Harry Styles, the Duchess of Cambridge, David Beckham, Miley Cyrus...and the Widdup family - everyone is addicted to loom bands

Ellen's daughter, wearing her Loom bands

Ellen's daughter, wearing her Loom bands - Credit: Archant

Ellen Widdup’s 2.4 Children

My house is covered with tiny elastic bands.

They are in the cracks of the sofa, scattered across the kitchen table, in shoes, in the washing machine. I even found two in my knickers drawer.

“Sorry,” said my daughter, not sounding it, when I found six more in my bra. “I will make you a loom band to make up for it.”

Which seemed like a pretty good apology to me, since I hadn’t a clue how to do it myself.

If you don’t know what a loom band is, you need to consult the nearest six-year-old immediately.

This is the big thing of the summer – and although it started as a child’s toy, the rubber band bracelets are now the must-have accessory for everyone.

Most Read

I have one of my very own – thanks to my moaning about the mess. And my husband wears his – a rainbow-coloured plait ? under his grey suit when he commutes into the city every day.

Even my father, who has just celebrated his 65th birthday, is sporting one.

My daughter has 15.

If you ask me, the mark of any good playground craze is how long it takes to be banned. Which is why it came as no surprise to me that on the day my daughter went into school with her entire collection up her wrists, the kids were told they should henceforth be left at home.

Nothing fuels a fad like a bit of adult disapproval, however, and I believe the plastic bracelets are now being traded surreptitiously out of the pockets of gingham dresses like some sort of kindergarten black market.

It’s no wonder, really.

After all, Harry Styles wears one.

And if One Direction think it’s cool, so does every girl between the ages of five and 15.

No school rule will ever stand in the way of a trend which has gained such an impressive celebrity following.

David Beckham, DJ Mark Ronson, Fearne Cotton and Miley Cyrus have also jumped on the bandwagon.

Even the Duchess of Cambridge and her mother-in-law, the Duchess of Cornwall, have been seen at social engagements with a stretchy band around their royal wrists.

Kate was gifted the charm by young girls during her spring tour of New Zealand, and we can only assume the same of Camilla, who proudly sported hers when touring Canada a month later.

Making a bracelet involves weaving tiny, colourful rubber bands together on a loom or your fingertips.

Patterns vary from simple single bands, or “Loosey Gooseys”, to the more complex fish tails and railroads. A pack of 1,800 of the tiny rubber circles can cost as little as £1.99 and they come in a host of colours, with glitter, neon, scented and glow-in-the-dark alternatives. In the last week, sales of the product have soared and all 20 of the best-selling toys on Amazon are looms or loom-related.

Creator Cheong Choon Ng, a Malaysian-born, Michigan-based designer, has now made a small fortune with only YouTube marketing behind him – making the loom band a word-of-mouth hit.

The last time I remember a craze reaching such epic proportions was the introduction of the Tamagotchi in 1997.

My little brother had three of these key-ring-sized gadgets that allowed schoolchildren to manage the lives of a virtual pet. These, too, were banned from the school gates, which meant my mother had to feed, clean and chat to these creatures, using a series of tiny buttons, until we returned at 3.30pm. Other playground trends I recall include marbles, hula hoops, yo-yos, mini skateboards for your fingers, Pogs – the round disks you scattered with a “slammer” ? and the impossible Rubik’s Cube.

In this era, where our children are consumed by technology, do their homework on iPads, chat with friends online and are spoilt for choice when it comes to computer games and TV channels, electronic fads tend to be more prevalent.

Which makes it even more wonderful that simple rubber bands are now the big thing.

It’s an old-fashioned, inexpensive craft activity that will no doubt continue to fill the long hours of school holidays and weekends to come.

But of course, as with any fad, it will end eventually.

And this might not be so bad when you consider that there is just one caveat to loom bands: they are not environmentally friendly.

This is something my husband pointed out when my daughter was engrossed in weaving her 16th band.

“You realise these are not bio-degradable,” he said, pointing at her pile of plastic.

“What does that mean?” she asked, barely pausing to look up.

“It means they will last forever,” he replied.

She shrugged.

“I thought you cared about environmental issues,” he said.

“Oh I do,” she replied. “But I don’t think anybody will be stupid enough to throw them away.

“And anyway, as long as One Direction are still wearing theirs, I will be wearing mine.”

It seems the fate of the fad – and the rest of humanity – now rests in your hands, Harry.

Find me on Twitter @EllenWiddup.

Join Ellen for Suffolk Women’s Hour at 8pm on Monday. Click here to join