Feb 02, 2021
9 mins read
Thank you for deciding to join me on this seasonal weaving journey!
I really appreciate it.
I've been wanting to put this book together for ages but this is forcing me not to get distracted like I so easily do!
As writing tutorials is a first for me, feedback is super useful! Until I started this project I had no idea how tricky it would be to describe how to weave a basket solely with words and photos/pictures..
I'm going to try stick to this method mostly, as the goal is to put a book together and ye canny put videos in books! That and after hearing my own voice I realised I didn't need to unnecessarily put anybody else through that.. (who knew Cumbrian was so bloody monotone!)
Another thing to bear in mind is that what I'm sharing with you is just what I've found works for me.. I've never really attended any workshops or had any formal weaving education. I'm also not so familiar with all the fancy basket lingo and terms.
I just have a passion for weaving wild and abundant plants and hopefully I can find the words to share with you what I've learnt through the years whilst I've been lost in the world of leaves.
Note: Before reading these frame basket instructions make sure you've read the previous post on gathering and processing ivy!
If you don't have access to Ivy, any other flexible vine can be used, for example - Honeysuckle, Bramble, Kudzu, Clematis, Russian vine, Periwinkle, Bindweed etc.
How to weave a viney frame basket
What you'll need -
Your two similar sized pre-prepared hoops.
10 ribs - you most likely won't need this many but always good to have spare in case of those annoying snaps!
A good bunch of Ivy vines. Hard to say how many as that totally depends on the size of your basket/length of vines, but I would say at least 30
Some little clips.. Not completely necessary but really handy!
First things first, we need to prepare the Ivy the night before we want to be weaving.
To do this take your bunch of coiled Ivy vines and place them into your bucket. This needs to be done super carefully as when the vines are dry they're really brittle and it's very easy to damage them at this point.
Then fill the bucket with water so the Ivy is completely submerged. As the Ivy is hollow it will want to float to the top so make sure you keep it weighed down with something.
In the morning transfer the vines into a towel and keep the vines you're not immediately using wrapped in the towel throughout. This will stop them from drying out before you get a chance to use them!
(You may notice the water you're left with from soaking the vines is slightly bubbly. This is as Ivy contains a high amount of saponins. Because of this the Ivy water actually makes a really good detergent and from personal experience does a great job of cleaning the bath! I'm often soaking all sorts of plants and their leaves in there so the occasional scrub with Ivy water is definitely appreciated by the house mates!)
Now the ivy is prepared we need to make our frame.
Take your two pre-prepared similar sized hoops and decide which you think is most beautiful!
One will end up completely covered and one will be your handle. So think about how you want your basket to be..
You may want a basket with a sculptural wavy handle to sit and look beautiful on your counter.. or you might want a strong and sturdy practical basket that will accompany you on many a foraging mission.
Have this in mind when selecting your hoops :)
Once you've chosen the hoops you want to use, interlock them in a frame with the hoop you would like as the handle on the outside like so..
Make sure you're happy with the shape and the two hoops are crossing roughly at mid-point then secure the cross sections with a handy piece of twine.
This next point is the trickiest step I've found so far to describe with words. I mean, even when I've been sat with folks explaining and showing them how to form the gods eye it's still far too easy to get into a tangle so I'll try to explain it as clearly as possible!
To begin the god's eye, the lashing that holds the hoops together, we first need to remove the twine from one side of your basket frame.
Then taking a nice long piece of ivy, lash the hoops together with the thinnest end of the Ivy vine, wrapping it around each diagonal a couple of times. Covering the loose end and binding it in place in the process.
Then we start the repetitive weave that makes the beautiful pattern of the god's eye :)
Looking straight on towards your basket, so it appears like a cross, whichever arm of the cross is to the left of your Ivy vine shall become number one.
Take your vine left, underneath the first arm, then back over the top of itself and also number two!
- As in the photo above
Now your vine should be lying between arms two and three.
Repeat the same process as before from the vines new position!
