Rainbow Loom has become one of the top toys in the country. The plastic crafting device uses a template board, tiny rubber bands and a hook to weave everything from bracelets to elaborate charms. Weaving may seem an unlikely subject for a YouTube boom, but currently there are more than 500,000 Rainbow Loom instruction videos on the website. For millions of kids around the country, it has become something of an obsession.
"I get a minimum of 100,000 views a day and I'm just one channel," said Kim, a stay-at-home-mom who’s become a YouTube crafting super star. "On the weekend that number doubles," she told KPCC. Online, Kim goes by the name "Made by Mommy" and she prefers not to share her full name for privacy reasons. Kim's one of about 30 people now making a career from ad revenue generated by online video tutorials.
If you are a fan of Rainbow Loom or just a parent or teacher trying to cope with the craze, here are tips and local resources - some of them straight from YouTube looming stars.
- If you're just getting started, the Rainbow Loom complete package ($14.99) has everything you need to begin. It includes 600 rubber bands - enough to create 24 bracelets.
- Be wary of products that aren't authorized. Suzanne Peterson, the woman behind Rainbow Loom's official YouTube videos, warns that copycat products don't meet safety standards and that parents and kids should watch out for sharp edges from non-authorized toys.
- Wondering where to begin with YouTube videos? "The number of people that have now posted Rainbow Loom content is staggering to think about," said Kim, the New York-based mom behind the popular Made by Mommy YouTube account. It's a good idea to start with the official Rainbow Loom videos, according to Kim. They're also the only YouTube videos that don't have ads up front. Plus, the comment page is moderated, making it more kid-friendly.
- The next step on YouTube is to check out the other big players. Some popular channels include: Made by Mommy, Justin's Toys, Ashley and Steph and Ally's Bracelets.
- For a good roundup of the top looming tutorial videos on the web, Peterson suggests Loom Love. It's run by two sisters and their mom and features videos with the easiest to follow instructions.
- Rainbow Loom also has an official book ($15.29). It includes the same diagrams that are used in the Rainbow Loom YouTube videos and includes QR codes that you can scan with your tablet or smart device to get directly to the videos.
- Local classes are available if you prefer to learn in person. Michaels Stores offer classes and the Burbank Central Library is planning free meet-ups.
- Wondering how to clean up without going crazy? Kids may lust after plastic organizers that help show off their rubber band collection. But Kim points out that you can avoid the horror of an overturned case — just imagine hundreds of rubber bands spread out across the living room floor — by simply using plastic ziplock bags to store the bands.
- If items do spill, avoid rushing for your vacuum. Rubber bands can cause damage. Pick up what you can and then use the hose attachment to get the rest. "If you vacuum it up the spinning brush will tangle it up like spaghetti," said Leonard Garland, owner of Garland Vacuum Sales & Service - a popular repair shop in the Atwater Village neighborhood of Los Angeles.
Do you have other Rainbow Loom tips? Maybe you have looming stories to share from Southern California schools or meet-ups. Let us know in the comments below.