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CHAPTER XI
OVAL BASKETS

THE chief difference between the round baskets we have been weaving and these oval ones is, of course, in the centre (a notable exception being the Japanese basket on page 133, which slopes gracefully up from the sides to the ends), so that the aim in this chapter is to give the worker as great a variety in the pattern and form of these centres as possible.


English Oval Basket

Materials: BASKET-6 6-inch spokes of No. 3 rattan,

1 3-inch spoke of No. 3 rattan,

        64 14-inch spokes of No. 3 rattan,

                                     6 weavers of No. 2 rattan,

                                     Brown rush.

  HANDLE-2 35-inch pieces of No. 4 rattan,

       Brown rush,

                                    A knitting needle.

The six six-inch spokes are separated into pairs and laid on a table horizontally, leaving an inch between each pair. The short spoke, three inches long (which is cut pointed at each end), is laid vertically under the middle pair arid in the centre of it, with its ends over the other two pairs. A weaver is then started, at the left of the short spoke, with its short end extending about five inches below the lowest pair; it is woven under the lowest pair of spokes, over the middle and under the upper pair. Another weaver is started at the left of the first, leaving a short end five inches below the lowest pair of spokes, and this goes over the lowest, under the middle and over the upper pairs of spokes. A second pair of weavers is started in the same way at the right of the short spoke, only with their ends, five inches long, turning up instead of down. These short ends are used as spokes later on. The weavers at the right of the centre are woven across the pairs of spokes in under-and-over weaving, as the first two weavers were. The sides are then pressed closely in together, forming the centre of an oval bottom, which is held in the left hand while the right weaves. The inner weaver on the left is brought over the short ends of the weavers on the right, under the right end of the upper pair of spokes, over the middle pair and under the lowest. The outer weaver follows, but in reverse order. The pair of weavers on the right is treated in the same way and then the weaving is done by pairing, using the pairs of weavers alternately. When the bottom is about an inch and a half across, the pairs of spokes are separated, and the pairing continues until the bottom measures three by five and a half inches. The ends of the spokes are then thor­oughly wet, and two of the fourteen-inch pieces of No. 3 rattan are inserted on either side of each spoke to form the side spokes. These spokes are turned up, flaring those on the ends of the basket more than the ones on the sides, and half an inch of triple twist is woven in No. 2 rattan. Two thirty-five-inch spokes of No. 4 rattan are inserted here to form a foundation handle. The ends of these spokes should be placed in the centre of a group of spokes and, on the other side of the bas­ket, in the centre of a group that is exactly oppo­site. Two pieces of brown rush are next started, where the triple twist stopped, and are woven in pairing for an inch and a quarter, remembering always to flare the end spokes and press those on the sides in. The groups of spokes are now divided into pairs, and three-quarters of an inch of pairing in No. 2 rattan, with the following border, completes the basket. In the first row each pair of spokes is brought under the next pair on the right, over the next, under the next and outside the basket. In the second row each pair of ends is brought under the next pair on the right, over the next and down, leaving the first part of the row quite loose until the last part is finished, when the spokes are cut short. The handle is covered with rush in the way described on page 87. In joining new pieces of rush the ends are crossed on the uncovered spokes — see Fig. 24 — and covered by the rush as the work proceeds.



FIG. 24



Fayal Oval Basket

     Materials: 6 5-inch spokes of No. 4 rattan,

4 7-inch spokes of No. 4 rattan,

        1 4-inch spoke of No. 4 rattan,

                         84 12-inch pieces of No. 2 rattan,

                         2 weavers of No. 2 rattan.

