Sunday, April 5, 2009

How to Make a Little Willow Basket

This looks harder than it is. Once you have bound the base together, it will all go quickly. We are not basketweavers, and we figured out how to do it. The child working on the basket was 7 the first time we made one together. At 9, she is even better at it. It helps to have two people working together.

First, find a willow tree in your neighborhood or in a local park. An enormous one overhangs our neighborhood playground.

Every spring it drops many delicate, supple little twigs. These are easy to gather.

Avoid the brown ones, they may be too brittle. Try to get a good armful of yellow ones.

Lay out three long twigs, crossing them in the middle to make a six-armed star.

Take another twig and, starting in the very middle, weave it over and under the arms of your star, one time around.

This first time around takes a little bit of dexterity. It helps if the grownup does it. Now insert another twig into the bottom of your basket, so that you have a seven-armed star. That way, the weaving will alternate properly.

Now keep weaving, pushing the twigs together tightly for a firm base for your basket.

Whenever you have to join a new twig, jam it tightly into the woven part. When you like the size of the base, pull up the sides.

This is a good time to have four hands. If you don't, perhaps you could fasten the top together with some string to hold the sides up. Continue weaving up the sides.

We decided the sides were high enough when the basket was this big.

Now bend the long twigs over, one by one, and weave them in and out of the remaining twigs and into the top edge of the basket, forming a brim. This is harder to describe than to do. Suffice it to say, as long as the ends are firmly fastened down, no matter what it looks like, your basket will hold together. You don't have to win the basketweaving contest. (Although you might, anyway!)

Now for a handle. Jam a strong twig down into the weave all the way to the base. Break the handle piece to the length you want for the handle. Now bend the other end and jam it in all the way to the base, too.

Now jam in a thinner twig and twist it around the handle.

We added a third twig which had some beautiful leaf buds on it.

The basket will harden as it dries, but you can play with it right now!


Unknown said...

Beth, This is all adorable!! I hope you are going to put it all in a book! Nancy Morris (a Hatter)

Tan Family said...

I just found this post of yours...brilliant! We have a willow tree in our new yard. Looking forward to making this beautiful basket. :)

Gea said...

what a nice things too do!!

Jen said...

What a beautiful post (and basket)! So glad you posted it on Linda's site today!


Unknown said...

Hi Beth, I thought we'd give something like this a try to put out suet + seeds for the cold birdies in the hood. Googled it and up you popped! I've gone forraging at the base of the very same ginormous tree! Acorn Pies warms my heart. Thanks for teaching us how. ~ Frances ('round the corner)

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much we aim to make these with school children this Easter -just what we were looking for .With love ,Clare

Spica86 said...

Excellent instructions; thank-you for sharing. Have you tried any other materials for basket weaving?

Crying T Ranch said...

Spica86 asked... Have you tried any other materials for basket weaving?

Just a thought, but I bet green grapevines would work wonderfully as I use them for my wreaths and for outdoor garden projects such as bean poles and such.

Just a thought :)

Crying T Ranch said...

As Spica86 asked about using other items for weaving, I also wanted to comment that I love this post, though I am still trying to figure out the 'finish' part of the weaving . . . bend the long twigs over, one by one, and weave them in and out of the remaining twigs and into the top edge of the basket, forming a brim.

Does this mean in and out of each branch per stem using, or in and out of all the branches (7)? This part has me confused to forming the brim of the basket. I would love to go out and collect some grapevines and try to weave a basket via your instructions.