Image of a loom being used

The ‘arts’ issue of Friedman Place FOCUS would not be complete if we didn’t give an update on our Therapeutic Weaving Program!   As many of our supporters know, Friedman Place has been offering Therapeutic Weaving as a resident activity for over 25 years!  Almost one-third of our residents participate in weaving. The Therapeutic Weaving Program is part of Friedman Place’s David Herman Learning Center, it is run by two professional weaving instructors and a very dedicated group of volunteers.

The Therapeutic Weaving Program started several decades ago in our previous building, it has grown and developed with the agency. In its early years, the instructors did most of the design and layout of weaving projects. Today, weavers lead the process and are involved in deciding what projects to work on, what colors and designs to use, types and styles of yarn and thread, etc. We were fortunate to be able to move the Weaving Studio – into a larger more visible location in our Annex building, in 2016.  The new, improved Weaving Studio has been up and running since September 2016.

The Therapeutic Weaving Program provides residents an opportunity to create original, one-of-a-kind weavings and woven household items such as napkins and dish towels.  The useful items they produce and the process of weaving, are a source of pride and self-confidence to the weavers.  The camaraderie between weavers, instructors and volunteers while in the studio, are an outlet for learning and socializing since weaving is done individually, but in a group setting.

We have many different kinds of looms in a wide variety of sizes.  Weaving uses the manipulation of hand levers and floor treadles to create complex patterns, weaving requires physical mobility which helps meet the physical needs of our diverse group of weavers. Weaving requires a symmetrical body motion, the left and right side of the body work equally, using balanced motions that include use of arms and legs. It helps improve fine-motor skills for those who have difficulty holding items in their hands. In addition to physical aspect of weaving, there is the benefit gained through mastery of the complexity of memorizing a pattern and the multi-stepped process required in weaving.  Once a pattern sequence has been absorbed in the weavers’ muscle memory, weaving becomes highly meditative and relaxing. Not only is creative expression relaxing and enjoyable, it also connects residents to the world, leads to tremendous feeling of productivity and accomplishment, and helps them convey their uniqueness and value. 

While some of our residents are physically frail or limited, the vast majority are eager and physically able to engage the world if only given the chance. Given their visual disability, lack of opportunity, and bias against people who are disabled, a major challenge for the Agency is to provide opportunities for our residents to find meaningful activities. There is a very high demand from our residents who want to weave, the new Studio space makes meeting the demand possible.  If you are interested in learning more about the Therapeutic Weaving Studio, please contact Beth Elman at Ext.1111 or beth@friedmanplace.org

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5527 North Maplewood: Chicago, IL 60625 Phone: (773) 989-9800