Learning the Art of Basket Weaving Instructions

Learning basic basket weaving instructions allows you to learn a time honored tradition. No one knows exactly when people started making baskets, but scientists have found baskets that are between 10,000 and 12,000 years old. Over the ages, basket weaving evolved into an art form.

Today, you can weave baskets using traditional materials, modern materials or a combination of the two. You can also specialize in one type of weave or several types of weaves. In any case, all of the varieties of baskets are based on four basic weaves: plaited, woven, twined and coiled.

Plaited Basket Weaving
The basket weaving supplies that you need for plaiting baskets include yucca, birch bark, flat reeds or palms. You only use one material throughout the basket. Plaited baskets can look like they consist of squares or open squares when finished. The materials are woven under and over each other in right angles.

Woven Basket Weaving
Woven baskets involve two types of materials, a rigid material to use as "ribs," or warp, and a flexible material to weave under and over the ribs. At a very simple level, think of a plastic cup that has slit sides. If you run yarn over and under the plastic slits and press the yard tightly towards the bottom until the cup is completely covered, you can get a good idea of what a woven basket looks like. Willow and reed are examples of materials traditionally used in woven baskets.

Twined Basket Making
Twined baskets use one stiff material for the warp and two flexible materials for the weft, or horizontal woven area of the basket. A twined basket is similar to a woven basket except that instead of using one strand of material to go under and over a rib, you use two. However, the strands go over and under the ribs on opposite sides, causing the strands to twist over each other between each rib.

As you become more experienced at making twined baskets, you might progress to waling, a twining method where three or more flexible materials are used. There are also variations on the theme such as wrapping the warp or leaving an open warp.

Coiled Basket Making
Once you get the hang of coiling, it goes easily. The basket weaving materials that you will need are:

  • 3/16" cotton clothesline or rope
  • #16 blunt end tapestry needle
  • 4-ply knitting worsted weight yarn. Use different colors to add interest to your basket.
  • Masking tape
  • Scissors

Take the end of your clothesline and cut it at an angle. Form the angle into a point using masking tape.

Place an inch-long strip of yarn next to the tapered end of the clothesline with the end of the yarn facing the taper. Wrap the yarn firmly and tightly in place moving up the rope. Then, pinch the coiled clothesline into a small circle.

Thread your needle, sew a figure eight stitch until the small coil is covered and closed.

Wrap another inch of clothesline in yarn and then, using the needle, figure eight stitch it to the loop next to it. Continue wrapping and binding at one inch intervals until you have a circle about two and a half inches wide.

To start forming your basket, start pulling your figure eight binding vertically to force the basket up. To finish, cut your clothesline, taper it and mask it like you did when you started your basket. Cut the yarn and coil it to the end of your clothesline. Figure eight stitch the end with a few stitches and then run the thread through the figure eights inside of the basket to tie the end of your thread in place.

Traditional coiled baskets start with strands of flexible materials, such as pine needles, straws, willow or palmetto, in place of the clothesline. Raffia, horsehair and palmetto are common coiling and sewing materials.

Basket Making Kits
You can also purchase basket making kits, which will include everything that you need to make a basket. You will find kits that cover all of the basic types of weaves as well as kits that are suitable for all of the different levels of experience.

As you start to weave baskets, you may end up challenging yourself to make more complex and intricate basket designs. If this is the case, you might enjoy taking a class or investing in books on basket weaving. You will also find that making baskets is very rewarding and baskets make terrific personal gifts for your family and friends.

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