Quite a while ago, a reader asked me to do a tutorial on making a Cat's Head base...and, well, I forgot. But never fear, she politely reminded me, at which point I got my butt in gear and got this post ready!
A cat's head base isn't really very hard to accomplish, but as is typical, it seems, a lot of patterns out there go lazy on you and don't do a very good job of explaining things, so what should be fairly easy to do turns into a mess of reed frustration! I hope to help clear up some of the confusion and get you on your way to doing this thing like a pro!
The example I'm using here makes a pretty large basket. I cut 18 stakes from 1/2" flat reed @ 32" long.
You can use whatever pattern you may have....it doesn't matter, because they all start with a square base. So go ahead and lay that out as you normally would, like this:
Some patterns will tell you to twine around the base once. I don't think this is necessary at all. Since the stakes are placed so close together, they are not likely to shift. I clothespin my corners as shown to prevent this anyway. It works for me!
Next step, flip the whole thing over. You're going to be weaving with the base flat on the table (at least for now), with the outside (smooth side) facing you.
My sides are woven with 3/16" flat reed in start/stop rows. Again, you can use my instructions or follow your own pattern.
Start the weaving on a stake to the left of the center, on any side. Weave across the row to the corner. Remove the clothespin. Weave around the corner stakes and stop.
What you want to do at each corner is "pinch" the corner stakes together. You want the wrong sides of these two corner stakes to be facing each other, then clothespin these two stakes together as close to the row of weaving as you can (see below).
Notice how very little space I am allowing between those corner stakes. Pull the weaver snugly around the corner. The weaver will almost "crease" here, although you don't actually want to purposely make a crease. Make sense? If it does crease a bit, no worries!
Now continue weaving across the next side and repeat the technique I just showed you at the next corner, and the remaining corners, ending your row as usual when you get back to your starting stake.
Remember to keep the base flat on your work surface for the time being.
Starting with the second row, you will be forcing the stakes to "fan out" to the right and left of center as you weave each side.
In the photo above, I am starting row two. When I get to the last stake before the corner, I stop. Now I force the stakes to fan out by pulling in the direction indicated by the arrows. In other words, I pull the stakes that are on the right of the center stake, towards the right, and I pull the stakes that are on the left of the center, towards the left. (But leave the corner stakes alone)
They won't move a lot on the second row, but that's ok. You'll be doing the same thing on EVERY SIDE, on EVERY ROW, for 4 more rows. With each successive row, the stakes will fan out a bit more each time.
Remember to keep the corner stakes pinched together as you did in the first row!
Doing this forces the corners up off the table and is what creates the "ears".
Ok, now that you've done a total of 5 rows, the cat's "ears" are pretty well formed.
At this point you can ditch the clothespins and pick the basket up to weave the remaining rows!
From this point on, you do NOT want to pinch the corners together. Allow your weaver to go smoothly around them instead.
For the next few rows , allow the space between the corners to increase a bit (see above). You can pull the corner stakes to the right or left a bit as you go to accomplish this.
Weave 26 more rows, allowing the sides of the basket to belly out and increase in circumference.
Now weave 16 more rows, this time pushing in on the stakes to gradually decrease the circumference of the basket.
Weave a rim row with 3/8" flat reed. Apply a rim using 1/2" flat/oval reed inside and out, with seagrass between. I used 3/16" flat/oval reed for my lasher.
Meow! You did it!
I hope I have helped some of you with this tutorial. If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to ask!