This weekend I made a couple of baskets and had a lovely walk in the gorgeous weather on Saturday. In our local woods there are snowdrops everywhere and last week some Winter Aconites started flowering (the yellow flowers in the photo, they're not native, but they are lovely!).
They other day I didn't get a picture of a Snowdrop in full bloom, on Saturday I did!
My favourite spring plants are Ramsons. They are DELICIOUS as well as beautiful!!! I couldn't believe my eyes when I spotted this lot... I scoffed a couple of leaves, so spring, as far as my belly is concerned, is here!!
There are a lot of pine trees fallen in the local woods. The pine tree stump contains lots of resin and gives the wood a very dark red colour. It is called 'Fat Wood'.
It is perfect for starting fires as the resin is extremely flammable. There is some processing required though. You can normally kick the stump out of the ground, depending on how old it is. Then you knock it against something hard to break it into a reasonable size to carry home with you. Where you chop it up into lots of little twig size matches. Brilliant firestarter! You can actually buy this stuff ready matchsticked.
The Different Stages of Making a Basket
I don't know if I showed this use for one of my little things baskets before. I put my grease horn in and store my bodkin in it.
You can purchase willow for weaving from willow suppliers in the Somerset levels. I get mine from Musgroves or PH Coate.
The withies come in different lengths & you buy them per kg. I wont go into the different types of willow in this post as it's a bit too in depth. There is choice though! Get in touch if you want some advice. I will write about it in another post.
You then soak the willow you will be weaving for the relevant amount of time. Once soaked you wrap it in a damp cloth to mellow, normally for the same amount of time it took to soak. Then it is ready to weave!
... and set him free...
I think this is a look of gratitude, look, he's smiling...
Hmmmm or maybe he was a bit pesked from being trapped in a bundle of willow in my living room.
Select your uprights and slype them on the end so you can push them into the base. Slyping is where you cut the end of a withy into a point so it can be pushed easier into the gaps created by weaving.
Kink your uprights and tie them up, forming the basic shape of your basket to be.
Weave the upsett, this is a very strong weave that sets the uprights in place. Take a break to coo over the cute sleeping collie.
At this stage if you're having a handle on your basket, you should add some handle liners. These are just a couple of thick sticks, slyped on the end and poked into the upsett. They are removed after you've finished the border and will have left a gap for you to insert your handle bow.
Then start weaving the sides. For this basket I used a weave called a French Rand. A French Rand is a weave that requires you to put all your weavers on at once. You need a lot of space around you but it gives you a very even finish.
Once your basket has reached the desired height add on a round of waling. Waling is what you used in stage 5, when you did the upsett. It is a very strong weave that sets your uprights and stabilizes your side weaving.
It's time to set down the border. There are many different types of border, the simplest, for example, is called a 3 rod wale. When you've finished the border you can take out the handle liners.
Add the handle bow and then wrap. You usually use a handful of fine withies to wrap the handle bow and finish it off with a funky knot.
Tidy the basket up by snipping off all the sticky out ends of willow.
The basket in the photos is on it's way to a customer, so I wont show the finished product yet! I'm working on a basket making tutorial so should have that up in the next month or so.
Hope you all had a lovely weekend!