It is a rare thing to find a material at once so soft and so strong as raffia; and it could hardly be better fitted for the work of children's fingers if it was made for the purpose. With a pound or two of raffia (there is about as much as this in one of the hanks that can be bought at seed stores or of dealers in kindergarten supplies), a paper of tapestry needles, a pair of scissors, and several flat sticks about a yard long and half an inch wide, you are well equipped. Given in addition to these some children fresh from the kindergarten training of eye and hand, and you can accomplish wonders. Indeed, so many charming things can be made from one of the great, yellow coils of raffia that it reminds one of the fairy tale in which the little gnome spun a roomful of straw into gold for the miller's daughter.
First of all, the children may braid some raffia, —we will use so much of it in this form, and now, as later in rattan work, it is well for them to learn to prepare the materials they are to work with Three single strands of raffia may be used inbraiding, if the plait is to be very fine; two pieces of the raffia in each strand makes a better size for general use. If the raffia is slightly dampened before the braiding is begun, it will work more smoothly. The ends are tied together and attached to a hook or chair back, and then the child braids to the end of the strands or until they become thin and spindling, when other strands are laid in, always on the under side, so that the little ends will not show on the upper or right side. These ends may be cut quite close when the braid is done.It is hardly necessary to say that the braiding should be even and firm.
Knotted Work Bag
The stick is held by the left hand at right angles with the body, the end resting on a chair or table. A strand of raffia is doubled and tied around the stick, as shown in Fig. 6, the knot being drawn up quite close. Twenty-four strands are knotted on in this way; they are then placed about an inch apart, and beginning with the inner one of the two strands nearest the workman, it is knotted, at about an inch from the first row of knots, with the strand nearest it in the next pair, making an even mesh. This is continued across the stick, and another row is knotted and another until ten or twelve rows have been made, when the work will
tend toward a V shape(see Fig. 7, which for convenience is drawn with fewer strands),The stick is now slipped outand the bag finished (see Fig 8)by knotting first the two loosestrands at the top together,then the two pairs following,and so on until the bottom isreached. The two sides arejoined at the bottom by placingthem with the meshes and knotsFig. 6 evenly together and knotting two strands from the front and two from the back together each time in a last row of knotting. The ends of the raffia when cut to an even length make a fairly satisfactory finish, but the following is a better one: Wind a strand of raffia over a card, about two and a quarter inches wide, five or six times, then slip it off and bind it around several times near the top with the end of the strand, sewing it fast with a tapestry needle; this forms a little tassel, such as are made of worsted. A row of these across the bottom of the bag, a cord of
Fig. 7 twisted raffia (as worsted cords are made), drawn through the top loops and an inner lining of turkey-red cotton will complete this pretty and serviceable bag
Knotted Bag for Twine
Materials: 17 strands of raffia,
A stick the size of a lead pencil,
A pair of scissors,
A ball of twine,
A tapestry needle.
It will be well to get your ball of twine before beginning this bag, to make sure of its fitting. A common lead pencil, provided it is a long one, will do quite as well as a special stick, and the raffia is knotted on it as described in the directions for a work bag, only there are seventeen strands instead of twenty-four; they are placed closer together, not over a quarter of an inch apart, and the rows of knotting are about a quarter of an inch from each other. When twelve rows are completed, the work is slipped off and finished as in the work bag. The bottom should be drawn up tightly, with a needleful of raffia, and a ball of twine of some bright harmonious color slipped in. A cord to gather up the loops at the top and a large tassel at the bottom will be the finishing touches to a dainty gift that any child may be proud to offer as his own work