We have a challenge for our readers. Take a good look around your home and count the number of woven baskets you see. If you are anything like the members of the Tzouhalem Spinners and Weavers Guild you can probably count quite a few baskets; some may be handwoven by local indigenous peoples, some purchased on travels, and others woven by your own hands. Whatever your baskets’ origins it is fair to say they fill an important role in your fibre life. Our baskets hold knitting needles and yarn, shuttles for weaving, the latest weaving or spinning magazines or simply a catch all for items we use every day.
We have some talented basket weavers in our guild and they generously shared their weaving stories and photos of their work with you.
Alison is one of our talented basket weavers. She shared a photo of a trio of her baskets. “All of them have been constructed as ‘square to round’ plaited baskets that I’ll be sharing with students during a ‘Woven Paper Basket’ class. We’ll be weaving with card stock that has been run through a paper shredder — so much easier and quicker than cutting the warp and weft strips by hand.” She taught this session in conjunction with a Fine Arts Show put on by the Cowichan Valley Arts Council.
“The basket on the lower left in the photo was a bit of a challenge to weave because those narrow strips of hemp and cotton fabric are sticky! They’re off cuts from ‘Abeego’ beeswax food wraps. While they may be difficult to handle, they smell wonderful. “
Jennifer is a new weaver who embraces natural and found items for her weaving. She shared the story of this basket at a recent meeting. She told us it was a lesson learned project in that well dried vines don’t weave well and that blackberry vines are full of prickles. She solved that problem by stripping the vines while wearing heavy gloves first. She” borrowed the book “baskets from nature’s bounty” from the guild’s library by Elizabeth Jensen. I followed the instructions to weave a Japanese base and continued with a Japanese weave (over two, under one) to weave the sides. I finished it with a closed border, and improvised a bit to tuck in the thickest warps.” Jennifer should be able to make many more of these baskets if she wants to, as blackberry bushes are found growing wild all over the Cowichan Valley.
Karen shared that her “basket weaving was brief and scuppered by my arthritic hands. However, inspired by a tree in my yard, I did manage to produce a pine needle basket years ago.” Now she supports other weavers in their endeavours by adding to her collection.
Linda believes that to weave, twine, knot a variety of materials into a 3 dimensional object that can be both decorative and useful no matter what material is used, is a joy.
The first photo shows her three miniatures.
The red one is 6cm x 4cm and is made of copper and coloured wire and is twined. It was a workshop creation during ANWG 2017 in Victoria led by Marilyn Moore.
The basket on the left is 5cm x3.75 cm and is made with waxed linen and beads. It holds a small rock and can be made into an amulet holder for a necklace. It is twined and knotted.
The basket on the right is 6cm x 4cm and made of cedar bark and waxed linen. The next 2 baskets were made during a workshop taught by Joan Carrigan on Salt Spring Island.
Linda also wove these beautiful baskets.
Now we have one final basket that was woven at the 2017 ANWG conference in Victoria, BC. This was a 3 day workshop focused on weaving with cedar strips twined with thin copper wire. The base of the basket is not too bad but the lid is really off kilter. That being said the weaver learned so much from the process. This little basket holds place of pride on her shelf as an example that something doesn’t need to be perfect to be admired for the effort that went into it.
We encourage you to explore basket weaving using local natural resources, you never know you just might get hooked on basketry. Here is a link to help you get started https://www.gardeningknowhow.com/garden-how-to/projects/using-plants-for-woven-baskets.htm
Until next time take care and happy weaving.