyer” by Kristine Vejar, the owner of Oakland, Calif. yarn and fabric store A Verb for Keeping Warm. Their online shop also carries a selection of kits.

Price: $29.95 at A Verb for Keeping Warm

Learn tapestry weaving

Designed for kids, Melissa and Doug’s simple wooden tapestry loom is also a great way for adults to start weaving.

Price: $23.99 at Amazon

Rigid heddle loom

The Ashford SampleIt Loom is small and portable, but lets your gift recipient sample a variety of rigid heddle weaving techniques to create different textures and patterns. At 16” wide, it is ideal for weaving scarves, but lengths of finished weaving can also be sewn together into other items.

Price: $180 at the Woolery

Drop spindle starter kit

Spinning fiber into yarn on a drop spindle is one of the earliest fiber techniques. The Kromski Drop Spindle kit contains everything your recipient needs to get started, including a drop spindle, merino wool and instructions.

Price: $32 at the Woolery

3D-printed drop spindle

For experienced spinners who want more control, the Trillium Drop Spindle, made from 3D-printed nylon, comes with interchangeable silicone beads that change the weight of the spindle, making it easier to control the thickness of yarn.

Price: $49 at the Woolery

Electric Eel Wheel Nano

For spinners who want to move beyond drop spindles, but don’t have the space or budget for a traditional spinning wheel, the Electric Eel Wheel Nano is an affordable alternative that can be plugged into a wall socket or used with a battery pack to make it more portable.

Price: $80 to $110 at Dreaming Robots

Fiber packs

Now that your gift recipient has a loom, drop spindle or spinning wheel, they will need fiber. Fūnem Studio’s fiber packs are sorted into coordinating colors and come with yarn or wool roving, which can be spun or woven into projects.

Price: Starting from about $28 on Etsy

Learn how to knit

Known for their quality, sustainably sourced yarn, Wool and the Gang’s beginner kits come with everything a brand-new knitter needs to get started. They can make projects ranging from hats and scarves to sweaters.

Price: Starting from about $31 at Wool and the Gang

Addi Express King Size Knitting Machine

Want to knit more quickly? Addi’s sturdy machine lets users knit long tubes or flat panels at speed that can be stitched together into clothing and blankets.

Price: $229.99 on Amazon

The history of computing and looms

Want to learn more about how Jacquard looms inspired computing design? “Jacquard’s Web: How a Hand-Loom Led to the Birth of the Information Age” by James Essinger delves into the subject in detail.

Price: $9.99 (Kindle), $11.78 (hardcover), $19.96 (paperback)


A subscription to Bluprint means access to a ton of resources, including well-made video classes, patterns and instructions, for a wide range of DIY projects.

Price: $7.99 (monthly) or $79.99 (annual)

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