Town to offer new basket weaving class

By Christie Barlow
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Baskets of different shapes and sizes are scattered around the house and reeds are constantly soaking in the laundry room sink so Debra Grooms can get started on her next project.

When Grooms attended her first basket weaving class, she only meant to have a fun night out with some friends.

After one class, she was hooked and has been weaving basket after basket ever since.

“I enjoy giving them to people I know,” Grooms said. “Once you’ve made one, you realize how much work goes into them and how much work goes into it.“

Grooms has always been interested in arts and crafts, and is looking forward to sharing her basket weaving skills with the people of Harrisburg.

Grooms will be teaching one basket weaving class a month starting in September and running through December.

Classes will take place one Tuesday each month and run from 6 to 9 p.m. In each class, participants will make and take one basket with them.

The cost of the class varies depending on the basket that’s being made.

The cost of the first class is $20. The more elaborate and difficult a basket the higher the cost.

Grooms said that basket weaving isn’t a terribly difficult skill to learn. Once you get the basics down, it is relatively easy to create whatever you want.
When basket weaving, you can vary the different types of baskets you make by color, pattern, shape and size.
It’s the variety that keeps the hobby fresh and fun, Grooms said.

“No matter what basket you’re trying to make, every basket looks a little different,” Grooms said. “It’s your own creation. It’s not hard, you need patience.“


Step one — Shape and Size:

The first step in basket weaving is to determine size of the basket you want to make. Once you determine the size, you need to cut your reed to accommodate that length.
You cut your reeds to include the length of the bottom and two sides of the basket.

For example, if you want to make a basket that is three inches tall on each side and six inches across the bottom, you must cut your reeds to 12 inches.

You should also leave an additional inch or two on the reed to close the basket when you finish. In addition, you must cut reeds to weave around the basket creating its walls.

Step two — Preparing your reed:

Once your reeds are measured and cut, you should soak them in water until they are soft enough that they bend easily.

Reeds break easily when dry, they need to be soaked to prevent friction and splintering.

Step three — Building your base:

Once your reeds are cut, you start by creating the base of your basket. The frayed side of the reed should be facing up.

Position your basket base in the center of your spokes (the spokes are pieces of reed that will make the base of your basket). Bend all your spokes up along the outside of the base to create the shape of basket you want.

When finished, the spokes around the base should be slightly raised away from the ground.

Take a piece of round, or a thin piece or reed and wrap it around the base you just created. Wind the twine in and out, over and under the spokes. This will hold the base of your basket in place.

Step four — Starting your walls:

Using the additional pieces of reed you cut earlier, begin weaving the reed in and out, over and under your spokes.

Again, the frayed side of the reed should be on the inside of the basket. Start at the base and work your way up. One reed should wrap all the way around your spokes.
Alternate the over and under pattern so that it is opposite from the row above and below it.

Finish a row of reed by tucking it under one of the spokes.

Step five — Tightening your base:

After weaving three or four rows around, pull on the middle of each spoke, above the rows, to tighten the base of your basket.

Start at a left corner and work your way around the basket. Make sure to keep your spokes straight as you go.

Step six — Finishing your walls:

Continue weaving your reed in and out of the spokes creating more rows until you have reached your desired height for the walls of the basket.

While you are weaving, make sure to keep your rows tight without bending the corners of your spokes inward.

Also, make sure there are no gaps between the rows you are building by pushing the rows together using your thumb and forefinger.

Step seven — Folding your top:

Bend the two inches of the spokes still remaining over the top of the basket and tuck them into the third row you just created.

Finish the basket off by adding a handle. Different types of handles can be purchased and added to the basket after completion.

• Contact Christie Barlow at [email protected] or 704-789-9140.

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