Category Archives: baskets

Life is what happens…

…when you’re busy making other plans….

In the midst of my weaving, spinning, basket making, bobbin lace, knitting and gardening my life has taken a sharp turn.

I was so busy getting two Nantucket baskets ready for weaving while sailing in Maine in July and August… enthusiastically looking forward to a week of weaving at Vavstuga later this month…  admiring this year’s crop of weld blooming magnificently and watching for indigo seeds to sprout in the garden.  I’ve finished a blanket for a good friend recovering from hip replacement surgery and have recently started Deborah Newton’s ‘greenhouse tank’ from the current issue of IWKnits.

Then Life struck.  My father died unexpectedly on May 19, and now two other family members have passed as well.  I had to move my mother from her home to mine, a great distance away, and then into assisted living.  I am buried in legalities and paper work, and somehow my projects seem like a whim from a distant past.

Still, it is a beautiful spring here in NJ. My peonies and foxglove and iris are blooming profusely, and my cat entertains us with his annual boost of spring energy as well as doing double duty enduring our attentions not only for him but also for our recently deceased dog. That’s life.


the lion lies down with the lambs

In the midst of my grief and what seems like endless paperwork a friend sent this anonymous saying:
“Being happy doesn’t mean life is perfect.  It means you’ve decided to see beyond the imperfections.”

So, I’ve returned to working on my Deborah Newton “Greenhouse tank” and to my large Nantucket basket.  I’m juggling my time visiting my mother and getting her new apartment furnished, searching for all the paper work to file my father’s taxes for last year, and getting ready for a week at Becky’s Vavstuga! If you want to follow the basket making procedures go to my basket link above.

Weaving Baskets…some progress

Nantucket purse (cherry), and small ebony Nantucket basket, both in progress


















I now have four basket projects in varying stages.  I need so much hand holding to make any progress that I fear none of these baskets will actually be finished any time soon.  Still, slowly, I’m learning a few things.

Here is one gem I  learned this week from my basket guru/teacher.  At home this month I had started weaving the ‘straight away’ on my Nantucket purse (on right in photo), and one quadrant of staves had begun to go off on an angle.  It was quite unsightly, drawing my eye right to the asymmetry of the weaving.  I was yanking hard to straighten those particular staves every time I came to that section of the basket, but it was not improving!  So I put the basket aside to wait for help from my teacher.  I thought she would tell me to un-weave, but she had a different suggestion!

It turns out I should never leave the basket ‘au naturel’ while I’m not working on it.  When I put it aside for any amount of time I should spray the staves with water, put on the heavy rubber bands, and then position all the staves as best I can.  The next time I weave those staves should stay straight, or certainly straighter.  At the end of weaving I spray and re-band for the next time.  It works!  I’m thrilled that I didn’t have to un-weave anything and that I’ve managed to keep the staves straighter now.  It’s certainly not a perfect basket, but I am happy with it!

I finished lashing on the rim of the  tiny Nantucket, but the day came to an end before I could attach the handle. Sigh... Why does time go so quickly at our monthly basket workshops?  I have the handle hardware assembled and waiting to be attached.  I don’t want to peen the handle rivets without some hand holding, so I just have to wait ’til June.

Lastly, I will spend some time this month shaping about 120 staves for a larger round Nantucket basket that I hope to weave while sailing in Maine this summer.  It occurred to me that weaving a basket could be a wonderful boat project.  However, due to my inexperience and lack of confidence, I want to have all the staves shaped and steam bent and in place around the base of the mold before I head off into the sunset to weave it by myself! I’ll start working on those staves today.

10" round Nantucket mold and "Japanese Wave Weave" covered vase













(Basket #4 is languishing, waiting for its rim.  It’s the tall cylinder that is a glass vase enclosed in basketry, woven with cane, waxed linen and beads in a pattern called Japanese Wave Weave.)

I really thank my stars that I have such a great teacher!


4″ Nantucket basket with ebony  base and maple rim.
It’s so wonderful to know craftsmen and artists in various fields.  If not for the basket makers I know I would never have had the wonderful experience of learning from Anne Lima.
This little basket took three days to make, and I have a long way to go on the finishing.  My reward for finishing this basket will be to attach the beautiful maple handle with ebony inlay!Ann Lima is a wonderful basket maker and teacher from Matapoisett, near New Bedford and Cape Cod.
She is the daughter of well known basket maker Gladys Ellis, who designed the “Matapoisett Basket” which combines a number of traditional basket techniques with stunning results!

Anne brought a tray of scrimshaw with her, made by a man whose name I must learn!  I had to have this little gem for a future basket.

Yes!  I’m smitten….




New Projects

Don’t most of us return from summer travels full of ideas for new projects?  It’s hard to implement all the new ideas that crop up from even the shortest weekend away from home.  There is something about a change of … Continue reading