HOW TO MAKE A COILED BASKET
12m (13 yds) of preferred core material (we used dried grass) 17 1m (393/8") lengths of red plastic string 17 1m (393/8") lengths of turquoise plastic string Six 1m (393/8") lengths of black plastic string Three large-eyed needles Ruler or tape measure Modern makes via traditional techniques? That’s what makes our hearts sing. Basket weaving is one of those artisan skills that gets passed down from maker to maker, so we’re thrilled to learn the real deal and help keep it alive.
This bright, shallow basket is coiled, Senegalese-style, with dried grasses and plastic string for those pops of colour. And yes, now we’ve seen this we can’t settle for less than a basket gallery wall either.
This simple knot is the starting point when coiling grass and is used to attach the stitching material to the bundle of grass, known as the core material. To make an overhand knot, wrap the string around the bundle and hold both ends on one side of the bundle – you want the left end to be about 5cm (2") long. Cross the left end over the right end, creating a loop, then pass it under (through the loop) and pull tightly.
Gather 10-12 strands of your preferred dried material for the core of the basket, making a bundle 1.5cm (5/8") in diameter, and one red plastic string for the stitching material. Begin a round base with 11 rows as follows: hold the bundle one thumb’s width from the end and secure tightly with plastic string in an overhand knot. Thread a needle with plastic string. Start coiling the bundle into a flat circle around the knot, stitching through the centre of the coil to keep the grass in place. Continue to coil a circle, stitching the plastic string through the core material in the previous row. The stitches are about 0.5cm ( ") apart. Once the first couple of rows are completed, it becomes easier as you have more material to grip.
On Row 12, begin alternating 25 red stitches with two turquoise stitches. When the bundle of core material thins out, join in more grasses simply by adding more strands into the bundle to keep the diameter of the bundle consistent. When you’re left with only a short length of plastic string, thread the end into the previous row. Join in a new length of string by threading it a couple of wraps back – you may have to hold it in place while you make the next couple of stitches to ensure it stays secure.
From Row 13 to Row 16, alternate red and turquoise stitches to create the flower pattern, while shaping the basket by placing rows directly on top of one another. To shape the basket or bowl and to build up the sides, place the coils slightly above the previous circle. Make sure you’re holding the core material in the correct place and using each stitch to hold it there.
As you build up the curved basket shape, make sure the angle and height of the sides are even. Add extra turquoise stitches each time you reach the previous ones so they stay aligned. This will result in blocks of four turquoise stitches on Row 13, nine turquoise stitches on Row 14, 18 turquoise stitches on Row 15, and 32 turquoise stitches on Row 16.
From Row 17, add in the black plastic string to create the reverse triangle that will act as a decorative border as you near the top edge of the bowl. Alternate 17 turquoise stitches, seven red stitches, 17 turquoise stitches, then two black stitches on Row 17.
Alternate 15 turquoise stitches, four red stitches, 15 turquoise stitches and four black stitches on Row 18.
Continue, alternating 18 turquoise stitches, two red stitches, 18 turquoise stitches and eight black stitches on Row 19 to complete the flower pattern.
Continue to build the decorative triangle motifs on Row 20 with blocks of 12 black stitches and 16 black stitches.
On Row 21, work alternate blocks of 22 black stitches and 22 turquoise stitches.
On Row 22, work alternate blocks of 26 black stitches and 16 turquoise stitches.
Row 23 is the final top row, so double up on the stitches by crisscrossing each stitch. You need to do this all around the top edge of the bowl until you reach and finish the fourth and final black triangle. Trim a few strands of the core material, so the bundle becomes thinner in diameter. Finish the last row by wrapping the plastic string tightly into the core material so it won’t unravel. Trim off any excess fibre and secure it with a couple of extra stitches.