Just back from a walk on Kerrera and whilst exploring the island I gathered the materials for and made a wee basket. You can weave a baskets with lots of different materials, this one is made from stuff you can find on most walks in Scotland: willow and soft rushes. Here’s how.
1) Gather seven young willow stems about 50cm long and strip the leaves off. Any kind of willow will do – the stems need to be malleable though and less than pencil thickness. Also gather a bundle of 30 soft rushes Juncus effusus (these are very common in Scotland, growing in wet boggy ground).
2) Next take two stems of soft rushes and twist them together to make 2-ply cordage / rope. See my blog post on marram grass cordage and flax Cordage to see how to do this. Add extra stems as you go and make the rope about 75cm long.
3) Next take two bundles of three willow stems and cross them over.
4) Now take the your cordage / rope and find the centre point. Place the middle over one of the bundles then swap the ends over. Keeping the rope tight, keep swapping the rope over the bundles of willow stems until you have been round twice.
5) Now separate out one stem from the next bundle of three and and repeat the process, swapping the rope over. Keep doing this all the way around. This will spread the stems out like spokes of a wheel. Keep going round until you have used up all the rope.
6) Most of your willow spokes will be evenly spaced out but you will probably have one gap between spokes that is bigger than the rest. Take the seventh willow stem and push it into the woven rope at this gap. This creates a seventh spoke. You need a odd number of stems / spokes to get the next stage of the weaving to work.
7) Now take one stem of soft rushes, find the middle and bend it over. Place the middle over the willow spoke that is closest to the end of the rope. Now start weaving the two ends over and under the willow spokes. Keep doing this till you get to the end. Repeat this with another stem soft rushes. As you pass under a willow spoke bend it carefully up the way and pull the soft rushes tight so that the willow spoke bends up – forming the beginnings of the sides of the basket. Keep adding stems of soft rushes and bending the willow up until all 13 willow spokes are upright.
8) Now that all the spokes are upright, keep adding soft rushes, weaving over and under until you reach the desired height you want for the sides of the basket,
9) To finish off the basket fold one of the willow stems down on the inner side of the neighbouring stem. Repeat this, folding carefully until there is one left. Fold the last stem over and thread it through a gap left by the first willow stem you folded over. Everything will now be locked in place and secure.
10) Now take some scissors and snip off all the bits sticking out. All done.
If you’d like to learn how to make baskets or cordage please get in touch. We teach basket making and cordage in our bushcraft courses.