After sticking to my own knitting (literally) as my only craft for the last several decades, I recently picked up the art of basket weaving. Basket weaving appeals to my need for quiet, tactile meditative time. Weaving the materials proves a less exact and more free-form craft experience, and I enjoyed designing traditional Appalachian potato baskets on the fly, throwing in pops of color and even some brightly-colored yarn and twine.
Best of all, I love using all-natural materials. I love that I can pull branches of honeysuckle out of my own front yard, twist them into a frame for a basket, and make something useful for my home. This use of materials right off my farm is something I can’t quite do with knitting – I’m not about to get into sheep farming just to have wool to knit.
What I don’t like about basket weaving is having to use rattan imported all the way from Southeast Asia to make my baskets. I find myself wondering what my Cherokee ancestors used for their baskets. They certainly didn’t send off to another continent for supplies. Surely they used something local, something readily available from the forest around them.
So I’m glad to see more books and resources coming along that show how to use crafting materials right in front of our noses (or many of our noses; I realize not everybody lives on the edge of a forest, as I do). Looking out my window, I want to use the many and abundant materials both Native American and European settlers used for crafting centuries ago. Like these ancestors, I want to make something useful and practical, not some silly tchotchke that takes up space and serves no purpose whatsoever.
I want my crafts to flow out of the forest and meadows on which I draw my sense of peacefulness. In my crafting, I want to take the fruits of the earth and shape them into an expression of my creativity as well as a natural solution to my needs.
Willow: Traditional Craft for Modern Living by Jenny Crisp (coming soon, release date of October 25, 2018).
Basic Basket Making: All the Skills and Tools You Need to Get Started by Linda Franz and Alan Wycheck
Pine Needle Basketry: From Forest Floor to Finished Project by Judy Mallow
The Basket Book: Over 30 Magnificent Baskets to Make and Enjoy by Lyn Siler and Carolyn Kemp
Cynthia Coe is the author of Considering Birds & Lilies: Finding Peace & Harmony With the Everyday World Around Us, two novels, and resources to introduce young people to creation care.