Tips and Terms    
Tips, Terms and More for Beginners

In the world of basketry there are many tips and terms we hear all the time. When those that are more experienced talk about "Scarfing a rim" or "An oblique weave?" We beginners ask "What do they mean?" These are the questions we hope to answer here. Just a few tips and terms to help you understand the "basketry" talk.

Beginners Kit
Sharp shears
Straight tip awl
Short bent tip awl
Sharp knife
Small sanding pad
Needlenose pliers
Plastic electrical tie wraps (zip-ties)
Tape measure
Ole towel
Reed Gauge

These were items suggested to get you started. You can check out our resources page and some of the suppliers have a kit of 5-8 tools that will get you started.

A great book for a beginner to learn with is "The Basket Book by Lyn Siler, 1988" Lyn explains basic weaving, with patterns and more.

Two more things to help your weaving experience to be a great one.....time and patience!

Our tips come to us from "In A Hand Basket". December 2002 When it's a good day to dye…… (Some helpful hints from the experts at . . . in a hand basket who really know how to dye!)

  • The most economical dye to use is Rit, which comes in a variety of colors and is easy to mix. If you don't have a recipe chart for mixing colors, we will be happy to send you one.

  • Use a large pot! The reed needs to be able to "swim" around.

  • Make sure the water is boiling. Add Rit, either powder or liquid or both and stir well. If the dye bath is hot and concentrated, dyeing will go faster and the colors will be brighter.

  • Check the color with scrap reed. If it takes more than a couple of minutes to get the color you like, add more dye.

  • Some folks like to add salt and vinegar to the dye bath. We never do this but it doesn't hurt anything.

  • Cut the string off the reed and let the coil loosen. If your pot is small, dye only a few pieces of reed at a time.

  • After the color is reached, remove the reed from the dye and rinse in cold water. We keep a large container of water close by and drop in the coils of reed. (Be sure to change this rinse water when it turns dark!)

  • Hang reed and dry thoroughly.

  • Rit tends to "bleed" and this is especially true when the dyed reed is fresh. We like to let dyed reed "cure" for a few weeks before using it if at all possible.

  • When weaving with any dyed reed, remember to soak it in cold water. Adding some white vinegar to the water is also helpful in reducing the bleeding. Always run the wet dyed reed through a towel before weaving. Keep dyed reed as dry as possible.

  • The most important hint: DO NOT DO THIS IN YOUR KITCHEN (Unless you want to remodel!)

Our tips come to us from October 2002

When cutting off the inside spokes on your basket, place the scissors behind the adjacent spoke to the right of the spoke you are cutting. This will allow you to cut the spoke off even with the last row of weaving so the rim filler will lie flat between the rims.

For easier lashing of your rims: place the clothespins that hold the rim pieces on your basket, directly on the spokes. This will allow you to lace with your lashing piece between the spokes without removing the clothes pins.

Keep a piece of sandpaper with your basket tools. You can easily remove the pencil marks from your spokes with it and use it to sand the handles of your baskets before you weave.

Use a teaspoon of lemon oil in the bucket while soaking your reed. It smells great, keeps your hands from getting too dry and helps keep the reed damp and pliable longer. This is a great substitute for glycerin and it cost less. Submitted by Leesa Tipton

Use pony tail holders (the kind with two balls) to secure the end of a coil of reed. This really works! Place it on the end of the coil right after opening it. This works better then rubber bands. Submitted by Diana Dorsey

Aging....the process that occurs when a basket turns dark from natural environmental elements.

Dyeing....coloring reed aiwht any number of or commerical dyes.

Reed...the inner core of rattan that has been cut into flat, round, flat oval, half round, or oval shapes; used for baskets and furniture. join by cutting the two end pieces, usually beveled or on a slant, so they fit together smoothly.


Shape...Come from manipulation of the spoles as you weave.

Strengh...Comes from the size and strenght of the material used, the tightness of the weave, the type of weave used and the distance between the weave and the spokes.

Quality...Comes from repetition and care with your craftsmanship.

Design...Comes from stopping and looking often at your work.

This months tips have come from

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