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Craft Box Club – Rope and Wool Basket

I think this is going to be one of the last non-Christmas crafts I do for a while! I’ve just completed the November Craft Box Club (https://craftboxclub.co.uk/), a rope and wool basket. I’ve done quite a bit of basket weaving now, but the thing I like about it is that it is very rewarding and each of the kits or classes has something a little different to the others in terms of materials and techniques.

Included in this kit was:

  • Cotton rope
  • Coloured thread x2
  • Wool
  • Needles x2
  • Needle threader
  • Lolly stick
  • Teabags x2

As usual the link for the online video tutorial was also provided. The video this month was only about ten minutes long. I tried to craft along with it as the beginning of the basket is quite fiddly and I did have to pause and rewind a few times, just to make sure I’d got it right, but once I’d got into the swing of wrapping the rope I found that I could do it without watching until finishing off at the end. 

As I mentioned above, the start was a little fiddly, but I liked the use of the two needles to hold the first coil in place as you began to create the stitches that form the base of the basket. Previously I have only done basket weaving with raffia, so I really enjoyed having a go with rope and wool instead. I also liked the technique of wrapping the wool around the rope in between the stabilising stitches. It gives the basket a really nice texture and allows you to play with colours. I think my joins where I finished one piece of yarn and started another could use some work as they are a bit scruffy, but I wanted to make sure my work didn’t come completely unravelled so I was double knotting the ends!

The other part I liked was finishing off with the decorative coil that was held in place the same way as the very first coil. It gives the basket a really neat finish, rather than just cutting the rope off. I was very impressed with how little wastage there was and how good the instructions were, as I had the exact amount of rope to complete the basket and very little wool or thread leftover. There was the second skein of coloured thread which I didn’t use at all, but it was nice to have the colour choice and I will definitely be able to use up the spare thread in another project!

I’m not sure yet what I will do with my new basket, but I think it would look quite good on my dressing table so I’m sure I’ll find something to store in it. On the instruction page on the website it said that this project would take about two to three hours. I think it might have taken me a little longer than that, although I wasn’t timing myself, but I did do it over two sessions. It’s always good to be able to put a craft project down and come back to it again later!

I’ve got some lovely Christmassy projects waiting for me and I can’t wait to get started on them. I’m especially excited as last week two crafty advent calendars arrived in the post! Roll on December so I can start opening them!

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Fundi Box – Woven Raffia Sunburst Mirror

This is my second woven raffia sunburst mirror that I’ve made recently, but this one is from the September Fundi Box (https://www.fundibox.co.uk/). As usual the inspiration for the box is taken from Africa using the tradition of basket weaving joined with the sun motif, which not only makes you think of warmer climes (especially now the weather has turned) but is also bang on trend for home décor at the moment. Not only this but the raffia used is from a species of palm native to tropical regions of Africa, particularly Madagascar.

Included in the box was:

  • Circular mirror
  • Raffia hanks x3 (1 natural, 1 black, 1 colour of choice)
  • Wooden dowel rods
  • Glue
  • Twine rope
  • Circular paper template
  • African gift of the month

The gift this month was a carved box made using soapstone from Kenya. It was handmade by the Kisii people of the Tabaka Hills in Western Africa. This mineral was originally used for domestic purposes, but is now used for handmade carvings exported around the world. Their carvings can be found on Bazaar Africa (https://bazaar-africa.eu/bazaar/).

As with the last project I was emailed for my colour choice for the third raffia hank choosing from six options. I chose teal for mine. I have to admit that I went a bit rogue from the instructions on this one. The first instruction was to cut the dowel rods down to size, but when I measured them up I felt like they would be quite short, especially compared to the photographs where the rods were sticking out quite far from the edge of the mirror, so I decided to skip this stage and leave my rods full length. As I was glueing them on, using the circular template as a guide for where to place them, I staggered them to create an alternating pattern. 

Once all the dowel rods were in place and the glue had dried I could then begin weaving. This was the bit I was most looking forward to. Weaving is such a relaxing craft and it’s so satisfying to see the design building up. This is the second place were I deviated from the instructions, but only in the order in which I did the colours. The suggested order was natural, black, natural then finishing with your colour, but I decided to do a few more layers with natural, black, teal, black, natural.

The last thing to do was create a hook for the back by doubling over a length of the twine rope and wrapping it in some raffia and then glueing it to the back. There was also the option to add a twine rope trim to the front of the mirror but I decided against that as I like the way it looks without it and I was worried that I might not be able to do it neatly enough, which would ruin the look of the mirror. 

