Looped Basketry

Looped Basketry

Apr 01, 2021

LoopingHello :)

I hope everyone's well and enjoying the slightly longer and warmer days.
I'm so happy that it finally seems all the beautiful spring plants are waking up.. I've been stuffing my face with masses of wild garlic and nettles and could even bearably sit outside in the sunshine today without 17 layers on.. How is spring for everyone else?

Thank you to everybody who's been sharing photos of their awesome woven creations on the Facebook group! I just love seeing all the different baskets and interesting fibre experiments :)
Also the feedback and questions are super useful. It's really helpful to know what makes sense and what doesn't.. It will all come in handy when I eventually get round to putting the book together.

Anyway! I hope you've all had a chance to have a lal practise at the cordage making (those of ye who aren't already avid twisters..) as this month's project is made entirely from cordage..
Metres and metres of the stuff! So if you're not already a professor of cordage you will be after this :)
Looping is a great technique to learn and allows you to create super light and surprisingly strong vessels. Depending on the size of the loops you make you can produce either a very dense and stiff vessel or a rather loose and stretchy one.
I have to admit it's not personally my favourite way of working with plant fibres.. But If you find that it's a technique you enjoy and would like to learn more, I highly recommend taking a look at the work of Donner Kallner. She's spent a lot of time researching old looping techniques and creating her own and has a book and some cool instructional videos on the subject :)

What you'll need for this project -

  • Stash of fibres.

  • Lighter/snippers for neatening up the cordage as you go.

  • Optional little hoop.
    When making a looped vessel you can either finish off the top with a drawstring made of additional cordage or for a solid rim you can use a pre-prepared hoop made of a strong branchy material like willow.

    Like so..

    In this tutorial I'm using the split Juncus, which will create quite a fine and flexible pouch. If that's not available to you locally any other strongish fibre will do nicely. Some good alternatives I like to use are -

    • Bramble fibre

    • Linden

    • Raffia

    • Willow bark

    • Honeysuckle bast

    • Nettle

    • Hemp

    • Corn husk

    But really, anything you can make a good cordage with will do nicely!

Instructions -

  • Prepare your stash of beautiful fibres by rehydrating them so they're nice and easy to work with. You don't want them to be too wet or they will be difficult to grip when cording but you certainly don't want them too dry or else they'll snap!
    If you're using whole Juncus you'll want to soak the stems over night in a damp towel but for the split Juncus half an hour rehydrating will do!

  • Take two small bunches of fibres made of two or three strands each.

  • Holding them together, somewhere in the middle and start twisting up a short section of cordage.

  • Once you've created about 2cm-3cm of cordage, bring both the loose ends together to form a loop.

  • Take the loose ends and combine them to make one single cord.. With the little loop you created at the end :)

  • Now, before we start the looping you need to have a good length of cord made so twist yourself up a length at least as long as your arm.
    Snipping/burning the messy ends off as you go as it's a reet hassle to remove them once your vessel is complete!

  • The looping begins :)
    Holding the little loop in your left hand, thread the other end through.

  • Pull it through until it creates a loop about the same size as the existing loop. Making sure that as you pull the loose end through it also comes back over the top of itself rather than underneath.
    Like so..

  • Working in an anti-clockwise direction create another four little loops around the initial loop to create what looks like a five petaled flower.

  • Once you've got to this point, instead of threading it through the middle again, you're going to thread it through first petal.

  • As the base is expanding you're going to need to create more loops. To do this create not one but two loops through the first petal. Followed by just one in the next.
    Follow this pattern of two loops then one loop consistently until you have reached the desired circumference of your vessel.
    If your using a hoop at the top make sure it's as wide as the hoop!

  • Whenever you cord starts to get a lal bit short just twist yourself another good arms length to work with.

  • I'm making quite a small vessel here as I have a particular little plant pot in mind I want it to hold but you can of course make yours whatever size you choose!
    When you are ready to start making the sides all you need to do is simply switch to only going once through each previous loops. Instead of the two then one method.
    Naturally after a couple of rows like this the sides will start to form!

  • Continue looping away for as long as you feel. It's one of those nice projects you can easily pick up and put down when you feel that doesn't require too much brain power!

    When you feel happy with the size your looped vessel and would like to finish it off there's two super easy ways to do this :)
    One is to simply tie the loose end to your vessel, then make a separate length of sturdy cordage. Thread this cordage through the last row of loops to create a drawstring.

  • The other method is to use to the hoop to create a solid rim.
    Making sure you have a good length of cordage left work your way around the rim of the vessel stitching it to the the hoop. Once it's attached all the way round, secure it in place with a good knot and cut any excess off.

  • As I mentioned before I had in mind to create a little home for this succulent so I added a cord of Linden bast so the little plant can hang freely. I'm also running out of shelf space for plants so one must be creative :)

Hope this one made sense and the looping doesn't send you too loopy :)
It really is crazy how long it takes to make one of these little loopy guys but it is something you can easily do whilst doing other things.
One thing to bear in mind with this technique is to try keep the loops and cordage as consistent as possible, other than that you canny go wrong.

Happy looping fellow basket cases :)

Next month I'm going to be focusing on my favourite plant (well one of them..) the beautiful Dandelion.. Their beautiful shiny stems are just lovely for weaving with and I hope they grow as abundantly whenever you are as they do here :)

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