Sunday 24 September 2023

Asymmetrical Willow Basket


 This weekend I was back at West Dean, but it wasn't for glass beads this time!  Instead I was on a willow weaving workshop.

I'd seen a few things about willow weaving and thought it looked interesting, but it wasn't until I saw the asymmetrical basket workshop that I decided to have a go.

Example baskets

Our tutor was the lovely Sue Kirk.  She's incredably patient and knowledgeable and was happy to answer all our questions over the course of the weekend.  But I soon stopped taking notes when I realised 1. just how complicated it all is! and 2. that although I really enjoyed the workshop I'm not sure I'll be making another basket anytime soon.

A very gappy start to my base

She started by explaining a bit about basket weaving and the willow we'd be using.  She'd bought 4 example baskets of different sizes for us to look at and use as guides for what we wanted to make.  My aim was the create the second smallest basket, but it ended up a little bigger.

Undone and rewoven - no gaps!

She had also bought a lot of willow with her of different colours (some she grew herself and some she bought) so we could play around a bit with the look of our baskets.


We started with the base.  Mine was very gappy so I undid it and Sue helped me get the spacing better.  From then things went better.

The base took most of the first day!  By the end of day one I had a base with 32 up rights and the foot round the bottom.  I'd also selected my rods so I'd be able to start weaving the sides straight away on day two.

End of day one

Day two was a shorter day, finishing at 3pm.  But the sides went a lot quicker than the base and I easily finished in good time.


As I said its a little bigger than I was aiming for, and I'm interested in what the colours will do as it dries out - I think it should lighten a little, and as the maker I am a little critical, I can see where it's maybe not as round as I wanted etc, but for a first attemp I'm pretty pleased with it.

I can see why people would get obsessed with making baskets, there is much to learn and so many techniques to play with, but I think I'll stick to glass for now.


Hopefully my hands and fingers won't feel so sore and tired tomorrow and I can get back to my knitting.

Sunday 17 September 2023

Glass Bead Necklace And Bracelet


 I haven't managed to get into the studio for a couple of weeks now, however this weekend I finally did something with all the tiny beads I've been making.  

Every week when I go into the studio and make some beads, I finish my session by making some tiny tiny beads with some dot and stripe patterns.  The idea is to practice making beads all the same size and my dot placement, extra hard on tiny beads.


Now I've got a good collection I wanted to make them into a necklace and a bracelet.  Firstly I sorted them by size, saving the really small ones for the bracelet.

Having watched some videos on YouTube on how to knot pearls into a necklace I wanted to do the same with the beads, but after a frustrating hour or so I gave up - I just couldn't get the knots where I wanted them or a consistant size.  'im outdoors suggested I use seed beads as seperaters instead and this worked well and was a lot quicker.


I then used a special two hole bead I'd made as a fasterning.  It worked really well.  I'm really pleased with the necklace, it's pretty without being too in your face.


I then tried making a bracelet.  As a first attempt it's ok but I think it will need more work.  Maybe I should just follow the necklace design and have a single row?  But I like that they can move about.  It uses a sliding knot, so very easy to put on and take off and I like that I could finish each end with a bead, but getting the whole lot to sit nicely on my wrist is hard.  I might take it apart and have another go at some point.  Maybe I need a different sort of cord too?


It's great to finally have a 'use' for some of my beads.  At the moment most of them are just sitting my my desk, which isn't really the point of them.  It's nice to give them a purpose.

Monday 4 September 2023

Knitted Baby Elephant


Around the time I was having real problems knitting the bubbly sweater, I decided to start this sweet little project.  Knitted all in garter stitch it's a really simple knit, perfect for when you want to knit but can't face a project with issues.

At this point 'im outdoors had blocked access to my craft cupboard, so I had to use the wool I had to hand rather than pick something from the stash.  In this case the detail colour from the bubbly sweater -  a lovely bright turquoise from Stylecraft.

I imagine I could make this over a weekend if I wanted, but it's been a slow make, something to go to when the sweater was driving me crazy.

I think I could have stuffed him a little harder, but I still love how he's come out.  


I also love that you could knit the pattern in any yarn and needle size and it would just change the size of the finished elephant, rather than spoil the pattern.  Also the pattern comes with lots of detail when you come to sewing up, so very easy to follow.

A lovely little project.  Don't be surprised if I knit another.