The only real issue I had with this kit was that some of the dowel rods kept coming unstuck so I had to keep glueing them back down and then waiting for it to set again before I could continue with the project, which was why it took me so long to complete it, but apart from that I had a great time with this kit!

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Craftiosity – Woven Raffia Basket

The project for June’s Craftiosity box was basket weaving, which I was really excited about. I have done basket weaving before with La Basketry at The London Loom, but as it was in a workshop we just made a small basket. For this project I got to make a much bigger basket!

Included in the box was:

  • Natural raffia hanks x2
  • Roll of paper ribbon
  • Plastic darning needle

The basket started off similarly to the previous one I’d made by wrapping the raffia in ribbon and curling it around to create the centre of the base, but it used different stitches to hold each layer in place. It was a bit like a blanket stitch so as well as the stitches around the raffia you also had the ribbon running along it as well. This part was supposed to be hidden between the coils, but I think I need more practice than one basket to perfect that!

Once the base was roughly 20cm wide you could then begin to build the walls. I found that the walls built up a lot quicker than the base did and I really enjoyed that part of the weaving. Although I was really happy that the ribbon was paper and not plastic as I had used before because I’m all for being plastic free, I did find it quite frustrating at times as the ribbon ripped quite easily, especially when I was trying to tighten my stitches to make sure it was secure. I found this happened a lot less when building the sides than it did on the base. My sides also slope in a bit! In the top tips on the instructions it says to ensure the coils are stacked on top of each other to create straight sides, which I really did try to do but for some reason mine just wanted to slant inwards! I wondered if it was the tension of my stitches and if I shouldn’t have pulled them so tight. I’ll have to have another go and see if I can make it a bit neater as I do have just under a hank of raffia and plenty of paper ribbon left.

When the sides were as high as you wanted them (the instructions recommend 6cm but I went slightly taller) you can then create the handles by stitching the raffia core by itself without attaching it to the coil below. After that you then had to go around the basket wrapping the top coil in paper ribbon to give it a neat finish. I also went round mine and trimmed any bits of raffia that were sticking out! I found the wrapping part the hardest. Trying to keep the ribbon flat was very tricky as it kept wanting to twist round. 

This is not a quick project. I’d estimate it took me roughly six to seven hours to complete. I saw a lady had posted hers on Instagram and said it had taken her ten hours, however you don’t need to do it one sitting. It can be put down and picked back up again. I started mine yesterday and finished it today. You will need to sweep the floor after you’ve finished though! 

With the subscription boxes (all of them, not just Craftiosity) it’s hit and miss whether or not you’ll like the project that drops through the door each month as they have to cater to all craft interests, but that’s part of the joy of them! I usually find that I enjoy them even if I wouldn’t have picked it out for myself, but I especially love it when something really different like this comes and I have the chance to make something that I will actually use.

Craftiosity: https://craftiosity.co.uk/

La Basketry: https://labasketry.com/

The London Loom: https://thelondonloom.com/v2/

workshop

La Basketry

Yesterday I went over to the London Loom again, this time for a basket weaving workshop run by the lovely Tabara N’Diaye from La Basketry (https://labasketry.com/). This was a totally new skill for me, but Tabara was very patient in explaining how to do each step and even though there was seven of us in the class she gave each of us individual attention when we needed it. I felt very well looked after and she was really encouraging, even when our work came out a bit wonky!

To start with we were given a bunch of grass, a special needle with a bent tip and a flexible silicon tube. We had to select which colours we wanted to use for our basket from a selection of plastic strings. You would recognise them if you made scoubidous at school (showing my age)! I chose purple and peach. 

We began by threading a few of the grasses through the silicon tube, which kept them all together and made it easier to begin the pot. Tabara then showed us how to create the first coil by tying the plastic string round, wrapping the grass and creating a stitch to hold it in place. This was the base from where we would continue to build the pot, adding a stitches as we went round. 

When the coloured string ran out you just threaded the new colour into the previous stitch and carried on. As the grass ran out you just had to feed some new stems into the bunch to ensure you maintained a consistent thickness all the way around the basket. 

Once the base was wide enough then you could begin to build up the sides. That was where the peg came in useful if you were having trouble holding everything in place. I didn’t use the peg as I found it much easier to weave going up the sides than I did creating the base. I also found that my stitches became more uniform and fell into a natural pattern, which created a nice look for the basket, and meant that my messy bit was luckily hidden on the base!

The little basket we created was to hold a cactus and Tabara had one for each of us. I didn’t have enough time to build my basket as high as I would have liked but I think it still looks cute with it’s little spiky friend inside it! The workshop cost £55 for two hours and took place at the London Loom studios (https://thelondonloom.com/v2/).