If you are going to pick berries, however, you really need to know how many quarts you picked, if for nothing else, bragging rights if you are so inclined (and what gardener isn't?). For years, I have wanted to weave some cute little strawberry baskets. I've never seen a pattern for any, although I'm sure they exist, so I made my own. Sure, you can use the cheap little pressed cardboard ones that you get at the farm market, but once you get water on them you're done and besides, where is the style in that? These little baskets are durable and if wet, will dry out and be reusable. You can make them as utilitarian as you want or as decorative as you want. This basket would be really adorable sitting on your bathroom counter with maybe some potpourri stuffed strawberries.
Sweet & Sassy Little Strawberry Basket*
10 pieces: 1/2 inch Flat reed cut 24" and center marked at 12"
#2 oval reed
1/4" flat oval reed
Optional: Dyed 1/4 flat oval
Strip of ash, tulip or oak for
I'm keeping the supply list to very basic sized reed so that if you enjoy this project, you'll have enough reed to make more or the basic sizes to make other baskets. If you decide you don't like weaving, you should have no issue getting rid of these sizes of reed.
If this is your first weaving project, here are some basics you'll want to know.
First, reed is typically sold two ways, in hanks or pound coil.
A hank is basically a long bunch of reeds folded in half in a loop and secured. They are good for hanging but other than that, a bit of pain to work with. The benefit of the hank is that the reed doesn't become intangled like it can with a pound coil. The pound is typically easier to store until you open it. Then typically you either make smaller bunches of the coil or try to reroll the coil as best as you can.
Second, reed has a right side and a wrong side.
Some reed is so nice that it is really hard to tell but typically if you lightly bend the reed, one side will be "hairy" and this is the wrong side of the reed. this will be the side facing inside the basket and the one in which you will make your marks.
Third, reed needs to be soaked to be pliable and not break.
The thicker the reed, the more soaking time. Reed is sold by size, the higher the number, the bigger the reed. Soaking in warm or hot water will make the reed more pliable faster. You can also put in a used softener sheet to assist in this.
Finally, reed is always sold in three different forms:
Here are some of the basic tools you'll need.
|You probably have all the items (other than the reed)|
you need for basketweaving already in your home!
Water bucket w/ water
YardstickFlat head screwdriver or packing tools
Hinged Clothes pins (not pictured)
To begin, remove some of the reed from your coil or hank. Measuring on your yardstick, mark off each 24" section. Cut these out and on the wrong side of each piece mark a small tick mark at the 12" point. Put in bucket to soak.
|Mark your centers on the wrong side in pencil.|
After reed is pliable, remove five of your 24" pieces of reed and lay them one next to the other vertically, matching up the 12" tick marks. Remove the next five and weave your first piece under then over right across the 12" mark sections. Weave the remaining four pieces, two above this 1st piece and 2 below the 1st piece alternating first over then under then to top and bottom piece under then over. Using a scrap piece of 1/2" reed, space the base out so that it is even and the base measures slightly smaller than 4 1/4". Clip each corner point with a clothes pin.
|Take care to have your round reed (rr) lay NEXT to|
itself and not on top of each other.
side behind. Weave three rows around the outside of the basket this way keeping the weaving tight. Take care around the corners that you don't bunch up the reed. The trick to doing that is to bend one reed
back while bringing the other reed around as shown to the right.
|Adding twining piece at base.|
If you run out of reed along the base, simply bend a curve in the reed and slide it into your weaving. Bend a curve in a new piece of soaked #2 and place it right next to the old piece and begin where you left off.
Now we upset the basket. No, you aren't yelling at it (basket humor, I know, bad)..
Soaking the basket thoroughly, remove it from the water and make any adjustments that may be needed. The basket base should now measure approx. 4 1/2". Gently begin pushing the spoke pieces up using a "bouncing" type of motion. If you hear a "crack" at any point, put the basket base back in the water to soak a little more. Do this all the way around. If desired, clothes pin each corner of the basket in the upright stance. Soak a few pieces of your 1/2".
|Gently bend the spokes upright. If you hear a crack noise,|
soak basket immediately, your reed isn't soaked enough.
|Use lots of clothes pins for your first couple rows.|
|Overlap by four tucking the end in front of your beginning piece|
but behind the spoke.
You can continue this pattern until you reach about 3 1/4" or add in decorative elements like I have here again just platting different sizes of reed (or sea grass, or whatever).
Packing: Packing is important. A poorly made basket typically looks that way because it's maker didn't pack it. Packing is the process of pushing down your reed with either a screwdriver or a packing tool to make sure the reed sits firmly against each other. My basket weaving teachers used to explain it like this: "You want the basket to look like it could hold water if it was possible", that is how well you want to pack it.
|You can pack at the end and throughout the weaving process.|
Once we finish packing, we have to finish the basket weaving portion of the basket. Making sure your basket is soaked well, begin bending over the top portion of the reed to measure where you can hide it behind your weaving. Mark with a pencil where this line is and cutting on an angle (to make it easier to side through your weaving) cut the reed and gently bend it and slide it through the layers of weaving ending on the inside of a piece. You will more than likely use your screwdriver tool to open a path to slide this weaving through.
|Cutting and tucking.|
Finish tucking in your ends.
Finally we have to burn the basket.
"Say what? I just made this basket and now you want me to burn it?"
Well, yes and no. Burning is what we do to remove all the nasty little "hairs" that show up in the reed. Making sure your basket is thoroughly wet, take a lighter, candle, what-have-you and slowly burn off any little hairs you see on your basket. Don't worry, if you've soaked your basket it won't catch on fire. If it darkens with soot, simply wash it off in your soaking water or under a tap.
Finish your basket with wood stain (never polyurethane which will make it brittle) or leave it natural. Once a year soak your baskets to add moisture to them and extend their life. Be proud of your cute little strawberry basket and display it with pride.
*Copyright Stacey K 2014, all rights reserved. Author gives full right to make basket for personal use or for resale but basket pattern may not be sold or resold under this or any other name.