Going left under number two then back over itself as well as number three.
Now your vine.. you guessed it, should be lying between three and four :)
From here we repeat the same movement from this position.
Taking your Ivy vine under the arm directly left to it, which should now be number three then bring it back over the top of both three and four so it lies between four and one.
Always back under one then forwards over two. Working in a anti-clockwise direction.
keep going ! After you have gone round a few times you really get into the rhythm of it and stop thinking about numbers so much!
The lovely pattern should start to emerge after three or four rounds.
Proceed like this until your length of vine is all used up! If your vine wasn't long enough you can easily add in another length.
To do this lay it next to where the other vines stops and carry on with your new vine in the same pattern.. like so.
Once the god's eye is the size you would like, tuck the free end in at the next juncture and pull tight. Just making sure not to tuck it in where the handle is!
For some reason I got carried away a made a giant god's eye.. But you really don't have to make one so big :) just so long as there's room to tuck the ribs in.
Repeat the same process on the other side then make your self a brew!
Gather your ribs
Place two or three ribs on either side of the god's eye, running from one side of the basket to the other.
The ribs want to be pre curved enough so that they don't snap when putting them into place or bend the basket out of shape. They also don't to be too curved either as the tension that holds them in place is important!
As you can see in the photo, the two ribs I've inserted closest to the middle, are slightly higher than the hoop running in between. This is so when popped the right way up, there will be two points of balance and you won't have a wonky sitting basket!
Also don't worry if you can only fit in one or two ribs on each side. It's easy to add ribs as we go along with the weaving when the gaps between the ribs become larger.
Now for the weaving!
Choose a few of your thinnest vines to begin with.
Place the end of the vine behind one side of your hoop and start weaving your way from one side of the basket to the other.
Over one, under one, over one, under one :) trying to keep the weave as tight as possible and as close to the god's eye as you can.
This first part is super tricky as until you have done a couple of rows, the weaver will try to push the ribs out of place. Makes sure the weaver is bending around the ribs and not just pushing them out of place! This is why it's very important to use very thin pliable Ivy. (unlike the one in the photo sorry! I immediately changed it for a much skinnier one!)
Repeat this on the other side of your basket then start weaving your way towards the centre. Alternating between both sides.
To add in a new weaver just lay the new weaver alongside the old weaver and carry on with the new vine, like so -
Whilst continuing your over, under, over, under.. Be mindful of a few things.
- Keep your weave as tight as possible whilst going along, you don't want a gappy basket and it's quite hard to remedy this once it's already woven.
- Keep an eye on the pattern, it's easy to skip a rib. If you're following the track of the previous row then something's gone wrong and you need to retrace your steps!
- Sometimes the ribs will wander into a different position.. if you see this starting to happen just start to gently bend them back to where you want them :)
If you didn't start with many ribs at the beginning you will notice at some point the weaving will start to become loose..
When this happens it's time to add a new pair or couple of pairs of ribs.
To do this, cut the end of new rib at an angle, to make it easier to slide in, then push it in alongside an already existing rib as far as you comfortably can.
Then insert the other end in the other side making sure its inline with the other ribs i.e not lower of higher than the ribs either side of it.
Once your happy with the position of your new ribs resume weaving. Putting gentle pressure to separate out the ribs whilst weaving around them so the don't stay bunched up together!
As both sides get tighter it becomes more and more tricky to weave what with the gaps getting smaller!
You may also notice that for some reason one area is further behind than the other. If this is the case instead of weaving from one side of the hoop to the other, you can fill in the gaps by weaving back and fourth in the area that's lacking.
If it's the area next to the hoop that's behind you can remedy that by making a double loop like so when you reach the edge and that side should soon catch up!
When you are finished weaving. Take your secateurs and trim off the excess Ivy danglers flush with the basket..
Last step is to admire your beautiful wild basket in all its beautiful wavy wonkiness :)
Remember, nature is not straight and boring, so why should your basket be!