Monday, December 28, 2009

Keeping Spokes in Place while Weaving Slotted Bases

Tip of the Week ~
Take a look at the slotted base before you soak your spokes. If the slot is very narrow, put you spokes into the slot while they are dry. If you soak them, they may not fit.
Take a wet sponge (almost dripping) and run the sponge over the good side of the reed (less snagging on the good side) up to the edge of the base.
Weave as usual.

If the slot is wide, go ahead and soak your spokes. Take them out of the water and wrap them in a towel to remove excess water.
If you are using a Weaving Table or Lazy Susan table (see previous post) you can just insert the spokes and begin weaving. I find that the Weaving Table is all I need to have control over the spokes.
BUT, if they still slide around too much for you, then try these ideas.
1) Place a tiny piece of twist tie over the end of the spoke and insert the spoke all the way into the base. Make sure that the twist tie is short enough so that it does not show. (Thanks to Venie Hinson for sharing this trick - see - for Venie's spring class dates)
2) Put all your spokes in place and wrap a thin piece of string or a small size of round reed around the base and pull tight so that it slides into the slot, wedging the spokes in place.
3) Cut your spokes a little longer than the pattern calls for and bend the end over, crimping (squeezing) it together with a pair of pliers (bentnose pliers). Insert this crimped end into the slot.

If your spokes are still moving around A LOT after the first 3-5 rows are woven, they may be too far apart (you have too few spokes). You should have about 1/4" space between spokes when starting to weave. The first rows of a slotted base should be woven with a small size (3mm flat oval, 11/64" or 3/16" flat or flat ovals or twine with #2 round reed, etc.). After 3-6 rows of a smaller size, you can begin to use a larger size or work up to it with several rows of 1/4" or 7mm and then a wider size.

Remember - tension is what holds everything together when working with slotted bases. The first several rows must be woven tight up against the base and be very snug. No loose or sloppy weaving or your basket may not hold together correctly.

Slotted bases are a lot of fun once you become comfortable working with them. Try some of our patterns or kits - low shopper kit, beginner twill basket, color-blocked cabinboy basket pattern, mini shopping basket pattern, there are many, many more - try searching our online catalog with "slotted base" and then narrow the search by clicking on the Books, Patterns & Magazines link in the results.

Happy Holidays & Happy New Year

Whatever holidays you celebrate this year - we hope they are fun and filled with good friends and family! And plenty of time to weave :o)

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Pine Needle Basketry Book available in softcover

NOW IN STOCK and ready to ship - Judy Mallow's book: Pine Needle Basketry - From Forest Floor to Finished Project, now in softcover - Pine Needle Basketry - Softcover. Not yet available in stores - get it here first!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Weaving with Slotted Bases

Happy holidays!
We're almost in the home stretch. Hope everyone has all their gifts woven. I'm working on the last one but also trying to keep up with the Shopper basket sales at Wanamakers General Store.

Tip of the Week -
Here is a tip for working with slotted wooden bases ( ).
Put your base on a Weaving Table ( ) or other revolving (Lazy Susan) board. When you begin weaving you can rotate the Weaving Table instead of rotating the base itself. This will help to keep your spokes from dragging on your worktable and pulling themselves out of position.
You can also use the grids (drawn on the surface of the Weaving Table) to line up and space the spokes.

More next week on keeping the spokes under control while weaving the first several rows on a slotted wooden base!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Well, time to make this blog a reality. We are now working with DSL and life is sweet. The page needed to post the blog took ages to load with dial up so I had given up. We're caught up with the times (at least for the moment :o) so it's back to posting for real now.

Tip of the Week
What to do with "bad" reed.
What makes a bad piece of reed? This answer will vary from person to person.

Some times reed is just plain bad. It might be cut unevenly, hairy, thick and thin in the same piece, just awful. Do you throw it away? NO. Save it for the last row of weaving (the rim row) that goes under the rim. This row is only used for support, it never shows, so it does not matter what this piece of reed looks like.

Keep in mind that reed is cut using very simple machines. To learn more about basket reed and how it is processed, please visit our Basketry Reed Page at: .

While one person is unhappy because their last coil of reed was all too thin/thick for their needs, the next person has been searching for that kind of reed.

Many times a coil of reed will contain some pieces that are stiff/thick and some that are flexible/thin. This is great, you have a variety of pieces to choose from for your project.

Save those thin/flexible pieces for things like: lashing, starting and ending a basket, weaving small baskets, special projects like twill or cat's head baskets, plaited ornaments, etc.

Save the stiffer/thicker pieces for rims (There is no reason why you can't use flat reed for rims, it looks great. Works best on smaller baskets. Wrap the flat reed at least twice around the basket for the outside rim to give extra strength.). Weaving in the middle of the basket where the spokes/staves are farthest apart or weaving from the middle to the top of a basket that flares outward as it increases in height (like a wastebasket) is a great place to use stiffer reeds. Save the stiffer pieces for stakes/staves.

Never let your weaver distort or bend your spokes/staves (unless you want a certain look or are creating an art piece, these could be exceptions). If you cannot pack your rows tightly against each other, your weaver may be too stiff and/or your spokes/staves too thin. Take out that reed and find thinner pieces.

You should feel each piece before you pull it out of the coil and put it in the water. If it feels very stiff and you need something flexible, put it aside. It will only become flexible to a point after soaking. It will not magically become a super flexible piece of reed if you leave it in the water for an hour. That's way too long. 5- 10 minutes is more than plenty for any flat reed. The longer you leave reed in the water the worse the quality becomes.

Do you need lots of thick/stiff or thin/flexible pieces of reed for a particular project? Let us know when you place the order. We can't guarantee 100% that all the pieces will be what you want, but we will look at each coil as we pull your order. Sometimes it obvious. Example: if you are weaving backpacks with 3/8" flat oval weavers. This is a very important time to check the thickness of your weaver. Too stiff and your backpack will become distorted. Tell us you are ordering weaving or rim flat oval and we will pick thinner or thicker reeds for you.

happy weaving & happy holidays