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HOW TO MAKE BASKETS

CHAPTER I
MATERIALS, TOOLS, PREPARATION, WEAVING


Materials. — We shall use a great deal of rattan in making these baskets. It is a kind of palm which grows in the forests of India, twining about the trees and hanging in graceful festoons from the branches, sometimes to the length of five hundred feet, it is said, though seldom over an inch in diam­eter. It comes to us stripped of leaves and bark, and split into round or flat strips of various sizes, which are numbered by the manufacturer from up to about 15, No. I being the finest as well as the most costly. Rattan can be bought (usually in five-pound lots) at basket factories in our large cities. Numbers 2, 3 and 4 are the best sizes for small baskets and 3, 5, and 6 for scrap baskets. Raffia, which is woven into small baskets, dolls' hats, etc., comes from Madagascar. It is a pale yellow material, soft and pliable, the outer cuticle of a palm, and can be bought at seed stores in hanks of about a pound each. Either braided and used by itself or woven flat on rattan spokes, it is easily handled by very young children, whose fingers are not strong enough to manage rattan.



FIG. 1 — TWIST OF RATTAN

The flat or braided rush which is imported by wholesale basket dealers comes in natural colors, dull green and soft wood-brown. The flat rush is sold by the pound, and the braided in bunches of ten metres each. Woven on rattan spokes, it makes beautiful baskets. Braided rush is a good material for scrap baskets, while the flat, being finer, is successfully woven into candy, flower and work baskets. The leaves of our own cat-tail fur­nish a material almost as pliable and quite as attractive in color as the imported rush; in fact, Nature's storehouse is full of possibilities to the weaver with a trained eye and hand.

Tools. — A pair of strong, sharp shears, a yard­stick, and a deep paper pail for water are needed at first, and later a short steel knitting-needle about the size of No. 4 rattan, and a sharp knife. Rub­ber finger guards for the right forefinger and thumb will be found almost a necessity where much weaving is done.

In raffia work, tapestry or worsted needles, No. 19, are required.



FIG. 2 — UNDER-AND-OVER WEAVING

Preparation. — The rattan, as it comes from the manufacturer, is in long twists or skeins. (See Fig. 1.) It should be drawn out, as it is needed, from the loop end; otherwise it will get tangled and broken. In preparing it, the spoke or heavy material which is to form the ribs of the basket (and which should be at least two numbers coarser than the weaver, except in small baskets, where a difference of one number is enough) is cut into lengths of the required number of inches. The weaver is wound into circles of about seven inches in diameter, the ends being twisted in and out several times to prevent unwinding. As rattan is very brittle, it should be put to soak, before using, for an hour in cold water, or fifteen minutes in hot Rush will not need to soak as long, and raffia will become pliable in a few seconds.



FIG. 3 — DOUBLE WEAVING

Weaving. — Under-and-over weaving, the simp­lest form of all, is the one most used.

Double weaving is done in the same way, except that two weavers are used at once. This is an effective weave on large surfaces, and in bands or patterns of the same or a contrasting color on plain rattan baskets.



FIG. 4 — PAIRING

Pairing may be used either with an odd or even number of spokes. Two weavers are started behind two succeeding spokes, and crossed between them, so that what was the under weaver becomes the upper one each time.



FIG. 5 — TRIPLE TWIST

In the triple twist, three weavers are placed behind three consecutive spokes and brought in succession, starting with the back one, over two and under one spoke, each on its way to the back of the third spoke being laid over the other two weavers. In turning up the sides of large baskets where separate spokes or additional spokes have been inserted, or as a strong top for scrap baskets, this weave is invaluable. It entirely hides the spokes it crosses, and therefore is often used to cover places where broken spokes have been replaced.


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