Making a Woven Coiled Basket

Last week I did a 4 day trek from Dunkeld to Blair Atholl, supervising a Duke of Edinburgh’s Award expedition group. On the way I set myself the challenge of making a woven coiled basket.

This type of basket involves threading coils of plant material together in a spiral. It leads to a basket that is strong and robust and almost watertight. Any type of grass can be used for the coils. For my basket I used dry purple moor grass. For the thread you need a plant material that is very flexible and strong. I used roots from a fallen Douglas fir.

I decided to make a grass rope about 1.5m long for the coils. You don’t need to do this, the coils can be formed by bundling the grass together. To make the thread I looked for a fallen conifer – in this instance a Douglas Fir. I selected long lengths of root about pencil thickness. The roots need to be green. Dead roots are too brittle. The roots were quartered lengthwise and then scraped to remove the outer layer.

The last thing you need is a thin pointed stick to poke holes into the basket to pass the thread through.

You begin by coiling the rope then tying the thread around it. The pointed stick helps you create a hole to pass the thread through. Each section of coil is stitched together tightly and you continue until you have created the desired diameter of the base of the basket. Then you continue coiling and stitching but this time lifting the coils up a bit so that they form the sides of the basket.

This is a really satisfying simple technique of basket making. Most of it was made whilst walking along the trail.

If you would like to learn how to make this and other types of basket why not think about doing a bushcraft course with Aspen Outdoors Ltd.

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