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How to Weave a Willow Laundry Hamper Basket

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Dawn is a Canadian crafter skilled in textile work, weaving and toy making, among other arts.

How to weave a willow laundry hamper basket

How to weave a willow laundry hamper basket

How to Weave a Willow Laundry Hamper Basket

This is a great project to do in your spare time. Once completed, you will have a decorative laundry hamper that is unique as well as functional. It's a great way to get those clothes off the floor and ready for the weekly wash!

If you are new to basket weaving and need additional help with the different weaves used in this article, make sure you check out my other article on Basket Weaving: A Beginner's Guide. This will tell you all about the different weaves and terminology used in making your own laundry hamper.

Have fun! I hope you enjoy making this useful household item.

Materials Needed:

  • Heavy willow staking for base
  • Lighter-weight rods for bye-stakes
  • Weaving rods
  • Split cane or willow splints
  • Can of spray-on gloss paint (optional)
Figure 1

Figure 1

Figure 2

Figure 2

Step 1: Weave a Spider's Web Base

  1. Cut eight pieces of willow staking, nine inches long. Slit along the center of four of these with a sharp knife for about two inches. Thread the other four stakes through these stakes to form a cross. To hold this in position, take a length of lightweight weaving rod to bind it.
  2. Start off by inserting the end inside the slits and then bind across the cross, working backward and forwards, under and over the groups of four stakes until three whole rows are completed (Figure 1).
  3. Now dampen and splay out the sixteen spokes to form a spider's web effect. Take a heavy-weight weaving rod and work two rows of pairing around the web. Change to a lighter rod and work around in randing til you are close up to the outside edge of the stakes (Figure 2). The base is slightly domed in shape, and you can get this effect by pressing down a little on the stakes as you work, perhaps on your knee.
Figure 3

Figure 3

Step 2: Insert Bye-Stakes

Soak, cut, and sharpen one end of thirty-two bye-stakes. They should measure 25 inches each to allow about two inches for inserting into the base and five inches for the top rim of the basket. Insert them on each side of the original stakes, kink them and bend them up to form the skeleton on which the sides are woven. The original base stakes are now trimmed and abandoned.

As you work on the sides, you will be aiming for a slight curve outwards. To make the basket easy to control, tie a hoop of string, raffia, or light cane around the structure to keep the stakes in the right position (Figure 3). You are now ready to work the upsetting round with three weaving rods to give the basket sides a good strong start. Put the upsetting well down.

Step 3: Weaving the 'Bodywork'

Simple randing with a split cane or willow 'splints' is used for the sides. Because you are working on an even number of stakes, use two weavers. Start the second row with the new weaver in the space to the left of the starting point for the first. Then use the two weavers alternately, and you will get the under/over arrangement, reversed on the following row, that would come automatically if you were working on an odd number of stakes with a single continuous weaver.

About 8 inches up the basket, take ordinary weaving rods and work a round of waling to add firmness and strength. Then return to the split cane or splints and work another 8 inches of randing to the top. Join on another three weaving rods and work a round of waling to make a good edge before the simple border. For this, kink each stake in turn, down towards the right, behind the second stake, and to the front through the wave to rest against the third stake, where you trim it off.

Step 4: Weaving the Lid

The lid measures 12 inches in diameter and is made separately by exactly the same method as the base of the basket. However, it should be a flat surface, so do not bend the stakes to get the convex shape as before. When you reach the end of the randing, insert seven-inch light-weight bye-stakes to the right and left of the originals, pushing them two inches into the weaving. Work from left to right. Bring the first stake down over both the second of its pair and the first of the next pair and then under the next stake, where you clip it neatly off. Work all around in this way.

Step 5: How to Make the Hinge

Two simple hinges will attach the lid to the basket so that it will flap open and shut properly (study Figure 4a). Take a piece of light weaving rod, and from the outside, slot it around one of the basket stakes at the very top, just under the final border. Pull through until ends are even and twist them together over and over to make a rope.

Now take the lid and thread the rope over its edge and down through the top between the second row of weaving. Bring the rope back through the basket border to the outside again, and curve it around the same stake where you made the first loop to the inside again. Thread it into the weaving to the outside and trim off. Make a second hinge two stakes away from the first. They should be reasonably tight but with just enough lay to let the lid open easily.

Figure 4

Figure 4

Step 6: Weaving the Ring Handles

The other finishing touch is two round carrying handles attached opposite each other on the basket sides. Take a length of split cane or splint and slice it down the middle to get a narrow piece. Make a ring 3 inches in diameter, of about four layers. Hold these layers in one hand and use the rest of the cane to bind them, winding them around and around.

When you get all the way around, tuck the ends securely to the inside, pushing them well in with a bodkin. Then attach these ring handles by slotting them onto a simple rope loop similar to the hinge. Attach to the top of two opposite stakes close u to the basket rim. Make the loops just big enough to allow the handles to move up and down freely (Figure 4b).

Once you have finished weaving your laundry hamper, you can either leave it in its natural color or spray paint it to match your bathroom or bedroom décor. This is also an easy project to adjust the sizes to make any size basket with a lid that you need.

Want to learn more about weaving? Check out the video demonstration of 18th-century traditional Acadian basket making done by a historical interpreter craftswoman at Fortress Louisbourg in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia.

Thanks for stopping by, and happy crafting!

© 2013 Dawn