The six five-inch spokes are slit for about three-quarters of an inch in the middle of each. The four seven-inch spokes, with the one four-inch spoke between them, are slipped through the six slit ones, leaving about half an inch between each of the six. The group of four and a half spokes are held in a vertical position, while the six run horizontally. A weaver is started, back of the ver­tical spokes and lying along the uppermost hori­zontal spoke, with its end toward the right. It is brought around in front of the vertical spokes (above the upper horizontal one), then back and down diagonally to the left, coming out below the upper horizontal spoke. Here it is brought around in front of the vertical group, back and up diag­onally to the left of the vertical spokes and above the first horizontal one. It is then brought diag­onally down, in front of the vertical spokes, to the right of them and just above the second horizontal spoke. Next it crosses diagonally down and back of the vertical spokes, to the left of them and below the second horizontal spoke, where it is brought over the vertical ones, back and up diag­onally to the left of the vertical spokes, and just above the second horizontal one — see Fig. 25. The same process binds the other four horizontal spokes; making an ornamental cross effect over each one, on the inside of the basket — see Fig. 26. After all six horizontal spokes have been bound the spokes are separated and the weaving begins. When a bottom, four and a half by six and three quarters inches, has been woven two pieces of No. 2 rattan, twelve inches long, are inserted on either side of each spoke to form the side spokes. They are wet until quite pliable, and then each group of spokes is brought over the one on the right of it, under the next group, over the next, then under the next and out, drawing the groups in (except the first two or three, which are left loose until the last groups have been woven in), so that they will form close sides about two inches high. The ends of the groups are woven into a base as follows: The basket is turned upside down, and the ends of each group are brought over the next group on the left and pressed down inside the base, where they are afterward cut short.


       
    FIG. 25                                                FIG. 26


Japanese Oval Basket

   Materials: BASKET-4 28-inch spokes of No. 4 rattan,

           1 15-inch spoke of No. 4 rattan,

                                        6 26-inch spokes of No. 4 rattan,

                                        12 weavers of No. 2 rattan.

HANDLE AND BASE - 9 34-inch pieces of No. 2 rattan,

21 5-inch pieces of No. 3 rattan,

                                        A knitting needle.

One of the most attractive oval baskets is copied from a Japanese model as follows: The six twenty-six inch spokes of No. 4 rattan are laid on a table horizontally; across these vertically the four twenty-eight inch spokes, with the fifteen-inch spoke between them, are placed. The end of a very pliable weaver is laid along the top of the up­permost horizontal spoke back of the vertical spokes with its tip toward the right. The weaver is then brought forward around the vertical spokes, down back of the upper horizontal spoke, then forward around the vertical spokes three times, down back of the second horizontal spoke on the right, over the vertical spokes (between the second and third horizontal spoke) three times. It is then brought back of the third horizontal spoke on the right, up and around the vertical spokes three times, and so on, until all of the horizontal spokes have been bound to the vertical ones in exactly the same way. After the weaver has passed down and back of the sixth horizontal spoke and around the vertical group three times, it is brought across to the left of the sixth horizontal spoke, where the under-and-over weaving begins. Another centre which, though more elaborate, has been found rather more satisfactory, is woven in this way.

Six twenty-six and four and a half twenty-eight inch spokes are used — the same number of spokes with which the first centre was started. The group of twenty-eight-inch spokes are held by the left hand, in a vertical position, and at an inch above the centre the first horizontal spoke is laid back of the vertical ones. Along this spoke and back of the vertical spokes, with its end toward the right, a weaver is started. It is brought around in front of the vertical group, down back of the right side of the first horizontal spoke, in front of the vertical group, up and back of the left side of the first horizontal spoke, and over the vertical group above the first binding (see Fig. 27). It is then brought down, back of the right side of the first horizontal spoke, across the vertical group to the left side of the second horizontal spoke, which is laid back of the vertical group at about half an inch below the first one. The weaver goes down back of this second horizontal spoke, in front of the vertical group, up back of the right side of the second horizontal spoke, over the vertical group and down back of the left side of the second horizontal spoke. A third horizontal spoke is then laid back of the vertical group, at half an inch below the second one. The weaver crosses in front of the vertical group, down and back of the third horizontal spoke on the right, then over the vertical group, up back of the third horizontal spoke on the left, across the vertical group and down back of the right side of the third horizontal spoke. A fourth horizontal spoke is laid back of the vertical group, half an inch below the third one, and bound in the same way as the others were. The same process also binds the fifth and sixth horizontal spokes to the vertical group. After the weaver has been brought down back of the left side of the sixth horizontal spoke for the second time, it crosses in front of the vertical group to the right side of the sixth horizontal spoke, where the under-­and-over weaving is begun.



