Monday 31 July 2023

Craft: I Wove a Basket from Foraged Honeysuckle

The little basket you can see in the photo to the right is one I made myself completely from scratch, using honeysuckle from my garden. It's a bit uneven, but I'm pleased with it as it's the first basket I've ever made.

Before starting, I watched several tutorials on YouTube and read some online instructions too. There are many methods, I discovered, but I chose one that seemed reasonably easy. Honeysuckle has really long stems, which makes it good for this kind of project. The most difficult part was prepping it.  

I picked enough honeysuckle to fill a large pan, filled that with water and boiled it for about an hour, then left it soaking in the water for a few hours longer. Boiling and soaking kills bugs, makes it easier to remove the outer bark, and softens it for weaving. By stripping the outer bark and cutting off random twiggy bigs, you're left with even strands of a lovely golden colour. It took me ages to strip the bark though. I used a scouring cloth, a knife and my nails, but it took ages and was quite hard work. If I do it again I'll see if there are better tools for bark stripping.

The prepped stalks can be used immediately if they're still damp, or you can leave them to dry. If you dry them you'll need to soak them again before weaving to make them supple.

To create a round basket like mine you place four strands of honeysuckle one way, then cross that with another four strands. Take a long strand of honeysuckle and use that to bind the eight crossed strands securely. Then you need to trim two of the crossed strands near the crossed section, so you have an uneven number of pairs of strands left. 

Start weaving the long strand in and out of pairs of strands around the basket frame. Because there's now an uneven number of pairs making the frame, the long strand will go over each one then under each one, keeping it all firmly in place. When the basket is as high as you want it to be, bend the tops of each of the frame strand pairs around the next pair and poke them back inside the basket. Trim the excess bits of honeysuckle off. 

I'll be honest with you, watching a YouTube video of someone making a basket is probably going to be easier to follow than my written instructions here.

It seemed to me that making a basket was a perfect craft to do before Lammas, the festival in the Wheel of the Year celebrating the start of the harvest. Our ancestors would have used baskets made in much this way when gathering fruit or herbs. My first basket is very small. It would be perfect to put on an altar or to leave out in nature with a few berries in as an offering to the spirits of the season and wild creatures. Being completely natural, it would harmlessly biodegrade in time. 

However, I have another planned use for it, which I'll be blogging about in the future. 

You can find more seasonal crafts and activities in my book, Pagan Portals - Rounding the Wheel of the Year, published by Moon Books.  

Other previous related posts

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