"Truing" a Base
One of the most important steps in making a basket is what we call "truing" a base. All this means is that you want your base to be a specific measurement and to be "square", or "true".
If you aren't careful in this step, and you have one side that is 7" wide, another that is 6" wide when the pattern wants them to be equal, you will end up with a skewed base and this will throw off the whole basket!
The first thing you want to do is make sure all you center marks are lined up properly.
If they are not, you will end up with shorter stakes on one side than the other.
Now, in my example, I want my base to measure 6 1/2" X 6 1/2" ( or 6 1/2" square).
After I have my base laid out, I need to check to make sure the base is in fact, 6 1/2" on all four sides.
(For a rectangular basket,two of the sides will be one measurement, and the other two sides will be a different measurement).
To do this, place the 3 1/4" mark of the measuring tape on the middle spoke (3 1/4" is half of 6 1/2"), and measure OUT to each side.
(Click the photo to enlarge it)
So I want my left-most stake to be even with the end of the measuring tape, and the right-most stake should line up with the 6 1/2" mark on the tape.
If it does not, then adjust your stakes, making sure they are nice and evenly spaced.
Check this measurement on each side AND across the middle.
**Hint: If you space your stakes about 1/2" apart as you're weaving the base, you will find you have less adjustments to make. This is the most common spacing for most baskets.
Now just to be sure you have it right, it is a good idea to also check the diagonal measurement:
Measure diagonally across the base from one corner to another.
Then measure diagonally across the base in the other direction.
These measurements should be just about the same!
If not, go back and check the side measurements again!
Once you are satisfied that everything is "true", place clothespins at the corners to keep it from shifting.
TwiningTwining can be tricky for a beginner...but don't worry, you can do it!
First find the center of your long piece of (soaked) round reed and crimp it with a pair of needle-nose pliers.
Loop this reed around a stake that is coming from under the base.
Make sure BOTH ends are on top of the base. (See photo)
Now take the left-most piece (the piece that is currently on TOP of the stake) ,
You'll notice that the piece that was under the stake you started on is now on top of the second spoke.
Take this piece and bring it under the next stake, and back to the surface of the base.
**You will always pick up the piece that is on top of a spoke and take it under the next one....this will always be the left-most piece!
When you reach the corner, first take the piece that is coming up from under the last stake, bend it snugly around the corner and pull it towards the center of the base and hold it out of your way. (this will help to keep you from getting the pieces confused at the corners).
Now take the left-most piece (which is on top of the stake before you turn the corner) and take it under the spoke around the corner and back to the surface. (See photo below)
Continue twining until you have completed the specified number of rows of twining.
**NOTE: If you are making a basket with a handle (i.e., Market Basket), allow the twining to lay ALONGSIDE the outside of the handle rather than UNDER it.
End the twining where you began as follows:
Tuck the left-most end under the twining and the horizontal stake at the same stake where you began.
Then take the other piece and tuck it under the twining on the next stake to the right.
Trim the excess reed to within about 1/2".
Twining was tricky for me as a beginner, too, but with a little practice, it'll become a no-brainer!
How To Make a Hidden Join When Twining
A hidden join is simply a technique that is used when you run out of round reed as you are twining and need to add another. Using the hidden join eliminates all those unsightly ends sticking up on the inside of your basket base!
Here is how I do it:
I always make my hidden join on an "overstroke".
As you can see in the photo above, one of my weavers has run out. So I end it as it is going OVER a spoke.
Simply crimp the weaver, even with the far edge of the spoke. Snip off excess reed, leaving 1/2 -3/4" inch for tucking. Then bend at the crimp and tuck the end into the existing twining either along side the spoke or at the very edge of it, as shown in the next photo. Use your awl to create space for tucking.
You have now ended the old weaver, and need to add a new one.
The new weaver is added on the opposite edge of the spoke from where you ended the old one. (See photo below)
I usually tuck the end of the new weaver into the previous rows of twining, then crimp it at the edge of the twining. Bend this piece so that it is going across the spoke, and simply continue twining!
The newly added weaver will be going under the next spoke, as shown below.
That's all there is to it!
It's a simple yet wonderful technique that can make a world of difference in your finished basket!