How to Weave African Baskets

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African baskets are weaved from raw, earthy materials such as grass, vines, pine needles and papyrus. They come in a variety of types, sizes and colors. African women use natural material found on the ground or from a plant or tree to make the baskets. Creativity and colorful designs are key when making African baskets, which can be great gifts and are often used to store household items.

Things You'll Need

  • 3 bundles of pine needles, 5 to 6 inches in length (any color), 4 ounces per bundle
  • Embroidery sewing needle
  • Towel
  • Nylon upholstery thread (any color)
  • Pot
  • Water
  • Scissors
  • Clothespin
  • Boil water. Place the bundles of pine needles in a pot and pour the water over them. Soak for 30 minutes and towel dry.

  • Gather pieces of pine needles 1 inch in diameter. Cut 1 yard of nylon upholstery thread. Tie the thread around either end of the pine needles three times, tying a knot each time. Cut the short end of the thread. Trim the pine needles evenly right above the knot.

  • Continue wrapping the remaining thread tightly and close together so it covers 2½ inches of the tied bundle of pine needles. Place a clothespin at the end section of the bundle to hold it into place.

  • Insert the end of the thread through the embroidery needle. Bend and shape the pine needles covered with thread into a circular shape. Remove clothespin. Push the threaded needle through the center of the circular bundle of pine needles. Bring the sewing needle through the back to the front of the bundle. Stitch each new row onto the previous row. Continue repeatedly to bring the sewing needle through the back to the front of the bundle. Pull tight on each stitch. Continue to add individual pine needles after every two to three stitches. Insert new pine needles in the center of the bundle of pine needles.

  • Continue to wrap the bundle into a circular shape and pull the thread from the lower section to the next section. Continue to bend the wrapped bundle into a curve, forming a bowl as you stitch each section. If you start to run out of thread, usually when you get to about 4 inches left, remove the needle. Tie the remaining thread into a knot around a pine needle and cut the rest of the thread. Insert a 1-yard piece of thread into the embroidery needle and push the needle through the back to the front of the bundled section where you left off. Repeat this step until you reach your desired basket size.

  • Hide the thread when finished by inserting your sewing needle a short length into the bundle and out on the other side. Snip off the end of the thread and tie into a knot around a pine needle. Use the sewing needle to tuck the tip of the thread down into the bundle. Examine the basket closely for loose threads or knots. Allow the basket to dry overnight.

Tips & Warnings

  • Bundles of pine needles can be purchased at most craft stores and come in various colors. You also can pick pine needles off a tree. If you do so, allow them to dry two to three days and change colors.
  • Check the front and back of your basket frequently as you are weaving the basket. If pine needles stick out, use scissors to push them in between sections or cut them.
  • Spray paint your basket to give it a colorful appearance.
  • Pine needles always should be moist when weaving the basket

References

  • Photo Credit Weaving baskets image by Robert Young from Fotolia.com
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