Sunday, June 29, 2008

On Making The Basket Project:

I started the casket basket. If you don’t know what pine needle baskets are like they are made in coils. You wrap a group of pine needles into a coil with a pliable cord, thread, sinew, or strapping around the coil of pine needles and leaving small spaces between wraps where you can see the needles. You stitch this to the last row alternately. Around itself and then the last row. Working your way around adding needles as you go.

I used green crochet cotton and a tapestry needle. A piece of drinking straw helps keep the needle coils the same thickness. And to start with I am not making a circular bowl type basket so I need to make a mat like base for the bottom center. Also I will be adding wooden dowels instead of pine needles for some rows on the bottom to help support the weight.

First you take a some dried ‘long’ pine needles like the white pine that I’m using. You can find last years needles under any ‘long’ needled pine tree. To get started take a handful or two and spread them out in front of you. You will note that they are in little bunches called ‘bundles.’ The place where they come together will be called the ‘end’ and the other the ‘points.’

Take your drinking straw and cut off a piece about one and a half to two inches long to work with. Hold the straw standing upright on the table and place needles ‘end’ first into the straw. The points will be sticking out. Don’t cram them in but fill the straw snugly. Pick it up and slide the straw along the needles until you have about a half an inch of the end part of the needles sticking out. Take an arms length of thread (or what ever you are using) on a tapestry needle and make a slip knot in the other end and slip this over your pine needle ends sticking out of the straw. Tighten it down onto the needles to hold the bundles together.

(If you are making a bowl basket the easiest way to start is to have a base disk with holes around the outside edge spaced about every half an inch. For a first practice piece a piece of thick cardboard will do.) (I used a blanket stitch to make my first length or coil and added the next to it.)

Now add some more needles to the point end of the straw in the center of the needles, ‘end’ first. Two to four bundles usually do it.

Sew this slip stitched end to the foundation. (I sew from the back and around over the front and then to the back for the next stitch.)

And then come back and wrap or sew the thread around this coil between the straw and the last stitch, about a half and inch from the slip or last stitch. Slide the straw along another half an inch and sew the same way. A stitch around the last row and a stitch around the new coil, repeat. Making your stitches snug. (Add more thread as needed in the same way and tuck in the ends by slipping them under the done stitches.)

Keep adding more pine needles in the center of the straw every time you move it along another inch. This way you can keep making it longer and longer until you come to the finished size of your basket and taper off until your done. The coils are flimsy by themselves. But when added in a circle coiled along they strengthen each other.

2 comments:

Curious said...

Hello! I'm very curious about this- do the needles bend when you start to shape them into the basket? I'd think they would shatter if they are dried out. Are you soaking them first?

Cheers!

~Curious

Lady Euphoria Deathwatch said...

Thank you for your questions.

The needles do bend some. I would only soak or steam them if I was starting on a tight inner curl.

If you use last years needles you should be fine. Old ones are a lot more brittle. And if you live in a very dry area. You might need to soak or steam them.

I am adding dowels for support in my larger casket basket. but anything smaller then a dinner plate wide really doesn't need it.

I once had a jug shaped basket in this style of basket making. It lasted me for years of use. Mostly holding marbles for the kids. And my mother had many bowl shaped ones that stood the abused of us as kids.

I hope I answered your questions.

Lady Euphoria