Welcome to TechCrunch’s 2019 Holiday Gift Guide! Need help with gift ideas? We’re here to help! We’ll be rolling out gift guides from now through the end of December. You can find our other guides right here.
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.
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 Vegar, the owner of Oakland, Calif. yarn and fabric store A Verb for Keeping Warm. Their online shop also carries a selection of kits.
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.
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.
Learn how to knit
Known for their quality, sustainably-sourced yarn, Wool and the Gang’s beginner kits comes with everything a brand-new knitter needs to get started. They can make projects ranging from hats and scarves to sweaters.
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 dwelves into the subject in detail.
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.