FIG. 27

The bottom is woven two and a half inches wide by four inches long. The spokes are then wet until pliable, and bent sharply upward, flaring the spokes at the ends more than those at the sides of the basket. The nine pieces of No. 2 rattan, which are to form the handle, are inserted, five on one side and four on the other, of a spoke in the middle of one side of the basket, and the handle is made according to the directions for a braided handle on page 56. When the sides of the basket are about three and a quarter inches high the ends, which are to slope upward gradually, are woven in this way. When the weaver comes to the spoke at the left of the handle, it is doubled back and woven from right to left, all the way to the spoke at the right of the handle on the opposite side of the basket. Here it doubles around the spoke and returns, to be brought around the first spoke again and woven from right to left. On its second return it doubles on the spoke at the left of the one it started from, is brought around this twice in the same way, going to the second spoke at the right of the handle on the opposite side. It then goes around the third spoke to the left of the starting point and the third to the right of the opposite handle twice, then around the fourth on each side, and so on, till the centre of the end of the basket is reached, when the end of the weaver is cut short and pressed down beside a spoke, and the other sloping end of the basket is woven in the same way. The border is made as follows: In the first row each spoke is brought back of the next spoke on the right and then out. In the second row, each end is brought over the next end and down, and in the third row each end is brought over the next twist on the right and down just in front of the next end. On the same principle as the Rope Border, the end next to be used is always the back one of the pair just made by bringing an end through. The base is made of the twenty-one five-inch pieces of No. 3 rattan, which are inserted (as the basket is held bottom upward) one on the left of each spoke, where the sides were turned up. There are two rows. In the first row each piece is brought over the next piece on the right and pressed down inside the base. In the second row each end is brought over the one on the right, and pressed down inside, making a roll like the Rope Border on page 39.



OVAL BASKETS
At the left of the foreground the Fayal basket with a handle is shown. Beside it is the Japanese basket, and back of that the ornamental centre of the other Fayal basket just shows. Above is the melon basket, and on the left the English model of brown rush and rattan



Fayal Oval Basket with Handle

Materials: BASKET-8 to-inch spokes of No. 4 rattan,

       6-inch spoke of No. 4 rattan,

                   68 44-inch pieces of No. 2 rattan,

                                    4 weavers of No. 2 rattan,

                 HANDLE- 1 22-inch spoke of No. 6 rattan,

       1 weaver of No. 2 rattan.


This model was copied from one of the sturdy Fayal baskets that the masters of sailing vessels used to bring home to our grandmothers in the good old times. In such baskets new laid eggs, fruit or a little pat of butter were carried to neighbors or sick friends.

The groups of four and four and a half spokes are crossed in the centre, just as the round centres are begun, but from the very beginning the oval should be formed by pressing the weavers close in on the sides and letting them go more easily on the ends. This method will make an excellent oval shape and one that is less complicated than any of the others. When about a weaver and a half has been used the forty-four inch pieces of No. 2 rattan, which serve as spokes, are inserted two on each side of a spoke. The bottom should be about six by four and a half inches when two weavers have been woven in. The spokes are then wet and turned up, keeping the oval shape; two more weavers are used in under-and-over weaving, the edge is bound off and the groups of spokes are woven into the following closed border. Each group is brought under the group on the right, over the next, under the next, over the next, under the next and outside of the basket, leaving the first two groups loose and open so as to allow the last ones to be woven in easily. Each group of ends is brought down on the outside of the basket, through a row of weaving, at about an inch and a half below the border, and just back of the third group of spokes from the one it last crossed. This holds the ends firmly in place. The basket is now turned upside down and two rows of pairing arc woven to form the upper part of a base. The lower part is made by bringing each group of ends over the one on the left and down inside the base, where they are all cut off when the row is finished. The ends of a twenty-two inch spoke of No. 6 rat­tan are next inserted, below the border and down between a group of spokes, on each side of the bas­ket to form a foundation for the handle which is the simple twisted one described on page 53.


Melon Shaped Basket

Materials: 1 21-inch spoke of No. 5 rattan,

  23-inch spoke of No. 6 flat rattan,

                   8 10-inch spokes of No. 6 flat rattan,

                   20 or more lengths of narrow splint,

                   A piece of fine wire 5 or 6 inches long.

