Round basket in willow

There are many ways of weaving the sides of the basket. Some are easy and some are baffling in their complexity. The weave I am describing below is called English Randing and is one of the simplest weaves if you are using willow. No matter what type of weaving you are using it is important to continuously pay attention to the shape of the basket. A square basket should be square. They have a tendency to become round! Stakes can lean out or in and should be firmly positioned where you want them. The weavers should bend round the stakes. The stakes should never bend around a weaver. Watch that all the stakes do not start to skew to one side which is quite common. If a weaver breaks then you can make a join behind a stake.

Basketmaking Lapboards

One of the first things to consider at this stage is how you are going to hold the basket while working on it. You can place the basket on a table and put a heavy weight in the bottom to hold the basket steady while you weave. Many people do it this way and it means that you can sit on an ordinary chair while working. Most basketmakers however use a special board called a lapboard. This lapboard is usually about three feet by two feet. The basketmaker sits on the floor or a low bench (plank) with the lapboard across his legs and sloping down towards his feet. In this position the lapboard can be raised or lowered using the knees and allows the basketmaker to view his basket from the side and keep control of the shape. The basket is usually nailed to the lapboard using a bodkin.

English Randing

To complete one round of English Randing you will need an equal number of weavers as stakes. Place the butt end of the first weaver behind a stake and then in front of the next stake to the right and then behind one continuing like this round the basket finishing with the tip to the left of your starting position. The tip must never overlap the butt and always finished before the starting position. Leave the tip on the outside of the basket. Place the butt of the next weaver behind a stake to the right of your first starting position and continue weaving with this rod in front of one and behind one finishing one space to the right of the tip of the first rod but not overtaking the second rod. You then continue adding another weaver to the right and so on until you finish all your weavers. The weaving will look uneven at first as all the butts will be at one side but when you finish all the weavers it will have evened up. Rap down the weaving every row using your hand or, if you wish, the rapping iron. Once you have finished all the weavers you will have completed one round of English Randing. If the basket is not tall enough at this stage you can do another round. The side weaving (siding) is now finished off with some 3 rod waling.

Trac Border

Now that you have finished the siding and top waling it is time to do the border which will complete the basket. The simplest of the many borders is the "Trac Border". Prick down the first stake about two stakes thickness up from the top waling. This stake is taken in front of the two stakes to its right and behind the next leaving the tip on the inside of the basket. The end can be cut off at this stage so that it rests against a stake or left until the end to be trimmed. The next stake to the right is then pricked down and it goes in front of two and behind on the same as before. Continue like this right round the basket. The last two stakes present a problem as they have to be threaded under the stakes that you started at to complete the border. Threading these staked through can be a bit tricky at times. Examine the position of the previous stakes and copy the pattern. It can sometimes be useful to wet the last two rods and "stroke" them into a curve. Take your time threading them through and try to avoid kinks in the wrong places.

Four Behind Two Rod Border
(an alternative and stronger border)

Take one of the stakes and bend it down at right angles about 1/8th inch to 1/4 inch above the top waling. You can use your knife to achieve this bend just as you did when pricking up. Pass this stake to the right behind two uprights and out to the front. Do the same with the next stake to the right and so on until you have bent down 4 stakes. Now take the left hand horizontal stake of the four and and take it in front of two upright stakes to the right and behind the next one leaving it at the front. Bend down the next upright stake behind two and lie it beside the first stake. There will now be two stakes coming out of the basket at the right hand side. Take the next horizontal stake on the left (2nd bent stake) in front of two upright stakes, behind the next and out to the front. Bend down the next upright to sit beside it. Once you reach about the eighth upright you will notice that you have two horizontal stakes coming out of each space. Always use the right hand stake of these two (that is the one that has just been bent down). Continue like this round the basket until you have only two uprights left. Take the next horizontal stake in front of the two remaining uprights, behind the next bent one and thread it through from inside to outside. Bend down the next upright stake on the left and thread it through the same space. The next horizontal stake is taken in front of the remaining upright, in front of the next bent upright, behind the next bent upright and threaded through to the front. The remaining upright is bent down and threaded through the same space. You then have to use all the remaining double horizontal stakes threading them through to the front of the basket. It is not always clear where these stakes must be threaded but by examining the border which has already been done it can be worked out. One way of marking the position of these stakes is to place extra pieces of rod into the gaps when you bend down the first rods. These markers can then be removed as you work round to them.

Picking off or Trimming

The basket is now ready for trimming. This involves cutting off all the ends. It is done using a pair of secateurs, side cutters or a knife. Each end must be cut diagonally and the resulting end must lie against a stake or stick. Do not cut the ends so short that they push through to the other side of the basket! The basket should now be rinsed and put aside to dry. The basket is now finished. It can be treated with varnish or oil but that is not really necessary.

If you have been successful with the round basket you might try an oval basket for your next project. There are instructions for making one of these at:

Chris Jordan's site