Aug 06, 2021
10 mins read
Miniature Twined Basket Tutorial Out of all the different techniques for creating a basket, twining is definitely my favourite!
Often I spend hours twining away, letting the mind wander to interesting places whilst the hands rhythmically and repetitively twist the damp fibres over one another.
It's such a simple technique but twining really allows you to be creative. You can use twining to weave up so many different interesting forms, and patterns. Creating sweet, little useful baskets or more weird and wavy weavings as you feel.
It is the perfect technique for turning all sorts of fibres into fine but sturdy baskets. In this tutorial I am using only Dandelion stems but you could just as easily use any other softish planty material, such as - Iris, Ivy, Cattail, Daylily, Corn Husk or Rush etc. Just making sure that the material you use for the stakes (the parts you weave around) is the stronger and thicker fibre and the weavers are of something more delicate. It's totally possible also to use only the one plant as I have in the tutorial, all I've done is use the chunkier Dandelion stems for the stakes and the finer ones for the weavers.
What you'll need for this project -
- Choose the thickest Dandelion stems for this and make sure they're at least 25cm each. It's always better to have them longer than you need rather than shorter as there's nothing worse than getting to the end of a basket and the stakes being too short to make the border!
A small bunch of more delicate stems for your weavers.
- As Dandelion stems are so quick to rehydrate you can always grab more from your collection as you go along so no need to soak loads!
A large wide eyed needle or a latch hook
A misting bottle for dampening the Dandies
A cloth that's large enough to completely wrap the Dandelion stems.
Start by laying out the cloth and placing the stakes and weavers on top.
With the misting bottle spray the stems along their entire length, making sure to give them a good soaking before wrapping them up nicely in the cloth to rehydrate for the next 10 - 20 minutes or so.
You want them to be damp enough so they become totally flexible again but they shouldn't feel slimy! If this is the case let them dry out a wee bit.
Making the base
Once you're happy with the now bendy Dandelions grab five of the stakes and place them in front of you. Laying them horizontally next to each other, like so -
When working with plant materials there is always a natural variation in width and thickness. In the case of Dandelion stems they happen to be quite bulky at the base and a lot thinner at the tip so when placing down the stems, it is important to alternate the direction in which they lay. This is so when we come to make the border, not all the bulky ends are grouped together which would create a wonky basket.. Although I do appreciate wonky baskets too.
Looking at the stems in front of you we shall call the closest stake 1 and the stake furthest away 5.
Anchor the left side of the horizontal spokes down with your left hand and lift spokes 2 and 4 to slide the first of the vertical spokes underneath.
After pressing everything back flat you now need to lift up spokes 1, 3 and 5. Then slide next vertical spoke in remembering to alternate the direction of tip and base as before.
Carry on like so until all five vertical stakes have been placed down and you have created a nice checker board pattern. This is called check weave. It's a really nice way to begin a basket and you can really easily vary the size of the basket by simply increasing or decreasing the amount of stakes you use.
Note - the side facing you now, will end up being the bottom of the basket and the side facing the table will become the inside of the basket.
Once the base has been completed it is time to start the twining.
Search through your little pile of weavers and choose the longest and most slender Dandelion stem you can find. Fold it vaguely in half and loop it around one of the stakes that comes from underneath the basket, giving you two working ends, these are now your two weavers..
Now, moving clockwise around the check base, grab the left weaver and bring it in front of the stake directly to the right of it, then behind the one after that. Bring it down and lay it back on top of the check base, to give you a new left weaver to repeat the pattern with. This may seem complicated at first but this pattern is repeated until we get to the border so you'll soon get into the rhythm of it! (change)
As you're securing the check weave in place with the twining, it's really important to be weaving as tight as possible for a neat basket.
When you've completed a round or two it's a good point to pull all the stakes nice and tight and neaten up the weaving up a bit. If you notice some of the stakes laying unevenly, gently pull them through so they are in line with each other. Any readjustments should be made now as it becomes tricky to make them later on in the weaving.
Whenever the weavers are getting a bit short or becoming too uneven in thickness, it's time to add in some new ones. To do this look through your pile of weavers and select two of a similar length and thickness.
Take one of these new weavers and lay it alongside whichever old weaver is currently on the right as if it was a continuation of the old weaver, making sure to tuck the end of the new weaver behind the basket. Then, bring the left hand side old weaver over the top to lock it in place.
Repeat this with the other weaver, then complete a few strokes of weaving with both the old and new weavers alongside each other. Try to leave the tip of the old weaver on the outside of the basket, the side facing you, once the basket is finished, these can be snipped off and tidied up!
