Woven grass baskets add an organic, textural element to home decor. Making a grass basket is not difficult once you have the right materials. The most common style of woven grass basket is called a continuous coil basket. This basic basket can be woven using only two grass types. Although the method is called a weave, it is actually more of a sewing technique that allows the crafter to shape the size and contour of the basket. Learning the technique takes only a few minutes, although expertise may take much longer because of the many intricate designs to be mastered that can enhance the appearance of the basket.
Things You'll Need
- Sweet grass
- Raphia cut from palm
- #18, 20 and 21 needles (blunt and sharp)
Grasp a small clump of sweet grass, according to the thickness you desire for the wall of the basket. Thread a blunt needle with raphia (a strip of reed from the palm plant). Line up the end of the raphia with the right side end of the sweet grass, with the needle pointing to the left. About 1 1/2 inches from the right side end, pinch the raphia tail and wrap the needle around the tail and the sweet grass. Wrap the raphia over the sweet grass and tail from that point, 1 1/2 inches to the right. Keep the wrappings tight to each other. When you reach the end, it is time to form the first coil of the basket.
Curl the tightly wrapped 1 1/2 inches into a tiny circle. Bring the needle through the center of the circle. Pierce the side of the coil to secure the coil's shape. You should see your new coil on one end and unwrapped sweet grass on the other.
Bring the needle over the unwrapped sweet grass and through the top of the coil 1/8 inch from the edge. Take the needle out from the underside of the coil. Bring the needle over the grass 1/4 inch to the left. Pull the raphia tight. Press the needle through the coil 1/8 inch from the first pierced hole. Take the needle out from the underside of the coil. Although the term pierced is used, usually the needle moves between the existing raphia and bound grass. Pull the needle-raphia end until the sweet grass is snug against the coil. Repeat every 1/4 inch.
Continue weaving until your raphia is short. Pull the small piece of raphia off the needle. Sandwich the raphia between the growing coils and thread a new raphia piece. Often raphia is kept in a moist towel. Other types of grasses or reed materials are soaked to soften them for weaving. Pierce the existing coil with the newly threaded needle 1/8 inch from the last piercing hole and continue weaving. Add sweet grass in an overlapping way when you near the end of one bunch. Keep the thickness of the bunch consistent.
Vary your basket shape by adjusting where you pierce the coil. The bottom of the basket is made with flat coils made by piercing straight down 1/8 inch from the outer coil side. To curve the coil upward, pierce the row of coil at a 30 degree angle. To create flat sides, pierce the row of coil at a 90 degree angle. You determine your final row based on how large you want your basket. On your final row, trim the sweet grass into a taper so that the raphia angles into the top row for a nice finished appearance. Trim the raphia tails with a knife.
Tips & Warnings
- You can add other color of grasses or reeds to create stripes as you weave your basket. Use a new color for four or five coil rows before switching back to your original color.
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