Thursday, July 22, 2010


We're studying barbarians and Vikings recently - what a great topic for boys! Lots of battles, double-crossing conquerors, pleading bishops.... drama and action! Alas, many of those battles have been re-enacted in our home, which can drive a mama batty after a while. Certainly Vikings did something other than fight? Enter in the fiber arts....

Hang with me. I see you snoozing as I prepare to mention wool. No knitting involved here. This is fiber arts as related to battle training, children, and household productivity!

Every Viking home and village needed ropes and cords - lots of it. They used it on their clothing, boats, you name it. And those Vikings also had children hanging about that had lots of energy. So they figured out a way to occupy the kids and put that energy to good use - making whipcord! To ensure they'd stick with the job, it developed into a fun game.

Here you see four "bobbins" with attached wool yarn hanging from a plant hook. Vikings would've used a tree branch, but we made due. The bobbins would normally be carved wood or even plain stones. Something with some heft. Water-filled bottles work great. Enter in two enthusiastic, fair-haired Viking boys.

"Leif" and "Rolf" each hold a bobbin in each hand. Two bobbins are wound with black yarn, two with white. They toss/trade bobbins, right hand to right hand, left hand to left hand. As the bobbins are traded back and forth, the yarn is braided into a very sturdy cord. As they boys got the hang of it, they aimed to set new speed records. This productive game helped train young Vikings for battle, increasing eye-hand coordination. Even our 4 yr old figured this out! Not complicated, but highly entertaining!

Here's the finished rope, which is about 3-4 feet long. Depending on how the black and white bobbins are oriented in the boys' hands, different patterns result. At first we had a spiral pattern going, then some blunders later accidentally reoriented our bobbins which gave us a vertical stripe. You can see that the tension is tighter, and thus the rope is firmer/denser, as the rope got longer. This is mostly because the boys figured out that they didn't have to be so gentle and gave the bobbins more of a pull.

If you want to try to make your own Viking whipcord, you can find instructions and read all about it on this pdf.

1 comment:

twin fibers said...

very cool, how fun is that?! I can imagine this also included a lot of friendly competition, too. :)