Shortly after completing the first round or two of twining, the stakes should be fanned out to create what looks like a beautiful little dandelion Sunshine. Just gently push them apart with your hands whilst continuing the twining, making the spaces between the stakes even as soon as possible and turning the square base into a circle.
Always make sure you are pulling the weaving as tight as you can without distorting the basket. As the basket dries, if anything, the weaving becomes looser so make sure there's no little gaps between the rows!
Weaving the sides
When the basket bottom has reached a diameter you are happy with it's time to bring up the sides.
Lift the base off the table.
What's facing you now will become the base of the basket so gently bend each stake away from you to help encourage the sides of the basket to form. Then, continue twining around the basket whilst increasing the tension, pulling each weaver slightly to the right before laying it down. This brings the stakes closer together, naturally forming the sides of the basket.
The more gently and gradually you increase the tension on the weavers controls the shape of the basket. If you slowly, slowly increase the tension you will end up with gentle sloping sides and a bowl shaped basket. If you suddenly increase the tension, the sides of your basket will also suddenly form and you will end up with more of an edge.
One thing to be careful of is increasing the tension a bit much by pulling too hard on the weavers which will eventually cause the sides of the basket to slope inwards.. This is of course fine if you're aiming to create a basket like that! After all, it's your basket and you can create whatever shape you like, as simple or as weird and wavy as you choose.
So, once you're happy with the height of the basket it's time to finish with the border. Borders can seem a little tricky but only because they take you away from the beautifully mindless twining you've just been lost in for the past hour or two. Even after making many, many baskets a lal bit of concentration is necessary for this part!
Before beginning your border, take the two loose weavers and thread them down into the weave using either use a large needle or latch hook.
I would really recommend getting a latch hook, they're only a couple of quid each and they make life so much easier!
Starting with any stake, make a few twists anti-clockwise. Then take the stake around the inside of the stake directly to the right and back to the outside of the basket, down out the way. Don't pull this first stake down too tight as you'll need to thread the last stake through at the end.
Moving anti-clockwise around the basket repeat this action, folding each stake over the stake to it's right, tucking the last stake through the original loop then pull tight.
Now, to make a rather beautiful looking rim, repeat the entire process.. Taking any stake, twisting, then bringing it over the stake to the right and down.
(For a more simple rim you can skip this step.)
Once you have completed the second row, make any little adjustments you need to make to the border nice and tidy. Giving all the stakes a gentle tug to remove any bumpy bits!
Tidying up the loose ends
Threading the handy latch hook or needle through the weave, move around the basket and tuck all those loose ends down into the weave. Not only does this give a lovely neat finish it also strengthens the basket. Then, making sure you're happy with the shape of the basket place it somewhere warm and airy to dry.
At this point whilst the basket is still damp it's easy to make any small manipulations with the shape of the basket, check how it sits on the table for example. If it's a wobbler just gently push in the base, so it can sit flat.
When the basket is nice a dry take a pair of snippers and cut off all the loose ends as close as you can to the basket. Be careful not snip the weave though.. It happens if you're not concentrating and is extremely frustrating!
Then admire your beautiful little twined basket and go fill it with some tiny treasures :)
Have a spray bottle on hand so if ever you feel the dandies getting dry, you can give them a quick spray and keep them nice and flexible. This is especially important to keep in mind when you arrive at the border, make sure those stakes aren't dry!
Damaged weavers - if a weaver snaps or looks a bit damaged I would just suggest unpicking the weave to replace it. It may seem like a pain but you'll be super grateful at the end of the basket.. Trust me you'll notice that little imperfection.
Damaged stake - if one of the stakes snaps grab another Dandelion and using the latch hook pull it into the weave alongside the old damaged stake as far down as possible. Take the loose end you're not using and weave it in and out of the basket a few times to secure it.
If you would like to create a striped pattern in the weave simply use two different contrasting fibres as the two weavers. Perhaps some Rhubarb fibres to add in some pink or some Crocosmia for some green.
As I mentioned at the top, this is a really nice style to explore shape, size and pattern so remember this is just a simple guide... Below are a few examples of various twined baskets I've made -
Woven from a mixture of many fibres - Cattails, Iris, Crocosmia, Corn husks, Daylily and Juncus.Woven From - Dandelion, Cattail, Iris and Crocosmia.. A fun experimentation with form.Miniature woven bowl or - Split soft rush, Iris and Crocosmia.
Hope this is helpful, happy weaving :)