subscription box

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/).