HOW TO MAKE A FORAGED FIBRE BASKET
Firstly I must say the process of gathering fibres, processing them and turning them into a basket is quite new to me so I will explain as best as I can.
There are so many different ways of making fibre baskets that you will find what style and method you like best and I have included some Instagram favourites of mine that you might like to look at for inspiration: foraged_from_nature and foragedfibres
Gathering the Fibres
Some of the fibres I have used to make baskets are:
Corn Husks and Leaves
The list is practically endless and basically any strappy leafed plant or weed that is strong enough can be used. Of course if it has sharp edges or is prickly then I would give them a miss. A few popular fibres that I have yet to use are Cattails, Willow and different types of Reeds.
Drying the Fibres
After snipping a bunch of leaves or stalks you will need to hang them in an airy place to dry off. This can take anywhere from a few days to a couple of weeks depending on how green the fibre is and how thick. As I was a little impatient to get going I picked dead dry leaves for my first projects but they do come with a downside and that is that they are usually a little damaged or have marks on them so I used the best of them. (these were garlic and kangaroo paw)
Once your leaves have dried out they will need to soak in warm water to soften them enough to be able to be used otherwise they will snap and break. I like to soak the fibres for about an hour and then leave them wrapped in a tea towel to stop them from drying out. I would only soak as much as I'm going to use in one sitting as repeated soakings can weaken the fibre.
To Begin Weaving
To begin the weaving process you will need 6 or 8 spokes. These are the parts of the basket that give it its strength so I would use a fibre that is stronger or thicker than the weaving fibre (wf) I used 6 spokes as I found it a bit easier to manage. Depending on the width of the fibre used you may want to split them in half lengthwise to give you a width of approximately .5cm or less. Decide what size basket you want to make (to start with I would make a little basket so it doesn't seem to daunting) and cut your 6 spokes all the same length. A good starting size is between 30-35 cms.
Lay 3 spokes on top of the other 3 spokes in the shape of a cross. Now using a length of wf that has been soaked, fold it in half gently so as not to break it, slipping the fold over 3 of the spokes. Twist the wf so the piece that was at the back now comes to the front and vice versa around the next 3 spokes. Continue to do this until all the spokes are entwined. Go right around all the spokes again. This can be tricky to hold but persevere and try to do it as tightly as possible.
It is now time to add an extra spoke (this gives you 13 spoke all up if you started with 6). I use a small screwdriver to squeeze a gap anywhere you can and insert the extra spoke. This extra spoke will make the weaving pattern.
Now gently separate the spokes one at a time and continue to weave using the wf twisting it between each spoke so the back goes to the front and vice versa until you have used up all the first piece of wf.
Then with your next piece of wf place one end a couple of spokes back from where you finished (so it doesn't unravel) and now you can begin to single weave. I find it very helpful to use a few clothes' pegs to hold the wf in place as you go around. Again try to weave as tightly as possible without bending your spokes or breaking the fibre.
When single weaving I give the wf a twist as I go. This not only looks more attractive but makes your basket stronger. Continue in this fashion always adding each new piece of wf to the one side and you will make this the inside of your basket so you don't see any of the ends once your basket is finished.
When you are ready to curve the sides you may need to soak the whole basket in some warm water again to make the spokes more flexible. I place a tea towel over my lap so I don't get too wet. Gently bend the spokes and continue to weave as before until you have reached the desired height of your basket.
Finishing Your Basket
You will need to allow 10-12 cms of spoke to finish your basket edge and you may need to give your basket a soak in warm water again to make your spokes nice and flexible.
To weave the spokes you take one and bring it in front of the spoke on the right of it, then behind the next one along and then in front of the next one leaving the excess on the outside. Move along to the next upright spoke to the right and do the same again; In front, behind, in front again and repeat this process all the way around your basket until you get to the last few upright spokes. These you will have to poke under and through the ones that have already been finished. (you will understand when you get to this point)
Once all spokes are done you will be left with your basket with all the excess spokes poking out. Snip these off once your basket is dry as well as any messy bits on the inside of your basket.