Although melon shaped baskets are graceful and attractive in form, the workman who undertakes to weave one will need a good stock of patience and skill, for they are among the most difficult baskets to make shapely and strong. On general principles it is well to have the spoke material as strong and unyielding as possible, while the weavers should be very pliable yet firm. Raffia is hard to manage as a weaver and rattan, unless it is unusually pliable, will break in making the sharp turns over the edge of the melon basket. The one in the picture is made of heavy round rattan for the edge, flat rattan for the spokes and handle, arid narrow splint, such as is used by the Indians, for the weaver. The ten-inch Spokes are first whittled to a gradual point at each end, a point from two and a half to three inches long. The ends of the twenty-three inch spoke of flat rattan are also pointed in the same way. The twenty-one inch spoke of No. 5 rattan is slit, for half an inch, in the centre and whittled to a thin, flat point at each end. The piece of flat rattan which is to form the centre rib of the basket, as well as the handle, is passed through the slit in the twenty-one inch spoke (which is to form the rim of the basket) and its ends are brought together, between the two pointed ends of the twenty-one inch spoke, where they are bound securely with a piece of fine wire, see Fig. 28. In this basket there are two starting points, or centres, one at either side of the handle, and here the handle, rim and spokes are bound together. One way of doing this is as follows: The tips of eight spokes, four on each side of the central fiat spoke or handle, are run up through the centre (where the handle and rim are crossed) and held in position by the left hand, while with the right hand a weaver is started back of the handle and lying along the rim spoke, with its end to the right. It is brought forward and diagonally down between the third and fourth spoke from the handle, counting the rim spoke as one, see Fig. 29. The weaver is then brought back of five of the flat spokes, out and up diagonally to the right of the handle. Here it comes around again in the same way, binding the spokes securely in place. After the third time around, the weaver is brought over the three spokes on the right, under five and up around the three' last spokes on the left, doubling over the rim on the left. In return  ing it is brought back of the three spokes on the left, in front of the five middle spokes and back of the three on the right, see Fig. 29. The weaver is bound around four times, in this way, and then the spokes are separated and the under-and-over weaving begins. Another pretty and simple centre is made as follows: The spokes, handle and rim are prepared as in the previous description, but the centre is started at the crossing of the rim and handle and the spokes are added as the binding proceeds. An end of the weaver is started in front of the left side of the rim spoke and brought up and in front to the right of the upper part of the handle, back of the handle and diagonally down in front to the lower edge of the right side of the rim spoke. It goes up back of this spoke and diagonally down in front to the left of the lower part of the handle, where it is brought back and up from the right of the lower handle diagonally to the upper edge of the rim on the left. Here it goes around the rim spoke, and up diago­nally to the starting point. One of the sharp pointed spokes is then inserted on either side of the handle, and the next time around the weaver is brought so as to bind the end of each spoke close to the handle. Then it passes around the rim spoke and the first spoke on the right, down and around the lower part of the handle as before, and up to the left, where it binds the left side of the rim spoke to the first spoke on the left, see Fig. 30. A spoke on either side of the handle is added each time and each time the ends of the spokes just added are bound in at the upper part of the handle. The spoke just added on the right is bound in with the rim spoke on the right by the weaver, which passes diagonally down below the rim and between the spoke just inserted and the previous one; up and back of the rim spoke, down diagonally, around the lower part of the handle and up diagonally, binding the spoke just added on the left to the left side of the rim spoke, as the one on the right was bound. When all the spokes have been secured in this way the weaving begins. An inch or two of under-and-over weaving is made, and then the spokes are brought up on each side of the opposite end of the handle, to start the other centre. The point of each spoke is pushed up through the slit part of the round spoke, where the handle was run through it. Here the binding process is repeated and, when an inch or two has been woven in under-and-over weaving, the weaving on the opposite side is begun again and woven to the middle of the bas­ket, where it is met by the weaving from the second centre. The handle is wound with splint in this way. The spokes at one end of the handle are trimmed quite close, and a weaver is started near the handle and bound tightly around it, covering the foundation. If another weaver has to be joined to the first one, its end is pushed back under the rows of splint already wound. The end of the old weaver is laid along the uncovered handle and bound in as the winding proceeds. At the other end of the handle the tips of the flat spokes are trimmed close and covered neatly with the wound weaver, which is finally secured by weaving it under and over several spokes, cutting the end short inside the basket.


       
FIG. 27                                                FIG. 28                                              FIG. 29

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