Round basket in willow

Staking up

For this you will need 24 of your thicker rods.  You must sharpen the butt ends of these rods using your knife.  I use a Stanley knife but whatever sort of  knife you use it must be very sharp.  This is called slyping the ends and is usually done in one or two cuts.  The result is a diagonal cut taking away about half the end of the rod making a point which is easy to insert into the base.  The base is then put on the floor concave side up and the stakes inserted one at each side of a base stick so that the slyped (cut) side is up.  They should be inserted as far as possible towards the centre of the base.  This can be quite difficult to do sometimes and it is easy to damage your elbows trying to force the rods into the base. One method of doing this is to hold the rod firmly a few inches from the end with your left hand and by hammering your right hand into your left hand the stake can be driven into the base.  It feels a bit awkward to start but it becomes very easy after few baskets and saves the tendons in your elbows.

Pricking up

Once all the stakes have been inserted they must be pricked up.  Turn the whole thing over so that the convex side up.  Take a knife and insert the blade parallel to the rod at the point at which you wish it to bend.  This point is about 1/8th of an inch away from the base.  Push the blade of the knife about half way through the rod but not all the way through and lift the rod to a vertical position at the same time twisting the knife through 90 degrees.  This has the effect of splitting the willow on one side as you bend the rod up the split will open a bit and stop the willow rod from breaking (hopefully!!)  If it does break then you have to take the rod out and start again.  Once you have bent the rod you can let it go again and do the next rod and so on until all the stakes have been bent.  Gather up all the stakes and tie them at the top or put them into a hoop to hold them in position.

The picture on the left shows the base with the stakes pricked up.  They are held in position with a hoop which is tied to a couple of stakes.

Upsetting

The purpose of the upsett is to fix the stakes into position and  is done with a weave called waling.  I usually do this sitting on the floor with the basket held between my knees.  The base towards me.  Take four weavers and insert the tips to the right of four stakes.  You might have to make a hole with your bodkin to allow you to insert these tips.  Cut a bit off the tips before you start.  Bend all the weavers down at right angles to the base.  Take the left hand weaver to the right in front of three stakes,
behind the next one and out to the front again.  Make sure that this weaver is well tucked in next to the base.  Take the next left hand weaver and  do the same - across in front of three stakes,  behind one and out to the front again.  Continue like this round the basket making sure that you pull each weaver well down and next to the base.  This is called 4 rod waling.  When you reach where you started you change to 3 rod waling by leaving one rod behind.  The purpose of the 4 rod waling is to fill in any gap between the sides and base of the basket.  the 3 rod waling is to separate an fix the stakes into the correct position.  When you reach the end of your weavers you must join in another 3.  This is done the same way as joining in the base.  Take the furthest left weaver and pull it away from the basket and towards the left and insert the new weaver into the space between the old weaver and the next stake.  Make sure that these two weavers lie flat and parallel to each other with one end on the inside and one on the outside of the basket.  Use the new weaver to complete a stroke i.e in front of two stakes and behind one.  join in the next weaver on the left and use it and finally join and use the last weaver.  Continue 3 rod waling until these three rods run out.  All the time you are doing the waling you must continuously bend and separate the stakes into the positions that you  want them.  At this point you must decide whether to stop waling and start the siding or to continue with another 6 weavers (you have to finish with tips!)  You can of course continue waling right up to the top of the basket but it is more usual to change the weave at this point.