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What I Learned While Making My Second Pine Needle Basket

Athlyn Green is an avid crafter. She enjoys sharing what she's learned with readers.

My second basket was not perfect, but that's just part of the learning process.

My second basket was not perfect, but that's just part of the learning process.

I felt far more confident while working on my second basket. I'd ironed out some of the challenges I'd encountered with my first basket and I felt better equipped to tackle a larger project.

My Second Pine Needle Basket

In my first article in this series, I discussed what I learned making my first pine needle basket and a problem I encountered that spoiled the look of my basket. I also shared tips and tricks for those wanting to get started making their own pine needle baskets.

For my second project, I decided to do a much larger basket with straight sides. Because of my past mistakes, for this basket, I sewed into the row underneath for greater stability and for stitching, I decided to go with a V-pattern on the sides.

Making this second basket was much easier. I'd gained a feel for working with pine needles and had a much better idea of what I was doing. This second basket looked much better and was much more solid.

But I still learned more in working on this basket and I'm happy to share this information with you, my readers, in this third article in this series. I hope these insights will help you to troubleshoot as you work on your baskets.

Size of My Coil

I decided to go with a wider bundle of needles than what I used with my first basket. I discovered that wider bundles, when sewn, looked better and gave more definition to the rounds in a basket, making for more visible rows and a nicer woven look, as can be seen in the video below.

Why a Straw Is a Handy Aid

I also learned that one can use a straw to keep their needles together and also as an aid in maintaining the same size bundle of needles. This is optional, and some crafters find they can estimate, but this can be a valuable aid, especially for those just starting out who want uniformity in their rows.

See the Video Below for Using a Straw to Guide Your Needles

A straw can be used to not only maintain the size of your needle bundle but as a guide as you work along.

Weaving or Knotting Thread

I plan to line this basket, so I decided to knot my thread on the inside. Some crafters weave in their thread. This is fine and a viable option. I wanted a sturdier basket without the worry of thread unraveling, so chose to knot my thread because of the sheer size this basket will be when completed. There isn't a right or wrong way, but it pays to use forethought before starting on any basket. By planning ahead, you won't end with unwanted elements that mar the look of your finished basket.

Knots Fall on the Inside of This Basket

Because I plan to line this basket, knots aren't a problem and are tucked out of sight on the inside.

Because I plan to line this basket, knots aren't a problem and are tucked out of sight on the inside.

Tricks I Learned While Working on This Basket

There's something to be learned from each basket made. And my second basket was no exception. I incorporated what I'd learned with the first basket, but I discovered other tricks as this basket took shape.

  • Thread: I learned that it was better to join new thread on the inside rim. This way the knots do not show on the outside of the basket and are hidden. Instead of just joining the thread when needed, I worked in such a way that all knots were on the inside, pulling back my work, if needed, to facilitate this.
  • Knobs: Another neat trick I discovered was that by leaving the knobs on the ends of the pine needles and sewing after I added new needles, the knobs acted as a guard or lock, of sorts, and prevented the needles from sliding around. I found it was so much easier to leave the knobs intact, rather than removing them as I did for my first basket.
  • Beads: I also slipped some beads onto my needle part way up the side. I counted the Vs then calculated when to add beads in increments so that the bead work would be even all the way around the basket.

A Close-Up Look at the Side of My Basket

Having gained a feel for working with needles, this basket went faster. Larger coils and sturdier stitching made for a much better basket.

Having gained a feel for working with needles, this basket went faster. Larger coils and sturdier stitching made for a much better basket.

Beads on My Basket

As can be seen, I added beads to this basket, just as I did with the first one. One of the most satisfying and rewarding aspects of making pine needle baskets is adding one's own decorative touches. While one can make just a plain basket, and these are unique enough and pretty enough on their own, once someone gets more familiar with working with needles and coiling them, they may wish to add their own interesting design elements.

Considering Design Elements

For those who plan on adding decorative extras to their baskets, it's a good idea to check out what other crafters have done to spark creativity and gain some idea as to what material might be desired. There are many interesting materials and objects to choose from and these can transform a plain basket into a real work of art.

Check Out the Design Elements in the Baskets in the Video Below

So many designs and decorative elements but all add to the charm of pine needle baskets.

Decorative Elements That Can Be Added to Baskets

  • acorns
  • beads
  • bone
  • carved wood or metal decorative pieces
  • colored wrapped sectionschrystals
  • chrystals
  • feathers
  • leather
  • pine cones
  • polished stones
  • shells
  • wire

I'm Starting to Feel Like a Real Basket Maker

This second project went so well, my confidence grew by leaps and bounds.

Bottom of My Basket

A peek at the bottom of my basket. This basket held together so well and was better than my first basket.

A peek at the bottom of my basket. This basket held together so well and was better than my first basket.

Lining My Basket

I can't wait to line this basket with some type of fabric to "tidy it up." I've seen fabric-lined pine needle baskets and the colored inner linings help to truly finish them, adding to their charm, as well as protecting one's fingers from getting poked when reaching inside the basket.

If you plan on lining your basket, you'll have to decide on what type of material to use. Some considerations are fabric thickness and pattern. A brightly patterened liner adds to the look of a plain basket, while a pale cotton liner might work best with a smaller basket. A dark felt or velvet lining might be better suited to a fancier or larger basket.

For my beaded basket, I will probably use a plain lining so as not to detract from the basket.

Finishing My Basket

I've got a long way to go to finish this basket, but I'm excited about the size. I want to add far more height so that when I'm done, I will have a good-sized, usable container.

I was making such good progress and found this second basket worked up quickly but alas, I ran out of needles, so I'll have to collect more before I can finish this basket. See my second article in this series for more information on which needles to choose.

I will post more pictures when I've completed this project, so readers can see the finished basket.

I still have a long way to go to becoming an accomplished basket maker but am encouraged with the progress I've made thus far and hope that this information has encouraged readers to get started.

© 2017 Athlyn Green

What Do You Think?

Athlyn Green (author) from West Kootenays on November 15, 2017:

Thank you, Karen. I'm glad that you are going to try making something from pine needles.

Karen A Szklany from New England on November 14, 2017:

Very lovely and informative hub, Athlyn. There are lots of conifers growing around where I live, so there are plenty of pine needles supplied by the natural environment. You have inspired me to make something beautiful with them!

Looking forward to using your hubs to do so. Thank y ou!

Athlyn Green (author) from West Kootenays on November 08, 2017:

Thank you Chitrangada. I can't wait to get more needles so that I can continue working on this basket.

Chitrangada Sharan from New Delhi, India on November 07, 2017:

Very nice and creative! Loved your pictures and video. Looking forward to make one in future with the help of your instructions.

Many thanks for sharing your talent!

Athlyn Green (author) from West Kootenays on November 05, 2017:

You're welcome, Sally.

Sally Gulbrandsen from Norfolk on November 05, 2017:

I love this. Something I might like to try in the future. Thank you for sharing.